The Advent Prose is a series of texts adapted from the book of the prophet Isaiah, and said, or more usually sung, in churches during the season of Advent. In its Latin form, it is attributed to Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, who lived in the fourth century. The English translation is traditional. It is most common in high church Anglican or Roman Catholic churches, but no doubt known elsewhere as well. There are several ways of singing it, but a common one is for the Rorate section, shown here with emphasis to be sung as a chorus, and for the choir to take the verses, with the chorus alternating. Although the English text says 'Drop down, ye heavens...', the Latin verb rorare actually means 'to make or deposit dewdrops', a fact which evaded me when I first came to the piece. Similarly, justum in the second line means 'the just man', rather than 'righteousness'. My Latin and English sources do not quite coincide, and so I have reconstructed the fourth verse of the Latin from the Vulgate bible. The final verses do not quite match either, but I have not tried to reconcile these.
Rorate coeli desuper
et nubes pluant justum.
Ne irascaris, Domine!
Ne ultra memineris iniquitatem.
Ecce civitas sancta facta est deserta:
Sion deserta facta est.
Jerusalem desolata facta est.
Domus sanctificationis tua et gloria tua,
et ubi laudaverunt te patres nostri.
Peccavimus, et facti sumus tamquam immundus nos
Et cecidimus, quasi folium universi
Et iniquitates nostrae quasi ventus abstulerunt nos
Abscondisti faciem tuam a nobis
Et allisisti nos in manu iniquitatis nostrae.
Vide, Domine, afflictionem populi tui.
Et mitte quem missurus es:
Emitte Agnum, dominatorem terra,
De petra deserti ad montem filia Sion:
Ut auferat ipse jugum captivitatis nostra.
Vos testes mei, dicit Dominus,
Et servus meus quem elegi;
Ut sciatis et credatis mihi:
Ego sum, ego sum Dominus, et non est absque me Salvator:
Et non est qui de manu mea eruat
Consolamini, consolamini popule meus:
cito veniet salus tua.
Quare mirore? Innovat te dolor?
Salvabo te: noli timere.
Ego enim sum Dominus Deus tuus:
Sanctus Israel, Redemptor tuus.
Drop down, ye heavens, from above,
And let the skies pour down righteousness. (Isaiah 45:8)
Be not wroth very sore, O Lord,
Neither remember iniquity for ever;
Thy holy cities are a wilderness,
Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation:
Our holy and our beautiful house,
Where our fathers praised thee. (Isaiah 64:9-11)
We have sinned, and are as an unclean thing,
And we all do fade as a leaf:
And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away;
Thou hast hid thy face from us:
And hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.(Isaiah 64:5-7)
Behold, O Lord, the affliction of thy people.
And send forth Him who is to come:
Send forth the Lamb, the ruler of the earth,
From Petra of the desert to the mount of the daughter of Sion:
That He may take away the yoke of our captivity. (Isaiah 16:1)
Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord,
And my servant whom I have chosen;
That ye may know me and believe me:
I, even I, am the Lord, and beside me there is no Saviour:
And there is none that can deliver out of my hand. (Isaiah 43:10-13)
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people;
My salvation shall not tarry:
I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions:
Fear not, for I will save thee:
For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Redeemer.(Isaiah 40 and 41)