Decus morum, dux minorum (Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina)

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  • (Posted 2018-07-29)  CPDL #50694:         
Editor: Phoebe Wing (submitted 2018-07-29).   Score information: Letter, 8 pages, 123 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Transcription from Franz Espagne's 1878 edition (Breitkopf & Härtel) of Tomus VIII, Opera omnia Ioannis Petraloysii Praenestini. Musica ficta taken from this edition. Subsequently raised a minor third, "vitae" corrected to "vite."

General Information

Title: Decus morum, dux minorum
Composer: Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Number of voices: 5vv   Voicing: SAATB (SATB and SAA sections)
Genre: SacredOffice hymn for St. Francis of Assisi

Language: Latin
Instruments: A cappella

First published: 1589 in Hymni totius anni, no. 40
Description: "Medieval hymnographers also loved the trick used in this hymn, in which the last line of each stanza is the title (i.e. first line) of another hymn. (A similarly constructed piece is sung in the Cisterican Office of St Bernard.) The hymns thus quoted are all from the repertoire generally found in all medieval Uses of the Office.

– Gregory di Pippo, New Liturgical Movement (4 Oct. 2017)

External websites:

Original text and translations

Latin.png Latin text

1. Decus morum,
dux minorum,
Franciscus tenens bravium:
in te vite
datur vitae
Christe Redemptor omnium.
3. Demptum solo,
datum polo,
signorum probant opera;
ergo vivit,
nam adivit
eterna Christi munera.

5. Hunc sequantur,
huic jungantur
qui ex Aegypto exeunt,
in quo duce
clara luce
vexilla regis prodeunt.

7. Est dux fidus
clarum sidus
ducit, relucet devia
beata nobis gaudia.

English.png English translation

The glory of our way,
the leader of the Friars Minor,
Francis, holding his prize,
is given to life
in Thee, the Vine,
O Christ, Redeemer of all.

His works of wonder prove that he
is taken from earth, given to heaven;
Therefore he lives,
for he entered the
eternal gifts of Christ.

Let them follow him, and be joined
to him who march out of Egypt;
with him as leader,
in bright light
the standards of the King go forth.

He is a trusty guide,
a bright star; he leads,
he shines, avoiding
the wrong path,
showing blessed joys to us.
(from CPDL #50694)