by William Dunbar (1465 - 1520?)

Rorate, celi, desuper!
Language: Scottish (Scots) 
Rorate, celi, desuper!
Hevins distill your balmy schouris,
For now is rissin the brycht day ster
Fro the ros Mary, flour of flouris.
The cleir sone quhome no clud devouris,
Surminting Phebus in the est
Is cumin of His hevinly touris;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Archangellis, angellis, and dompnationis,
Tronis, potestatis, and marteiris seir,
And all ye hevinly operationis,
Ster, planeit, firmament, and speir,
Fyre, erd, air, and watter cleir,
To Him gife loving, most and lest,
That come into so meik maneir;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Synnaris be glaid and pennance do,
And thank your Makar hairtfully,
For He that ye mycht nocht cum to,
To yow is cumin full humly,
Your saulis with His blud to by,
And lous yow of the feindis arrest,
And only of His awin mercy;
Pro nobis puer natus est.

All clergy do to him inclyne,
And bow unto that barne benyng,
And do your observance devyne
To Him that is of kingis King;
Ensence His altar, reid and sing
In haly kirk, with mynd degest,
Him honouring attour all thing,
Qui nobis puer natus est.

Celestiall fowlis in the are,
Sing with your nottis upoun hicht;
In firthis and in forrestis fair
Be myrthfull now at all your mycht,
For passit is your dully nycht.
Aurora hes the cluddis perst,
The son is rissin with glaidsum lycht,
Et nobis puer natus est.

Now spring up, flouris, fra the rute,
Revert yow upwart naturaly,
In honour of the blissit frute
That rais up fro the rose Mary.
Lay out your levis lustely,
Fro deid tak lyfe now at the lest
In wirschip of that Prince wirthy,
Qui nobis puer natus est.

Syng, hevin imperiall, most of hicht,
Regions of air mak armony;
All fische in flud and foull of flicht
Be myrthfull and mak melody.
All Gloria in excelsis cry -
Hevin, erd, se, man, bird, and best -
He that is crownit abone the sky
Pro nobis puer natus est.

F. Scott sets stanzas 1, 7

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with, William Dunbar - Poems, edited by James Kinsley. Published by Oxford University Press 1958. Page 1

English translation of the title is: "Drop down, ye heavens, from above" (King James Bible: Isaiah Chapter 45, Verse 8)

Modernized version of Stanzas 1 and 7(used by Scott):
Rorate, celi, desuper!
Heav’n distil your balmy show’rs,
For now is ris’n the bricht day ster,
Fro the Rose Mary, flow’r of flow’rs:
The clear sun, whom no cloud devours,
Surmounting Phoebus in the east,
Is coming of his heav’nly towers;
Et nobis puer natus est.

Sing, heav’n imperial, most of hicht,
Regions of air mak harmony;
All fish in flood and fowl of flight,
Be mirthful and mak melody.
All Gloria in excelsis cry,
Heav’n, Earth, Sea, Man, Bird, and Best,
He that is crown’d above the sky,
Pro nobis puer natus est.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

  • by Francis George Scott (1880 - 1958), "Rorate caeli desuper (Of the Nativity of Christ)", published 1934, stanzas 1,7 [voice and piano], from Scottish Lyrics, Book 3, no. 3, Bayley & Ferguson; confirmed with Songs of Francis George Scott, selected and edited by Neil Mackay, Roberton Publications, Aylesbury 1980, page 120. [ sung text checked 1 time]

Researcher for this text: Iain Sneddon [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2018-11-22
Line count: 56
Word count: 330