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Iste Quem Laeti

Gregorian chant to St. Joseph

Iste quem laeti is a Gregorian chant hymn whose text is attributed to Carmelite Brother Juan of the Conception (Fr. Juan Escollar, d. 1700), sung at Lauds (1) on the Feast Day of St. Joseph, March 19.

The chant expresses the triumphant entrance of St. Joseph into Heaven, and how he had the blessed company of Our Lady and Our Lord at his death, who spoke serenely to him. Thus death was vanquished, and the foster-father of the Redeemer of the World entered into peaceful sleep. He intercedes for us in Heaven's Church Triumphant, with a golden garland upon his brow.

The chant reminds us that, since he reigns now in the Celestial Kingdom, all Catholics - those members of the Church Militant - should pray to him, asking him to obtain for us the pardon for our sins and the gift of heavenly peace. It seems fitting for counter-revolutionaries to have particular recourse to this great Protector of the Church in these times of crisis and apostasy in the Church and society, and invoke his aid and intercession as we continue the fight against the Revolution.

Iste quem laeti is here interpreted by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

Listen to Iste Quem Laeti


Latin text (3):

Iste, quem laeti colimus, fideles
Cuius excelsos canimus triumphos,
Hac die Ioseph meruit perennis
Gaudia vitae.

O nimis felix, nimis o beatus,
Cuius extremam vigiles ad horam
Christus et Virgo simul astiterunt
Ore sereno.

Hinc stygis victor, laqueo salutus
Carnis, ad sedes placido sopore
Migrat aeternas, rutilisque cingit
Tempora sertis.

Ergo regnantem, flagitemus omnes,
Adsit ut nobis, veniamque nostris
Obtinens culpis, tribuat supernae
Munera pacis.

Sint tibi plausus, tibi sint honores,
Trine qui regnas Deus, et coronas
Aureas servo tribuis fideli
Omne per aevum. Amen.

English translation (4):

He, whom we the faithful joyously honor,
Whose high triumph we sing,
It is on this day that Joseph merited the joys
Of eternal life.

Exceedingly happy, exceedingly blessed one,
At whose last hour kept vigil
Christ and the Virgin stood together,
Speaking serenely [to him].

Hence death (5) was vanquished, broken the snare
Of the flesh; [Joseph] to the seat of peaceful sleep
He has eternally departed, glowing surrounds
A garland [upon] his brow.

Now, as he reigns, let us all beseech him
To help us, that upon us may come [his]
Procurement of pardon for our sins & the heavenly
Gift of peace.

To thee be acclaim, to thee be honor,
Triune God who reigns, and bestows a crown
Of gold to thy faithful servant
Throughought the ages. Amen.

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Iste quem laeti


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Saint Joseph Holding the Christ Child by the Hand (1610-1620),
by Juan Martínez Montañés (1568-1649)
Polychrome. Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Seville.

  1. 1934 Antiphonale Courtesy of Verbum Gloriae, here.
  2. Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, St. Bonaventure Publications, 2000 (reprint of 1949), vol. 5, p.429.
  3. The third verse of this text is the traditional one found in the 1934 Antiphonale and Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year. It appears that the third verse starts differently in newer breviaries with: Iustus insignis, laqueo solutus.
  4. English translation adapted from Preces Latinae and Dom Gueranger's Liturgical Year (ibid.)
  5. The word used here is Styx, which in Greek mythology refers to the river of the underworld. The text uses it here as a metonymy to refer to death.
  6. Sheet music courtesy of GregoBase, here. Note: this sheet music matches the 1934 Antiphonale.

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