Media vita in morte sumus

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Background

Media in morte is now believed to date from around 1200, but is attributed to Notker by Winkworth, with an accompanying anecdote:

The hymn, "In the midst of life," is one of those founded on a more ancient hymn, the "Media in vita" of Notker, a learned Benedictine of St. Gall, who died in 912. He is said to have composed it while watching some workmen, who were building the bridge of Martinsbruck at the peril of their lives. It was soon set to music, and became universally known; indeed it was used as a battle song, until the custom was forbidden on account of its being supposed to exercise magical influences. In a German version it formed part of the service for the burial of the dead, as early as the thirteenth century, and is still preserved in an unmetrical form in the Burial Service of our own Church.

Settings of Media vita

Settings of Luther's paraphrase

Other settings possibly not included in the manual list above

Text and translations

Media vita

Latin.png Latin text

Media vita in morte sumus
Quem quaerimus adjutorem nisi te, Domine?
Qui pro peccatis nostris juste irasceris
Sancte Deus, Sancte fortis,
Sancte et misericors Salvator,
Amaræ morti ne tradas nos.

Variant 1

In Te speraverunt Patres nostri,
speraverunt et liberasti eos.
Ad Te clamaverunt Patres nostri,
clamaverunt et non sunt confusi.

Sancte Deus, Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto:
sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Variant 2

Ne projicias nos in tempore senectutis cum defecerit virtus nostra ne derelinquas nos Domine.
Sancte Deus, Sancte fortis, Sancte et misericors Salvator,
Amarae morti ne tradas nos.

Noli claudere aures tuas ad preces nostras.
Sancte fortis, Sancte et misericors Salvator,
Amarae morti ne tradas nos.

Qui cognoscis occulta cordis parce peccatis nostris.
Sancte et misericors Salvator, Amarae morti ne tradas nos.

Italian.png Italian translation

Nel mezzo della vita, siamo nella morte,
a chi chiederemo aiuto, se non a Te, Signore.
Tu che Ti adiri per i nostri peccati.
Dio Santo, Santo e forte,
Santo e misericordioso, nostro Salvatore,
non consegnarci all'amara morte.

Variant 1

In Te hanno sperato i nostri Padri,
hanno sperato e Tu li hai liberati.
A Te gri darono e furono salvati,
sperando in Te non rimasero delusi.

Dio Santo, Gloria al Padre, e al Figlio, e allo Spirito Santo.
Come era nel principio, e ora, e sempre, nei secoli dei secoli. Amen.

English.png English translation

(Book of Common Prayer)

In the midst of life we be in death:
Of whom may we seek for succour, but of Thee,
O Lord, which for our sins justly art moved?
Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty,
O holy and most merciful Saviour,
Deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Variant 1

In you our Fathers have trusted;
they have trusted and you have delivered them.
To You our Father have cried out;
they have cried out, and they have not been brought to ruin.

O Holy God, Glory to the Father, and the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, now and always and for ever and ever.

Variant 2

Do not cast us away in our old age; When our strength fails us do not abandon us O Lord.
O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour,
deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts
O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour,
deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer; but spare us
O holy and most merciful Saviour, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.

Mitten wir im Leben sind

German.png German text

(Luther, 1543)

1. Mitten wir im Leben sind
Mit dem Tod umfangen.
Wen such’n wir, der Hülfe tu’,
Daß wir Gnad’ erlangen?
Das bist du, Herr, alleine!
Uns reuet unser’ Missetat,
Die dich, Herr, erzürnet hat.
Heiliger Herre Gott,
Heiliger, starker Gott,
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland,
Du ewiger Gott!
Laß uns nicht versinken
In der bittern Todesnot!
Kyrieleison!

2. Mitten in den Tod ansieht
Uns der Höllen Rachen;
Wer will uns aus solcher Not
Frei und ledig machen?
Das tust du, Herr, alleine.
Es jammert dein’ Barmherzigkeit
Unser’ Sünd’ und großes Leid.
Heiliger Herre Gott!
Heiliger, starker Gott!
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland!
Du ewiger Gott!
Laß uns nicht verzagen
Für der tiefen Höllenglut!
Kyrieleison!

3. Mitten in der Höllen Angst
Unser’ Klag’ uns treiben;
Wo soll’n wir denn fliehen hin,
Da wir mögen bleiben?
Zu dir, Herr Christ, alleine.
Vergossen ist dein teures Blut,
Das g’nug für die Sünde tut.
Heiliger Herre Gott!
Heiliger, starker Gott!
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland!
Du ewiger Gott!
Laß uns nicht entfallen
Von des rechten Glaubens Trost.
Kyrieleison!

English.png English translation

(Catherine Winkworth, Lyra Germanica (1862))
In the midst of life, behold
Death has girt us round.
Whom for help then shall we pray,
Where shall grace be found?
In Thee, O Lord, alone!
We rue the evil we have done,
That Thy wrath on us hath drawn.
Holy Lord and God!
Strong and Holy God!
Merciful and Holy Saviour!
Eternal God!
Leave us not to sink beneath
These dark pains of bitter death;
Kyrie eleison!

In the midst of death the jaws
Of hell against us gape.
Who from peril dire as this
Openeth us escape?
'Tis Thou, O Lord, alone!
Our bitter suffering and our sin
Pity from Thy mercy win,
Holy Lord and God!
Strong and Holy God!
Merciful and Holy Saviour!
Eternal God!
Let not dread our souls o'erwhelm
Of the dark and burning realm,
Kyrie Eleison!

In the midst of hell would Sin
Drive us to despair;
Whither shall we flee away?
Where is refuge, where?
With Thee, Lord Christ, alone!
For Thou hast shed Thy precious blood,
All our sins Thou makest good,
Holy Lord and God!
Strong and Holy God!
Merciful and Holy Saviour!
Eternal God!
Leave us not to fall in death
From the hope of Thy true Faith,
Kyrie Eleison!

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