Almighty God

Author unknown
Genre Lyric, Poem, Religious
Keywords 14th century, Easter hymns, liturgy, Old Czech
Title (in Czech) Buoh všemohúcí
Title (in English translation) Almighty God
Editor Andrea Svobodová – Kateřina Voleková
Translator Walter Schamschula
Edited source Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII F 30, ff. 96r-96v
Introduction Walter Schamschula – Andrea Svobodová
TEI P5 XML Encoding Matěj Čermák – Michal Mocňák – Ondřej Tichý
Summary of content Old Czech free paraphrase of the German Easter hymn Christ ist erstanden.
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Introduction to the Text

Together with the hymn Jesu Kriste, ščedrý kněže (‘Jesus Christ, generous prince’), Buoh všemohúcí (‘Almighty God’) from the first half of the 14th century forms a transition from the hymnal poetry of the Romanesque period to that of the late medieval period in Bohemia. Reflecting the transition, the two songs are furnished with secular features. Both the poems are “leis”, employing the invocation of the Lord at the end of each stanza. Buoh všemohúcí (‘Almighty God’) is an Easter hymn and a free paraphrase of the German song Christ ist erstanden (‘Christ is arisen’), whose rhythmical (not melodic – cf. Nejedlý 1954, p. 330) scheme it follows. According to Conrad Waldhauser, this Czech hymn was sung together with the German one. When in 1399 the then German pastor of the Týn Church wanted to remove the hymn from the canon, there was such an uproar that the pastor, at the instigation of the parish, had to be imprisoned by the archbishop.

Buoh všemohúcí (‘Almighty God’) shows signs of growth from an original nucleus of three stanzas on the Easter theme to the inclusion of other subjects: St. Mary, a quest for intercession at difficult times, the country’s hardships, the church schism. It continues the tradition of the liturgical folk song initiated by Hospodine, pomiluj ny (‘Lord have mercy upon us’), and continued by the hymn to St. Wenceslas. Although it displays few learned rhetorical devices, it has, on the other hand, a certain natural grace in abandoning already established rhyme patterns: e.g. veselí – velí, vstal si – dal si, křesťany – rány etc.

Introduction to the Sources

The oldest record of the hymn is preserved in the so-called Milič’s Prayer Book from the 1380s (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII F 30, ff. 96r-96v; available online). Fourteen other copies have been preserved, seven complete, seven partial (the sigla taken from Lehár 1991, p. 302): B (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, X E 2, ff. 14v-15r; available online), C (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII E 7, ff. 58v-59r; available online), D (Praha, Národní knihovna České republiky, XVII F 3, ff. 13r-13v; not available online), E (Praha, Knihovna Národního muzea, II C 7, p. 164, just one stanza with notation; available online), F (Praha, Knihovna Národního muzea, IV H 19, back pastedown, just the first stanza; available online), G (Praha, Archiv Pražského hradu, fond Knihovna Metropolitní kapituly u sv. Víta, B VI/2, fol. 322v, only the opening verses of 17 stanzas, two of which are not elsewhere documented; not available online), H (Praha, Archiv Pražského hradu, fond Knihovna Metropolitní kapituly u sv. Víta, M XXXIX, fol. 143r, with the Latin text; not available online), Ch (Praha, Archiv Pražského hradu, fond Knihovna Metropolitní kapituly u sv. Víta, M C, fol. 60v, stanzas 5-10; not available online), I (Praha, Archiv Pražského hradu, fond Knihovna Metropolitní kapituly u sv. Víta, M CII/1, fol. 2v, stanzas 5-10; not available online), J (Praha, Národní archiv, fond Archiv kolegiátní kapituly vyšehradské, inv. no. 376 (formerly V Cc 7), fol. 2v, except for one stanza, only the opening verses of the stanzas; available online), K (Olomouc, pobočka Zemského archivu Opava, fond Sbírka rukopisů Metropolitní kapituly Olomouc, CO 120, front flyleaf, only opening verses of 12 stanzas; not available online), L (Hradec Králové, Muzeum východních Čech v Hradci Králové, II A 6, fol. 271v; not available online), M (Wrocław, Biblioteka Uniwersytecka, I Q 303, front pastedown; available online), N (Kiel, Universitätsbibliothek, Cod. ms. Bord. 16, fol. 1r, with notation; not available online).

About this Edition

The given transcription was made according to the manuscript XVII F 30, taking into account the edition of Walter Schamschula (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below).

The present translation has been taken, with the permission of Walter Schamschula, from the text of his edition. No textual changes have been made to the text, and only obvious typographical errors have been removed (cf. Schamschula 1991, see Existing editions below). The introductory information, based on Schamschula´s edition, has been supplemented from new contributions on the topic.

Existing Editions

Buoh všemohúcí, in: Staročeská lyrika, Jan Vilikovský (ed.), Praha 1940, pp. 152-154 [ms. XVII F 30; standardized transcription].

Buoh všemohúcí, in: Nejstarší česká duchovní lyrika, Antonín Škarka (ed.), Praha 1949, pp. 71-72 [ms. XVII F 30; standardized transcription].

Buoh všemohúcí, in: Výbor z české literatury od počátků po dobu Husovu, Bohuslav Havránek a kol. (eds.), Praha 1957, pp. 420-421 [ms. XVII F 30; standardized transcription].

Buoh všemohúcí, in: Česká středověká lyrika, Jan Lehár (ed.), Praha 1990, p. 140 [ms. XVII F 30; standardized transcription].

Buoh všemohúcí/Almighty God, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 68-71 [ms. XVII F 30; standardized transcription].

Existing translations

Buoh všemohúcí/Almighty God, in: An Anthology of Czech Literature. 1st Period: from the Beginnings until 1410, Walter Schamschula (ed.), Frankfurt am Main – Bern – New York – Paris 1991, pp. 68-71 [ms. XVII F 30].

Buoh všemohúcí, Historická antologie hudby v českých zemích (do cca 1530), Jaromír Černý (ed.), Praha 2005, pp. 77-78 [ms. XVII F 30; with notation].

Further Reading

Jakobson, Roman: Nejstarší české písně duchovní, Praha 1921.

Nejedlý, Zdeněk: Dějiny husitského zpěvu 1, Praha 1954, pp. 329-331, 346-354.

Almighty God

Edition


MECZ [online], Almighty God, ed. unknown, trans. Walter Schamschula. KREAS Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Retrieved 12.08.2022, from https://mecz.kreas.ff.cuni.cz/publication/almighty-god/ Bibtex citation

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