Carmina Burana 2024

Texts and Translations

O Fortuna

This is the most recognizable music from Carmina Burana and has been used in many other contexts to denote events of an epic or foreboding nature. Orff uses an endlessly repeating orchestral accompaniment to suggest the relentless turning of the Wheel of Fortune.

O Fortuna,
velut luna,
statu variabilis,
semper crescis,
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem, egestatem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis, obumbrata
et velata
michi quoque niteris; nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria, est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite; sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
ever waxing
and waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it; poverty
and power,
it melts them like ice.

Fate, monstrous
and empty,
you turning wheel,
you are malevolent,
your favor is idle
and always fades,
shadowed, veiled,
you plague me too.
I bare my back for the sport
of your wickedness.

In prosperity
or in virtue
fate is against me,
Both in passion
and in weakness
fate always enslaves us.
So at this hour
pluck the vibrating strings; because fate
brings down even the strong, everyone weep with me.

Fortune plango vulnera

In the first verse, the goddess Fortuna is depicted with hair on the front of her head but none on the back, signifying that you can grasp an opportunity if you see it coming, but not once it has passed. Hecuba, whose name is written below the hub of the wheel, is an object lesson in the capriciousness of fate. She was the wife of King Priam of Troy, and during the long Trojan War she saw her husband slain, her family destroyed, and the city razed. She herself was given as spoils to Odysseus. Thinking to save at least one member of the family, she sent her youngest son to the king of Thrace along with a large sum of money. The king basely slew the boy and stole the money. Hecuba exacted her revenge by blinding the king and killing his two sons. As the king’s men pursued her, the gods finally pitied Hecuba and turned her into a dog, allowing her to escape. She threw herself into the sea and was drowned.

Fortune plango vulnera
stillantibus ocellis,
quod sua michi minera
subtrahit rebellis.
Verum est, quod
legitur, fronte capillata,
sed plerumque sequitur
Occasio calvata.

In Fortune solio
sederam elatus,
prosperitas vario
flore coronatus;
quicquid enim florui
felix et beatus,
nunc a summo corrui
gloria privatus.

Fortune rota volvitur:
descendo minoratus;
alter in altum tollitur;
nimis exaltatus
rex sedet in vertice
caveat ruinam:
nam sub axe legimus
Hecubam reginam.

I bemoan Fortune’s wounds
with weeping eyes,
for the gifts she gave me
she perversely takes away.
It is true, what is written,
Opportunity has hair on her brow,
but from behind
she is bald.

On fortune’s throne
I once sat, raised up
and crowned
with the blossoms of prosperity;
though I once flourished,
happy and blessed,
now I fall from the peak,
deprived of glory.

The Wheel of fortune turns
and I descend, debased;
another rises in turn;
raised too high
the king sits at the top,
let him fear ruin:
for below the axle we read
Queen Hecuba.

Omnia sol temperat

Omnia sol temperat
purus et subtilis, novo
mundo reserat faciem
ad amorem properat
animus herilis
et iocundis imperat
deus puerilis.

Rerum tanta novitas
in solemni vere
et veris auctoritas
jubet nos gaudere;
vias prebet solitas
et in tuo vere
fides est et probitas
tuum retinere.

Ama me fideliter!
fidem meam nota: de
corde totaliter
et ex mente tota
sum presentialiter
absen in remota,
quisquis amat taliter
volvitur in rota.

The sun, pure and gentle, warms
all things,
and again reveals to the world
the face of April,
a man’s soul
is urged toward love
and joys are ruled
by the boy-god.

The renewal of all things
in spring’s festivity
and spring’s power
bid us all rejoice;
it shows us the familiar way, and
in your springtime
it is right and true
to keep what is yours.

Love me faithfully!
See how I am faithful:
with all my heart
and with all my soul
I am with you
even when I am far away.
Whoever loves this much
is turned on the wheel.