Carmina Burana

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Carmina Burana

1.  O Fortuna
2.  Fortunae plango vulnera
3.  Veris laeta facies
4.  Omnia sol temperata
5.  Ecce gratum
6.   Tanz - (instrumental)
7.  Floret silva nobilis
8.  Chramer, gip die varwe mir
9.  Swaz hie gat umbe
10.Were diu werlt alle min
11. Aestuans interius
12. Olim lacus colueram
13. Ego sum abbas
14. In taberna quando sumus
15. Amor volat undique
16. Dies, nox, et omnia
17. Stetit puella
18. Circa mea pectora
19. Si puer cum puella
20. Veni, veni, venias
21. In trutina
22. Tempus est iocundum
23. Dulcissime
24. Ave formosissima


The uncertainty of Fortune was a regular motif in medieval literature; various symbols and examples of her caprice became commonplace. Of the several poems in the Carmina Burana on this subject the following is certainly not the best; its vagueness suggests that some expressions may have been chosen simply through the demands of rhyme. It is, however, considerably enhanced by the musical setting which Orff has given it. Some phrases deserve comment:

mentis aciem in Classical Latin the words would mean mental perception, but this seems wholly out of place here; perhaps feelings, sensibilities, is what the author meant.

status malus this seems to refer to the instability of Fortune.

est affectus ... angaria the last word signifies the service (usually in the form of manual work) which a medieval serf was obliged to render to his lord.

affectus et defectus apparently means willingness and unwillingness: in the translation the concrete has been substituted for the abstract.

cordae pulsum tangite lit. touch the beat of the string.


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

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

Sors salutis
et virtutis
mihi nunc contraria;
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
hac in hora
sine mora
cordae pulsum tangite!
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune, like the moon of ever changing state, you are always waxing or waning; hateful life now is brutal, now pampers our feelings with its game; poverty, power, it melts them like ice.

Fate, savage and empty, you are a turning wheel, your position is uncertain, your favour is idle and always likely to disappear; covered in shadows and veiled you bear upon me too; now my back is naked through the sport of your wickedness.

The chance of prosperity and of virtue is not now mine; whether willing or not, a man is always liable for Fortune's service. At this hour without delay touch the strings! Because through luck she lays low the brave, all join with me in lamentation!