Latin IS English!

March 28, 2008

Vitae Lux (“Light of Life”)


 “VITAE LUX” — Sissel (music video in separate window) 

  • MELODY:  Frode Alnæs
  • LYRICS:   Ivar Dyrhau
  • ENGLISH TRANSLATION:  Robert Wermuth 

Vitae lux 
Light of life 
Vitae vis
Strength of life 
Unde spes vigens
From whom hope thrives 
Duc sub nocte per umbras
Lead during the shade of night 
Firmentur pedes
May (our) feet be strengthened.
Mox intrat
Soon enters 
Mortis vis valet
The power of death is strong 
Anget vitae semita
Life’s path will cause pain 
Ne nos occultet 
May He assuredly hide us.




  1. How did you get ‘May He assuredly hide us’ [n.b. note the significant capital letter] out of ‘… ne nos occultet’?

    Pax tibi 😉

    Comment by Ille Pu — May 19, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Reply

  2. Thanks for asking. I’m not sure if your question is regarding the capital “H” in “He” or the translation of the entire phrase. So, I’ll address both, I guess.

    The capital “He” is simply because I believe that this entire song would be referring to Christ Himself, or at least to the Holy Spirit, either of which give “light” to the paths of those who have saving faith in Christ. This, of course, can be supported by numerous places discoverable in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments), which I won’t list here. As for the phrase itself, it appears as a “subjunctive mood,” which, at first made the “ne” seem to be a negating word. But that would have been nonsensical in the context. So, it seems that the “ne” here means “assuredly” as shown (second meaning, below):

    ne ADV POS
    ne ADV [XXXAX]
    not; (intro clause of purpose with subj verb); [ne….quidem => not even];

    truely, indeed, verily, assuredly; (particle of assurance); (w/personal PRON)

    Comment by Robert Wermuth — May 19, 2008 @ 7:24 am | Reply

  3. Hello,

    it’s interesting, how many wrong translations of this text exist. Though this is a very good one, there is still a flaw in the last lines:

    Mortis vis valet
    The power of death is strong (correct)
    Anget vitae semita
    The narrow and small path of life
    Ne nos occultet
    may not be hidden from us.

    Comment by Herbert — April 22, 2010 @ 3:01 am | Reply

    • Taking this as a prayer, and considering Jesus’ words from Matthew’s account (7:13-14) about life’s “broad” and contrastingly preferable “narrow” path(s), I treated this Latin Subjunctive the way I did. As such, it is similar to the Greek “Optative” mode (of wishing), where Paul says “May it never be” (regarding sinning so that grace may abound—Rom. 6:1). Thanks for your interest and input.

      Comment by Robert Wermuth — April 22, 2010 @ 7:45 am | Reply

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