Media vita in morte sumus

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Media vita in morte sumus is the title and first line of a Latin antiphon, which translates as In the midst of life we are in death. It was erroneously attributed to Notker the Stammerer late in the Middle Ages, but was more probably written around 750 in France.


"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, amarae morti ne tradas nos."

"In the midst of life we are in death: of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased? 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."


Popular in the Baroque period, the Latin phrase was translated into the vernacular early and has continued to circulate especially widely in German and English, in literature and in song.


It was even used in the late Middle Ages, in Hartmann von Aue's Middle High German narrative poem Der arme Heinrich (V.93f.).

In 1524, Martin Luther translated it as Mytten wir ym leben synd and consequently it is now in the Evangelischen Gesangbuch hymnbook as number 518, or 654 in the Gotteslob hymnbook.[1]

Later, the Bavarian 'Guglmänner' secret society used the phrase as its motto.

It is echoed in Rainer Maria Rilke's poem "Schlußstück": "Der Tod ist groß [...] Wenn wir uns mitten im Leben meinen/ wagt er zu weinen/ mitten in uns," as well as in the poem titled "Media in Vita" by Hermann Hesse.


The Latin phrase was translated by Thomas Cranmer, whose English-language version became part of the burial service in the Book of Common Prayer.

'In the Midst of Life we are in Death' is a section in Henry Purcell's "Music for the Funeral Of Queen Mary'" .


The Latin text was popularised anew by the Irish choir Anúna in a four-part harmony version, with the line of text "Juste irasceris" left out because, according to Michael McGlynn, "The particular piece of parchment I was working from was missing those lines".

'In the midst of life we are in death etc.' The Smiths - Sweet and Tender Hooligan.

In Morte Sumus (2005) by Ignacio Segura is loosely based on the text of the antiphon, published in the album Signals & Noises by the group Delta Zero.[2][3]


  1. ^ German text of Mytten wir ym leben synd on Wikisource
  2. ^ "In Morte Sumus". Inspired by System Shock (1) game. Retrieved 2011. 
  3. ^ "In Morte Sumus". Signals & Noises album. Retrieved 2009. 

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