Notker Balbulus

The Hymnbook
The Common of the Saints

For Holy Women

[N.44] "Scalam ad caelos"



The ladder that is raised to the heavens, girded about by machines of torture, whose foot defendeth alway a dragon, careful to keep watch, lest anyone succeed to mount even its first step, whose ascent forbiddeth an Ethiop, threatening destruction with drawn sword, at whose head standeth a radiant youth, brandishing a branch of gold – this ladder Christ’s love hath opened to women, so that, trampling underfoot the dragon and passing the Ethiop’s sword, through every manner of torture, they might reach the peak of heaven and receive the laurel of gold from the hand of the King that comforteth.

What hath it profited thee, o unholy serpent, once to have deceived a woman, since a virgin hath born Lord Jesus, God the Father’s only and incarnate Son?

Who took from thee thy prey and pierceth thy cheek with a clasp, so that Eve’s children might escape, whom thou desirest to hold.

Now dost thou witness, o hateful one, virgins prevail over thee, and married women bear sons that are pleasing to God.

Now dost thou lament the constant faith of widows bereft of their husbands, thou who hadst persuaded a virgin to break faith to her Creator.

Now dost thou see women rise up as generals in war against thee, who urge on their sons to prevail over thy tortures with courage.

Rather the Lord cleanseth the whores that are thy vessels and deigneth to make them unto Himself a holy temple.

For these benefits let us now glorify the Lord together, both just and sinner, Who confirmeth the upright and reacheth out His right hand to the fallen, so that after our wickedness we might yet arise!


Richard L. Hewitt
Notker's Hymnbook in Three Languages

Kamuzu Academy, Malawi
2020 - 2022