Having taught at Bristol Grammar School for many years now, I am often asked by the students (and sometimes Old Bristolians) about the meaning and pronunciation of the school song, Carmen Bristoliense.

So here goes… Below is my own translation of the song, with the Latin for all four verses in an interlinear fashion. Each word is linked to the word’s page on the Perseus website, in case you would like to know more about the meaning. I have even recorded myself singing the song, for what it’s worth, aiming to pronounce the Latin as correctly as I can (apologies for the singing). I have not attempted what the students always do, which is to sing the word QUOTQUOT in the chorus VERY loudly (and on the beat rather than off the beat as it is written!)

In case anyone objects to the pronunciation, and would like me to sing it in ecclesiastical Latin, I reckon that this is a largely secular song, so I have gone for the ancient Roman pronunciation, so far as is possible!

Carmen Bristoliense

(The Bristolian Song)

First verse

nunc universo gaudio, ludo pensisque functi,
(Now with universal joy, having busied ourselves with play and duties)

scholam dilectam sedulo concelebremus cuncti!
(let us eagerly celebrate all together our beloved school!)

iam quadringentos amplius annos laudem meretur:
(already for more than four hundred years it has deserved our praise)

merendo et durabimus, dum nostra urbs servetur.
(by deserving we too shall endure, for as long as our city is preserved)


sit clarior, sit dignior, quotquot labuntur menses.
(May it be more famous, may it be more worthy, however many months pass by)

sit primus nobis hic decor:
(May this noble claim be foremost for us)

sumus Bristolienses!
(We are Bristolians!)

Second verse

laudemus iam gratissimi qui ante nos fuere:
(Let us praise now most gratefully those who were before us)

domi forisque splendidi scholam exornavere.
(splendid at home and away, they were ornaments to the school)

per illos est laudabilisest musis cara sedes,
(through them it is praiseworthy, it is a seat of learning dear to the Muses)

et nos illorum nominis nunc stamus hic haeredes.
(and we stand here now as the heirs of the name of those men)

(repeat Chorus)

Third Verse

si ludi sit contentio pro puerili parte,
(if there should be a sporting contest amongst the boys)

ne superemur proelio, summa nitamur arte!
(let us strive with the highest skill so that we shall not be overcome in battle!)

et, si vocamur ad libros, intenti hoc agamus;
(and, if we are called to our books, let us do this attentively)

ludo librisque nonne nos iam palmam auferamus?
(in sport and books, surely we should now carry off the palm of victory?)

(repeat Chorus)

Fourth Verse

sic placuit nil perperam nil improbi patrare,
(Thus it has become pleasing to us do accomplish nothing falsely, nothing dishonestly)

nam scholam, urbem, patriam hic discimus amare.
(for here we learn to love our school, city, country)

in altiora tendimus, scholamque veneremur:
(We aim towards higher things, and we honour our school)

dum adsumus, augebimus, nec post obliviscemur!
(while we are here, we shall grow, and afterwards, we shall not forget!)

(repeat Chorus)


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