Saturday, December 17, 2005

Of The Father's Love Begotten

I'm home! I slept in this morning... ahh.

Today's Advent hymn, Of The Father's Love Begotten, is somewhat rare in the sense that it encompasses the story of our redemption not just at the manger, but from creation, through the prophets, to the nativity, and finally the eternal glory of our Triune God.

The Spanish poet Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius wrote the text of this hymn in the 5th century as the poem Corde natus ex parentis. Prudentius was a lawyer, a judge, and the chief of the imperial bodyguard for Emperor Honorius. He was one of the last writers of the Roman Empire, as well as one of the first Christian poets. The text of Prudentius' poem was first translated in the 1850's by the English clergyman John Mason Neale and by Sir Henry Williams Baker. (Neale, a scholar of Greek and Latin who translated numerous hymn texts, was mentioned in a previous Advent post of mine as the first to translate O Come, O Come Emmanuel.)

The plainsong melody to which this text is sung is Divinum Mysterium. It was first used for this text in Neale's Hymnal Noted. Neale's note in that collection indicates that the tune may have originated in Germany in the 12th century; other information suggests that it comes from a work published in Finland in 1582 as an attempt to preserve the medieval songs and carols of Sweden.

Of The Father's Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Text: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413); translated by John Mason Neale (1818-1866) and Henry Wililams Baker (1821-1877)
Music: Divinum mysterium (Corde natus)

1 comment:

  1. Sarah - that is our family's favorite carol. Phoebe plays it *all* the time! :-)

    Heidi (from Schola long ago)