Ambrosian Advent Hymn  

Posted by Joe Rawls

Ambrose, 4th century bishop of Milan, is known for many things, not the least of which is his baptism of Augustine of Hippo.  But he is also known as the father of Western hymnody.  His musical motivations were not entirely artistic; Arianism was still a force to be reckoned with, and Ambrose's hymns are metrical poems expressing doctrinally orthodox themes set to popular tunes, some of which were marching songs of Roman legionaries.  One such is Veni Redemptor Gentium, "Come, Savior of the Nations", suitable for use during Advent.  A version appears as number 54 in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982, but this is really a paraphrase of an English translation of a German translation done by Luther.  The video contains the whole text in a very nice plainchant setting.  Below I include an English translation made by John Mason Neale, the great 19th century Anglican liturgist.


O come, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth.
Let every eye in wonder fall;
such birth befits the God of all.

Begotten of no human will
but of the Spirit, Thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.

The Virgin's womb that burdened gained,
its virgin honor still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in  His temple dwells below.

Proceeding from His chamber free
that royal home of purity
a giant in twofold substance one,
rejoicing now His course to run.

O equal to the Father, Thou!
gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.

Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light
where endless faith shall shine serene
and twilight never intervene.

All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
whose advent sets Thy people free,
whom, with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost, for evermore.  Amen.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at Wednesday, December 07, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Very beautiful.
JMN's version not available in chant or hymn?

December 7, 2011 at 3:45 PM

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