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Title: Hymns of the Early Church

Author: John Brownlie

Release date: October 26, 2013 [eBook #44039]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Stephen Hutcheson, Dave Morgan and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


Hymns of the Early Church

Hymns of the Early Church


With Hymns for Sundays and Week-Days





Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
At the Ballantyne Press



This volume is intended for hours of devotion, and the vast storehouse of sacred poetry of the Latin Church has been put under tribute to supply the material.

If an apology should be required for the book, it may perhaps be enough to say that, while south of the Tweed Latin hymnody has had considerable attention paid to it, the subject has hitherto been all but neglected in Scotland. There may be reasons for this—we believe there are; but with these we have nothing to do here. The fact remains that, while Anglicans can point to a long list of names worthily associated with this department of Christian literature, including such well-known hymnologists as Trench, Neale, and Newman, [vi] we in Scotland have only two: Robert Campbell, author of the “St. Andrews Hymnal,” and Dr. Hamilton M‘Gill, author of “Songs of the Christian Creed and Life,” with the addition of Dr. Horatius Bonar, who, besides reflecting the spirit of the poetry of the Early Church in many of his own hymns, has left us also a few skilful renderings of the original. The present volume is, we believe, the first of its kind produced by Scotsmen and Presbyterians.

In making a selection, the translator has experienced no difficulty in regard to the quantity and quality of material at hand; indeed, he has laboured under an embarrassment of riches. But the choice has been made from the best, and care has been taken to use only those hymns that might be acceptable in point of doctrine to the most fastidious.

It has been the aim of the translator to give the idea and spirit of the Latin verses, [vii] and except in a very few instances absolute faithfulness to the original has been observed, with as much literalness as it is possible to give to work of this sort.

As a rule the original measures have been retained, and only in a few pieces, where change seemed desirable, have different measures been adopted.

For the original text, the following collections have been used:—

Daniel, H. A. Thesaurus Hymnologicus. 5 vols. Halle and Leipzig, 1841-56.
Mone, F. J. Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters. 3 vols. Freiburg, 1853-55.
Wrangham, D. S. “The Liturgical Poetry of Adam St. Victor.” 3 vols. London, 1881.
Newman, J. H. Hymni Ecclesiæ. Oxford and London, 1865.
Neale, J. M. Hymni Ecclesiæ. London, 1851.
Trench, R. C. “Sacred Latin Poetry.” London, 1886.

The translator desires to give expression to his sense of indebtedness to Dr. M‘Crie, [viii] whose share in this work is by no means confined to the Introduction and Notes. It was at his instigation that the task was at first undertaken, and his help and co-operation as the work of rendering progressed, were ungrudgingly given.

It will be cause for thankfulness to the translator if the work of some of the happiest hours of his life should meet with the appreciation and approbation of his fellow-countrymen, and awaken their interest in a department of devotional literature which has been too long neglected.


November 1895.



Sundays and Week-Days—
Die, dierum principe 3
O nata lux de lumine 5
Tu Trinitatis Unitas 7
Deus Creator omnium 9
O Deus, ego amo Te, nec 11
Lucis Creator optime 13
Aurora jam spargit polum 15
Jesu, dulcis memoria 17
O Deus, ego amo Te, nam 20
Te lucis ante terminum 22
Jam meta noctis transiit 23
Labente jam solis rotâ 25
Splendor Paternæ gloriæ 27
Salvator mundi, Domine 30
Christe, lumen perpetuum 32
Nox atra rerum contegit 34
Jam lucis orto sidere 36
Jam sol recedit igneus 38
Christe, precamur annue 41
In noctis umbra desides 43
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel! 45
Nato nobis Salvatore 49
Puer natus in Bethlehem 52
Heu! quid jaces stabulo 54
Quicumque christum quæritis 57
Jesu, nostra Redemptio 61
Dei canamus gloriam 63
Deus-Homo, Rex cœlorum 65
Passion Week—
Vexilla Regis prodeunt 69
Pange, lingua, gloriosi, prœlium 72
Lustra sex qui jam peregit 75
Crux ave benedicta 78
Horæ de Passione d. n. Jesu Christi 80
Tu qui velatus facie 80
Hora qui ductus tertia 81
Crucem pro nobis subiit 82
Beata Christi passio 82
Qui jacuisti mortuus 83
Finita jam sunt prælia 87
Plaudite, cœli 89
Mortis portis fractis 91
Alleluia, dulce carmen 93
Æterne Rex altissime 97
Postquam hostem et inferna 100
Cœlos ascendit hodie 102
O Christe, qui noster poli 104
Veni, Creator Spiritus 109
Veni, Sancte Spiritus 111
O fons amoris, Spiritus 114
Tu Trinitatis unitas 117
O Pater Sancte, mitis atque pie 118
Adesto, Sancta Trinitas 119
All Saints—
Pugnate, Christe milites 123
Audi nos, Rex Christe 125
Eja O dulcis anima 129
O Esca viatorum 131
Jesu, dulcedo cordium 133
Verbum supernum prodiens 135
Death and Judgment—
Gravi me terrore pulsas 139
Appropinquat enim dies 143
Jerusalem luminosa 149
Urbs beata Hierusalem (Part I.) 153
Urbs beata Hierusalem (Part II.) 154


The Latin poetry of the Christian Church presents a tempting field for the exercise of scholarship and research. The relation in which it stands on the one hand to the classic poetry of Greece and Italy, and on the other to the Liturgies of the Eastern Church, the placing of accent in the room of quantity, and the rise and growth of rhyme—these and such-like matters will always prove attractive to experts and specialists. They are, however, quite beyond the scope of this brief paper. Those who wish to make an exhaustive study of a subject which has many sides and a copious literature, would do well to betake themselves to such standard works as are noted below.[1] The general reader [xiv] may find something to profit and to interest him in the following general survey.

The title placed on our Saviour’s cross, setting forth His accusation—“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” was written in three languages—in Hebrew and in Greek and in Latin. That collocation of languages gives the order in which the hymnody of the Church developed.

Hebrew hymnody is contained for the most part in the Hebrew Psalter; for the distinction between psalms and hymns is not one that admits of being applied to all Hebrew poetry. Our Lord and His disciples, as they went out to the Mount of Olives after the institution and first observance of the Supper Sacrament, sang a portion of the Great Hallel, which consists of Psalms cxiii. to cxviii. inclusive. Their doing so is described in the New Testament as singing “an hymn,” just as the singing of Paul and Silas [xv] in the Philippian prison is said to be singing hymns unto God.[2]

In the Eastern or Greek Church hymnody was in both private and public use from earliest times. The oft-quoted letter of the younger Pliny, written soon after his arrival as Proconsul in the provinces of Bithynia and Pontus, which took place in A.D. 110, informs the Emperor that it was the practice of the Christians to meet together on a certain day and sing antiphonally (secum invicem) a hymn to Christ as their God; while the “Apostolical Constitutions,” which take us back to the life of the Church in the second or third centuries, enjoin the use of morning and evening hymns of praise for God’s beneficence by Christ. From the ample stores of Oriental hymnology there have come into modern collections many of their gems, thanks to the scholarship and versifying skill of Dr. Neale, Keble, and Canon Bright. To the first named we are indebted for such well-known [xvi] renderings of Greek sacred pieces as “Fierce was the wild billow,” and, “The day is past and over,” as also for “Art thou weary, art thou languid?” From the author of the “Christian Year” we have a beautiful English rendering of a first or second century Greek hymn, preserved by Basil, “Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured;” and from Canon Bright we have the vesper or “lamplighting hymn,” with its opening invocation, “Light of gladness, Beam Divine.”

The Western Church came under Eastern influence in the matter of hymn composition in the fourth century. The first to compose hymns in Latin verse was Hilary of Poitiers. This theologian was banished to Phrygia by the Emperor Constantius, because of his defence of the Nicene Creed from the attacks of the Arian party. During the bishop’s exile, his daughter, Abra, wrote to inform him that she had been sought in marriage, although only in her thirteenth year. This drew forth a reply in which the father left the decision to her own choice, indicating at the same time a personal preference [xvii] for continued virginity. Enclosed in the communication were a hymnus matutinus and a hymnus vesperinus. The morning hymn, beginning Lucis largitor splendida, is still extant, and has been styled “the oldest authentic original Latin song of praise to Christ as God.” It is, however, more than doubtful if the one for evening use survives; for the hymn, Ad cœli clara non sum dignus sidera, given in the Benedictine edition of Hilary’s works, belongs to the sixth or seventh century, and is probably of Irish authorship.

Another name associated with the rise of sacred Latin poetry is that of Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. It will ever be to the glory of this fourth-century Father that Augustine ascribed to him his conversion, and sought baptism at his hands. His illustrious convert tells, in the ninth book of his “Confessions,” how the bishop defended the churches of Milan against the intrusion of Arian modes of worship, in spite of the efforts put forth by Justina, mother of the Emperor Valentinian, to obtain one of the basilicas for the use of the party she favoured. [xviii] Alarmed by a report that he might be removed by force, the devout people of the city surrounded the bishop day and night, ready to die with him rather than allow him to be apprehended.

He, on his part, to stimulate their zeal and sustain their courage, supplied them with hymns to sing in honour of the Trinity. “Then,” writes Augustine, “it was first instituted that, after the manner of the Eastern churches, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should wax faint through the tediousness of sorrow; and from that day to this the custom is retained, divers (yea, almost all Thy) congregations throughout other parts of the world following herein.” Well nigh a hundred hymns have at one time or another passed under the title Ambrosian, but the number of authenticated pieces is pitiably small, not exceeding four. In that small group the Te Deum laudamus, at one time ascribed to the Bishop of Milan, does not find a place. For, as in the case of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo, the Dies Iræ, and the Veni, Sancte Spiritus, the question [xix] who wrote the Te Deum has not received a final answer, if, indeed, it ever will. Of this, however, we may be well assured, that in the time of Jerome of the fifth century, hymns were in general use throughout the Western as in the Eastern Church. Writing to Marcellus, that most scholarly and erudite among the Fathers of the Latin Church assured his correspondent “You could not go into the field but you might hear the ploughman at his Hallelujah, the mower at his hymns, and the vine-dresser singing David’s Psalms.”

From the days of Hilary and of Ambrose, of Augustine and of Jerome, onwards through the patristic period of Church history, and all down the medieval centuries, there never failed to be a goodly succession of hymn-writers. To mention these, however briefly, would necessitate a violation of the limits of this essay. We refrain from attempting even an enumeration all the more readily, because an opportunity of giving brief biographical notices of the more outstanding contributors to the treasures of sacred Latin poetry will occur in the following [xx] pages when specimens of their masterpieces are submitted to the reader.

A few sentences may be added bearing upon the hymns contained in the service-books of the Church of Rome, and upon the relation of Latin hymnody to the Churches of the Reformation.

The use of hymns for purposes of private devotion preceded their insertion in the liturgical books of the pre-Reformation Church. Up to the seventh century the Breviaries which contained the prayers to be offered at the canonical hours had as matter to be sung only the words of Scripture. But the Spanish Council which met at Toledo in A.D. 633, laid down the general principle, that if in the worship of the sanctuary prayers may be offered in the words of uninspired men, so also may praise be sung. From that time the Churches of Western Christendom inserted hymns in their service-books, some of these compositions being of earlier date, but the larger number being of more recent times and of purely local interest. As every diocese and religious order claimed and exercised the right to construct its own ritual, [xxi] Missal, and Breviary, there was endless variety of contents, considerable alterations of old compositions, and a general deterioration of quality. By the time Leo X. reached St. Peter’s chair the need for revision had become clamant. Under the direction of that Medicean Pope, the collection of hymns in use at Rome was recast; and ultimately the entire Breviary appeared in revised form, when Urban VIII. was Pope, in 1631. In this revised Roman Breviary, which is now in general use throughout the Papal communion, the hymns of earliest composers—say from Hilary to Gregory—are for the most part allowed to remain, although in some cases altered without real amendment; but in the case of those pieces which could not be conformed to the laws of correct Latinity there was an entire recasting. According to one authority, himself a revisionist, upwards of nine hundred alterations were made in the interests of metre, and the first lines of more than thirty hymns were altered. The Marquis of Bute executed a translation of the Roman Breviary in 1879, and then gave it as his deliberate judgment [xxii] that the revisers, “with deplorable taste made a series of changes in the texts of the hymns which has been disastrous both to the literary merit and the historical interest of the poems.”

The Breviary of Paris has been subjected to revisions in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. The third and latest revision was intrusted to a commission of three ecclesiastics, one of whom belonged to the Jansenist party, while another was Charles Coffin, then Rector of the University of Paris, who did the greater part of the work of editing, altering, and tinkering. Under Coffin’s manipulation only twenty-one hymns of the earlier period were retained, and the number of those from the pens of comparatively modern French writers was largely increased.

While all conversant with the subject will readily admit that both the Roman and the Parisian Breviary contain some noble verses, English versions of which are to be found in the writings of Williams, Chandler, Mant, Caswall, and Newman, as also in “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” the conviction is both general and well-founded [xxiii] that the principles and practice of liturgical revisionists have not been favourable to the interests of purity and simplicity in the case of ancient Latin hymnody.

Coming now to the relation in which Latin hymnology stands to the movement and Churches of the Reformation, it is to be noted that Luther showed his appreciation of what was good in the Church of his childhood when he rendered into the language of the Fatherland sixteen old hymns, twelve of these being taken from the Latin and the remaining four from the Old German of the Middle Ages. In his Colloquia Mensalia, the sturdy Protestant is to be heard censuring Ambrose as a wordy poet, but extolling the Rex Christe Factor omnium of Pope Gregory as the best hymn ever written. As with Luther, so with Melancthon and Zwingli and their immediate followers. They published collections and translations of the old Latin hymns, and they continued the use of such compositions in their public worship to a limited extent, even after they had ceased to employ the Latin tongue in Church services.


It is well known, at least to Anglican clergymen, that the Church of England Book of Common Prayer contains certain “Canticles,” to be used on Sundays and week days. Thus, after the Old Testament lesson has been read, the rubric provides that “there shall be said or sung in English the hymn called Te Deum laudamus daily throughout the year.” As an alternative to this great Creed hymn of Western Christendom there may be said or sung “this canticle, Benedicite, omnia opera,” that is, the Song of the Three Children, a part of the Greek addition to the third chapter of Daniel, and a paraphrase or expansion of the 148th Psalm. Then in the Ordinal of the Church of England, which provides for “the ordering of Priests” and “the consecration of Bishops,” there is a stage at which there is to be sung or said, Veni, Creator Spiritus. Of this hymn two English metrical versions are given in the Prayer Book of 1662—that presently in use, an older and more diffuse rendering, and one more terse and spirited, the product of Bishop Cosin.

But it may not be generally known that many [xxv] of the earliest service-books of the Continental and Scottish Churches had hymns appended to the Psalms in metre, some of which were versions in the vernacular of old Latin compositions. The French Psalter, edited by Marot in 1543, had the Ave Maria along with the Decalogue, the Belief, and the Lord’s Prayer. The Dutch Psalter of 1640 had the Te Deum, as well as metrical renderings of the Decalogue, the Song of Zacharias, of Mary, of Simeon, and of Elizabeth.

In the case of the Church of Scotland, the first edition of the Book of Common Order, published in 1564, gave only the Psalms; but the Bassandyne edition of the same book, published eleven years afterwards, contained five “Spiritual Songs;” that of 1587 gave ten, while some subsequent reprints have no fewer than fourteen. Among these, “commonly used in the Kirke and private houses,” will be found “The Song of Simeon, called Nunc Dimittis,” “The Song of Blessed Marie, called Magnificat,” and Veni, Creator. The English of the last named is taken from the First Prayer Book of [xxvi] Edward VI., published in 1549, and is the version of this old hymn which occurs in “The Fourme of Ordering Priestes,” the longer and older of the two renderings already referred to.

How it has fared with Latin hymns in Protestant service-books from Reformation times to the present day is too wide a field of inquiry to enter upon at the close of this brief introduction. This it is safe to affirm, that no hymnal with any claim to completeness will be found to omit such sacred and classic pieces as, “Brief life is here our portion,” “Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,” “Jerusalem the golden,” “Jesus! the very thought of Thee,” “Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts,” “O come, all ye faithful,” “O Jesus, King most wonderful;” and all these are translations or paraphrases of early Latin hymns.

With the increase of interest in all that concerns the praise of God’s children, which is so marked a feature of recent times, there has come an ever-growing appreciation of the grandeur and beauty, the spiritual depth and longing wistfulness that characterise the great body of [xxvii] Latin hymnology; and, as the result of this appreciation, the finest and sweetest products are finding a larger place in quarters from which, at no very far back point of time, they were altogether excluded. Of this we have a striking illustration in the contents of the most recent attempt to construct a hymnal for use in Presbyterian Churches. In the “Draft Hymnal,” prepared by a joint-committee of the three leading denominations in Scotland, there are 557 hymns. Of these, five are confessedly translations from the Greek, and twenty-six from the Latin. With the Latin renderings the names of Bishop Cosin, Dryden, Sir Walter Scott, Caswall, Chandler, Neale, and Ray Palmer stand honourably associated.

Ayr, October 12, 1895.

[1]Mone’s Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters; Daniel’s Thesaurus Hymnologicus; Tischer’s Kirchenlieder-Lexicon; Trench’s “Sacred Latin Poetry;” Neale’s “Latin Hymns and Sequences,” and “Essays on Liturgiology and Church History;” Duffield’s “Latin Hymn-Writers and their Hymns;” Roundell Palmer’s “Hymns: their History and Development in the Greek and Latin Churches, Germany, and Great Britain;” Julian’s “Dictionary of Hymnology.”
[2]Matt. xxvi. 30, ὑμνήσαντες; Acts xvi. 25, ὕμνουν, A. V.—“Sang praises unto God;” R. V.—“Were ... singing hymns unto God.”

Sundays and Week Days


Sunday Morning


By Charles Coffin, born at Ardennes in 1676; Rector of the University of Paris, 1718; died, 1749. The most of his hymns appeared in the Paris Breviary of 1736. In that service-book this is the hymn for Sunday at Matins.


O day, the chief of days, whose light

Sprang from the dark embrace of night,

On which our Lord from death’s grim thrall

Arose, True Light, to lighten all.


Death trembling heard the mighty Lord,

And darkness quick obeyed His word;—

O shame on us! our tardy will

Is slow His summons to fulfil.


While Nature yet unconscious lies,

Come, let us, sons of light, arise,

And cheerful raise our matin lay

To chase the dark of night away.



While all the world around is still,

Come, and with songs the temple fill,

Taught by the saints of bygone days,

Whose words were song, whose songs were praise.


Loud trump of Heaven, our languor shake,

And bid our slumbering spirits wake;

Teach us the nobler life, and give,

O Christ, the needed grace to live.


O Font of love! Our steps attend;

Those needed gifts in mercy send;

And where Thy word is heard this day,

Give Thou the Spirit’s power, we pray.


To Father and to Son be praise,

To Thee, O Holy Ghost, always,

Whose presence still the heart inspires

With sacred light and glowing fires.



The oldest text known of this hymn is from a tenth-century MS. It is in the Sarum Breviary (1495), also in that of Aberdeen (1509), which is substantially that of Sarum, and one of the very few surviving service-books of the Pre-Reformation period in Scotland.


O Light that from the light wast born,

Redeemer of the world forlorn,

In mercy now Thy suppliants spare,

Our praise accept, and hear our prayer.


Thou who didst wear our flesh below,

To save our souls from endless woe,

Of Thy blest Body, Lord, would we

Efficient members ever be.


More bright than sun Thine aspect gleamed,

As snowdrift white Thy garments seemed,

When on the mount Thy glory shone,

To faithful witnesses alone.



There did the seers of old confer

With those who Thy disciples were;

And Thou on both didst shed abroad

The glory of the eternal God.


From heaven the Father’s voice was heard

That Thee the eternal Son declared;

And faithful hearts now love to own

Thy glory, King of heaven, alone.


Grant us, we pray, to walk in light,

Clad in Thy virtues sparkling bright,

That, upward borne by deeds of love,

Our souls may win the bliss above.


Loud praise to Thee our homage brings,

Eternal God, Thou King of kings,

Who reignest one, Thou one in three,

From age to age eternally.



Attributed by some, but with a small degree of probability, to Gregory the Great. The hymn occurs in all the editions of the Roman Breviary, as also in the Sarum, York, and Aberdeen Breviaries.


O Thou Eternal One in Three,

Dread Ruler of the earth and sky,

Accept the praise we yield to Thee,

Who, waking, lift our songs on high.


Now from the couch of rest we rise,

While solemn night in silence reigns,

And lift to Thee our earnest cries,

To give Thy balm to heal our pains.


If in the night by Satan’s guile

Our souls were lured by thought of sin;

O bid Thy light celestial smile,

And chase away the night within.



Purge Thou our flesh from every stain,

Let not dull sloth our hearts depress;

Nor let the sense of guilt remain,

To chill the warmth our souls possess.


To Thee, Redeemer blest, we pray,

That in our souls Thy light may shine;

So we shall walk from day to day,

Unerring in Thy way Divine.


Grant it, O Father, in Thy love,

Grant it, O One-begotten Son,

Who with the Spirit reign above,

Now, and while endless ages run.


Sunday Evening


By St. Ambrose, born at Lyons, Arles, or Trêves in 340; consecrated Bishop of Milan in 374; died on Easter Eve, 397. He introduced antiphonal chanting into the Western Church, and laid the foundation of Church music, which Gregory systematised.


Thy works, O God, Thy name extol,

Thou Ruler of the worlds that roll;

The day is clad in garments bright,

And grateful sleep pervades the night,


That weary limbs from labour free,

By rest for toil prepared may be;

And jaded minds awhile forget

The anxious thoughts that pain and fret.


Fast fades the sunlight in the west;

Thy hand we own our day hath blessed;

Now from the accuser’s power we flee,

And lift our prayers in song to Thee.



O Thou hast stirred our hearts to sing,

Hast tuned the praise our voices bring;

From earth’s vain loves our love hast won,

Hast lured our thoughts that heavenward run.


So, when the rayless gloom of night

Hath quenched in dark the expiring light,

Faith waves the ebon clouds away,

And dark is light, and night is day.


That sin may ne’er an entrance make,

May slumber ne’er our souls o’ertake;

Faith, wakeful, keeps the soul secure,

And sleep is sweet, and deep, and pure.


The mind from sin’s enticements free,

O let our dreams be thoughts of Thee;

And by no envious foe oppressed,

Vouchsafe to Thy beloved rest.



Attributed to Francis Xavier. Born at the Castle Xavier, near Pampeluna, Spain, in 1506; graduated at the Paris University, where he became acquainted with Ignatius Loyola; as a Jesuit missionary visited India, Travancore, Ceylon, Malacca, and Japan; died, when near Canton, in 1552. The original of this hymn is supposed to be a Spanish sonnet. All that can be said of the Latin version is that it is probably by Xavier, or by some German Jesuit, and is at least as early as 1668.


O God, I love Thee, not alone

Because Thou savest me,

And those who love not in return

Are lost eternally.


Thou art mine own, O Christ; Thine arms

Embraced me on the Cross;

Thou didst endure the nails, the spear,

The bitter shame and loss.



O sorrows numberless were Thine,

And all were borne for me—

The bloody sweat, the cruel death

Of bitter agony.


Why, therefore, should I love Thee now,

O Jesus, ever blest?

Not lest in hell my soul be cast,

Not that in heaven it rest.


No other hope my love inspires,

And wins my heart for Thee—

I only love Thee, Christ, my King,

Because Thou lovest me.



By Gregory, surnamed the Great, born at Rome about 540; succeeded Pelagius in the Papal Chair, 590; sent Augustine on a mission to Britain in 596; died in 614. He ranks among the Four Latin Doctors, and because of the services he rendered to the ritual of the Church, he was styled Magister Cæremoniarum. The Gregorian tones or chants are the fruit of his study of sacred music.


Thou, blest Creator of the light,

From whom the day its splendour brings,

Thy word the earth to beauty woke,

When light came forth on glowing wings.


The circle of the day is Thine,

The morn, and night in one are bound;—

O hear our earnest prayer as now

The gloomy shades are gathering round;



O free our souls from guilty stains,

That we Thy favour still may know;

And let no thought the mind possess,

To bind the heart to earth below.


That we may beat at heaven’s fair gate,

Where safely stored our treasure lies,

Purge us from every filthy stain,

Teach us all evil to despise.


Hear us, O Holy Father, hear,

And Thou the Everlasting Son,

Who with the Holy Spirit reign’st

While the eternal ages run.


Monday Morning


Placed by Duffield in a class which contains hymns formerly called Ambrosian, but now known to be the work of other hands. George Cassander, the liberal Catholic collector (1556), writes “Incognitus auctor” after the hymn, which has a place in several old Hymnaria, such as the Durham, the Cottonian, and the Harleian.


Now daylight floods the morning sky,

And earthward glides the approaching day,

The dancing rays of sunlight chase

The gathered fears of night away.


Hence dreams that cloud the soul! away,

Ye terrors grim of midnight born!

Whate’er the dark of night hath bred,

Die in the light that greets the morn!


So when the day eternal breaks,—

That day for which our spirits long,—

Its light may fall to bless our souls,

E’en while we raise our morning song.



To God the Father throned in heaven,

To Christ the one begotten Son,

And to the Holy Ghost be praise,

Now, and while endless ages run.


Monday Evening


Generally, and there seems little reason to doubt correctly, ascribed to Bernard of Clairvaux. Born in 1091 at his father’s castle near Dijon in Burgundy; died, 1153. The monk of Citeaux, the first Abbot of Clairvaux, the Papal controversialist and the preacher of the Second Crusade, is better known in our day as the author of a hymn regarded by many as the sweetest and most Evangelical in mediæval hymnody. The poem from which the hymn is taken consists of nearly fifty quatrains on the name of Jesus, known as the Joyful Rhythm of St. Bernard. In the Roman Breviary three hymns are taken from the Rhythm, Jesu dulcis memoria, Jesu Rex Admirabilis, and Jesu decus angelicum.


O Jesus, when I think of Thee,

True gladness fills my heart;

But joy unspeakable ’twill be

To see Thee as Thou art.


O blessed name! No note more sweet,

No music so divine;

Its charms the dearest fancies greet

That with my memory twine.



To those who come with sin confessed,

Thy name their hope inspires;

And every needy soul is blessed,

And granted all desires.


To those who seek, ah! Thou art found

Far more than all desire—

A living fount whose streams abound,

A flame of heavenly fire.


What tongue can e’er the charm express?

What words its beauty show?

For Thy dear name’s sweet loveliness

No heart can ever know.


Who only taste the heavenly bread,

They hunger for the feast;

Who drink of Christ, the Fountainhead,

But find their thirst increase.



O Jesus, to my fainting heart

When wilt Thou come to speak?

O, when to me Thy bliss impart,

And more than I can seek?


O I will feed and hunger still,

O I will drink and pine

Till Thou my famished spirit fill

With that blest name of Thine.


Tuesday Morning


Credited by many to the composer of the hymn which opens with identically the same line, but proceeds quite differently. It is, however, doubtful if this is the composition of Xavier; more probably it is the breathing of desire on the part of some now unknown German Jesuit of the seventeenth century.


My heart goes forth in love to Thee,

O God, who first hast lovèd me;

My freedom, lo, I lay aside,

Thy willing slave whate’er betide.


May memory ne’er a thought suggest,

That comes not forth at Thy behest;

And may the mind no wisdom know,

That God all wise doth not bestow.



May nothing be desired by me,

Save what I know is willed by Thee;

And what of Thine I e’er attain,

I render back to Thee again.


Take what Thou gavest—all is Thine;

Dispose as suits Thy will divine;

Rule, Lover of my soul; I rest

In Thy blest will who knowest best.


That I may love Thee as I will,

O let Thy love my bosom fill;

This gift alone endureth aye—

All else are dreams that flit away.


Tuesday Evening


Sometimes ascribed to St. Ambrose. It is found in eleventh-century Hymnaria of the English Church, and in the Breviaries of Rome, Paris, Sarum, York, and Aberdeen, generally as a hymn at Compline.


Maker of the world, we pray,

Ere the dark of night surround us,

Let Thy love beside us stay,

Throw protecting arms around us.


Phantoms of the night away!

Let no evil dream affect us;

Pure as falls the light of day,

From the taint of sin protect us.


Hear us, Father, when we cry;

Hear us, Christ, Thy grace extending;

Hear us, Spirit, throned on high,

Three in one, through years unending.


Wednesday Morning


This morning hymn is one of four attributed to St. Hilary. Born at Poitiers early in the fourth century; became bishop of his native town about 350; died 13th January 368. His saint’s day (which gives name to Hilary Term in English law courts) is celebrated on 14th January, in order not to trench upon the octave of the Epiphany.


Gone are the shades of night,

The hours of rest are o’er;

New beauties sparkle bright,

And heaven is light once more.


To Thee our prayers shall speed,

O Lord of light divine;

Come to our utmost need,

And in our darkness shine.



Spirit of love and light,

May we Thine image know,

And in Thy glory bright,

To full perfection grow.


Hear us, O Father blest,

Hear us, O Christ the Son,

And Comforter the best,

Now, and till life is done.


Wednesday Evening


By Charles Coffin. (See p. 3.) Chandler’s translation, beginning, “And now the sun’s declining rays,” is for “Ninth Hour, or three in the afternoon,” of Sunday. In “Hymns Ancient and Modern” Chandler’s rendering is given as an evening hymn, and with considerable alterations, the first line being, “As now the sun’s declining rays” (No. 12).


Now sinks the glowing orb of day,

And silent night comes on apace;

So gains our life the appointed goal,

That marks the limit of our race.


O Christ, uplifted on the Cross!

Thine arms were stretched towards the sky;

Grant us with love that Cross to seek,

And folded in those arms to die.



Now to the Father throned on high,

And unto Christ His only Son,

And to the Spirit, glory be,

Now, and while endless ages run.


Thursday Morning


This morning hymn is the complement of Æterne rerum Conditor, and, like it, almost indisputably by St. Ambrose. Its use was generally for Matins or Lauds on Monday; by some monastic orders it was used daily.


From the Father’s throne descending,

Light from out the realms of light;

Font of light, all light transcending,

Brighter day in day most bright.


Shine, True Light, in radiant brightness,

Flashing forth perpetual ray;

May Thy Spirit’s searching lightness,

Fill our souls with endless day.


Father, come we humbly bending,—

Father of Almighty grace,

Who hast glory never ending,

Banish every sinful trace.



When to do Thy will inclining,

Quell for us the tempter’s wrath;

Ne’er in trial’s hour repining,

Lead us in the upward path.


May Thy rule our minds enlighten;

Let no sin our lives defile;

Fervent faith our spirits brighten,

Knowing nought of fraud or guile.


Christ, the Bread of Life bestowing,

Faith our daily cup shall fill;

Draughts of joy for ever flowing,

Drink we from the Spirit’s rill.


Thus our life in beauty gliding—

Purity like dawn of day,

Faith like sun at noon abiding,

Eve that knows no twilight grey.



Forth in beauty rides the Morning—

Be Thy glory on us poured;

Son, the Father’s love adorning,

Father in th’ Eternal Word.


Thursday Evening


Author unknown. Found in the Hymnaria of Sarum, and York, also in the Sarum, York, Hereford, and Aberdeen Breviaries. Used at Eton in Latin original at evening service until about 1830.


Thou who hast led our steps this day,

Blest Saviour of the world, we pray,

Through all the night Thy care extend,

And save us to our journey’s end.


Be present with us, Lord, who wait,

And lift our cry at mercy’s gate;

Take all our load of sin away,

And change our darkness into day.


Free Thou our minds from careless sleep,

Our souls from sin’s allurements keep;

And may our flesh from every stain,

All pure, we pray Thee, still remain.



To Thee of purity the spring,

Our prayers ascend on soaring wing;

Hear Thou our cry, and with the morn

May purity our souls adorn.


Glory be unto God always,

To Christ the Son eternal praise;

Glory to God the Spirit be,

From age to age eternally.


Friday Morning


By Magnus Felix Ennodius, born at Arles about 473; became Bishop of Pavia about 514; died, 521; buried on 17th July of that year, which day is observed as his festival by the Roman Church.


Christ, the light that shines eternal,—

Light that gilds the rolling spheres,

Dawn upon our night, and keep us

Pure as light when day appears.


Let no gin of Satan snare us,

Let no enemy oppress;

Wakeful aye with garments spotless,

May we walk life’s wilderness.


Keep our hearts in Thy safe keeping,

Be Thy flock Thy special care;

In Thy fold in mercy tend them,

Guard their footsteps everywhere.



And our souls shall sing triumphant

When Thy light our eyes shall see,

And the vows we owe are rendered,

God, the great Triune, to Thee.


Friday Evening


This hymn is classed by Duffield under the heading “Ambrosian,” which includes compositions of Gregory and other authors. Mone gives it as probably by St. Gregory.


Dark night has drawn her curtain round,

And hid earth’s hues in gloom profound;

Now contrite at Thy feet we fall,

And make request, Thou Judge of all,


That Thou wouldst hide the guilt of sin,

And throughly purge our hearts within—

O Christ, dispense Thy grace, we pray,

To keep us guiltless day by day.


The awakened conscience, sore oppressed

By thought of sin all unconfessed,

Yearns in the gloom, to cast her load

At Thy blest feet, Redeemer, God.



Dispel the darkness, Lord, we pray,

That in our mind holds dismal sway;

Send forth Thy light, and bid us rest

In Thy calm peace, for ever blest.


Saturday Morning


Frequently ascribed to Ambrose, but not by his Benedictine editors. A rendering of it by Dr. Neale is one of the morning hymns in “Hymns Ancient and Modern,” “Now that the daylight fills the sky” (No. 4); but the rendering has been considerably altered by the editors.


See in the east the morn arise;

Seek, wingèd prayer, the glowing skies;

Bring help from Heaven, that all our way

Be pleasing to our God this day.


May He restrain from words of sin;

For bitter strife give calm within;

Veil from our eyes the garish light,

That lures the soul to darkest night.


Pure may our inmost heart remain

From evil thoughts and fancies vain;


And may the curb our flesh control,

That drags to earth the aspiring soul.


So, when the last stray beams of light

Shall fade before the return of night,

Kept in the path our feet have trod,

We shall give glory to our God.


To God the Father, throned in heaven,

To Christ, the one begotten Son,

And to the Holy Ghost be praise,

Now, and while endless ages run.


Saturday Evening


A recast of O Lux beata Trinitas, one of twelve hymns the Benedictine editors regard as undoubtedly the work of St. Ambrose, and which, in the older Breviaries, was used at Vespers on Saturday.


Now sinks the fiery orb of day—

O One in Three, Eternal Light,

O Three in One, for ever bright,

Shine in our darkened minds, we pray.


When morning breaks, our songs we raise;

When evening falls, we still adore;

When morn and eve shall come no more,

In mercy grant us still to praise.


All praises to the Father be,

All praise to the Eternal Son,

And to the Spirit, Three in One,

From age to age eternally.





By Ennodius, Bishop of Pavia. (See p. 32.)


To Thee, O Christ, our prayers shall rise,

With tears of sorrow blending;

Come for our help Thou Holy One,

On our dark night descending.


Our hearts shall find their rest in Thee,

And e’en in dreams shall praise Thee;

And with each rising of the sun,

Anew their songs shall raise Thee.


Impart a noble life, and may

Our spirit’s warmth be heightened.

Bid night depart, and with Thy love,

O may our lives be brightened.



In hymns we pay our vows to Thee:

At vesper-hour we pray,

Erase the writing we have made,

Thine own let stand for aye.



By Charles Coffin. (See p. 3.)


When evening shades around us close,

And bound in sleep our limbs repose,

The watchful soul, from slumber free,

Shall breathe its earnest prayer to Thee.


Desire of Nations, Word of God,

Thou Saviour of the World abroad,

Hear Thou our mournful prayer at length,

And raise the fallen by Thy strength.


Be near, Redeemer; by Thy grace

Forgive our erring sinful race,

Bound in the prison-house of sin—

O, open heaven and lead us in.



O Thou who cam’st to set us free,

To Thee, the Son, all praises be;

To Father, Spirit, Three in One,

While the eternal ages run.



An antiphon. The term denotes a short versicle said at the beginning and close of a psalm or psalms in the Breviary Offices. This antiphon is by an unknown author. Dr. Neale, who supposes it to be of twelfth-century date, published a translation of it in 1851, beginning, “Draw nigh, draw nigh, Emmanuel,” an altered version of which occurs in “Hymns Ancient and Modern” as an Advent hymn, with first line altered to, “O come, O come, Emmanuel” (No. 36).


Emmanuel, come! we call for Thee;

Come, set Thy captive Israel free,

Who, sore at heart, in exile wait

Their absent Lord, who tarries late.

Joy, joy, Emmanuel shall be born

For thee, O Israel, forlorn.


Come, Root of Jesse! for our foes

In cruel snare our souls enclose;


Bring us, we pray, from hell’s dark cave,

From gulf profound Thy people save.

Joy, joy, &c.


Come, come, O Harbinger of day!

Cheer Thou our hearts with heavenly ray,

Dispel the clouds of night that roll,

The dark of death that fills the soul.

Joy, joy, &c.


Come, Key of David! in Thy might

Unlock for us the realms of light;

Make safe the path that upward tends,

Close Thou the way that downward wends.

Joy, joy, &c.


Come, come, O Thou Almighty Lord!

From Sinai once went forth Thy word,

When in the midst of eddying flame,

Thou didst Thy law in might proclaim.

Joy, joy, &c.





By Adam of St. Victor. A native of either Britain or Brittany, probably the latter; educated at Paris; became, about 1130, a monk in the Abbey of St. Victor, then in the suburbs, afterwards absorbed in the city of Paris; there he passed the remainder of his life, and died somewhere between the years 1172 and 1192. In liturgical services the Gradual or Antiphon, sung between the Epistle and Gospel, ended on festival days with the word Alleluia. The final syllable of this vocable was prolonged in a number of musical notes called sequentia, and by the ninth century it became common to adapt words to these notes, which words are now called “sequences.” Adam of St. Victor was one of the most voluminous composers of this kind of sacred Latin verse.


Let us tune our hearts and voices—

All creation wide rejoices,

For a Saviour has been born;

Given to man, his weakness wearing,

Dwelling with the sad despairing,

Light and health our life adorn.



From the midst of Eden’s gladness

Came the dower of death and sadness,

But the Saviour’s life is ours.

Banished now are death and sorrow;

Life and joy from Christ we borrow,

More dwelt in Eden’s bowers.


From the height of heaven above us,

God looked down on earth to love us,

And He sent His only Son.

Now no more His face concealing,

Bridegroom like, His grace revealing,

Came He forth His work begun.


Swift and strong, a giant glorious,

O’er our death He came victorious,

Girt with power His course to run.

Came he forth salvation willing,

Law and prophecy fulfilling,

Till the task assayed is done.



Jesus, who hast brought salvation,

Healing balm for every nation,

Thou our glory art and peace.

Praise Thy glorious deeds shall mention,

Who in humble condescension,

Cam’st Thy servants to release.



The oldest form of this Christmas carol is found in a Benedictine Processional belonging to the beginning of the fourteenth century.


Zion is glad this glorious morn:

A babe in Bethlehem is born.


See where He lies in manger low,

Whose kingly reign no end shall know.


The ox and ass that filled the stall,

Knew that the babe was Lord of all.


Out from the east the sages bring

Their treasures for an offering.


They humbly seek the lowly place,

And worship there the King of grace:



The Son of God, who made the earth,

A virgin mother gave Him birth.


No poison from the serpent stains

The human blood that fills His veins;


And though our flesh He meekly wears,

No mark of sin His nature bears;


That He might man to God restore,

And give the grace that once He wore.


Come while our hearts are full of mirth

And bless the Lord of lowly birth.


The Holy Trinity we’ll praise,

And give our thanks to God always.



By Jean Momboir, with Johannes Mauburnus for the Latin, and John Mauburn for the English form of his name. Born in 1460 at Brussels; a Canon Regular of the Brethren of the Common Life in the Low Countries; died Abbot of the Cloister of Livry, not far from Paris, in 1502 or 1503. In his large work, the “Spiritual Rose-garden,” there is a rosary on the birth of Christ, consisting of thirteen stanzas, which commence, Eja, mea anima, Bethlehem eamus. The hymn beginning as above consists of three stanzas taken from that poem. The detached stanzas passed into many of the older German hymn-books, met with great favour in the early Reformed Churches, so long as the practice of singing Latin compositions survived among them, and still retain a place in some German hymnals in an old translation, with for opening line, Warum liegt im Krippelein.


(Loquitur peccator)

Wherefore in the lowly stall,

O Thou great Creator,

Dost Thou raise Thine infant call,

Glorious Renovator?


Where Thy purple if a King?

Where the shouts Thy subjects bring?

Where Thy royal castle?

Here is want with all her train,

Poverty proclaims her reign—

These Thy court and vassal.


(Jesus respondit)

Hither, by My love impelled,

Have I come to save thee;

Sin has long thy nature held,

Powerful to enslave thee.

By My emptiness and woe,

By the grace that I bestow,

Do I seek to fill thee.

By My humble, lowly birth,

By this sacrifice on earth,

Blessing great I will thee.


(Laudant fideles)

Songs of praise, ten thousand songs,

Sing I will and laud Thee;


For such grace my spirit longs,

Ever to applaud Thee.

Glory, glory let there be,

Lover of mankind to Thee,

In the heaven supernal.

Let this testimony fly

Over earth, and sea, and sky,

Borne by songs eternal.



This hymn for the Epiphany forms part of a larger one of very complex authorship, known as A solis ortûs cardine, Et usque terræ limitem. This portion of that Christmas hymn has by some been assigned to St. Ambrose, but by a majority of judges to Prudentius, “the Horace and Virgil of the Christians,” in the estimate of the scholarly Bentley. Aurelius Prudentius, Clemens, or the Merciful, was born in 348, somewhere in the north of Spain. After filling various secular offices he retired, in his fifty-seventh year, into private life, and devoted himself to the composition of sacred verse. He died circa 413, but where we are not told.


O ye who seek the Lord, come nigh,

To heaven uplift your reverent eyes,

The Royal Banner of our God

Is blazoned on the midnight skies.


Brighter than when the sun at noon

Pours forth its radiance on the earth,

See yonder star its glory sheds,

And tells to man the Saviour’s birth.



O wisdom seeks the lowly stall,

And takes the guidance of the star,

To worship where the Incarnate lies,

And offer gifts from lands afar:


With incense, worships the Divine,

With gold, a kingly tribute pays,

And at the feet of God made Man,

The myrrh in sweet profusion lays.


O Bethlehem, city ever blest!

What honour more could come to thee?

The cradle of the Incarnate God,

Who came to set His Israel free!


O Jesus, to the world revealed!

To Thee let glory ever be,

To Father and to Holy Ghost,

From age to age eternally.





Probably of the seventh or eighth century. Found in three MSS. of the eleventh century in the British Museum Library; also in the old Roman, Sarum, York, and Aberdeen Breviaries. Chandler’s rendering of this fine hymn—“O Christ, our hope, our heart’s desire,” and which is to be found in most collections, is the hymn for Evensong on Ascension Day in that author’s “Hymns of the Primitive Church.”


Thou our Redeemer art, O Christ,

Our heart’s desire, our fervent love;

Creator of the worlds, Thou cam’st

To wear our flesh, from heaven above.


’Twas love that brought Thee to our aid,

To bear the burden of our woe,

To bow the head in shameful death,

And life, immortal life, bestow.



Asunder burst the bands of hell,

The captives hailed the glorious day;

And by Thy mighty triumph crowned,

Thou art at God’s right hand for aye.


O may Thy mercy still abound,

That, by the goodness of Thy grace,

We daily o’er our sin may rise,

And see the beauty of Thy face.


Spring of our joy, be Thou, O Christ;

Our great reward, hereafter be;

And while the endless ages run,

Our praises shall be all of Thee.



By C. Coffin. (See p. 3.)


Now let us tune our hearts to sing

The glory of the Almighty King;

His hand unrolled the spacious skies,

Whose beauty lures our wondering eyes.


There are the clouds with treasure rare,

Slow floating in the higher air,

Whence come the soft refreshing showers,

To bless the springing of the flowers.


Rich is the treasure of Thy grace,

Prepared for us who seek Thy face;

It falls from clouds that earthward roll,

And penetrates the inmost soul.



And faithful hearts that thirsting pine,

Drink deeply of the draught divine,

And with an heavenly impulse rise,

To greet the sunlight in the skies.


O happy souls that evermore

Drink of the bliss Thou hast in store;

May grateful love responsive flow

To all the love Thou dost bestow.


Now, glory to the Three in One,

To God the Father, God the Son,

And to the Spirit, one in Three,

From age to age eternally.



By Bishop Marbodus. Born in Anjou, 1035; successively Archdeacon of Angers and Bishop of Rennes; died in 1125. Was author of a poem De Gemmis, which gives a mystical explanation of precious stones much in favour in the Middle Ages.


King of heaven, our nature wearing,

Pity lend the sad despairing;

’Neath the sway of sin repining,

Formed from dust, to dust declining—

Tottering in our ruined state,

Strengthen by Thy goodness great.


What is man from sin descending?

Child of death, all woes attending.

What is man? a worm that clingeth

To the earth from which he springeth.

Wilt Thou forth Thine anger bring,

On a weak, defenceless thing?



Shall not man, who earthward tendeth,

Look to God, who mercy sendeth?

’Twere a task most unbefitting,

God o’er man in judgment sitting—

Yet should God in judgment speak,

Where shall man an answer seek?


As the shadow quickly flying,

Faint our life and sure our dying;

As the cloud by tempest driven,

As the grass cut down at even;—

King of heaven, in mercy great,

Pity the disconsolate.


Passion Week



By Venantius Fortunatus. Born in the district of Treviso, Italy, about 530. In 565 he made a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Martin at Tours, and spent the remainder of his years in Gaul. Through the influence of his friend Queen Rhadegunda, Fortunatus became Bishop of Poitiers in 597. Some place his death in the year 609. Fortunatus must have been an author of great industry and versatility. He wrote the life of St. Martin in four books, containing 2245 hexameter lines; he threw off in profusion vers de societé when wandering from castle to cloister in Gaul; and he composed a volume of hymns for all the festivals of the Christian year, which is now unhappily lost. This is his best known hymn, Dr. Neale’s translation of which is inserted for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, otherwise called Palm Sunday, in “Hymns Ancient and Modern” (No. 84).


See the Royal banners

Wave across the sky,

Bright the mystic radiance,

For the Cross is nigh;

And He who came our flesh to wear,

The Christ of God, was wounded there.



Deep the cruel spear thrust,

By the soldier given;

Blood and water mingle,

Where the flesh is riven;

To cleanse our souls the crimson tide

Leapt from the Saviour’s riven side.


In the distant ages

Zion’s harp was strung,

And the faithful saw Him,

While the prophet sung;

Now Israel’s Hope the nations see,

For Christ is reigning from the tree.


Tree of wondrous beauty,

Tree of grace and light,

Royal throne to rest on,

Decked with purple bright;

The choice of God, this royal throne

Whence Christ, the King, should rule His own.



See the branches drooping!

Laden, see they sway!

For the price of heaven

On those branches lay;

Ah! great the price, that price was paid,

By Him on whom the debt was laid.



This, “one of the first of the Latin mediæval hymns,” has been credited to St. Hilary. It has also been ascribed to Claudianus Mamertus, who died in 474. But by the majority of authorities it is regarded as the composition of Fortunatus, and ranks next to the Vexilla Regis prodeunt in their estimate. A rendering of it by Keble will be found in his “Miscellaneous Poems,” beginning, “Sing, my tongue, of glorious warfare,” which is Dr. Neale’s “Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,” in a somewhat altered form.


Tell, my tongue, the glorious conflict,

Crowned with victory nobly won;—

More than all the spoil of battle,

Praise the triumph of God’s Son;

How by death the crown of conquest

Graced Him when the strife was done.


Grieving sore o’er Eden’s sorrow

When our race in Adam fell;


And the fatal fruit he tasted,

Welcomed sin, and death, and hell;

God ordained a tree in Zion,

Eden’s poison to dispel.


In the work of our Redemption

Wisdom met the tempter’s foils;—

On the ground he claimed, the Victor

Fought, and bore away the spoils;

And the bane became the blessing,

Freedom sprang amid his toils.


From the bosom of the Father,

Where He shared the regal crown,

At the time by God appointed,

Came the world’s Creator down—

God incarnate, born of Virgin,

Shorn of glory and renown.


List! the voice of infant weeping,

Cradled where the oxen stand,


And the Virgin mother watches,

Tending Him with loving hand,—

Hands and feet of God she bindeth,

Folding them in swaddling band.


Blessing, blessing everlasting,

To the glorious Trinity;

To the Father, Son, and Spirit,

Equal glory let there be;

Universal praise be given,

To the Blessed One in Three.



By some attributed to St. Ambrose, but generally and with greater probability to Fortunatus. There is an imitation of this hymn in English by Bishop Mant, beginning, “See the destined day arise!” one of the Passion hymns in “Hymns Ancient and Modern” (No. 99).


Thirty years by God appointed,

And there dawns the woeful day,

When the great Redeemer girds Him

For the tumult of the fray;

And upon the cross uplifted,

Bears our load of guilt away.


Ah! ’tis bitter gall He drinketh,

When His heart in anguish fails;—

From the thorns His life-blood trickles,

From the spear wound and the nails;

But that crimson stream for cleansing,

O’er creation wide prevails.



Faithful Cross! in all the woodland,

Standeth not a nobler tree;

In thy leaf, and flower, and fruitage,

None can e’er thy equal be;

Sweet the wood, and sweet the iron,

Sweet the load that hung on thee.


Noble tree! unbend thy branches,

Let thy stubborn fibres bend,

Cast thy native rigour from thee,

Be a gentle, loving friend;

Bear Him in thine arms, and softly,

Christ, the King eternal, tend.


Only thou could’st bear the burden

Of the ransom of our race;

Only thou could’st be a refuge,

Like the ark, a hiding-place,

By the sacred blood anointed,

Of the Covenant of Grace.



Blessing, blessing everlasting,

To the glorious Trinity;

To the Father, Son, and Spirit,

Equal glory let there be;

Universal praise be given,

To the Blessed One in Three.



This little poem, which he pronounces “perfect in its kind,” is taken by Trench from Daniel’s Thesaurus, without any note of author or of date.


Hail, thou Blessed Cross, all hail!

Death no longer can prevail.

On those arms extended high,

Did my King and Saviour die.


Queen of all the trees that grow,

Medicine when health is low,

Solace to the cumbered heart,

Comfort thou when sorrows smart.


O! most sacred wood, the sign

That eternal life is mine;

On the fruit thy branches give,

Feeds the human heart to live.



When, around the Judgment-seat,

Friends of thine and foes shall meet,

Be my prayer, O Christ, to Thee,

And in love remember me.



From a fourteenth-century MS., where it bears the title, “Hours of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, compiled from the Prophets and the New Testament by the Blessed Pope Urban” (b. 1302, d. 1370).

(Tu qui velatus facie)


Veiled was the glory of Thy face,

O Jesus, Lord of heavenly grace,

When mocking knees were bent in scorn,

And bitter stripes were meekly borne.


To Thee the prayer of faith we send,

In Thee we hope: O Lord, attend,

And in Thy mercy lead the way

To where Thy glory shines as day.



To Thee be highest honours paid,

O Christ, who wast by man betrayed,

Who on the cross of anguish sore

Didst die, that we might die no more.

(Hora qui ductus tertia)


O Christ, who in that hour of dread

Forth as a sacrifice wast led;

Who, to retrieve our grievous loss,

Didst bear the burden of the cross.


O may Thy Love our hearts inflame;

Be Thy pure life our constant aim;

That we may win the heavenly rest,

And share the glories of the blest.


To Thee be highest honours paid,

O Christ, who wast by man betrayed;

Who on the cross of anguish sore

Didst die, that we might die no more.


(Crucem pro nobis subiit)


For us the cruel cross He bare,

Endured the thirst while hanging there—

O Jesus! Thou hast anguish borne,

Thy hands and feet with nails were torn.


Honour and blessing be to Thee,

O Christ, who hung upon the tree,

Who, by the offering of Thy grace,

Didst save from death our fallen race.

(Beata Christi passio)


Thy blessed Passion, Christ, be ours,

To set us free from Satan’s powers;

To aid our fainting souls to rise

To joys prepared in Paradise.



To Christ the Lord all glory be,

Who, hanging on the shameful tree,

Gave up His life with bitter cry,

And saved a world prepared to die.


To Thee be highest honours paid,

O Christ, who wast by man betrayed,

Who, on the cross of anguish sore,

Didst die, that we might die no more.

(Qui jacuisti mortuus)


O spotless King, who shared its gloom,

And lay at peace within the tomb,

Teach us to find our rest in Thee,

And sing Thy praise eternally.



Come to our help, O Lord, who gave

Thy precious blood our souls to save;

Lead us to Thine eternal peace,

Whose sweetest joys shall never cease.





Of unknown date and authorship. It has not been traced further back than the Hymnodia Sacra, Munster, 1753.


Alleluia! Alleluia!

The din of battle now is dead,

And glory crowns the Victor’s head;

Let mirth abound,

And songs resound—Alleluia!


Alleluia! alleluia!

The bitter pangs of death are past,

And Christ hath vanquished hell at last;

Cheers are ringing,

Psalms are singing—Alleluia!


Alleluia! alleluia!

And when the morn appointed broke,


All decked with beauty Christ awoke;

O shout with glee,

Sing merrily—Alleluia!


Alleluia! Alleluia!

Hell hath He closed with His own hand,

The gates of heaven wide open stand;

Let mirth abound,

And songs resound—Alleluia!


Alleluia! Alleluia!

’Tis Thy wounds, O Blessed Jesus—

’Tis Thy death from dying frees us,

That living, we

May sing with glee—Alleluia!



A Jesuit hymn, taken by Walraff, in 1806, out of the Psalteriolum Cantiorum Catholicarum a Patribus Societati Jesu.


Shout praises, ye heavens,

And sigh them, soft air;

From highest to lowest,

Sing, sing everywhere;

For black clouds of tempest

Are banished from sight;

And spring, crowned with glory,

Is pouring her light.


Come forth with the spring-time,

Sweet flow’rets, and spread

Your rich hues around us

Where nature lay dead;

Come, violets modest,

And roses so gay,

With lilies and marigolds,

Spangle the way.



Flow joy song in fulness,

Flow higher and higher;

Pour forth thy sweet measures,

Thou murmuring lyre;

O sing, for He liveth,

As truly He said,

Yea, Jesus hath risen

Unharmed from the dead.


Shout praises, ye mountains,

Vales catch the refrain;

Frisk gaily, ye fountains;

Hills, tell it again—

He liveth, He liveth,

As truly He said;

Yea, Jesus hath risen

Unharmed from the dead.



By Peter of St. Maurice, sometimes styled Peter of Cluny, but best known as Peter the Venerable. Born in Auvergne, 1092 or 1094; began life as a soldier; afterwards became a Benedictine monk; elected abbot of the monastery of his order at Cluny in Burgundy; died there in 1156 or 1157. The greater part of his literary activity was given to the controversy between the Clugnian and Cistercian, or “black” and “white” monks. This Resurrection hymn is taken from “Some Rhythms, Proses, Sequences, Verses, and Hymns,” contained in the Bibliotheca Cluniacencis, 1623.


Burst are the iron gates of death—

A stronger power prevails;

For, by the cross, the cruel king

Before the Victor quails,

O clear the light that shines afar,

Where darkness held its sway,

For God, who made the light at first,

Restores its gladdening ray.


That sinners might for ever live,

The great Creator dies,

And by His death to new estate

Our souls enraptured rise.


There, Satan groaned in baffled hate,

Where Christ our triumph won—

For what to Him was deathly loss,

To man was life begun.


He grasps the envied prize, but fails,

And while he wounds, he dies;

But calmly, and with mighty power,

The King secures the prize;

And, leaving earth, His triumph won,

He seeks His native skies.


And now triumphant o’er the grave,

The Lord to earth returns;

To new create our fallen race,

His soul with ardour burns;

Down to the dwellings of the lost,

To dwell with man He came;

And hearts in grievous bondage held,

Receive Him with acclaim.



Found in three MSS. of the eleventh century in the British Museum Library, and published by the Surtees Society in the “Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church,” from a MS. of the eleventh century, in Durham Library.


Alleluia, hymn of sweetness,

Joyful voice of ceaseless praise;

Alleluia, pleasant anthem,

Choirs celestial sweetly raise:

This the song of those abiding

In the house of God always.


Alleluia, Mother Salem,

All Thy people joy in song;

Alleluia, walls and bulwarks

Evermore the notes prolong:

Ah! beside the streams of Babel,

Exiled, weep we o’er our wrong.



Alleluia, ’tis befitting

That our song should falter here;

Alleluia, can we sing it

When the clouds of wrath appear?

To bemoan our sin with weeping,

Now the time is drawing near.


Trinity, for ever blessed!

May we sing the gladsome lay,

When from sin our souls are severed,

And the clouds have passed away,

And we share the Easter glory,

In the realms of endless day?





A hymn of complex authorship and of frequently altered text.


Eternal King, enthroned on high,

Redeemer, strong Thy folk to save;

Thee, powerful death, by death o’ercome,

A royal crown of triumph gave.


Ascending to the throne of God,

Beyond the glittering host of heaven,

More power than human hand could give

To Thee, victorious King, is given.


Three kingdoms bow before Thee now—

The heavens above, the earth below,

Hell’s dark abode—and to their Lord,

On bended knee, submission show.



All awe inspired, the angel host

Behold man’s changed estate, amazed;

Our sinful flesh, by flesh renewed,

And man, true God, to Godhead raised.


O Christ, with God who dwell’st on high,

Be Thou to us, we humbly pray,

A lasting joy while here we wait,

Our great reward in heaven for aye.


In earnest prayer we come to Thee;

O may our sins be all forgiven,

And lift our hearts by Thy rich grace,

To where Thou art Thyself, in heaven.


That when in clouds of Judgment dire,

Thou com’st with Thine angelic host,

We may escape the avenger’s power,

And wear anew the crowns we lost.



To Thee, O Christ, all glory be,

Victor returning now to heaven;

To Father, and to Holy Ghost,

Let praise through endless years be given.



By Adam of St. Victor. (See p. 49.)


Broken are the bands that bound us,

Spoiled are Satan’s realms around us,

And to joys supernal now,

Christ returns with hosts attending,

And, as when at first descending,

Angel guards their homage bow.


Far above the stars ascending,

Faith alone His course attending,

Passing now from mortal sight;

To His hand all power is given,

One with God He rules in heaven,

One in honour and in might.



Victor on His throne uplifted,

See all rule to Him is gifted,

O’er Creation’s wide domain.

Now for evermore He liveth,

Nevermore His life He giveth—

Once the sacrifice was slain.


Once He wore our flesh in weakness,

Once He suffered, once in meekness

Gave Himself for sin to die.

Now no longer pain He knoweth:

Perfect peace for ever floweth,

Perfect joy is ever nigh.



Of unknown date and authorship. The text is in Daniel’s Thesaurus, with “Alleluia” as a refrain. Dr. Neale gives it in his “Mediæval Hymns and Sequences” as “apparently of the twelfth century.”


To-day the lingering clouds are riven,


Our glorious King ascends to heaven,



The heaven and earth His rule obey,


Who sits at God’s right hand for aye,



See, all things are fulfilled at last,


By David sung in ages past,




And on the throne of high renown,


The Lord is with His Lord set down,



Now blessings on our Lord we shower,


In this chief triumph of His power,



Let praise the Trinity adore,


To God be glory evermore,




Appeared in the Cluniac Breviary of 1686, and in that of Paris, 1736, as also in later French Breviaries. From his connection with the revised Paris Breviary, this hymn has been ascribed to Archbishop Charles de Vintimille, born 1655, died 1746; but in neither the Cluniac nor Paris Breviary is it marked as his. Chandler’s version of the hymn, beginning, “O Jesu, who art gone before, To Thy blest realms of light,” appears in Dr. Martineau’s “Hymns of Praise and Prayer,” with opening lines altered to, “The Crucified is gone before, To the blest realms of light,” and with other variations.


O Christ, who art ascended now

To realms of bliss above,

Inspire our souls to rise to Thee,

Upborne by faith and love.


Make us to seek those holy joys,

That they who love receive;

That earthly mind can never know,

Nor faithless soul perceive.



There, where Thou art, they reap reward

Who toiled at duty’s call;

For Thou dost give Thyself to them,

And Thou art all in all.


By power divine, O let us come

Where glory cannot fade;

And from Thy heavenly throne send down

The Spirit to our aid.


To Thee who art at God’s right hand,

O Christ, to Thee be praise,

To Father, and to Holy Ghost,

Be glory given always.





Of the authorship of this grand hymn nothing unquestioned is known. It has been ascribed to Ambrose, Gregory, Rhabanus Maurus (died 856), and Charlemagne. The most widely prevalent opinion ascribes it to the last-named person, but in the judgment of Dr. Julian’s assistant-editor “the hymn is clearly not the work of St. Ambrose nor of Charles the Great. Nor is there sufficient evidence to allow us to ascribe it either to Gregory the Great, to Rhabanus Maurus, or to any of the ecclesiastics connected with the court of Charles the Fat.” The hymn has not yet been found in any MS. earlier than the latter part of the tenth century.


Come, Thou Creator Spirit blest,

And with Thy grace our minds pervade;

May Thy sweet presence ever dwell

Within the souls which Thou hast made.


Thou Holy Paraclete! the Gift

Sent down to earth from God Most High,

Thou Font of Life and fire and love,

Thy holy unction now apply.



Sevenfold Thy gifts to us are given,

Of God’s right hand the Finger Thou;

The promise of the Father’s grace,

With gifts of tongues, Thou dost endow.


Make our dull sense enraptured glow,

And let our hearts o’erflow with love;

The weakness of our flesh inspire

With heavenly valour from above.


Far from our souls the foe repel,

And let us know the bliss of peace;

Guide Thou our steps, that evermore

Our hearts may learn from sin to cease.


Lead us the Father’s love to know;

Reveal to us the Eternal Son;

And Thee, the Sent of both, we’ll praise,

While everlasting ages run.



A sequence universally regarded as one of the masterpieces of sacred Latin poetry. As in the case of the Veni, Creator Spiritus, the authorship is matter of dispute. Robert II. of France, Hermannus Contractus (born 1013, died 1054), Stephen Langton the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Innocent III.—these have all in turn been credited with its production. Dr. Julian, the greatest living authority, sums up the matter of authorship thus: “The sequence is clearly not earlier than about the beginning of the thirteenth century. It is certainly neither by Robert II. nor by Hermannus Contractus. The most probable author is Innocent III.”


Holy Spirit, come with power;

Let Thy light, in darkest hour,

Shine upon our onward way.

Father of the humble heart,

Come, Thy choicest gifts impart—

Light our hearts with heavenly ray.



Thou canst best the heart console;

Sweet Thy sojourn with the soul—

Cooling breath at noon of day,

Calm Thy rest in toil and care,

Soft Thy shade in noontide glare—

Thou dost chase our tears away.


O! Thou blessed Light of light!

Let Thy beams in radiance bright

Fill our inmost heart for aye.

If Thou come not with Thy grace,

Nought of worth can take Thy place,

Nought but leads the soul astray.


What is filthy, come, renew;

What is parched, with grace bedew;

Heal the wounded in the way.

What is stubborn, gently bend;

To the chilled the life-glow send;

Bring the erring ’neath Thy sway.



To the faithful who repose

In the love Thy grace bestows,

Be Thy sevenfold gift alway—

Rich reward for service given,

Hope in death and joy in heaven,

Joy untold that lasteth aye.



By Charles Coffin. (See p. 3.) It is a recast of the Nunc nobis, Sancte Spiritus of St. Ambrose.


O Holy Spirit, font of love,

Thou source of life, and joy, and peace,

With holy fire come from above,

And bid our hearts their warmth increase.


O Thou who didst with love’s strong cord

Unite the Father and the Son,

May we who love a common Lord,

In mutual love be bound in one.


Now to the Father throned on high,

And unto Christ His only Son,

And to the Spirit, glory be,

Now, and while endless ages run.





A cento. Added to the Roman Breviary in 1568. In a subsequent edition it is the hymn for Lauds on Trinity Sunday. It is made up of the first stanza of a hymn with the same opening, and of the third stanza of the composition, Æterna cœli gloria, with a doxology added.


O Thou Eternal One in Three,

Dread Ruler of the earth and sky,

Accept the praise we yield to Thee,

Who, waking, lift our songs on high.


The star that tells the approach of day

Is lingering in the glow of morn,

And night and darkness fade away—

O Holy Light, our souls adorn!


To God the Father throned in heaven,

To Christ the One Begotten Son,

And to the Spirit praise be given,

Now, and while endless ages run.



Found in two MSS. of the eleventh century, and included in the York, Sarum, and Aberdeen Breviaries.


O Holy Father, gracious Thou and tender;

O Jesus Christ, Thou much adorèd Son;

Spirit most sweet, Thou Paraclete, Defender,

Eternally one!


Trinity Holy, Unity abiding,

True God Thou art, unbounded goodness Thou,

Light of the angels, trust of the confiding,

We hope in Thee now.


Thee all creation pays eternal homage;

Thee all Thy creatures songs of glory raise;

Now come we humbly, joining in the chorus,

O hear Thou our praise.


Glory to Thee, O God of power almighty,

Triune yet One, and great Thou art and high;

Hymns fitly tell Thy honour, praise, and glory,

and eternally.



Authorship unknown. It first occurs in a MS. of the eleventh century in the British Museum Library, has a place in the English Breviaries of York, Hereford, and St. Albans, and is printed in the “Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church.”


Be present, Holy Trinity,

One glory Thou, one Deity;

Where’er creation’s bounds extend,

Thou art beginning without end.


The hosts of heaven Thy praise proclaim,

Adoring, tell Thy matchless fame;

Earth’s threefold fabric joins the song,

To bless Thee through the ages long.


And we, Thy humble servants, now

To Thee in adoration bow;

Our suppliant vows and prayers unite

With hymns that fill the realms of light.



One Light, we Thee our homage pay,

We worship Thee, O triple ray;

Thou First and Last, we speak Thy fame,

And every spirit lauds Thy name.


Praise to the Eternal Father be;

Thou only Son, all praise to Thee;

And Holy Ghost to Thee be praise,

Great Triune God, yet One always.


All Saints



Given in editions of the Paris Breviary subsequent to 1736, along with the hymn Cœlestis O Jerusalem, for the vigil of All Saints Day at Lauds. Author not traced.


Christian soldiers in the conflict!

Bear the banner of the cross;

Rich reward shall crown the victor,

More than recompense for loss.


Not with paltry palms that wither

Shall the brow be gaily crowned,

But with light that shines eternal,

And with heavenly joy renowned.


Yours are mansions fair and comely—

There your souls in bliss shall rest;

Stars shall sparkle in their radiance,

On the pathway of the blest.



Earthly joys are faint and fleeting,

Earthly favours quickly fade;

Heavenwards lift your eyes, expecting

There your true reward is laid.


God be praised who crowns the victor,

Christ be praised who saves from sin;

Equal praise to God the Spirit,

By whose aid we fight and win.



This pilgrim or processional hymn was first published from a MS. of the eleventh century by Du Mévil at Paris, 1847; reprinted by Neale in his Hymni Ecclesiæ, in 1851, as Cantus Peregrinatorum.


Hear us, O Christ, our King;

Lord, hear the prayer we bring,

And take the ordering of our way.


Thy mercy, Lord, extend;

Thy mercy, Lord, extend,

And take the ordering of our way.


O Three in Unity!

Protect us all each day:

In this Thy path divine we pray.



Send us a faithful guide:

An angel to abide,

Whose hand shall lead us to Thy throne.


Our upward path direct,

From every foe protect,

And bring us back to claim our own.


Thy strong right arm extend,

And with Thy left defend,

And save us from the enemy.


O Thou Creator wise,

Soon may our longing eyes

The glory of Thy kingdom see.


Now glory let there be,

O Father, unto Thee,

From age to age eternally.





Author unknown. Belonging, according to Mone, to the thirteenth or fifteenth century.


See, sweet soul, my sister dear,

Now the bridegroom neareth;

Haste, prepare a place for Him

Who in love appeareth.


Soon He comes, a gentle guest,

Comes with heart o’erflowing;

All the best that heaven affords

In His love bestowing.


Where His gracious presence is

There is joy unending;

Blessing with His friendship comes,

Every bliss transcending.



Yea, He comes to rest awhile,

Thee with love entwining;

At thy board He’ll take His place,

By thy side reclining.


Up, my soul, to meet thy Spouse;

Hark! His footfall sounding;

In thy bosom He will dwell

With His love abounding.


Hold Him fast in fond embrace;

Say thou’lt leave Him never,

Till the blessing of His love

Rest on thee for ever.



Ascribed by some to Thomas Aquinas, but believed by latest and best authorities to have been composed by some unknown German Jesuit of the seventeenth century. It has not been traced further back than the Mainz Gesang-Buch of 1661, where it is styled “Hymn on the true Bread of Heaven.”


O Food for pilgrims pining!

O Bread for angels shining!

O Manna fresh from heaven!

In bountiful completeness,

O may Thy heavenly sweetness

To hungering hearts be given.


O Font of love surprising,

From Jesu’s heart uprising!

A pure refreshing flow;

Nought else our thirst allayeth—

For this the pilgrim prayeth—

This draught of love bestow.



Thy face we come revering,

O Jesus, now appearing

In sacramental rite.

O when in heaven, before it

Unveiled, may we adore it,

Our faith absorbed in sight.



In the Paris Breviary of 1736, this is the hymn for Lauds for the festival of the Transfiguration. It is composed of six stanzas of the Gospel Rhythm of St. Bernard, beginning, Jesu, dulcis memoria, the fourth stanza of which begins, Jesu, dulcedo Cordium.


Jesu, delight of every heart,

Thou font of life, Thou source of light,

Earth can no joy so real impart,

No soul can form a hope so bright.


Abide with us, O Lord, we pray,

And cause Thy heavenly light to glow;

Drive from our minds the clouds away,

And let the world Thy sweetness know.


When Thou dost seek the humble heart,

Thy heavenly truth is freely given;

Then vanities of earth depart,

Then glows the fervent love of heaven.



O Jesus, of Thy wondrous grace,

Make us Thy boundless love to know;

And when we see Thee face to face,

To us Thy matchless glory show.


They know how sweet the Lord can be,

Who deeply drink His love divine;

How blest, who find their all in Thee,

Nor thirst for other joys than Thine.


O Thou the spring whence pity flows!

Light from the Fatherland to cheer!

To us Thy glorious light disclose,

Nor let dark clouds afflict us here.



By St. Thomas of Aquino, the Angelical Doctor. Born about 1225-1227; educated in the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. Having resolved to become a Dominican friar, St. Thomas, after much opposition from his family, took the vows of obedience, celibacy, and poverty at Naples, in 1243. The remainder of his life was spent in the service of the Church at Paris, Cologne, Rome, Naples, Bologna. When on his way to attend the Second Council of Lyons, he died in the Benedictine abbey of Fossa Nuova, in the diocese of Terracina, in 1274. This hymn was written about 1263 for the office for use on Corpus Christi. It is found in the Roman, Mozarabic, York, Sarum, Aberdeen, Paris, and other Breviaries, its primary use being at Lauds in Corpus Christi.


The Word, proceeding from above,

Yet still at God’s right hand in heaven,

Came to His work impelled by love,

And soon life’s day declined to even.


A traitor in His chosen band

Betrays his Lord to death and grave;

But ere He died, with His own hand

Himself as food to man He gave.



In double form the gift was made;

He gave them of His flesh and blood,

That so the feast His love purveyed,

Might prove for man sufficient food.


By birth a friend in Him we find;

As food He fills the festal board;

In death the ransom of our kind;

In heaven He is our great reward.


O Saving Sacrifice! that made

The gates of heaven stand open wide,

Be Thou our strength, come to our aid,

When foes would crush on every side.


To Thee, Good Shepherd, who for meat

Dost give Thy flesh to feed Thine own,

To Father, and to Paraclete,

Be praise through ages yet unknown.


Death and Judgment



By Peter Damiani. Born at Ravenna about 988; became a “religious” of the order of the Monks of the Holy Cross of Fontavellano, of which community he subsequently became the Superior, founding in his day five monasteries under the same rule; was induced by Pope Stephen IX. to accept the position of Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, an office he was allowed to resign by Pope Alexander II. in 1062. In retirement he lived a life of great asceticism and self-mortification. On his return journey from Ravenna, whither he had gone as Papal legate on a mission of inquiry and reform, he died of fever at Faenza, in the monastery of Our Lady, 1072.


Terror grim the soul oppresses

When the day of death is near;

Sighs the heart, the reins are sundered,

Quakes each part with anxious fear;

While the mind the woe detaileth

Of the conflict to appear.



Spectacle all woe inspiring

Who its terror can pourtray?

See, the course of life is ended,

And the sickening flesh gives way,

For the wrestling soul in triumph

Breaks the bands that bid her stay.


Sense decays, and fails expression;

Dark the world to melting eye;

And the troubled breast in anguish,

Gasping, breathes her burdened sigh;

Grace of form and glow of beauty,

From the withering body die.


Thoughts, and words, and deeds forgotten,

Crowd around in grim array;

And unwilling eyes behold them,

Be they closed or turned away;

In the heart they seem to rankle,

Turn he wheresoe’er he may.



Vain the vow of new obedience—

Time for vowing is no more;

Vain the sorrow of repentance,

For the day of grace is o’er;

Conscience now the tortured sinner

Gnaws with pangs unfelt before.


Draughts of sweet deluding pleasure

Give the bitter dregs at last;

Come, unending pain and anguish,

With the short-lived rapture past;

Then, what once appeared so worthy,

Is aside as worthless cast.


Then, O Christ, Thou King victorious,

Come with succour in my plight;

When the soul is freed from bondage,

In its hour of darkest night;

Come, O Christ, Thy help extending,

Free me from the accuser’s might.



Headlong may the Prince of Darkness

With the hosts infernal fall!

Thou, the Shepherd of Salvation,

Bid me follow at Thy call,

To the land where fulness dwelleth,

And those eyes shall see it all.



A cento taken from the hymn, Heu! Heu! mala mundi vita, published by Du Mévil in 1847, from a MS. of the twelfth century, in the National Library at Paris. The poem from which the cento is taken consists of nearly four hundred lines, and the cento begins at line 325.


Lo, the day, the day approacheth

When the just shall rest in peace,

When the patient souls shall triumph,

And the vile from troubling cease.


Day of life, who can abide it?

Day of light, unseen before;

Death, the fell destroyer, dieth,

Night and darkness are no more.



See He comes whom ages longed for—

Long expected King of kings—

Now He tarries not, and with Him

All His great salvation brings.


O how blessed! O how joyful!

O what sweetness it shall be!

When the eyes of those who loved Him

Shall their Lord and Master see.


Jesus then with sweet affection,

And in tones of tenderest love,

Shall invite His faithful people

To the joys prepared above.


“Ye who held My truth unsullied,

Faithful stood in world of sin,

Suffered for the name ye honoured,

See the joys ye sought to win.



“See the heavenly kingdom promised,

Long reserved, but now revealed;

Now behold it, now possess it,

Now the princely sceptre wield.”


O how sweet our earthly losses,

In the midst of gain like this!

O how vain the world’s possessions,

At the cost of so much bliss!


O how blessèd then the mourners,

Who for Christ earth’s sorrow bore,

By a scornful world neglected!

They shall reign for evermore.


Now no terror grim shall haunt them—

Tears and sorrows are no more;

Grinding want shall ne’er afflict them,

Crippled age nor weakness sore.



Peace eternal there abideth,

Hearts with festive gladness bound;

There is youth with perfect vigour,

And with bloom unfading crowned.


O just Judge! in boundless mercy

Call me heavenward by-and-by,

For my soul is faint with longing,

And I wait with tearful eye.





The second in a group of three hymns, of all which the author is quite unknown. First published by Mone from a fifteenth century MS., at Karlsruhe. This hymn has for title in the original, De Gloriâ Cœlestis Jerusalem quoad dotes Glorificati Corporis—“Of the Glory of the Heavenly Jerusalem, so far as concerns the endowments of the Glorified Body,” and was a favourite at dedications and other festivals. All the three of the series will be found, with English renderings, in Dr. Neale’s “Hymns, chiefly Mediæval, on the Joys and Glories of Paradise.”


O city girt with glory!

Thou scene of quiet rest,

Where dwells the King Eternal—

O beautiful and blest!

Thy streets are filled with glorious song,

The praises of a myriad throng.



With stones of polished beauty

Is reared thy structure fair;

And gems, and gold, and crystal

Are sparkling everywhere;

With pearls thy gates are glittering gay,

And golden is thy bright highway.


For ever and in sweetness

Are Alleluias given;

Unending is the feast day,

The royal feast of heaven;

Whate’er within thy walls is stored,

Is pure and holy to the Lord.


No clouds with sombre curtain

Thy glorious brightness screen;

There shines the Sun Eternal,

And aye at noonday seen;

There is no night to give repose,

For no one toil or trouble knows.



The vernal glow of springtime

Is bright and lasting there,

The wealth of summer’s richness

Is scattered everywhere;

And that fair realm can never know

The autumn’s blast or winter’s snow.


The notes that fall in sweetness,

Where birds in woodland sing;

The sounds of softest music,

That winds in summer bring,

Are wafted o’er that city bright,

In strains of unalloyed delight.


There youth adorned with vigour

Ne’er into age declines;

No aged fears the mortal,

Nor for the past repines;

For past and future are unknown:

The present reigns in heaven alone.



No fleshly law can triumph,

And over reason ride;

With bodies pure and stainless

The spirit shall abide;

And power of flesh, and power of will,

Shall both one common law fulfil.


O bright the heavenly glory,

This fragile frame shall wear,

When health, and strength, and freedom

Shall crown with beauty rare;

And pleasure’s draughts no sorrow know,

But everlasting joys bestow.


Now gladly bear the burden;

With zeal thy task maintain,

And gifts shall crown thy labour,

And all thy loss be gain,

When decked with splendour thou shalt be,

Where glory dwells eternally.



The author of this fine old rugged hymn is unknown. It is conjectured to be of sixth- or seventh-century date. It passed into many mediæval Breviaries, sometimes entire, but often divided into two parts. It was largely used for the dedication of churches.

Part I.


O vision bright of heavenly peace,

Jerusalem on high,

With living stones Thy walls are built,

All beauteous to the eye;

A high-born bride, the angels stand

Around Thee, an attendant band.


From heaven she cometh down prepared

Her nuptial hour to grace;

With jewels decked she shall be led

To see her Bridegroom’s face.

O fair her streets, her bulwarks fair,

For purest gold is everywhere.



Her gates, adorned with glowing pearl,

Stand open day and night,

And hither come the faithful souls,

And enter in His right,

For whom they bore the cruel shame,

That earth has linked to His dear name.


All precious stones and shapely all,

By sore affliction made;

Each in its place the Heavenly King

With His own hand has laid—

Such was the plan, that with the Elect

The walls of Zion should be decked.

Part II.


Most firm the sure foundation stands,

And strong the corner-stone,

To bear the walls that proudly rise,

And bind them into one;

And Zion all her trust will lay

Upon the strength of Christ alway.



Within that city, God beloved,

Flow streams of praise along;

And towers and bulwarks echo forth

The gladness of the song;

’Tis praise to God continually,

The Three in One, the One in Three.


Within Thine earthly temple, Lord,

We meet to seek Thy face;

O in Thy loving kindness, hear,

Diffuse Thy heavenly grace;

Grant, as Thy people humbly bow,

Thine ample benediction now.


Be found of all who seek Thee here,

And every need supply—

The joys of heaven that cheer the soul,

When streams of earth are dry;

And in the greatness of Thy love,

Hereafter, open heaven above.





Alleluia! Alleluia! 87
Alleluia, hymn of sweetness 93
Be present, Holy Trinity 119
Broken are the bands that bound us 100
Burst are the iron gates of death 91
Christ, the light that shines eternal 32
Christian soldiers in the conflict 123
Come, Thou Creator Spirit blest 109
Dark night has drawn her curtain round 34
Emmanuel, come! we call for Thee 45
Eternal King, enthroned on high 97
For us the cruel cross He bare 82
From the Father’s throne descending 27
Gone are the shades of night 23
Hail, thou blessed cross, all hail! 78
Hear us, O Christ, our King 125
Holy Spirit, come with power 111
Jesu, delight of every heart 133
King of heaven, our nature wearing 65
Let us tune our hearts and voices 49
Lo, the day, the day approacheth 143
Maker of the world, we pray 22
My heart goes forth in love to Thee 20
Now daylight floods the morning sky 15
Now let us tune our hearts to sing 63
Now sinks the fiery orb of day 38
Now sinks the glowing orb of day 25
O Christ, who art ascended now 104
O Christ, who in that hour of dread 81
O city girt with glory 149
O day, the chief of days, whose light 3
O Food for pilgrims pining 131
O God, I love Thee, not alone 11
O Holy Father, gracious Thou and tender 118
O Holy Spirit, font of love 114
O Jesus, when I think of Thee 17
O Light that from the light wast born 5
O spotless King, who shared its gloom 83
O Thou Eternal One in Three 7
O Thou Eternal One in Three 117
O vision bright of heavenly peace 153
O ye who seek the Lord, come nigh 57
See in the east the morn arise 36
See, sweet soul, my sister dear 129
See the royal banners 69
Shout praises, ye heavens 89
Tell, my tongue, the glorious conflict 72
Terror grim the soul oppresses 139
The din of battle now is dead 87
The Word, proceeding from above 135
Thirty years by God appointed 75
Thou, blest Creator of the light 13
Thou our Redeemer art, O Christ 61
Thou who hast led our steps this day 30
Thy blessed passion, Christ, be ours 82
Thy works, O God, Thy name extol 9
To-day the lingering clouds are riven 102
To Thee, O Christ, our prayers shall rise 41
Veiled was the glory of Thy face 80
When evening shades around us close 43
Wherefore in the lowly stall 54
Zion is glad this glorious morn 52

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
Edinburgh and London

Transcriber’s Notes