Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part VI

[EDIT:   This article is from 2008, and was part of my first foray into posting about music for the Offices.  But I've posted quite a bit about Office hymns and other music since then.  You can find posts about the Offices themselves at the Divine Office page, or on the Resources page (where there are many links to other chant hymnody resources).]

I'm a little late (I was busy posting the Great "O" Antiphons, and being sick), but here's a listing of Office hymns for Christmastide.

  1. Here is an mp3 of Christe, Redemptor omnium, the Vespers hymn for Christmas; the words are here at TPL, which has this to say:
    This 6th century hymn is the traditional hymn for Vespers during the Christmas season. In Pope Urban VIII's 1629 revision of the Breviary hymns to make them fit classical forms, the hymn was altered and known as Iesu, Redemptor Omnium. The original text of the hymn has been restored in the current liturgy and appears below.

    There are other mp3s of this one out there, too: here's one from the Monks of Brazil; here's the one, in English, at the LLPB. The LLPB page says that this one is used for First Vespers; it lists two others for Christmas Day, below.

  2. The first hymn listed by LLPB for Christmas Day is Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth, sung here in English; this hymn is listed at TPL as Veni, redemptor gentium, English translation by J.M. Neale. That page says this:
    Veni, redemptor gentium was composed by St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397). The current form of the hymn actually begins with Ambrose' second stanza. The original opening verse was "Intende, qui regis Israel".

    The evidence in favor of St. Ambrose' authorship is, in part, due to a passing mention of it by St. Augustine. St. Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose and was a good friend of his. St. Augustine both specifically mentions and quotes three of St. Ambrose' canonical hymns: "Aeterne rerum Conditor", "Deus Creator omnium", and "Iam surgit hora tertia". St. Augustine then goes on to mention "Veni, redemptor gentium" indirectly. Instead of giving the full title, he only gives a brief quote from the middle of the hymn, which matches that of the Veni, redemptor gentium. The hymn is also mentioned by other authors of the period as being by St. Ambrose. Pope Celestine mentions it in a sermon against the Nestorians, which he preached before a synod at Rome in 430. The Pope attributes it to St. Ambrose. Likewise Bishop Faustus of Riez (A. D. 455) and Cassiodorus (died 575) also quote it and attribute it to St. Ambrose.

    The hymn is not used in the Breviarium Romanum, but does appear in the Liturgia Horarum. It is used as the Advent hymn for the Office of the Readings for the octave before Christmas.

    Obviously there are different uses for this hymn; I do believe I have sung this at Christmas Vespers, though.

  3. The second hymn for Christmas Day as listed at LLPB is, in the English version, sung as From East to West, From Shore to Shore, which is, according to Derek, the Latin hymn A solis ortus cardine, which is also used at Lauds throughout the season. And what a beautiful song it is! Here's the writeup from the linked page:
    Written by Coelius Sedulius (d c 450) in iambic dimeter. This hymn, which is used for Lauds during the Christmas season, is the first seven verses of a much longer alphabetic hymn. Four other verses form a second hymn, Hostis Herodes impie which is used for Epiphany.

    Here are the words sung here, from the Lutheran Hymnal.

  4. There is a hymn, too, for Holy Innocents on December 28th; the version sung on this mp3, in English, is Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band. This translation, by Henry W. Baker, comes from the Lutheran Hymnal; the Latin version, Salvete, flores martyrum, along with a J.M. Neale translation into English, can be found at TPL, along with the hymn "Audit tyrannus anxius." The blurb from that page says this:
    This hymn has seen several different forms, all ultimately deriving from the Hymn for the Epiphany from Prudentius' (384-413) Cathemerinon, which is 52 stanzas long. In 1568, four short hymns were assembled from selected stanzas from Prudentius' hymn and introduced into the Breviary by Pope Pius V. Two of these hymns, Audit tyrannus anxius and Salvete, flores Martyrum, were assigned for the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28) for Matins and Laudes respectively. With the subsequent revision of the Liturgy of the Hours, these later two hymns were fused into the hymn below which is used at Laudes for the aforementioned feast.

Return to An Office Hymn Tune Compendium, Part V.

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