Come thou redeemer of the earth

One of my favourite hymns of all time is St. Ambrose's Veni, redemptor gentium, or, more specifically J. M. Neale's translation of it: Come thou redeemer of the earth, sung to the tune Praetorius. You can listen to it here.

The image of its writing is a romantic one: the Arians were battering the doors of the Ambrose's cathedral in Milan as he taught this hymn to his faithful, which, as you see is utterly anti-Arian.

The tune gives it a warmth and and excited anticpation of the mystery that is about to appear before us. Neale's translation is also a triumph: my personal favourite verse is verse 6: a wonderful unity of the historical event of the Incarnation, Christ's earthly and social Kingship and the eschatological reign of Christ. 

The picture, you may like to know, comes from a missal in the possession of the monks of Silverstream, in Ireland. And I am grateful to Dom Subprior for sending me photos of it: I hope to show more as the Liturgical year progresses.

1. Veni, redemptor gentium,
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum.

2. Non ex virili semine,
sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei factum est caro
fructusque ventris floruit.

3. Alvus tumescit Virginis,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
vexilla virtutum micant,
versatur in templo Deus.

4. Procedat e thalamo suo,
pudoris aula regia,
geminae gigas substantiae
alacris ut currat viam.

5. Aequalis aeterno Patri,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.

6. Praesepe iam fulget tuum
lumenque nox spirat novum,
quod nulla nox interpolet
fideque iugi luceat.

7. Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

1. Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
And manifest Thy virgin birth:
Let every age adoring fall;
Such birth befits the God of all.

2. Begotten of no human will,
But of the Spirit, Thou art still
The Word of God in flesh arrayed,
The promised Fruit to man displayed.

3. The virgin womb that burden gained
With virgin honor all unstained;
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in His temple dwells below.

4. Forth from His chamber goeth He,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now His course to run.

5. O equal to the Father, Thou!
Gird on Thy fleshly mantle now;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.

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

7. All laud to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
All glory, as is ever meet,
To God the Holy Paraclete.

A very happy Christmas eve to you all.

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