16 Dec 2009

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius: An Ancient Christmas Hymn

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Christmas, Church History, Grace, Jesus, Ministry, Preaching, Worship
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (AD 348-413ish)

We are setting out our Christmas decor this evening, that along with the “cool” wintry weather just sort of puts one in the “mood” for Christmas … after all it was a frosty 70 something today! And since I am home alone doing that which is communal by nature I thought I would share an ancient Christmas hymn dating to around 400 A.D. It is nice to know that over the course of one thousand six hundred years we still have some “fellowship” with the saints through joyous song.

One of the most highly regarded Latin poets of Christian antiquity, Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, left a prominent government position at the age of 50 to enter a monastery and dedicate himself to writing hymns to God. One of his hymns, “Corde natus ex Parentis” (i.e. Of the Father’s love begotten) expresses his faith in babe of Bethlehem. Some Christian fellowships are blessed to still sing this hymn.

In Latin …

Corde natus ex parentis
Ante mundi exordium
A et O cognominatus,
ipse fons et clausula
Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt,
quaeque post futura sunt.
Saeculorum saeculis.”

In English …

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

O that birth for ever blessed!
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bore the Saviour of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed his sacred face,
Evermore and evermore.

O ye heights of heaven, adore him;
Angel hosts, his praises sing;
Powers, dominions bow before him,
And extol our God and King;
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring,
Evermore and evermore.”

May that Babe bring blessings to all this year as well … Thank You Father for the gift of the Child in the manger. Here is the song sung in the original Latin.

See also

Ephraem the Syrian: Another Ancient Christmas Hymn

Narsai: Mary, Christmas, Poetry & Theology: Christian Faith in Mesopotamia

Bobby Valentine

4 Responses to “Aurelius Clemens Prudentius: An Ancient Christmas Hymn”

  1. kingdomseeking Says:

    Thank you for sharing this hymn with us. I have never heard of it before but the words are wonderful and I love discovering the ancient hymns of our past.

    Grace and peace,


  2. cwinwc Says:

    Good to see you back to blog world and thanks for sharing.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    thanks !! very helpful post!

  4. Robert Limb Says:

    “Of the father’s love begotten” is a very popular carol for choirs in the UK usually in a setting by David Wilcocks of Kings College Cambridge

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