***The following post was written by the now Fr. Dylan Schrader, it was written for the Jefferson City Seminarians’ blog, which has been migrated here and taken down, since all have either been ordained or left seminary.***

 

Advent is my favorite season of the Church year. The sense of expectation and longing for the arrival of Jesus Christ needs to be emphasized. It reminds me of how privileged we are to live in the time of the New Covenant. Generations of people longed for the coming of Christ into the world, (cf. Mt 13:17) but we live in the time of the fulfillment of that promise. Our participation in their waiting leads us to be more grateful for what Jesus has done for us out of pure graciousness. We also look forward to the end of the age and the return of Christ in glory. We look forward to our own death.

Advent also has some of the best music in the Church’s treasury of sacred music. Music for the Divine Office (e.g., the Conditor alme siderum or the O Antiphons). The antiphons for Mass and other hymns, such as Rorate caeli, intertwine the themes of Advent with fitting musical expressions. We have some great English adaptations of this music as well, such as O Come, O Come Emmanuel or Creator of the Stars of Night.

Father Samuel Weber, director of the Institute of Sacred Music for the Archdiocese of St Louis, who resides at Kenrick Seminary, recently asked me to translate two Advent hymns: Verbum salutis omnium and Magnis prophetae vocibus from the Liturgy of the Hours. I always enjoy translating such things for Father Weber, and it’s a spiritually edifying challenge to render as closely as possible the meaning of the words in English while achieving something that is singable (and rhymes).

Below are my adaptations of these hymns for singing in English.

First, Verbum salutis omnium:

Verbum salutis omnium,
Patris ab ore prodiens,
Virgo beata, suscipe
casto, Maria, viscere.Te nunc illustrat cælitus
umbra fecundi Spiritus,
gestes ut Christum Dominum,
æqualem Patri Filium.Hæc est sacrati ianua
templi serata iugiter,
soli supremo Principi
pandens beata limina.Olim promissus vatibus,
natus ante luciferum,
quem Gabriel annuntiat,
terris descendit Dominus.

Lætentur simul angeli,
omnes exsultent populi:
excelsus venit humilis
salvare quod perierat.

Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna sæcula.

The Savior of all men, the Word,
Who from the Father’s mouth proceeds,
Within your womb, O Virgin blest,
We humbly beg you to receive.The Spirit overshadows you,
His fruitful work has now begun,
That you might bring forth Christ the Lord,
The Father’s coeternal Son.Behold the sacred temple’s gate,
Remaining sealed for years unknown;
Its blessed threshold fastened tight
Would open for the Prince alone.Of old the prophets held his pledge;
Before the dawn he had his birth;
Now Gabriel proclaims to you:
The Lord descends unto the earth.

Let angels then exult as well
And all the nations leap for joy;
The Most High comes in lowliness
To save what sin had once destroyed.

To you, O Christ, our gracious king,
And to the Father glory be,
And to the Spirit Paraclete,
While ages run eternally.

Second, Magnis prophetae vocibus:

Magnis prophetae vocibus
venire Christum nuntiant,
laetae salutis praevia,
qua nos redemit, gratia.Hinc mane nostrum promicat
et corda laeta exaestuant,
cum vox fidelis personat
praenuntiatrix gloriae.Adventus hic primus fuit,
punire quo non saeculum
venit, sed ulcus tergere,
salvando quod perierat.At nos secundus praemonet
adesse Christum ianuis,
sanctis coronas reddere
caelique regna pandere.

Aeterna lux promittitur
sidusque salvans promitur;
iam nos iubar praefulgidum
ad ius vocat caelestium.

Te, Christe, solum quaerimus
videre, sicut es Deus,
ut perpes haec sit visio
perenne laudis canticum.

Prophetic voices from of old
The coming of the Christ foretold,
Foreseeing well that saving grace
By which he has redeemed our race.So, here our morning glimmers bright,
And hearts brim over with delight
At hearing such a voice resound
Which heralds glory all around.This Advent was his sacred birth;
He did not come to strike the earth,
But rather wounds to bind and mend
By saving what was lost through sin.The second Advent we await
When Christ will stand before the gate
To open heaven’s blest domain
And crown the saints to share his reign.

Eternal splendor is made known;
The saving star has clearly shone.
Already heaven’s brilliant light
Is calling us to what is right.

You, Christ, alone we strive to see,
Resplendent in divinity;
Give us this vision all our days,
And grant an endless song of praise.

3 thoughts on “Two Advent Hymns

  1. Great translations. Thanks for both hymns. Time is always short and I usually don’t have the time to do it myself, as I usually have to produce a lot of materials for the seasons and solemnities.

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