Skip to comments.Best Advent Hymn
Posted on 12/02/2011 2:24:22 PM PST by NYer
I have published on this Hymn before but want to post on it again at the beginning of Advent in hopes that a few of you who have the influence and ability may see that this hymn in used in your parishes for Advent at some point.
For my money the best Advent hymn ever written is Veni Redemptor Gentium (Come Redeemer of the Nations) written by St. Ambrose in the 4th Century.
One of the beautiful things about the ancient Latin Hymns is how richly theological they are. Not content to merely describe the event in question, they give sweeping theological vision and delve into the more hidden mysteries of each event.
So here we are beginning Advent and Jesus is coming, get ready! Well yes, but he is not just coming, he is redeeming, dying, rising, ascending and reigning at the Father’s Right Hand! But how can we get all that into an Advent Hymn? Well, just below you can read the text and see how.
Full vision – But for now ponder the theological point that hymns like this make. And it is this: that no act of God can merely be reduced to the thing in itself. Everything God does is part of a sweeping master plan to restore all things in Christ, to take back what the devil stole from us! Too often we see the events of our redemption in a disconnected sort of way, but it is all really one thing, and the best theology connects the dots. It is not wrong for us to focus on one thing or another, but we must not forget it is all one thing in the end.
Without this reminder, we can develop a kind of myopia (a limited vision) that over-emphasizes some aspect of redemption and thus harms the rest by a lack of balance. In the 1970s and 80s we had all resurrection all the time, but no passion or death.
Christmas too has its hazards as we get rather sentimental about the “baby Jesus” but miss other important aspects of his incarnation. The passion and death are present in his birth in homeless poverty, the swaddling clothes, the flight into Egypt and so forth. The Eucharist is evident in his birth at Bethlehem (House of Bread) and his being laid in a manger (feed box for animals). His glory as God and his ultimate triumph are manifest in the Star overhead and the Angels declaration of glory! You see it is all tied together and the best theology connects the dots.
So with that in mind I present you to this wonderful Advent hymn so seldom sung in our Catholic Parishes. It can be sung to any Long Meter tune but is usually sung to its own melody (Puer Natus - see video below). I give here only the English translation but the PDF you can get by clicking here: ( VENI REDEMPTOR GENTIUM) contains also the Latin text. I think the poetic translation reprinted here is a minor masterpiece of English literature and hope you’ll agree. Enjoy this sweeping theological vision of the mystery of advent caught up into the grand and fuller vision of redemption.
Among the theological truths treated in this brief hymn are these: His title as Redeemer, his virgin birth, his inclusion of the Gentiles, his sinlessness, his two natures but one person, his incarnation at conception, His passion, death, descent into hell, ascension, his seat at the Father’s right hand, his divinity and equality with the Father, his healing and sanctification of our humanity so wounded by sin, his granting us freedom and eternal life, his renewing of our minds through the light of faith, his opening of heaven to us.
Not bad for seven verses! St. Ambrose, Pray for us! And now the hymn:Come, thou Redeemer of the earth, Come testify thy virgin birth: All lands admire, all times applaud: Such is the birth that fits our God. -
This video gives you an idea of what the hymn tune for Veni Redemptor Gentium sounds like. The words in this version are slightly different but the hymn tune is perfect. Try not to dance as it is sung. You can find the melody for this hymn tune in the hymn tune index of most hymnals. This hymn tune is called “Puer Natus.” The words to this hymn however can be sung to any Long Meter (LM) hymn tune.
You Tube Link
Thank you :)
I can't disagree. It's certainly in the top two, along with Veni Veni Emmanuel.
We have these two hymns in our hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, as "Savior of the Nations, Come" (332) and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (357).
Emmanuel is my favorite.
I love that one as well.
I love them both but Emmanuel sits just a tad higher IMO.
My favorite recording of the tune is by the Trinity Choir
Here are the words:
STAR OF THE EAST
Star of the East, oh Bethlehem's star,
Guiding us on to heaven afar.
Sorrow and grief are lulled by thy light.
Thou hope of each mortal, in death's lonely night.
Fearless and tranquil, we look up to Thee,
Knowing thou beam'st through eternity.
Help us to follow where Thou still dost guide
Pilgrims of earth so wise.
Oh star that leads to God above.
Whose rays are peace, and joy, and love.
Watch o'er us still till life hath ceased.
Beam on, bright star, sweet Bethlehems star.
Star of the East, thou hope of the soul.
While round us here the dark billows roll.
Lead us from sin to glory afar,
Oh, star of the East, thou sweet Bethlehem's star.
Being a jazz/blues fan, I like “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” as it lends itself to 1/16th stops and even 32nd notes.
While making it jazz worthy, it still comes across as reverent (in an American style).
Written 400 ad?
Amazing, even older than “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, and that one is OLD also, going back to the dark ages.
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt,
Des sich wundert alle Welt,
Gott solch Geburt ihm bestellt.
Words with a strictly literal translation here: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Texts/Chorale016-Eng3.htm
An interesting setting here:
The segue into pop at around the 5 minute mark is hideous . . . but until they get to that awful stuff, it's a wonderful, atmospheric setting. Just listen to the first 5 minutes and then turn it off.
More traditional version:
Of course, there's also a whole Bach cantata, but that's a different story.
My favorites: Veni Emmanuel, Conditor Alme Siderum (Creator of the Stars of Night), On Jordan's Bank.
Hate to disagree with Msgr, Pope, but the best—THE BEST—Advent hymn is “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”. The guys in my mens group like it so much, they want to sing it year round.
I especially like the version by John Michael Talbot:
1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.
2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.
3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.
4. At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
True, but I have a hard time relegating Philip Nicolai’s “Wake, awake, for night is flying” (aka “the King of chorales) to third place.
You would really like Chip Davis's arrangement on one of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums...done on electric piano in 40's blues style.
Enjoyed that! Thanks for sharing this link.
Wachet auf is truly a great hymn, but since it is not in the Advent section of our hymnal--it's under "End Times"--I did not consider it for this thread.
Loved your link. In looking at it also saw this one:
Star of The East (Christmas old time fiddle)
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