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Best Advent Hymn
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | December 1, 2011 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/02/2011 2:24:22 PM PST by NYer

Advent-wreath-balls-w1-5

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.
-
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.
-
The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
Its virgin honor is still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.
-
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
Runs out his course to death and hell,
Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.
-
O Equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.
-
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.
-
All laud, eternal Son, to thee
Whose advent sets thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore.
-

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


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Mainline Protestant; Worship
KEYWORDS: advent; advent2011; adventhymn; carols; catholicism; christmas; christmas2011; hymn; hymnology; hymns; msgrcharlespope; music

1 posted on 12/02/2011 2:24:26 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; SumProVita; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 12/02/2011 2:25:14 PM PST by NYer ("Be kind to every person you meet. For every person is fighting a great battle." St. Ephraim)
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To: NYer
Medieval Baebes - Veni, Veni Emmanuel
3 posted on 12/02/2011 2:30:20 PM PST by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: NYer

Thank you :)


4 posted on 12/02/2011 2:37:19 PM PST by Berlin_Freeper (1/3/2012-Iowa 1/10-Newt Hampshire 1/21-South Carolina 1/31-Florida)
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To: NYer; Joe 6-pack; lightman; Cletus.D.Yokel; bcsco
For my money the best Advent hymn ever written is Veni Redemptor Gentium. . . .

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).

5 posted on 12/02/2011 2:42:53 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: Charles Henrickson; Cletus.D.Yokel

Emmanuel is my favorite.


6 posted on 12/02/2011 2:55:57 PM PST by bcsco (A vote for Cain will cure the Pain!)
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To: NYer
For my musical Christian friends I really suggest http://www.vatican.va/liturgical_year/liturgico_en/christmas.html.

ML/NJ

7 posted on 12/02/2011 3:01:57 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: bcsco

I love that one as well.


8 posted on 12/02/2011 3:17:13 PM PST by murron (Proud Mom of a Marine Vet)
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To: murron

I love them both but Emmanuel sits just a tad higher IMO.


9 posted on 12/02/2011 3:25:53 PM PST by bcsco (A vote for Cain will cure the Pain!)
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To: NYer
Although it may be more of a Christmas carol, one of my favorite hymns for this time of the year is "Star of the East," which noted songwriter Amanda Kennedy wrote in 1918 and set to the melody of "Star of the Sea," one of her earlier hits. The lyrics, with their reference to death and "dark billows" may reflect the environment of war, pestilence and political and economic turmoil that dominated the world of 1918. This song truly brings a message of hope in contrast to the insipid, feel-good garbage of tunes like "Holly Jolly Christmas" which we must endure every December.

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 Bethlehem’s 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.

10 posted on 12/02/2011 4:12:22 PM PST by Fiji Hill
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To: bcsco; Charles Henrickson

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).


11 posted on 12/02/2011 4:12:26 PM PST by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alterations - The acronym explains the science.)
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To: NYer

Written 400 ad?


12 posted on 12/02/2011 4:17:05 PM PST by Judith Anne (For rhe sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.)
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To: NYer

Amazing, even older than “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, and that one is OLD also, going back to the dark ages.


13 posted on 12/02/2011 5:16:29 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: NYer
Johann Walther tune (later harmonized by Bach), paraphrase in German by Luther:

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:

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland

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:

Saviour of the Nations, Come

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.

14 posted on 12/02/2011 6:13:21 PM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

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:
.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ni6WuAX1fKE
.
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, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!


15 posted on 12/02/2011 6:25:05 PM PST by fidelis (Zonie and USAF Cold Warrior)
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To: Charles Henrickson

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.


16 posted on 12/02/2011 7:18:04 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel
Being a jazz/blues fan, I like “O, Little Town of Bethlehem” as it lends itself to 1/16th stops and even 32nd notes.

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.

17 posted on 12/02/2011 7:25:22 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini)
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To: Joe 6-pack

Enjoyed that! Thanks for sharing this link.


18 posted on 12/02/2011 7:28:50 PM PST by antceecee (Bless us Father.. have mercy on us and protect us from evil.)
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To: lightman
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.

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.

19 posted on 12/02/2011 7:29:16 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: Fiji Hill

Loved your link. In looking at it also saw this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng_79a_Zia4&feature=related
Star of The East (Christmas old time fiddle)


20 posted on 12/02/2011 7:37:25 PM PST by antceecee (Bless us Father.. have mercy on us and protect us from evil.)
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To: NYer; lightman; bcsco; Cletus.D.Yokel; AnAmericanMother; fidelis
We have 27 hymns in the Advent section of our hymnal, Lutheran Service Book (26 hymns really, since one text has two tunes):

331: The Advent of Our King
332: Savior of the Nations, Come
333: Once He Came in Blessing
334: O Lord, How Shall I Meet You
335: O Bride of Christ, Rejoice
336: Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending
337: The Night Will Soon Be Ending
338: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
339: Lift Up Your Heads, You Everlasting Doors
340: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
341: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates
342: What Hope! An Eden Prophesied
343: Prepare the Royal Highway
344: On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
345: Hark! A Thrilling Voice Is Sounding
346: When All the World Was Cursed
347: Comfort, Comfort Ye My People
348: The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns
349: Hark the Glad Sound
350: Come, Thou Precious Ransom, Come
351: Creator of the Stars of Night
352: Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord
353: Jesus Came, the Heavens Adoring
354: Arise, O Christian People
355: O Savior, Rend the Heavens Wide
356: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came
357: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

I'm happy to say that during this Advent season (seven services, Sundays and Wednesdays), our congregation will be singing 23 of these 26 different hymns.

I pick the hymns, btw. ;^)

21 posted on 12/02/2011 7:43:55 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: fidelis
“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”

That hymn is listed in "The Lord's Supper" section of our hymnal. We'll be singing it on December 18 during distribution.

22 posted on 12/02/2011 7:46:39 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Much better than the mere 17 in the Advent section of the Lutheran Book of Worship. There are another dozen or so in the “Christian Hope” section and other places.


23 posted on 12/02/2011 7:49:59 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Good for you. Unfortunately, I attend a church where “hymn” is a four-letter ‘h’ word. Enjoy Advent. I would, if they’d just put the drums away for a day.


24 posted on 12/02/2011 7:52:25 PM PST by Colonel_Flagg (Why, yes. I AM in a bad mood.)
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To: Cletus.D.Yokel; Charles Henrickson

Not so much a blues fan, but jazz, you bet. Just last night I converted a number of Ben Webster albums to mp3, along with an album called “The Commodore Story”, 40 tracks of various artists from the 30’s - 40’s. Man!


25 posted on 12/03/2011 5:52:32 AM PST by bcsco (A vote for Cain will cure the Pain!)
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To: Charles Henrickson

This Sunday, we’re singing “Comfort, comfort ye my people” in the Goudimel setting, and “Creator alme siderum” (”Creator of the stars of night”) in the DuFay setting. I can heartily recommend both.


26 posted on 12/03/2011 7:18:21 AM PST by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of ye Chasse, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: NYer

I like Silent Night best although Gesu Bambino [instrumentl] is a close second. God Bless and Merry Christmas.


27 posted on 12/03/2011 8:11:45 AM PST by ex-snook ("above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: Joe 6-pack

That was my choice exactly. When I was a child in Catholic school we used to sing that in Latin (and English) as a round and it is still my favorite.


28 posted on 12/03/2011 10:55:17 PM PST by reaganaut ("I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see".)
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To: mrreaganaut

Your thoughts?


29 posted on 12/03/2011 10:56:11 PM PST by reaganaut ("I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see".)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Wow. I only know 2 of those and I know a lot of hymns from various traditions.

One I’m surprised is missing is Stille Nacht.


30 posted on 12/03/2011 11:02:02 PM PST by reaganaut ("I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see".)
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To: reaganaut
Veni, Veni, Immanuel (O Come, O Come, Immanuel) is best for something Mediaeval, as it is specifically for Advent, not Christmas.

A Stable Lamp Is Lighted (And Ev'ry Stone Shall Cry) is the best modern Christmas carol, and is, I believe, the newest written. I hate the Episcopal tune, but there is a lovely alternate melody, by American composer Michael Larkin, that our choir used last Advent. The carol also works at Eastertide, as it has verses for the Crucifixion and Resurrection.

31 posted on 12/03/2011 11:16:05 PM PST by mrreaganaut (Love is all we need. God is love.)
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To: reaganaut
One I’m surprised is missing is Stille Nacht.

It's not missing, it's just not in the Advent section. It's in the Christmas section (Hymns 358-393).

32 posted on 12/04/2011 5:20:12 AM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: Charles Henrickson

I really love “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came”, and also, “Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending”.


33 posted on 12/05/2011 8:12:38 PM PST by SuziQ
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