Friday, December 21, 2012

Saviour of the Nations, Come

Ambrose (340-397) was the great bishop of Milan who was instrumental in the conversion of St. Augustine. In fact, there is evidence in one of Augustine's writings that substantiates Ambrose's authorship of a wonderful Advent hymn, Veni, Redemptor Gentium--indeed, he is credited with writing a goodly number of hymns and is sometimes referred to as the Father of Hymnody. This particular hymn has been traditionally sung during the vespers service of the Nativity on Christmas Eve. The great German Reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546) was instrumental in popularizing the hymn in Wittenburg through his 1524 translation from the Latin. The following version is an 1860 translation from Luther's German text by William Reynolds. Several other versions of this hymn exist, including a fine translation by John Mason Neale, Come, Thou Redeemer of the Earth.

Saviour of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

Not of flesh and blood the Son,
Offspring of the Holy One;
Born of Mary ever blest
God in flesh is manifest.

Wondrous birth! O wondrous Child
Of the virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
Still to be in heaven enthroned.

From the Father forth he came
And returneth to the same,
Captive leading death and hell,
High the song of triumph swell!

Thou, the Father's only Son,
Hast o'er sin the victory won.
Boundless shall thy kingdom be;
When shall we its glories see?

Praise to God the Father sing,
Praise to God the Son, our King,
Praise to God the Spirit be
Ever and eternally.

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