Tag Archives: Advent

Of The Father’s Love Begotten

The Birth of Jesus, Pietro Cavallini, 1291
Tonight we go WAY back, to one of the earliest recorded Christian poems on record. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius was a Roman Christian who lived from 348-413 AD in/around what is now present-day Spain. He was the first Christian poet we know of, and wrote many poems defending the faith from heresies and encouraging the Church to persevere. The hymn Of The Father’s Love Begotten is based on Prudentius’ Hymn For All Hours, hymn IX in his collection Liber Cathemerinon, “Hymns for the Christian’s Day.”

The full collection of Prudentius hymns and a short biography can be found here, thanks to Project Gutenberg. It’s definitely worth a read, especially hymn IX above and hymn XI, “Hymn For Christmas Day.” Below is Of The Father’s Love Begotten, based on a translation of hymn IX from the Latin by John Neale and Henry Baker in the late 1800’s (tune here). May these ancient words encourage you this Advent as they have the Church for nearly two thousand years.

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!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, 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 sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Edit: Kevin DeYoung gives a fuller treatment here.

Angels From the Realms of Glory

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds, Govert Flinck, 1639
Have you ever been caught by surprise while singing a hymn? Today in church we were singing Angels From the Realms of Glory and when we hit the fourth verse I was completely caught off guard by the thematic shift. These are moments when I realize anew why I love hymns. Some authors just got it–they got the bigger picture, and are still teaching us centuries later.

Montgomery starts the song off like any good Advent hymn, focusing on the birth of Christ:

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Refrain

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Refrain

*And here’s the shift–Christ is born, but there’s a far larger drama playing out. His birth was trumpeted by angels, marveled at by shepherds, and sought after by sages. But though He came, lived, died, and rose again, the saints are still waiting for the final victory. This is the great expectation of Advent:

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Refrain

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.

Refrain

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:

Refrain

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.