A few days ago Stan Metheny put up the text of "". It may be of interest to
comment on it. It was, as I mentioned earlier, written by St Ambrose for
Christmas, or more precisely for Christmas Eve. Below I put in parallel
columns Stan's text and the translation by J.M. Neale and others:
Veni redemptor gentium, Come, thou redeemer of the earth,
ostende partum Virginis; And manifest thy virgin-birth:
miretur omne saeculum: Let every age adoring fall;
talis decet partus Deum. Such birth befits the God of all.
Non ex virili semine, Begotten of no human will,
sed mystico spiramine But of the Spirit, thou art still
Verbum Dei factum_est caro The Word of God in flesh arrayed,
fructusque ventris floruit. The promised fruit to man displayed.
Alvus tumescit Virginis, The virgin womb that burden gained
claustrum pudoris permanet, With virgin honour all unstained;
vexilla virtutum micant, The banners there of virtue glow;
versatur in templo Deus. God in his temple dwells below.
Procedat e thal(a)mo suo, Forth from his chamber goeth he,
pudoris aula regia, That royal home of purity,
gem(i)nae gigas substantiae A giant in twofold substance one,
alacris ut currat viam. Rejoicing now his course to run.
Aequalis aeterno Patri, O equal to thy Father, thou!
carnis tropaeo cingere, Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
infirma nostri corporis The weakness of our mortal state
virtute firmans perpeti. With deathless might invigorate
Praesepe jam fulget tuum Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
lumenque nox spirat novum, And darkness breathe a newer light,
quod nulla nox interpolet Where endless faith shall shine serene
fideque jugi luceat. And twilight never intervene.
Sit, Christe, rex piissime, All laud to God the Father be,
tibi Patrique gloria All praise, eternal Son, to thee:
cum Spiritu Paraclito, All glory, as is ever meet,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen. To God the holy Paraclete. Amen.
There is, I think, another verse which Stan does not give, but not to worry.
Like all Ambrose's hymns, this one is saturated with quotations from the
Bible. I can identify some of these, but I dare say members will be able to
The second stanza is particularly packed with biblical allusion:
Non ex virili semine: cf. John 1: "Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex
voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt" - [Those
who believe in Christ] who were born, not from blood, nor from the will of
the flesh, nor from the will of man, but from God.
cf. also 1 Peter 1: "renati non ex semini corruptibili" - [You were]
reborn, not of corruptible seed.
sed mystico spiramine: from secret spiration, i.e. from the hidden action
of the Holy Spirit. cf. Luke 1:35, "And the angel said to her, The Holy
Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow
you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."
Verbum Dei factum_est caro: cf. John 1:14, "Et verbum caro factum est."
fructusque ventris floruit: cf. Luke 1:42, "Benedicta tu inter mulieres, et
benedictus fructus ventris tui."
versatur in templo Deus: cf. Malachi 3:1 "et statim veniet ad templum suum
Dominator quem vos quaeritis."
Stanza 4 derives from Psalm 18(19):6, "In sole posuit tabernaculum suum;
Et ipse tanquam sponsus procedens de thalamo suo, Exsultavit ut gigas ad
Augustine comments on this verse: "And he as a bridegroom coming forth out
of his chamber" - And he, coming forth out of the virgin's womb, where God
was united to man's nature as a bridegroom to a bride, "Rejoiced as a giant
to run his way."
I have referred previously to J.M. Neale's interesting commentary on the
Psalms. He comments:
"In these verses, the Church has from the beginning seen a marvellous type
of the Incarnation. So S. Ambrose, in one of his most noble hymns: [and he
quotes this stanza]."
No doubt other list-members will want to add their own comments.