Songs of Advent 6

220px-Divinum_mysteriumWe had our very own poet-in-residence at Collins Street this year, Cameron Semmens.  Cameron was wonderful and demonstrated beautifully both the playfulness and power of words.

Today’s Advent song is based on the words of one of the Church’s earliest poets, a Roman by the name of Aurelius Prudentius Clemens.  I reckon with a last name like that Cameron and he could be related. Aurelius was born in Northern Spain in 348. He practiced law with great success and even served time as a provincial governor, but he longed for a more contemplative way of life.  He finally found it in retirement.  He wrote his poetry in Latin.

His poem Corde natus eventually became the English carol Of the Father’s Heart Begotten … all nine stanzas of it!   My dear friend Ron Ham, retired Baptist pastor and member of Collins Street, identifies it as one of the precious hymns of this season that encapsulates for him ‘the astonishing message of Advent.’

Here’s one version of it, with the words to all nine stanzas following.

Of the Father’s heart begotten,
Ere the world from chaos rose,
He is Alpha, from that Fountain
All that is and hath been flows;
He is Omega, of all things,
Yet to come the distant Close,
Evermore and evermore.

By His word was all created
He commanded and ’twas done;
Earth and sky and boundless ocean,
Universe of three in one,
All that sees the moon’s soft radiance,
All that breathes beneath the sun,
Evermore and evermore.

He assumed this mortal body,
Frail and feeble, doomed to die,
That the race from dust created,
Might not perish utterly,
Which the dreadful Law had sentenced
In the depths of hell to lie,
Evermore and evermore.

O how blest that wondrous birthday,
When the Maid the curse retrieved,
Brought to birth mankind’s salvation
By the Holy Ghost conceived,
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer
In her loving arms received,
Evermore and evermore.

Sing, ye heights of heaven, his praises;
Angels and Archangels, sing!
Wheresoe’er ye be, ye faithful,
Let your joyous anthems ring,
Every tongue his name confessing,
Countless voices answering,
Evermore and evermore.

This is he, whom seer and sibyl
Sang in ages long gone by,;
This is he of old revealed
In the page of prophecy;
Lo! he comes the promised Saviour;
Let the world his praises cry!
Evermore and evermore.

Hail! thou Judge of souls departed;
Hail! of all the living King!
On the Father’s right hand throned,
Through his courts thy praises ring,
Till at last for all offences
Righteous judgement thou shalt bring,
Evermore and evermore.

Now let old and young uniting
Chant to thee harmonious lays
Maid and matron hymn thy glory,
Infant lips their anthem raise,
Boys and girls together singing
With pure heart their song of praise,
Evermore and evermore.

Let the storm and summer sunshine,
Gliding stream and sounding shore,
Sea and forest, frost and zephyr,
Day and night their Lord alone;
Let creation join to laud thee
Through the ages evermore,
Evermore and evermore.

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