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NYPL RESEARCH LIBRARIES



3 3433 06825947 6



A STUDY OF
LATIN HYMNS



ALICC KING Mac GILTON



w PUBLISHERS' V/£S:gCL



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BADGER'S CLASSICAL
STUDIES

The Crimes of the Oedipodean
Cycle. By Henry N. Bowman.

A Study of Virgil's Descriptions
or Nature. By Mabel Louise
Anderson.

Deception in Plautus, A Study in
the Technique of Comedy. By
Helen E. Wieand.

A Study of Latin Hymns. By
Alice King MacGilton.

Latin Stems and English De-
rivitives for Caesar. By Madge
De Vore.

Lyric Songs of the Greeks. By
Walter Petersen.

Selections from Catullus. By
Mary Stewart.



RICHARD G. BADGER, PUBLISHER, BOSTON



A STUDY OF
LATIN HYMNS



ALICE KING MacGILTON, A. M.







BOSTON

RICHARD G. BADGER

THE GORHAM PRESS



\svV^.^ •.*!?,



Copyright, 1918, by Richard G. Badger



All Rights Reserved




MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



Tbb Qorham Pbbbs, Boston, U. S. A.



To

MYRON REED SANFORD, L. H. D.

OF THE Latin Department

OF MiDDLEBURY COLLEGE



PREFACE

^TT^HIS volume is the result of a critical reading of over
-*• eight hundred Latin hymns, psalms, and canticles.
The treatment of the subject is as nearly chronological
as the nature of the material permits, thus making it a
suitable compendium for a brief study of this minor but
unique part of Latin literature. The notes and lists of
hymns in the appendix are arranged for convenience of
reference with titles or first lines in alphabetical order,
the source — author, breviary or period — and a place where
each hymn may be found. Great uncertainty prevails as
to authorship and date of many of the hymns although
approximation to a period is generally to be trusted.

While the commentary is intelligible to a reader not
familiar with the Latin, a sufficient number of hymns in
the original are given to make it a collection representative
of the principal styles and the important periods so that
it may be used as a collateral text-book in the study of
lyrics of the post-classic ages.

The work is without doctrinal bias; its chief interest,
however, lies in the fact that although pursued in a purely
historical way, it reveals the value of the Christian hymns
as human documents. In the expression of religious feel-
ing, hymn-writers of periods and places remote from each
other are bound by an indissoluble bond which as in-
timately unites our time and theirs.

The book has been read by several competent judges
and the Latin citations have been kept as free as possible

5



6 Preface

from errors, but the reader must remember that varia-
tions in spelling are not uncommon in mediaeval manu-
scripts and their reprints. A complete bibliography of
Latin and English works consulted by the author is print-
ed in the appendix. Special mention should be made of
S. W. Duffield's complete list of English translators and
grateful acknowledgment to Professor Raymond H.
White for reading the Latin text.

Alice King MacGilton.
Middlebury, Vermont
March, 191 8.



CONTENTS

Page

The Biblical Origin of Hymns 9

The Expression of Faith in the Hymns I2

The Eastern Hymns 13

The Ambrosian Period 18

The Fifth Century 22

The Sixth Century 28

The Seventh Century 32

The Eighth Century 33

The Ninth Century 34

Mediaeval Music 36

The Tenth Century 42

The Davi^n of the Modern Age 44

The Twelfth Century 48

The Age of the Giants 54

The Last of the Latin Hymns 60

Collections of Hymns 65

The Value of Latin Hymns 67

Appendix

I English Versions 71

n Breviaries 71

HI Hymns of the Roman Breviary 72

IV Dates of Published Translations 74

7



S Contents

Pags

V The Seven Great Hymns 75

VI Le Paroissien Note 75

VII Hymns of the "Coeleste Palmetum'' 76

VIII Plain Chant 77

English Translations

Dies Irae 79

Oratio 81

De Resurrectione 81

Index of Latin Hymns 85

Supplement 100

Index Psalmorum 104

Novum Testamentum 109

Bibliography ill



A STUDY OF LATIN
HYMNS

The Biblical Origin of Hymns

THE Hebrew songs and the Christian hymns in
Greek were the source from which issued a wealth
of Latin hymns after the Roman Empire made Latin the
official language of the western world. The Biblia Sacra,
Vulgatae Editionis gave to the Christians of the Roman
Empire at the end of the fourth century the great gift of
the Scriptures in a language which all understood. Sex-
tus V and Clement VIII furthered the growth of Chris-
tianity by sending forth this version of the Bible, Biblia
Sacra jussu recognita atque edita. It is illuminating even
yet to the reader. The songs of Moses and of Deborah,
of Hannah and of the Prophets take on a new meaning.
The unapproachable Psalms of David shine with a new
luster from the familiar "Beatus vir, qui non abiit in con-
silio impiorum" down to the last Psalm an Alleluia, "Lau-
date Dominum in Sanctis ejus, Omnis spiritus laudei
Dominum." A broader and deeper revelation of spiritual
power is made by expression in the Latin, a language un-
excelled in force, clearness, and elegance.

First among Christian songs of praise stand the Mag-
nificat, (St. Luke I 46-55) the Benedictus, (St. Luke I
68-79) and the Nunc Dimittis, (St. Luke II 29-32).

9



lO A Study of Latin Hymnt

In the Epistles of St. Paul we find what are believed to
be traces of hymns in Ephesians V 14:

"Surge qui dortnis
et exsurge a mortuis,
et illuminabit te
Christusr

and I Timothy III 16:

**Et manifeste magnum est
pietatis sacramentum
quod manifestum est in carne,
justificaium est in spiritu,
apparuit angelisj
praedicatum est GentibuSj
creditum est in mundoj
assumptum est in gloria/'

and I Timothy VI 15-16:

"Rex regum, et Dominus dominantium:
qui solus habet immortalitatem,
et lucem inhabitat inaccessibilem:
quern nullus hominum viditj sed nee videre potest:
cui honor, et imperium sempiternum. Amen."

In the account of the last supper an allusion is made to
a hymn which authorities say, must have been the Great
Halleh the Psalms used at the Paschal feast, Psahns
CXIII to CXVIII. Psalms CXIII and CXIV were



A Study of Latin Hymns II

sung before the feast and Psalms CXV-CXVIII, after.
They begin with the "Laudate, puerij Dominum/' then
proceed through the ''Non nobis, Dominej non nobis, sed
nomini tuo da gloriam" to the reiterated refrain of Psalm
CXVIII ''quoniam in saeculum misericordia ejus/' These
Psalms, doubtless sung in the Hebrew by the little band
of disciples and their Master, were afterwards incor-
porated in Christian worship and repeated in the ser-
vices of the mediaeval church in the Latin of the Vulgate
for a thousand years. St. Jerome says it was the habit
of Christians to sing everywhere. The custom may have
been due to a reaction from the repression of times of
persecution when only under the earth Christians could
sing unmolested their "hymns to Christ as God." In the
Acts Paul and Silas in prison "orantes laudabant Deum"
and earlier as a result of the testimony of Peter and John
those who heard them

"unanimiter levaverunt vocem ad Deum et dixerunt:
'Domine, Tu es qui fecisti coelum et terram
mare et omnia quae in eis sunt/ **

A quotation from the second Psalm follows, then the
recognition of Jesus as the annointed (Christus) and a
prayer for manifestation of power through his name,
''per no?nen sancti filii tui Jesu/'

The Old and New Testaments arc full of songs of
praise. The Pentateuch begins with a poem on the crea-
tion which might easily be chanted and the New Testa-
ment closes with a wonderful paean of the victory of the
Overcomer and a song of the glories of the New Jc-



12 A Study of Latin Hymns

rusalem. The resemblance in the use of words, phrases,
metaphors, and historic allusions between the language of
the Vulgate and of the Latin hj-mns is too great to be
accidental. The inspiration of one is the real inspiration
of the other. Especially true is it of the early hymns that
they arc objective. They address the Deity and in ascrip-
tions of praise voice the scriptural idea of the divine at-
tributes. They describe facts in Bible history, they cele-
brate great deliverances, but above all they dwell on every
detail of the life of the Redeemer as the truest method
of singing the song of the Redeemed. Later we find the
teachings of the Church Fathers influencing the subject-
matter of the hymns, especially those of St. Augustine and
still later of the powerful thinker Thomas Aquinas who
left his mark upon the songs of his own and subsequent
times.

The Expression of Faith in the Hymns

Only when the singers lose faith in the triumphs of the
Faith does the song cease. We cannot praise unless the
gifts and graces we laud are realities to us. The joyful
assurance of other people rings hollow in the verse of the
indifferent or the incredulous. Music demands truth.
It cannot pretend to emotions it does not feel; the result
of such attempts is plainly pretense and not emotion. One
of the great charms of the early Latin hymns is their
sincerity. The writers speak of that which they believe
and also, as far as their personal experience can go, of
what they know. While the doctrinal element found in
the hymns of the periods of the struggle with heresies and



A Study of Latin Hymns 13

the establishment of Church creeds and dogmas does not
increase their poetical value, yet some attain sublimity in
the larger views taken of truth although they lose neces-
sarily in spontaneity. The profounder problems of the-
olog>' are, naturally, not fitted to song.

The increasing number of days devoted to the memory
of saints and martyrs inevitably changed the tone of the
hymns. A song expressing veneration of Martha, of
Ursula, of Ambrose is of necessity less impressive than
one that gives voice to adoration of the true God, the
Trinity in Unity. When the hymns wander from the
loftiest subject of Christian praise they often become
fanciful, far-fetched, and merely curiosities of literature.
As a rule the Breviaries preserve those hymns that have
the vital quality of feeling founded on faith. It is an
instance of the law of survival. The hymns that live,
those that are sung in many tongues and various com-
munions, are as true an expression of religious emotion
to-day as they were a thousand and more years ago.

The Eastern Hymns

Latin hymnody, the daughter of the songs of praise of
the Old and New Testaments, was in its beginning in-
spired by the hymns of the East where Christianity had
its birth. Very marked is the change from the beautiful
Pagan songs of the Greeks where the mere mention of
death is avoided, to the joy of the Christian poet whose
eye could look calmly on death, penetrating its veil to see
the glories of the everlasting life. The Eastern hymns
are aglow with the love of Christ and full of the hope



14 A Study of Latin Hymns

and peace which faith in Him gave. An oriental dox-
ology illustrates this characteristic:

"God is my hope,
Christ is my refuge,
The Holy Spirit is my vesture,
Holy Trinity, Glory to Thee."

The three great early hymns of the Christian Church,
of unknown date and authorship, probably were written
in the Greek language originally, the "Ter Sanctus" of all
Catholic Communion services, the "Gloria in excelsis"
(which to the Angels' Song adds a "Miserere" and a
"Gloria") and the "Te Deum laudamus" the most nearly
perfect of all ancient songs of praise. Manuscripts which
contain them in Latin arc not early, but as crystallizations
of worship, they point to a very early age and doubtless
were developed gradually into the accepted form, and then
passed down from father to son, and preserved by a use
as constant as that of our time. Mrs. Charles well says:
"Three hymns and three creeds have come down to us
and have been incorporated into our Liturgy. In the
preservation of the Holy Scriptures we recognize with
adoration the controlling hand of God and we also may
attribute to his merciful providence that through those
centuries, when so many would receive no spiritual food
except through the external Church, anything so pure and
life-giving should have been enshrined in her daily offices,
as the Creeds of the Apostles, of Nice and of Athanasius,
and these three most sublime hymns of Christendom."
There is a tradition that Ambrose and Augustine sang



A Study of Latin Hymns 1 5

rcsponsively the "Te Deum" in the Latin at the confirma-
tion of St. Augustine. The most credible theory is that
it was made up of several Oriental hymns as it is at once
a hymn, a creed, and a prayer; and that it was first used
by Ambrose who improved the ritual of the West by many
musical innovations.

Whatever the facts of the origin of these famous hymns,
the East made some beautiful contributions to hymnody.
Mrs. Charles gives translations of thirty of them in her
book. The Voice of Christian Life in Song. The first
writer of Christian hymns in any tongue is Clement of
Alexandria, a convert to Christianity at the close of the
second century, who appended a hymn in Greek, O Thou,
the King of Saints, to a learned treatise entitled Paeda-
gogus.

The Syriac hymns of Ephraem Syrus are given in Ger-
man in Daniel's Thesaurus. The lament of a father on
the death of his little son, a hymn which it was customary
in early times to sing at the funerals of children, is at-
tributed to him. His hymn for Palm Sunday is excellent.
Mrs. Charles has a translation of it. The last stanza in
her version is :

"Let every village, every city

In happy tumult sing His name.
Since even infant lips are shouting,
'Blessed is He the King who came.' "

Theodoret speaks of Ephraem's songs as very sweet and
profitable. He is said to have added to his stanzas a fifth
line to be sung by different voices as a refrain and called
the ephymnium.



i6 A Study of Latin Hymns

One more Eastern hymn writer must be mentioned,
Gregory of Nazianzum, a devout monk who was called
from a life of solitary devotion to be the Patriarch of
Constantinople in 380 A. D. From vigils, psalmodies, and
departures to God in prayer, Gregory entered into the
active struggle against Arianism. His hymns were sung
in public demonstrations made in the defence of the Faith
against the popular heresy, and may have been composed
for that purpose. Gaius speaks of "hymning Christ the
Word of God, as God," and the hymns of Gregory
certainly are full of the glories of Christ.

The Greek hymns are objective in tone. Their theme
is not "our joy in God," but as has been happily ex-
pressed, "God who is our Joy." So many late-mediaeval
hymns, both Protestant and Jesuit, are subjective that
this freedom from introspective analysis, which so easily
becomes morbid or sentimental, is a great merit. Instead
of dwelling upon states of mind, these Eastern hymns look
away from the worshiper to the Object of worship.

Three beautiful later Greek hymns are in present use
in the admirable versions of Dr. John Mason Neale:
The Day is Past and Over from Anatolius, Christian Dost
Thou See Themf from Andrew of Crete, and Art thou
Weary f from Stephen the Sabaite.

The first authentic writer of Latin hymns was also a
valiant foe of the Arians and was banished when they
had official power in 356 A. D. to Phrygia where he be-
came acquainted with the ritual of the East. On his re-
turn he was instrumental in introducing hymn singing
into the West. There was more than one Hilary, but this
"Malleus Arianorum" was undoubtedly the Bishop of



A Study of Latin Hymns 17

Poictiers whom Isadora calls the first Latin hymn writer
and who according to St. Jerome wrote a book of hymns.
A morning hymn is, however, the only one extant that
can be attributed certainly to him. It is believed that he
wrote it during his exile and sent it with an evening
hymn, unfortunately lost, to his daughter Abra.

HYMNUS MATUTINUS
(The Oldest Christian Hymn in Latin)

Lucis largitor splendide.

Cuius sereno lumine
Post lapsa noctis tempora

Dies refusus panditur;

Tu verus mundi Lucifer,

Non is, qui parvi sideris
Venturae lucis nuntius

Angus to fulget lumine,

Sed toto sole clarior.

Lux ipse totus et dies.
Interna nostri pectoris

Illuminans praecordia:

Adesto, rerum conditor,

Paternae lucis gloria.
Cuius admota gratia

Nostra patescunt corpora;

Tuoque plena spiritu,
Secum Deum gestantia.



1 8 A Study of Latin Hymns

Ne rapientis perfidi
Diris pate scant fraudibus,

Ut inter actus saeculi
Vitae quos usus exigit,

Omni carentes crimine
Tuts vivamus legibus.

Probrosas mentis castitas
Carnis vincat libidines,

Sanctumque puri corporis
Delubrum servet Spiritus.

Haec spes precantis animae,
Haec sunt votiva munera,

Ut matutina nobis sit
Lux in noctis custodiam.



The Ambrosian Period

With this hymn of Hilary, Latin hymnody takes its
rise. In the classical age, the Romans had few hymns in
the modern sense. The "Dianae sumus in fide" of Catul-
lus and Horace's famous "Dianam tenerae dicite virgines"
are plainly lyrics that suggest this form. The traditional
odes to the gods were quite different in aim and much
more elaborate in form. "Praise to God with song" was
Augustine's definition of a hymn, which evidently includ-
ed also canticles and psalms, but Bede thought the word
hymn should be applied to metrical compositions only.

Although Hilary's name stands first, this earliest period
of Latin Hymns is properly named Ambrosian from the



A Study of Latin Hymns 19

great Bishop of Milan who might be called the father of
church music in the West. Augustine writes that "it was
first appointed by Ambrose that, after the manner of
Greek services, hymns and psalms should be sung by the
people lest they grow weary and faint through sorrow"
because of the persecution of their good Bishop and their
confinement with him in the cathedral. He describes him-
self as moved to tears by the sweetness of the singing, "the
voices flowed into my ears, the truth distilled into my
heart; I overflowed with devout affection and was happy."
Tlie emotional effect of congregational singing evidently
was as potent in the fourth century as in the nineteenth.
Once inaugurated, this custom of encouraging the people
to join in the singing of hymns spread, according to
Augustine, from Milan throughout the entire West.

As to the quality of the hymns which have come down
to us from the fourth and fifth centuries, Neale a sympa-
thetic critic calls them rugged. They are in the Latin
of the Post-Silver Age and antedate the use of rhyme.
They were intended for popular use and were written in
the simplest, most direct style. Many of the earliest ones
read like translations as, doubtless, many of them were.
When "the stream of psalmody flowed from the language
of Homer into that of Vergil," facts and ideas that were
native to the Hebrew and Greek, the two media of Scrip-
tural inspiration, had to be naturalized in the sonorous
Roman speech. At first the old thoughts wore the new
garb somewhat stiffly but it is fair to admit that it must
have been much less difficult to write hymns in Greek
since the matter they embodied lay embedded in the
Greek New Testament. Again, in comparing the early



20 A Study of Latin Hymns

hymns with the mediaeval ones, we must take into ac-
count the fact that in the early period no ecclesiastical and
spiritual associations were gathered round the Latin
tongue which was to be the chosen language of the West-
ern Church for many centuries and is still that of a great
body of Christian believers. Latin had to "come into
church fresh from the market, the battlefield, or the court
of justice." Yet for this very reason, there is a sim-
plicity of expression and a straightforward sincerity of
tone in the Ambrosiani that make a strong appeal even
now. There is not a suggestion of pretense in any of them.
They may be plain, even crude but they are full of force.
They have the verve of patriotic hymns or battle-songs.
Devoid of mystic devotion they have, nevertheless, a vigor
and at times a majesty truly Roman.

Of the many Ambrosian hymns, authorities differ as to
the probable and the possible ones that belong to Am-
brose himself, but all agree that four are his on the au-
thority of Augustine and Celestine. These are the "Deus
creator omnium," the "Aeterne rerum conditor" the
"Jam surgit hora tertia' which Augustine mentions, and
the "Veni, redemptor gentium" of which Celestine speaks,
and which the critic Herder ranks very high.

March in his collection of Latin hymns puts twelve
under the name of Ambrose, one of them a remarkable
prayer for rain. This poem, for it is rather a poem than
a hymn, is a graphic description of a drought in a southern
country, and is almost too realistic. It has been put into
English very satisfactorily by Bishop Van Buren.

Among the hymns of uncertain authorship of this first



A Study of Latin Hymns 21

period, Mone, the scholarly editor of "Hymns of the
Middle Ages," attributes the ''Hie est dies verus Dei'' to
Ambrose, using doubtless the method of the higher criti-
cism. Daniel whose Thesaurus is one of the best available
reference books for students of early hymns thinks that
the famous

''Ad coenajri Agni providi
Et stolis albis candidi'

is a hymn that was sung by newly baptized catechumens
and one of the most ancient extant. It is a comparison of
the Feast of the Passover with the sacrament of the Holy
Communion.

The "Aurora lucis rutilat'' is an Easter hymn which
tells the Resurrection story simply but beautifully. The
direct narrative of many early hymns must have served
the purpose of fixing in the minds of the common people
the fundamental facts of their religion, and throughout the
controversial ages, the doctrines founded on these facts.
They teach plainly that the Church's doctrine has Scrip-
tural foundation. They have not the smoothness of the
mediaeval hymns but they ring with triumphant faith and
give expression to a living theology. Their blunt sweet-
ness has in it the freshness of the dawn. They are not
beautiful, nor in the ordinary sense, emotional, but their
simplicity is refreshing. Their writers accept what the
Church teaches and exult in every detail of the great song
of Redemption with loyal gratitude. The morning and
evening hymns of this period possess a perennial charm
and are still sung.



22 A Study of Latin Hymns

The Fifth Century

At the beginning of the fifth century, the Vulgate
edition of the Scriptures was in existence and probably
gave an impetus to the composition of hymns in the Latin.
The number of hymns increases, but dates, as well as
authors, are lacking in the great majority of the oldest
hynms that have been preserved to us. There is a ten-
dency to group hymns around famous names. Kings and
Popes come in for a full share, possibly because the actual
poets were of their courts. There is no evidence that
the great Bishop of Hippo ever wrote a hymn, but never-
theless we find Augustiniani in the collections. '*De
gaudiis Paradist' and "Ad perennis vitae fontem" contain
phrases suggestive of Augustine's City of God and on this
account have been associated with his name, although the
latter is now generally believed to belong to Pietro Dami-
ani


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