Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Choosing the Better Part (of the Hymnal)

An article I've written for the Adoremus Bulletin is now available online. It talks about one of the characteristics of a great hymn, the use of Scriptural imagery.

One of the hymns in the article, my translation of Excelsam Pauli gloriam, has been included again this year in the booklet for this Friday's Papal Vespers for the Conversion of St. Paul. This celebration held at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Another of the hymns in the article is my translation of Aeterne rerum Conditor, one of the few hymns we can definitively ascribe to St. Ambrose, which makes delightful use of the biblical image of the rooster. The rooster wakes us, and wakefulness is a characteristic virtue of the ancient Christian hymns. The rooster awoke St. Peter and called him to repentance. The same can happen for all of us.
Eternal maker of all things
Of day and night the sov’reign King,
Refreshing mortals, You arrange
The rhythm of the seasons’ change.
The rooster sounds his morning cry—
Throughout the night he watched the sky—
For travelers, a guiding light
To tell the watches of the night.

The morning star that hears the cry
Dispels the darkness from the sky.
The demons, hearing the alarm
Abandon all their paths of harm.

The sailor hears and he is brave;
The sea becomes a gentle wave.
The rooster’s call reached Peter’s ears:
He washed away his sins in tears.

Our wav’ring hearts, Lord Jesus, see.
O look upon us, make us free,
For in Your gaze no fault can stay,
And sins by tears are washed away.

O Light, upon our senses shine.
Dispel our sleepiness of mind,
That we may sing Your morning praise,
Then, vows fulfilling, live our days.

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