Saturday, January 01, 2005

Notes from the Music Guy X

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!

This is one of the oldest Christmas songs that we still sing. Its Latin form, "Corde na­tus ex pa­ren­tis", dates to the 5th century. John Mason Neale, England's great translator of the 19th century, gave us the English words we know now.

The melody is a little newer than the Latin text: it's from the 11th century. We used it as our Sanctus (Holy Holy) for Advent, and we'll sing it again in Lent as our Memorial Acclamation and Great Amen.

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

"Of the Father's Love" stands nearly alone among Christmas songs these days: no creche scene, no winter frost, no yule log, no shepherds or magi. Yet it contains stunning, powerful imagery, that brings home the importance of the coming of our Lord, reinforced all the more by the beautiful, simple chant melody that accompanies it.

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 ring, evermore and evermore!

May Christ be the song in your heart,


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