Latin Hymns of the Christian Church
A minister in the Church of England in the early 1800s, John Chandler felt trapped by the rigidity of the Church, which refused to sing almost any hymn unless it was based on the 150 psalms of David as framed by Tate and Brady since the 1600s in their A New Version of the Psalms of David. Beautiful as they were, Chandler felt that additional hymns would enhance the spiritual expression of the Church.
Hoping to supplement the Psalter with other hymns, Chandler began looking for hymns that displayed a certain degree of joy, reverence, devotion, and appropriate Christian teaching, but was frustrated by hymnals then published, together with the lack of leadership from within his own church.
His response was to seek out Latin hymns from the early church as contained in Breviaries and collections of Latin hymns such as the Parisian Breviary (Breviarium Romanum, as early as 1542) and Geogius Cassander's book of Latin hymns, Hymni Ecclesiasticus, 1556. Chandler struck a vein of gold that others would also mine throughout the 19th century.
However, Latin hymns are no less vulnerable to "editing" by well meaning editors, and the student of the subject would be well served by remaining flexible when examining any texts. Because of their age, it is sometimes impossible to determine which text is "the" text composed by the original author. Plus, of course, there is always the problem of fingers that go faster than brains — and I am a perfect exampele ;) of this — resulting in the unfortunate mangling of texts. Spell checkers are of little help in such cases.
All collections contain more than Christmas-tide hymns; all collections are available from either Google Books or the Internet Archive or both. Some collections may also be available at Project Gutenberg or similar sites.
The most recent Latin version of the Divine Office — now called the Liturgy of the Hours, promulgated by Pope Paul VI — is available on-line: Liturgia Horarum. I believe that the English translations are under copyright, but I'm still looking at this issue. There is a Wikipedia article that discusses the history of this traditional prayer of Christians: the Liturgy of the Hours.
Herewith, then, are a few of these collections and their reverent translations.
John Chandler, The Hymns of the Primitive Church (1837)
Richard Mant, Ancient Hymns from the Roman Breviary (1871)
Isaac Williams, Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary (1839)
Theodoricus Petri, Piæ Cantiones ecclesiasticae et scholasticae veterum episcoporum Griefswald, Sweden: 1582; also see: The Christmas Songs in Woodward's Piæ Cantiones
Links to Latin Hymn Sources, together with two Latin dictionaries (on-line).
Dictionaries - Links to dictionaries of Old English, Middle English and Latin, plus other linguistic resources.
For a listing that has the hymns sorted according to their position within the expanded Christmastide season, see: Latin Hymns in the Seasons of the Church Year.
Latin Hymns on The Hymns and Carols of Christmas
A Solis Ortus Cardine-Purification
Agnoscat omne saeculum (full)
Agnoscat omne saeculum (partial)
Angelus Emittur | Gabriel From Heaven Has Flown (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Ave Domina Celi Regina | Worshipt Be The Birth Of Thee
Ave maris stella lucens | Hail Thou Star That Guidest (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Chrittus Tenebris Obsitam - Paris Breviary, 1736
Clamantis ecce vox sonans - Paris Breviary, 1736
Conditor alme siderum - This is the main page for this hymn, which contains notes, links, etc.
Congaudeat turba fidelium | Come Ye Faithful, Sing We Right Merrily (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Debilis cessent elementa legis - Paris Breviary, 1736
Dies est lætitiæ (4 verses; Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church)
Dies est lætitiæ | Christian Folk, Day Of Joy (4 verses; Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Dies est lætitiæ (8 verses; Piæ Cantiones-Terry, Old Christmas Carols)
Divine Crescebas Puer - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Ecce quod natura | Though They Cannot Palter (Selden MS-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Fac Christe nostri gratia - Paris Breviary, 1736
Felix dies, quam proprio - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Huc vos, ô miseri: surda relinquite - Corolo (Charles) Coffin, Paris Breviary, 1736
Hymnus VIII Kalendas Ianuarias (Quid est, quod artum circulum) - Prudentius, from - Prudentius, from
In dulci jubilo - Terry, "Two Hundred Folk Carols"
In hoc anni circulo - Piæ Cantiones, 1582
In natali Domini - Version 1
In natali Domini (Sheet Music only; GIF file)
Instantis adventum Dei - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Jam desinant suspiria - Paris Breviary, 1736
Jesu, redemptor omnium, Summi Parentis unice - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Jordanis oras prævia - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Jure Plaudant Omnia (Sheet Music only; GIF file)
Linquunt tecta Magi Principis urbis - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Lully, Lully, Lu (Alternate Title: Qui creavit coelum; Carol of the Nuns of St. Mary's, Chester)
Magnum nomen Domini (Woodward, Piæ Cantiones)
Miris probat sese modis - Parisian Breviary, 1839
Missum redemptorum polo - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Molles In Agnos Ceu Lupus - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Noxium Christus simul introivit - Paris Breviary, 1736
Non abluunt lymphae Deum - Paris Breviary, 1736
O qui tuo Dux martyrum - Paris Breviary, 1736
Omnis mundus jocundetur | Let The Earth Rejoice In Chorus (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Paranymphus adiit (also found under the title Paranymphus adiens)
Personet hodie | Lift Your Voices And Sing (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Puer natus in Bethlehem - from Piæ Cantiones (1582), with notes and links to translations.
Puer natus in Bethlehem-Antiphoner MS - a 13th Century version of this carol.
Puer natus in Bethlehem-Munchner Codex - the version found in a manuscript of the fourteenth century at Munchen
Puer natus in Bethlehem in Hereford Breviary of 1505 reprinted by the Henry Bradshaw Society, Vol. XXVI, 1903, p. 197, Part I, Puer Natus in the Hereford Breviary
Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Babst. Valentin Babst, ed., Geistliche Lieber und Psalmen. Durch D. Mart. Luther. (Leipzig, 1553), #LVII, p. 182.
Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Leisentrit. Johann Leisentrit, Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen (Wolrab, 1573), #44.I, p. 113.
Puer natus - A Dialogue. “Puer natus in Bethlehem,” pp. 81-83, from "The Old Hymns and Lays, Sacred and Profane, especially of Germany down to the Time of Luther," in The Foreign and Colonial Quarterly Review, Volume 1, Issue 1. (London: Whittaker and Co., 1843), pp. 57-100.
Puer natus in Bethlehem in Alte Catholische Geistliche Kirchengeseng (1599).
Music and Text for Puer Natus & Ein kind geborn from Das Paderborner Gesangbuch, 1609, contains 10 versions of Puer Natus in Bethlehem, with music for each one. There are seven texts in Latin and German, one text in German only, and two texts in Latin only. Two of the Latin texts are included in Wackernagel, leaving eight new texts in this edition. All versions also include the German translation, "Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem."
Music and Text for Puer Natus & Ein kind geborn from Das Paderborner Gesangbuch, 1628, has 10 texts and 3 tunes. Five of the texts are new. All versions also include the German translation, "Ein Kind geborn zu Bethlehem."
Puer natus-O Deus Amor from Das Paderborner Gesangbuch (1628)
Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Burg. Johann Friedrich Burg, Allgemeines und vollständiges Evangelisches Gesang-Buch (Breslan, 1746, 1860), #393, pp. 227-228.
Puer natus from Messis Copiosa. J. B. S., and R. P., eds., Messis Copiosa; Dat is, Overvloedige Oogst, Der Geestelyke Gezangen. (Te Amsteldam: T. Crajeschot, 1761), pp. 48, 49, 52.
Puer Natus in Bethlehem. Herm. Adalbert. Daniel, Theasaurus Hymnologicus. Vol. I, (Halis: Sumptibus Eduardi Anton, 1841), #CCCCLXXX, p. 334. Ten stanzas.
Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Berg. Johann Friedrich Burg, Allgemeines und vollständiges Evangelisches Gesang-Buch (Breslan, 1860), #393, pp. 227-228. Latin and German. 10 verses.
Puer natus in Bethlehem. Guido Maria Dreves, S.J. (1854-1909), ed., Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi. Vol. 1. Cantiones Bohemicae. Leiche, Leider und Rufe des 13., 14., und 15. Jahhunderts. (Leipzig : O. R. Reisland, 1886), Hymn #178, pp. 163-164.
Puer natus in Bethlehem. Richard Chenevix Trench, Sacred Latin Poetry. Third Edition, Revised and Improved. (London: Macmillan and Co., 1874), pp. 99-100. Eleven stanzas, with notes.
Puer Natus in Bethlehem-Wackernagel. Philipp Wackernagel's Das deutsche Kirchenlied, Vol. 1, (Leipzig: Druct und Berlag von B. G. Leubner, 1864), #309-318, pp. 198-202, has ten versions. Below are the five pages of text that contain these ten versions, with notes.
Puer nobis nascitur - from Piæ Cantiones, with notes and links to translations.
Quâ lapsu tacito stella loquacibus - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Quae dixit, egit, pertulit - Anonymous in the Cluny Breviary, 1686, for St. John the Evangelist
Quæ stella sole pulchrior - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Quem nox, quem tenebrae, densaque nubila - Paris Breviary, 1736
Quem pastores laudavere | Shepherds Tell Your Beauteous Story (Hohenfurt MS., 15th century)
Qui creavit coelum, lully, lully, lu (Alternate Title: Lully, Lully, Lu; carol of the Nuns of St. Mary's, Chester)
Quid, obstinata pectora - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Resonet In Laudibus - Version 4 - (Resonemus laudibus)
Resonet in laudibus - Poston-Version 5
Resonet in laudibus-Montini, Version 6
Resonet in laudibus (Daniel, i. 327)
Resonet In Laudibus | Now With Gladness Carol We (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Salvete, Flores Martyrum - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Sancte Dei, pretiose - York Hymnal, with notes
Sit qui rite canat te modo virgi - Paris Breviary, 1736
Statuta decreto Dei - Charles (Corolo) Coffin, Hymni Sacri and Paris Breviary, 1736
Tu quem prae reliquis Christus amaverat - Paris Breviary, 1736
Verbum caro factum est | God's Own Word Our Flesh Did Take (Piæ Cantiones-Two Hundred Folk Carols)
Verbum Supernum Prodiens Nec Patris Nec Patris (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Verbum Supernum Prodiens Nec Patris - Version 2 (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Verbum supernum prodiens a Patre (Latin, 6th or 7th Century; an Advent Hymn)
Verbum supernum prodiens e Patris - from Chandler, 1836
Verbum quod ante secula - Paris Breviary, 1736
Victis Sibi Cognomina - Paris Breviary, 1736; from Chandler, 1837
Theodoricus Petri, Piæ Cantiones ecclesiasticae et scholasticae veterum episcoporum Griefswald, Sweden: 1582
An excellent Latin resource is Michael Martin, "Thesaurus Precum Latinarum: Treasury of Latin Prayers," Latin hymns are found on his Hymni page. He has many other excellent resources for the Latin student or scholar. His Links page is worth checking out, too.
Rev. John Brownlie had an interest in the hymns of the Eastern Christians and provided the Latin church with numerous translations. See: Eastern Christmas Hymns from John Brownlie.
Because a number of Latin hymns are performed in the context of the recitation of the Daily Office (a.k.a. "The Liturgy of the Hours"), here's a quick look at the "hours" of the Daily Office:
Matins (during the night, at midnight with some); also called Vigils, Nocturns, or the Night Office
Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn, or 3 a.m.)
Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = approximately 6 a.m.)
Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = approximately 9 a.m.)
Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = approximately 12 noon)
None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = approximately 3 p.m.)
Vespers or Evening Prayer ("at the lighting of the lamps", generally at 6 p.m.)
Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring, generally at 9 p.m.)
The hours have been a part of Christian practice from the beginnings, continuing the prayer pattern of the Jews.
"In the morning I offer you my prayer"
"Evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament"
"Seven times a day I praise you"
"At midnight I will rise and thank you"
In the 4th Century, six of these hours were specified in the Apostolic Constitutions, Book 8, Section 4, Paragraph 34, which provides in part:
XXXIV. Offer up your prayers in the morning, at the third hour, the sixth, the ninth, the evening, and at cock-crowing:
in the morning, returning thanks that the Lord has sent you light, that He has brought you past the night, and brought on the day;
at the third hour, because at that hour the Lord received the sentence of condemnation from Pilate;
at the sixth, because at that hour He was crucified;
at the ninth, because all things were in commotion at the crucifixion of the Lord, as trembling at the bold attempt of the impious Jews, and not bearing the injury offered to their Lord;
in the evening, giving thanks that He has given you the night to rest from the daily labours;
at cock-crowing, because that hour brings the good news of the coming on of the day for the operations proper for the light.
This organization, and the prayers themselves, have been subject to numerous changes throughout the centuries. Here are a couple of articles at Wikipedia that might shed some additional light: Canonical Hours and Liturgy of the Hours.
Two Latin Dictionaries
For those of us lacking a classical education, or for those whose education was some years ago, here are two — of many — Latin dictionaries.
Perseus Latin Dictionary, an online version of the Lewis and Short Latin Dictionary, Tufts University, a part of the Perseus Digital Library, plus of possible interest, their links to Greek and Roman Materials.
Latin Dictionary and Grammar Aid, University of Notre Dame.
Anonymous, Hymni Latini (London: Wm Clowes & Sons, 1906)
John Chandler. The Hymns of the Primitive Church (1837) (PDF at Google Books; Not at the Internet Archive)
John David Chambers, Lauda Syon-Ancient Latin Hymns (1857) (PDF at Google Books; Not at the Internet Archive)
John Brownlie, Hymns of the Early Church (1913) (PDF at Google Books)
John Brownlie, Hymns of the Early Church (1896) (PDF at Internet Archive)
John Brownlie, Hymns of the Early Church (1913) (HTML at Project Gutenberg)
John Brownlie, Hymns of the Early Church (1913) (ePub at Project Gutenberg)
John Brownlie, Hymns of the Early Church (1913) (Plain Text at Project Gutenberg)
Thomas George Crippen, Ancient Hymns and Poems: Chiefly from the Latin (1868) (Google Books; Not at the Internet Archive)
Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Thesaurus hymnologicus sive hymnorum canticorum sequentiarum. 5 Volumes. (J.T. Loeschke, 1855-6):
Volume 1 (1855)
Volume 2 (1855)
Volume 3 (1855)
Caution: The front of this book, is in the back of the book. This book reads from the back to the front!
Volume 4 (1855)
Volume 5 1856)
Ruth Ellis Messenger, Christian Hymns of the First
Three Centuries, (1942) (PDF at Internet Archive; not at Google
Ruth Ellis Messenger, Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries (1942) (HTML at Project Gutenberg)
Ruth Ellis Messenger, Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries (1942) (ePub at Project Gutenberg)
Ruth Ellis Messenger, Christian Hymns of the First Three Centuries (1942) (Plain Text at Project Gutenberg)
Robert Maude Moorsom, A Historical Companion to Hymns Ancient and Modern (1903) (Internet Archive; not at Google Books)
John Mason Neale, Hymni ecclesiae (1851) (PDF @ Google Books)
John Mason Neale, Hymni ecclesiae (1851) (HTML at Project Gutenberg)
John Mason Neale, Hymni ecclesiae (1851) (ePub at Project Gutenberg)
John Mason Neale, Hymni ecclesiae (1851) (Plain Text at Project Gutenberg)
James Van Buren, Latin hymns in English verse : with short biographical sketches of their authors (1904)
James Van Buren, Latin Hymns in English Verse-1904 (Internet Archive)
James Van Buren, Latin Hymns in English Verse (1904) (Google Books)
Isaac Williams, Hymns Translated from the Parisian Breviary (1839) (PDF at Google Books; Not at the Internet Archive)
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