The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Conditor alme siderum

For Advent at Vespers

Words and Music: Anonymous "Ambrosian" Latin, 6th or 7th Century
Erroneously ascribed to St. Ambrose.

Source: Breviarivm Romanvm, Pars Hiemalis (Antverpiæ, 1579), p.16. [PDF 242]

Proprivm De Tempore

Adventus Ad Vesperas

1. Conditor alme siderum,
Æterna lux credetium,
Christe redemptor omnium.
Exaudi preces supplicum.

2. Qui condolens interitu
Mortis perire Sæculum,
Saluasti mundum languidum,
Donans reis remedium.

3. Vergente mundi vespere
Vti sponsus de thalamo
Egressus honestissima
Virginis matris clausula.

4. Cuius forti potentiæ
Genu curuantur omnia,
Cælestia, terrestria,
Nutu fatentur subdita.

5. Te deprecamur agie,
Venture iudex sæculi,
Conserua nos in tempore,
Hostis à telo perfidi.

6. Laus, honor, virtus, gloria
Deo Patri, & Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In sæculorum sæcula. Amen.

Note:

There are numerous versions of this ancient hymn. This version was selected because it existed prior to 1632 when Pope Urban VIII made changes to a number of Latin Hymns (as explained below). Also, the Breviary wasn't too damaged to read, and it wasn't in Blackletter.

Most versions of this hymn include a doxology of some sort, such as verse 6 in this version. However, it was not a part of the original hymn.

This hymn was the inspiration for the Latin Advent hymn Creator alme siderum. Rev. Matthew Britt wrote that:

The Advent hymns were greatly altered by the revisers under Pope Urban VIII (1632). Only one line of this hymn was left unaltered, and only twelve words of the original were retained.

Source: Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B., Hymns from the Breviary and Missal (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1922), pp. 95-96.

The ancient text was restored by the Vatican in the newest version of the traditional Breviary, the Liturgia Horarum; see: Cónditor alme síderum.

John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892), Vol. 1.

Conditor alme siderum / Creator alme siderum. ["Advent"] This hymn is sometimes ascribed to St. Ambrose, but on insufficient evidence. It was rejected as such by the Benedictine editors; and with this the best authorities agree. It is known in various forms, the more important being the following:—

1. The text as in Hermann Adalbert Daniel, Vol. 1, No. 72, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and the doxology [Laus, honor, virtus, gloria, etc]. This text, when corrected by readings given in his vol. iv. p. 118, and 368, from a manuscript of the 9th cent, at Bern; another of the 10th cent, at Munich, and others of the 10th and 11th cent, respectively, which belonged to the Abbey of Rheinau, is the oldest known. See: Conditor & Creator in Daniel, Thesaurus Hymnologicus. The stanza bracketed by Daniel is probably an interpolation into the hymn.

2. In The Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, pub. by the Surtees Soc., 1851, p. 34, Conditor alme siderum, from an 11th cent. manuscript at Durham. It is also in three mss. of the 11th century in the British Museum (Vesp. D. xii. f. 27b; Harl. 2961 f. 225; Jul. A. vi. f. 31).

3. The Sarum Breviary text, Conditor alme siderum, in Hymnarium Sarisbury, 1851, with readings from the York, Canterbury, St. Albans, Worcester, and other English Breviaries.

4. The revised form of the hymn in the Roman Breviary, 1632, in Daniel, i., No. 72; Wackernagel, 1841, p. 604, Card. Newman's Hymni Ecclesiae, 1838 and 1865, and other collections. See: Creator alme siderum in the 19th Century.

[Also see: Conditor alme siderum, a version from a 1630 copy of the Roman Breviary. Ed.]

5. Mone's text, Conditor alme siderum-Mone, No. 34, is from the Cistercian Breviaries specially a manuscript of the 14th century, formerly belonging to the Cistercian Nunnery of Lichtenthal. This text Mone considers as the original. Daniel, in Vol. 4, pp. 118 and 369, gives a summary of the evidence respecting this question of original text, and shows, that no manuscript earlier than the foundation of the Cistercian Order appears to contain this text; whereas the ordinary version is found in a manuscript at Bern of the 9th cent.

6. In the Sarum Breviary it is appointed as the Vesper hymn on the Saturday before the 1st Sunday in Advent, and throughout Advent on Sundays and week-days when no festival occurs. In the Roman Breviary it is the Vesper hymn in Advent on Sundays, and whenever the Ferial Office is said; beginning with the Saturday preceding the 1st Sunday in Advent.

7. A cento composed partly from the Roman Breviary version of this hymn is given for first and second Vespers on the feast of the Most Holy Redeemer (3rd Sunday in July) in the Appendix to the Roman Breviary; see: Bright Builder of the Heavenly Poles. It consists of lines 1-4, 9-16; then a special stanza of 4 1. followed by lines 17-20 and a doxology. The Office in which this cento is found was first authorized for use in the Venetian territories.

The origin of the Festival for which it was compiled is as follows:—The people of the city of Venice, when suffering from the effects of a plague which swept off a great number of the inhabitants and caused great terror, made a vow that if God would grant relief a church should be built by public subscription, dedicated to the Most Holy Redeemer, and a yearly visit paid to it in state by the magistracy of the city. In 1576 the plague ceased, and the church of Il Santissimo Redemptore was built; the annual act of homage being fixed for the third Sunday in July. The Government of the Venetian Republic obtained permission (when the devotion had greatly extended itself after many years of perseverance), on the 25th of April, 1722, from the Sacred Congregation of Rites, at Rome, that the Office of the Most Holy Redeemer should be said by all the clergy of the city of Venice with the rank of a Lesser Double; in 1724 this license was extended to the whole Venetian territory; in 1729 the Feast was made a Greater Double; in 1731 a Double of the Second Class; finally, in 1737, an Octave was added. [W. A. S.]

Of the various forms of this hymn the translators have usually confined themselves either to the Sarum or the Roman Breviaries, The results are as follows:—

Translations in Common Use:— i. The Sarum Breviary Text: Conditor alme sideram.

1. Creator Of The Stars Of Night - Neale, by J. M. Neale, in the 1st ed. of the Hymnal Noted, 1852, No. 10, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. This is repeated without alteration in later editions of the Hymnal Noted; in Skinner's Daily Hymnal, 1864; in the Hymner, 1882, and others. It is given as "Creator Of The Starry Height," in Hymns, Ancient and Modern, 1861 (the alterations being by the compilers, who had printed another arrangement of the text in their trial copy of 1859), and Allon's Supplemental Hys., 1868. In Mercer, Oxford ed., 1864, it is rewritten by Mercer; see Creator of the Stars of Night - Mercer. Another slightly altered rendering, "Creator of the Starry Height, Of Faithful Hearts," is from the Hymnal Noted, and in The Hymnary, 1872. And there is this similar version found in 1862 edition of The Congregational Hymn & Tune Book, Creator of the Stars of Night - Chope.

2. Creator of the Starry Height, Thy People's Everlasting Light by F. Pott, in his Hymns Fitted to the Order of Common Prayer (1861). This is based upon Dr. Neale, and the Hymns, Ancient and Modern, revised text as above. It is repeated in Church Hymns, 1871.

3. Creator of the Starry Height, The Faithful's Everlasting Light, by R. F. Littledale, in the People's Hymnal, 1867, and signed "F."

4. In addition to the foregoing, other arrangements are given in Chope, Thring, and others. That in Thring is the most complicated of all. In it Dr. Neale, Hymns, Ancient and Modern [Creator], the Rev. F. Pott, the Hymnary, Chope, Mr. Thring, and others, are represented. The result is good.

Note: We have been unable to locate Thring's arrangement, but see the arrangement by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, "Conditor alme siderum" from Hymni totius anni (Rome, 1589). pp. 5-10, below.

Translations not in Common Use : —

1. Thou, who didst plant in time gone by. Hymnarium Anglicanum. 1844.

2. Kind Framer of the firmament. W. J. Blew. 1851.

3. Thou Framer of the Starry Heaven. J. D. Chambers. 1857.

4. Lord, Who The Stars of Night Bounteous Didst Frame. J. W. Hewett. 1859.

5. Fair Framer of the Stars So Bright. Dr. Edersheim's Jubilee Rhythm, &c. 1867.

6. Thou Who Didst Build the Starry Sky. H. M. Macgill. 1876.

7. Thou Builder of the Starry Skies. Very Rev. Prior James A. Dominic Aylward, Order of Preachers, 1843-1850.

8. O Thou, The Maker of Each Star. Alfred, Lord Braye, 1883.

    Note: Nos. 7 and 8 are in Mr. Shipley's Annus Sanctus, 1884.

 

Translations in Common Use:— ii. Roman Breviary Text: Creator alme siderum.

1. Creator of the Starry Height Of Hearts Believing by W. J. Copeland, in his Hymns for the Week, 1848, p. 53, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. This was given, in an altered form, as "Creator of the Starry Poles," in the English Hymnal, 1852, again altered, but nearer to the original tr. in Murray's Hymnal for use in the English Church, Creator of the Starry Height (London, 1852); in the 1856 edition of the English Hymnal, the circle has turned again: Creator of the Starry Height, Of Souls Believing. It is also given, without alteration but with the omission of the doxology, Creator of the Starry Height Of Hearts Believing (Shipley) in Lyra Messianica, 1864.

2. Creator of the Starry Frame, by E. Caswall, in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 43. This is the translation in Common Use in Roman Catholic collections for schools and missions. It is also given in the St. John's Hymnal (Aberdeen), 1870. In his Hymns and Poems, 1873, Caswall altered the first stanza to "Dear Maker of the Starry Skies," and thereby seriously weakened the hymn.

3. Maker of the Starry Sphere, by R. Campbell, in his Hymns and Anthems, 1850, p. 42. This was repeated in the Cooke & Denton Hymnal, 1853; the Salisbury Hymn-book, 1857 [Maker of the Starry Sphere, Light to Faithful]; Kennedy, 1863; Sarum, 1868; and other collections.

4. O Blest Creator of the Stars by E. W. Eddis, in his Irvingite Hymns for the Use of Churches, 1864.

5. Blest Framer of the Starry Height, by R. C. Singleton, in his Anglican Hymn Book, 1868.

Translations not in Common Use :—

1. Creator of the Starry Frame, Light of Souls. Bp. Doane. 1824.

2. Creator of Yon Circles Bright. Bp. Mant. 1837.

3. O bright Creator of the skies. J. R. Beste. 1849.

4. O God, Who mad'st those orbs of light. F. Trappes. 1865.

5. O Great Creator of the sky. J. Wallace. 1874.

6. Great Maker of the Glittering Stars. T. J. Potter.

7. Creator of the Stars Above. F. C. Husenbeth.

8. Creator of the Starry Pole. John Henry Cardinal Newman.

9. The Primers of 1604,1619, 1685, and 1706.

a. O Bright Creator of the Stars. Potter, Primer, 1604
b. Benign Creator of the Stars.
Primer, 1619
c.
Bright Builder of the Heavenly Poles. Primer, 1685
d.
Creator of the Stars Above. Primer, 1706

Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 are in Mr. Shipley's Annus Sanctus, 1884.

                                                                                    [J.J. - John Julian]

Editor's Note:

Additional songs include:

 

Sheet Music for Conditor alme siderum & Creator alme siderum

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, "Conditor alme siderum" from Hymni totius anni (Rome, 1589). pp. 5-10.

Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p05.jpg (65709 bytes) Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p06.jpg (75823 bytes) Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p07.jpg (80767 bytes) Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p08.jpg (74081 bytes) Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p09.jpg (73777 bytes) Conditor_alme-Hymni_Totius-p10.jpg (75202 bytes)

Sheet Music "St Paul," Harmonized by Mendellsohn, from Robert C. Singleton, ed., Anglican Hymn Book. (London: Novello, Ewer, and Co., 1871), #37.

Blest_Framer-Singleton-Conditor-No37-96.jpg (82047 bytes)

Sheet Music "St. Paul," Harmonized by Mendelssohn from C. E. Willing, ed., The Book of Common Praise: Hymns With Tunes for the Service of the Church of England (J.T. Hayes, 1868), #6, p. 8.

Thou_Framer_Starry-Bk_Cmn_Prs-1868-No6-96.jpg (107766 bytes)

Sheet Music From John Mason Neale, ed., The Hymnal Noted. Parts I & II (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1851), #10, pp. 33-34.

Conditor-Neale-Hymnal_Noted-1851-No10-p33-96.jpg (124764 bytes) Conditor-Neale-Hymnal_Noted-1851-No10-p34-96.jpg (124887 bytes)     Conditor-Neale_Hymnal_Noted-No10-p33-96.jpg (127241 bytes) Conditor-Neale_Hymnal_Noted-No10-p34-96.jpg (135691 bytes)

Sheet Music From Thomas Helmore, Accompanying Harmonies to The Hymnal Noted (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1852), #10, pp. 60-61.

Conditor-Helmore-Acc_Harms-Hmn_Ntd-No10-p6196.jpg (140857 bytes)

Sheet Music to "Office Hymn, E.-Mode 4" from The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

Cond_a_sid-Mode4-1-Engl_Hml-1906-p1.jpg (90663 bytes)

Sheet Music to "Angel's Song" by O. Gibbons from The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

Angels_Song-259-Engl_Hmn-1906-p377.jpg (39695 bytes)

Sheet Music to "St. Ambrose" from The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

St_Ambrose-215-Engl_Hym-1906-p313.jpg (38949 bytes)

Music by G. M. Garrett, Mus. D., in E Flat, from Cooke & Webb, eds., The Hymnary: A Book of Church Song (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1872), #102, p. 81.

Creator_Stry_Hght-Hymnary-No102-p81-96.jpg (97907 bytes)

Sheet Music "Creator alme," from William Henry Monk, ed., Hymns, Ancient & Modern. (London: Novello and Co., 1861), Hymn 31.

Creator_Starry_Height-HAM-1861-No31-96.jpg (104971 bytes)

Sheet Music "Evening Hymn" from J. H. Hopkins, ed., Great Hymns of the Church Compiled by the Late Right Reverend John Freeman Young (New York: James Pott & Company, 1887), #28, p. 39

Sheet Music "St. Sepulchre" from Sir Arthur Sullivan, ed., Church Hymns With Tunes (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), 1885), #65.

Pott-Creator_of_Starrry_Height-No65-p48-Sullivan's_Ch_Hms-1885-96.jpg (50621 bytes)

Sheet Music for Hymn 4 arranged by H. S. Irons from Rev. R. R. Chope, et al., eds., The Congregational Hymn & Tune Book (London: William Mackenzie, 1862), Hymn 4.

Creator_Stars-Cong_Hymn-Chope-4.jpg (74069 bytes)

Sheet Music "Rockingham" from Rev. William Mercer, The Church Psalter and Hymn Book. Oxford Edition. (London: James Nisbet and Co., 1861, 1864), Hymn 78, p. 37.

Creator_Stars-Mercer-Ch_Ps_Hm-78-p37.jpg (93848 bytes)

Alphabetical Listing of the versions and translations:

Benign Creator of the Stars. Primer, 1619

Blest Framer of the Starry Height, by R. C. Singleton, in his Anglican Hymn Book, 1868.

Bright Builder of the Heavenly Poles. A cento by Britt composed partly from the Roman Breviary version of this hymn is given for first and second Vespers on the feast of the Most Holy Redeemer (3rd Sunday in July) in the Appendix to the Roman Breviary.

Bright Builder of the Heavenly Poles. Primer, 1685

Bright Maker of the Starry Poles. Evening Office of the Church, 1710

Conditor & Creator in Daniel, Thesaurus Hymnologicus

Conditor alme siderum from The Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, pub. by the Surtees Soc., 1851, p. 34, from an 11th cent. manuscript at Durham

Cónditor alme síderum from the Liturgia Horarum

Conditor alme siderum-Mone, No. 34, is from the Cistercian Breviaries specially a manuscript of the 14th cent., formerly belonging to the Cistercian Nunnery of Lichtenthal.

Conditor alme siderum, a version from a 1630 copy of the Roman Breviary.

Conditor alme siderum. The Sarum Breviary text, in Hymnarium Sarisbury, 1851, with readings from the York, Canterbury, St. Albans, Worcester, and other English Breviaries.

Creator alme siderum in the 19th Century. The revised form of the hymn in the Rom. Brev., 1632, in Daniel, i., No. 72; Wackernagel, 1841, p. 604, Card. Newman's Hymni Ecclesiae, 1838 and 1865, and other collections.

Creator alme siderum. Derived from Conditor alme siderum at the direction of Pope Urban VIII in the 1630s.

Creator of the Starry Frame, by E. Caswall, in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 43. This is the translation in Common Use in Roman Catholic collections for schools and missions. It is also given in the St. John's Hymnal (Aberdeen), 1870. In his Hymns and Poems, 1873, Caswall altered the first stanza to "Dear Maker of the Starry Skies," and thereby seriously weakened the hymn.

Creator of the Starry Frame, Light of Souls. Bp. Doane. 1824.

Creator of the Starry Height Of Hearts Believing by W. J. Copeland, in his Hymns for the Week, 1848, p. 53, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines.

Creator of the Starry Height - Murray. Another alteration of Copeland, in Francis Henry (F.H.) Murray and John Venn, eds., A Hymnal For Use in the English Church (London: J. and C. Mozley, et al., 1852, 1855), #3, p. 15.

Creator of the Starry Height Of Hearts Believing, Copeland's version is given with slight alteration and the omission of the doxology in Lyra Messianica, 1864.

Creator of the Starry Height, Of Faithful Hearts. A rendering in The Hymnary, 1872, slightly altered from Neale's translation in the Hymnal Noted.

Creator of the Starry Height, Of Souls Believing, another alteration of Copeland in the 1856 edition of the English Hymnal.

Creator of the Starry Height, The Faithful's Everlasting Light, by R. F. Littledale, in the People's Hymnal, 1867, and signed "F."

Creator of the Starry Height, Thy People's Everlasting Light by F. Pott, in his Hymns Fitted to the Order of Common Prayer (1861). This is based upon Dr. Neale, and the Hymns, Ancient and Modern, revised text. It is repeated in Church Hymns, 1871.

Creator Of The Starry Height. In Hymns, Ancient and Modern, 1861 (the alterations being by the compilers, who had printed another arrangement of the text in their trial copy of 1859), and Allon's Supplemental Hys., 1868, &c.

Creator of the Starry Pole. John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Creator of the Starry Poles, an altered form of Copeland in the English Hymnal, 1852, again altered, but nearer to the original tr. in Murray's Hymnal, 1852 [not yet found].

Creator of the Stars Above. F. C. Husenbeth.

Creator of the Stars Above. Primer, 1706

Creator of the Stars of Night - Chope. In the 1862 edition of The Congregational Hymn & Tune Book.

Creator of the Stars of Night - Mercer. In Mercer, Oxford ed., 1864, it is rewritten by Mercer.

Creator Of The Stars Of Night - Neale, by J. M. Neale, in the 1st ed. of the Hymnal Noted, 1852, No. 10, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. This is repeated without alteration in later editions of the Hymnal Noted; in Skinner's Daily Hymnal, 1864; in the Hymner, 1882, and others.

Creator of Yon Circles Bright. Bp. Mant. 1837.

Fair Framer of the Stars So Bright. Dr. Edersheim's Jubilee Rhythm, &c. 1867.

Great Maker of the Glittering Stars. T. J. Potter.

Lord, Who The Stars of Night Bounteous Didst Frame. J. W. Hewett. 1859.

Maker of the Starry Sphere, Light to All, by R. Campbell, in his Hymns and Anthems, 1850, p. 42. This was repeated in the Cooke & Denton Hymnal, 1853; Kennedy, 1863; and other collections.

Maker of the Starry Sphere, Light to Faithful from the Salisbury Hymn-book, 1857, and Sarum, 1868.

O Blest Creator of the Stars by E. W. Eddis, in his Irvingite Hymns for the Use of Churches, 1864.

O Bright Creator of the Stars. Potter, Primer, 1604

O Thou, The Maker of Each Star. Alfred, Lord Braye, 1883.

There Is A Child Born of Mary. Edith Rickert, 1914

Thou Builder of the Starry Skies. Very Rev. Prior James A. Dominic Aylward, Order of Preachers, 1843-1850.

Thou Framer of the Starry Heaven. J. D. Chambers. 1857.

Thou Who Didst Build the Starry Sky. H. M. Macgill. 1876.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window

If you would like to help support Hymns and Carols of Christmas, please click on the button below and make a donation.


Related Hymns and Carols