The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Corde Natus Ex Parentis

For Advent, For Christmas

Words: Corde natus ex Parentis, from the 9th hymn of the Cathemerinon of Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413)

Music: "Divinum Mysterium," Sanctus trope, 11th Century
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

Meter: 87 87 877

1. Corde natus ex parentis ante mundi exordium
A et O cognominatus, ipse fons et clausula
Omnium quae sunt, fuerunt, quaeque post futura sunt.

2. Ipse iussit et creata, dixit ipse et facta sunt,
Terra, caelum, fossa ponti, trina rerum machina,
Quaeque in his vigent sub alto solis et lunae globo.

3. Corporis formam caduci, membra morti obnoxia
Induit, ne gens periret primoplasti ex germine,
Merserat quem lex profundo noxialis tartaro.

4. O beatus ortus ille, virgo cum puerpera
Edidit nostram salutem, feta Sancto Spiritu,
Et puer redemptor orbis os sacratum protulit.

5. Psallat altitudo caeli, psallite omnes angeli,
Quidquid est virtutis usquam psallat in laudem Dei,
Nulla linguarum silescat, vox et omnis consonet.

6. Ecce, quem vates vetustis concinebant saeculis,
Quem prophetarum fideles paginae spoponderant,
Emicat promissus olim; cuncta conlaudent eum.

7. Macte iudex mortuorum, macte rex viventium,
Dexter in Parentis arce qui cluis virtutibus,
Omnium venturus inde iustus ultor criminum.

8. Te senes et te iuventus, parvulorum te chorus,
Turba matrum, virginumque, simplices puellulae,
Voce concordes pudicis perstrepant concentibus.

9. Tibi, Christe, sit cum Patre hagioque Pneumate
Hymnus, decus, laus perennis, gratiarum actio,
Honor, virtus, victoria, regnum aeternaliter.

Sheet Music from John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted. Part II. (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1856), #66, pp. 132-133.

corde_natus_of-the_father-Neale-Hymnal_Noted_66-p132.jpg (82064 bytes) corde_natus_of-the_father-Neale-Hymnal_Noted_66-p133.jpg (96332 bytes)

Sheet Music from Thomas Helmore, Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted. Part I (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., and Masters and Son, 1852), Part II (London: Novello and Co., Joseph Masters and J. T. Hayes, 1858), #66, pp. 214-215.

corde_natus_of_the_father-Helmore-Acc_Harm_66-p214.jpg (83323 bytes) corde_natus_of_the_father-Helmore-Acc_Harm_66-p215.jpg (87337 bytes)

Rev. Helmore notes "A cento from the 9th hymn of the Cathemerinon of Prudentius. It is not in the Sarum Hymnal, but occurs in different forms in the York and in the Hereford; our version is from the former [York]." Helmore, Accompanying Harmonies, Appendix, p. v.

Sheet Music 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), #72, pp. 112-3.

Translations of the Latin lyrics include:

Editor's Note.

This Latin text is an excerpt from the 9th Hymn in Prudentius' Cathemerinon, a series of 12 hymns celebrating the Hours of the Day and the seasons of the Church. The 9th Hymn is "Hymnus Omnis Horae", that is "Hymn For All Hours" (R. Martin Pope, trans.). The first line of this hymn is "Da puer plectrum, choreis ut canam fidelibus", translated by R. Martin Pope as "Let me chant in sacred numbers, as I strike each sounding string." The first eight verses above correspond to verses 4-9, 36, and 37 of this hymn. The 9th verse is a doxology. The translation used is from the Project Gutenberg EBook of "The Hymns of Prudentius."

Note from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 276.

Da puer plectrum, choreis ut eanam fldelibus. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius. [Miracles of Christ.] This poem, written at the beginning of the 5th century, is given in all editions of Prudentius's Works (Cathemerinon, No. 9), including that published in Rome, 1789, London, Valpy, 1824, vol. i. p. 123. It is also in a Manuscript of the 5th century in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (8084 f. 29b.).

From this poem the hymn, Corde natus ex Parentis, ante mundi exordium (the translations of which are annotated below), is taken. It usually consists of lines 10-12, 19-27, and 109-111, with slight alterations [See Verses from Hymnus Omnis Horae]. In the York Breviary, it is given at Compline for the Vigil of Christmas, and from thence to the Octave of the Epiphany. In the Hereford Breviary, it is given for Prime. Daniel, i., No. 106, gives the text, together with an extended note relating to various readings, &c. The "Corde natus" text is also in a Manuscript of the 11th century in the British Museum (Harl. 2961 f. 228); and in a Manuscript of the 11th century, at St. Gall. (No. 413); Simrock, p. 38; Bassler, No. 43: Konigsfeld, i. p. 40 (with German translation); Cardinal Newman's Hymni Ecclesiae, 1838 and 1865; and others.

The hymn in the Mozarabic Breviary, "Psallat altitudo coeli" (Toledo, 1502 f. 131), is also from this poem [lines 22 and following]. In the Hereford Breviary, there are also three other centos from this poem, viz.: (1) "Corporis formam" for Terce [Lines 16 ff]: (2) "Ecce quem vates" for Sext; and (3) "Juste Judex" for None.

Translations in C. U. of Corde natus:—

1. Of The Father Sole Begotten. By J. M. Neale, in the enlarged ed. of the Hymnal Noted, 1854, (1st ed. 1852), in 6 stanzas of 6 lines with the refrain, "Evermore, and evermore." This refrain and the doxology are not in the original. This translation is repeated in later editions of the Hymnal Noted, the People's Hymnal, 1867, the Hymnary, 1872, &c. It is to be noted that some of the lines in this translations are from Beresford Hope's translation of the same text in his Hymns of the Church, 1844. In the Parish Hymn Book, it is given as "Of the Father's self begotten." In Laudes Domini, N.Y., 1884, begins with stanza 2, "He is here, whom Seers in old time."

Editor's Note.

The same situation occurred in Charles Robinson, and Edward Judson, eds., The New Laudes Domini (New York: The Century Company, 1892), #345 & #345, p. 141.

  • #345 is three verses of "Of The Father's Love Begotten," including 2. "At his word the worlds were framed," and 3. "He is found in human fashion."

  • #346 is three verses beginning with the verse "He is here, whom seers in old time," plus 2. "Praise him, O ye heaven of heavens" and 3. Thee let age, and thee let manhood."

Of The Father-New Laudes Domini-p141.jpg (153868 bytes)

2. Born Of God The Father‘s Bosom. This translation appeared in the Salisbury Hymn Book, 1857, and again in J. Keble's Miscellaneous Poems, 1869. It is an alteration of Dr. Neale's translation made by Keble for the Salisbury Hymn Book.

3. Of The Father's Love Begotten. This translation was given in the trial edition of Hymns, Ancient and Modern, 1859, as Of The Father’s Will Begotten, [#22, pp. 17-19] but in the 1st ed. of 1861 [#46] it was given in its well-known form in 9 stanzas of 6 lines with the refrain, the additional stanzas being supplied by the Hereford Breviary text. The Hymns, Ancient and Modern translation by Dr. Neale and Sir H. W. Baker is thus composed.:—

i. Neale altered;
ii., iii., Baker;
iv.-vi., Neale altered ;
vii., Baker;
viii., Neale altered;
ix., Baker.

This arrangement was repeated in the revised Hymns, Ancient and Modern, 1875, and is the most popular translation of the hymn in Common Use. Usually, however, compilers introduce changes and abbreviations on their own account, and not always to the advantage of the hymn. These changes are easily found by collating any given text with Hymns, Ancient and Modern.

Translations not in Common Use :—

1. Son Eternal of the Father. Alexander James Beresford Hope, ed., Hymns Of The Church, Literally Translated, For The Use Of English Congregations (London, J. & F. Rivington, 1844)

2. Yea ! from the Almighty mind He sprung, (Hereford Breviary text). Thomas Doubleday, ed., Hymnarium Anglicanum; Or the Ancient Hymns of the Anglican Church. Translated by Thomas Doubleday from the Latin of the Salisbury Breviary and Fitted to the Tunes Used in Churches, Etc (London; Simms & Dinham: Manchester, 1844).

3. Offspring Of The Eternal Father. J. D. (John David) Chambers. Lauda Syon - Ancient Latin Hymns of the English and Other Churches, Part I (London: J. Masters and J. A. Novello, 1857), pp. 75-76.

4. Of The Father's Heart Begotten. W. J. Blew. 1852-55. Blew's translation was repeated in Joseph Williams, ed., Christmas Minstrelsy of Carols, Anthems, and Chants from Ancient and Modern Sources: Adapted to Domestic, Social, School and Congregational Use (London: Novello, 1865), Hymn #5, and elsewhere.

Editor's Note.

An additional translation is "Of the Parent's Heart Begotten," from The New Century Hymnal (1995), #118. Because it is under copyright, it is not reproduced here.

The Parish Hymn Book, 7th Edition (London: Frederick Warne and Co., 1867), #49, "Of the Father's love begotten," pp. 85-86, recommended the tune "Lusatia" (Meter 87 87 877).

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