The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Praecursor altus luminis

For St. John The Baptist

Words: Praecusor altus luminis, Attributed to St. Bede

Music: Sixth melody of "Jam lucis" From the Salisbury Hymnal.
Harmonized by the Rev. S. S. Greatheed.

Source: Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #97, pp. 110-111.

Isaiah xlix., 1.—"Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The Lord hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name."

1. Praecursor altus luminis,
Et praeco Verbi nascitur :
Laetare cor fidelium,
Lucemque gaudens accipe.

2. Sublime cui vocabulum,
Johannes, ipse Gabriel
Imponit, et clarissima
Ipsius acta praecinit.

3. Necdumqne natus jam dedit
De luce testimonium,
Quod Natus admirabili
Complevit ipse in gloria.

4. Quo feminarum in filiis
Propheta major nullus est ;
Quin ipse miris actibus
Plusquam propheta claruit.

5. Quid sermo noster amplius
Hujus canat praeconia ?
De quo Patris vox Filic
Olim locuta praecinit :

6. En mitto, dixit, Angelum
Tuam paret qui semitam,
Vultumque praecurrat tuum,
Solem rubens ut Lucifer.

7. Deo Patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Et nunc et in perpetuum. Amen.

Sheet Music from Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #97, pp110-111.

97-189.jpg (185985 bytes) 97-190.jpg (489150 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), #97, pp. 322-323.

97-1.jpg (462966 bytes) 97-2.jpg (679957 bytes)

Sheet Music: "Harbinger" by Horatio Parker from Church Hymns With Tunes (London : Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1903), #212, pp. 346-347.

Harbinger-Church Hymns-212-p346.jpg (47485 bytes)

Note.

According to a note in 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), p. iv-v, this hymn is a cento from the Venerable Bede.

This note is from John Julian, ed., Dictionary of Hymnology (1892), p. 902.

Praecursor altus luminis. Venerable Bede. [St. John the Baptist,] The full text of this hymn is found in the collections of Cassander (Cologne, 1556; and Paris, 1616, p. 263); of Ellinger (Frankfurt-am-Main, 1578, p. 275); and of Thomasius (Rome, 1747, ii. p. 387). Also in the works of the Venerable Bede (Migne's Patrol, vol. 94). G. M. Dreves prints it in his Hymnarius Moissiacensis, 1888, p. 52, from a 10th cent. MS. Daniel, i., No. 180, gives only the first four lines.

Translated as:—

1. The Great Forerunner of the Morn. By J. M. Neale in the Hymnal Noted, 1854; and in H. A. & M., 1861 and 1875.

2. Hail, Harbinger of Morn. By C. S. Calverley in the Hymnary, 1872. [W. A. S.]

Dr. Julian added at p. 1688:

This is also in a 9th cent. MS. at Trier, No. 1245, f. 153. The version:—

The High Forerunner of the Morn, in H. A. & M., 1904, No. 235, is marked as "Neale and Compilers," but only three lines remain as Neale wrote them. St. iii. is made to relate entirely to St. John the Baptist, as Bede meant it to do. [J. M.]

Note that each of these "translations" is a cento from the fuller hymn. A Clerk Of Oxford reprinted 16 Latin verses on her blog; see The Great Forerunner of the Morn. And, the following 16 verses are from J. A. Giles, ed., The Miscellaneous Works of Venerable Bede. Vol. 1, Life, Poems, Letters, &c (Whittaker, 1843), pp. 88-89.

8. De Nativitate Sancti Joannis Baptistę.

PRĘCURSOR altus luminis,
Et pręco verbi nascitur,
Lętare, cor fidelium,
Lucemque gaudens accipe.

2.Miranda cujus seculi
Nativitas per angelum
Innotuit parentibus.
Pia fide jam pręditis,

3. Sublime cui vocabulum
Joannes ipse Gabriel
Imponit, et clarissima
Ipsius acta pręcinit.

4. Qui matris adhuc parvulus
Vulva retentus, spiritum
Percepit almus gratię,
Testis futurus gratię.

5. Necdumque natus jam dedit
De luce testimonium,
Quod natus admirabili
Complevit ipse in gloria.

6. Hic plurimos ex Israel
Christi fidei subdidit,
Et corda patrum in filios,
Docens superna, transtulit.

7. In Elię qui spiritu
Venit prophetę, semitam
Parare Christo ac plebibus
Iter salutis pandere

8. Quo foeminarum in filiis
Propheta major nullus est,
Quin ipse miris actibus
Plus quam propheta claruit.

9. Baptisma poenitentię
Qui prędicabat ac dedit,
Turbasque Jesu gratiae
Illuminandas obtulit.

10. Ipsumque Jesum qui omnia
Sancto lavans in spiritu
Emundat, in Jordanici
Tinxit fluento gurgitis.

11. Et baptizato protinus
Aperta vidit ęthera,
Nobis suo baptismate
Pandit polique regiam.

12. Atque in columba spiritum,
Illum super descendere
Vidit, doli qui nescius
Mentes requirit simplices.

13. Audivit et vocem patris,
Dilectus hic est filius
A seculo, dixit, meus,
In quo mihi complacui.

14. Edoctus his oraculis
Baptista Jesum prędicat
Natum Dei, qui in spiritu
Sancto fideles abluat.

15. Quid sermo noster amplius
Hujus canat pręconia ?
De quo patris vox filio
Olim locuta pręcinit:

16. En mitto, dixit, angelum,
Tuam paret qui semitam,
Vultuque pręcurrat tuum
Solem rubens ut Lucifer.

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