The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

All Hail! Ye Infant Martyr Flowers

Evening Hymn for the Feast of the Holy Innocents
The Feast day of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs, is December 28
See: The Hymns Of The Holy Innocents

Version 1
Compare: All Hail, Ye Little Martyr Flowers (Athelstan Riley)

See also: Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band (Henry W. Baker)

Words: Salvete, Flores Martyrum, Cathemerinon ("The Hymns of Prudentius"), Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-405)
Translation by Rev. John Mason Neale

Music: Tune 1: Christmas Melody From the Salisbury Hymnal.
Tune 2. Another Version of the Christmas Melody.

Other music includes "Sarratt," by C. G. E. Ryley
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
Meter: LM

Source: Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #16, p. 43.

Rev. 14:1. "I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads."

1. a All hail! ye infant Martyr flowers,
Cut off in life’s first dawning hours:
b As rosebuds snapt in tempest strife,
c When Herod sought your Saviour’s life.

2. d You, tender flock of lambs, we sing,
First victims slain for Christ your King:
e Beneath the Altar’s Heav’nly ray 7
With Martyr-palms and crowns ye play!

3. For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee!
With Father, and with Holy Ghost,
For ever, from the Martyr-host! Amen.

Notes from A Short Commentary on the Hymnal Noted (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), pp.  15-16.

This is part of a Hymn of Prudentius, who flourished about a.d. 870.

7. Beneath the Altar. He refers to Rev. vi. 9. "I saw under the Altar the souls of them which were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they held." Return

Notes from The Words of the Hymnal Noted Complete With Scriptural References (London: J. A. Novello and J. Masters, no date, circa 1855), #41, p. 47.

a. S. Matt. 2.16; Jer. 31.15. Return

b. Psalm 103.16. Return

c. S. Matt. 2.13. Return

d. Rev. 14.1. Return

e. Rev. 6.9. Return

Note 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), pp. iv-v.

Rev. Helmore observed that this hymn is "A cento from the 12th hymn of the Cathemerinon of Prudentius. This hymn is not found in any of the English Hymnals ; which merely employ that from the Common of Martyrs."

Sheet Music to Tunes 1 and 2 from Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #16, p. 43.

43.jpg (416792 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), #16, Salvete, Flores Martyrum.

16-01.jpg (285980 bytes) 16-02.jpg (707587 bytes)

 

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Sarratt - Salvete, Flores Martyrum

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Notes:

The Editors wrote that "In the Salisbury Hymnal there is no proper Hymn for this Festival. In other Hymnals these verses of Prudentius are used."

Also Found in George Radcliffe Woodward, ed., Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), # 242.

This is one of four Epiphany hymns derived from Prudentius' Hymn For The Epiphany (Hymnus Epiphaniae, Hymn XII from the complete poem, Cathemerinon). Two of these hymns, Audit tyrannus anxius (With Terror Doth The Tyrant Hear) and Salvete, Flores Martyrum, were assigned for the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28) for Matins and Lauds respectively.

The following is the R. Martin Pope translation of two of the stanzas and their Latin equivalents:

Ye flowers of martyrdom, all hail!
Of rising morn pure blossoms frail!
By Jesu's foe were ye downcast,
Like budding roses by the blast.

Lambs of the flock too early slain,
Ye first fruits of Christ's bitter pain!
Close to His very altar, gay
With palms and crowns, ye now do play.
Salvete flores martyrum,
quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

Vos prima Christi victima,
grex inmolatorum tener,
aram ante ipsam simplices
palma et coronis luditis.

Also found in The Book of Common Praise, Being The Hymn Book Of The Anglican Church of Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press, No Date, pp. 247-8. It has the first two lines:

All hail, ye little Martyr flowers,
Cut off in life's first dawning hours!

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there are more than 25 known translations; the English name was given by Edward Caswall, which included:

Flowers of martyrdom, all hail!
Smitten by the tyrant foe
On life's threshold -- as the gale
Strews the roses ere they blow.

See: Flowers Of Martyrdom, All Hail!

The four verses from Hymn For The Epiphany relating to the Holy Innocents, translated by R. Martin Pope:

Ye flowers of martyrdom, all hail!
Of rising morn pure blossoms frail!
By Jesu's foe were ye downcast,
Like budding roses by the blast.

Lambs of the flock too early slain,
Ye first fruits of Christ's bitter pain!
Close to His very altar, gay
With palms and crowns, ye now do play.

Of what avail is deed so vile?
Doth Herod gain by murderous guile?
Of all to death so foully done
Escapes triumphant Christ alone.

Amidst that tide of infant gore
Alone He wins the sheltering shore:
The virgin's Child survives the stroke,
When every mother's heart was broke.
Salvete flores martyrum,
quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

Vos prima Christi victima,
grex inmolatorum tener,
aram ante ipsam simplices
palma et coronis luditis.

Quid proficit tantum nefas,
quid crimen Herodem iuvat?
unus tot inter funera
inpune Christus tollitur.

Inter coaevi sanguinis
fluenta solus integer
ferrum, quod orbabat nurus,
partus fefellit virginis.
125





130





135





 140

According to R. Martin Pope, the Feast of Holy Innocents at Lauds, beginning Salvete flores martyrum, consists of lines 125-132. The additional two verses quoted do not, per se, relate to the poem cited, according to Pope. However, the third verse of this hymn track closely with the third verse noted in the Pope translation (lines 133-136), the translation by Riley, and the translation by Baker, but not the Neale translation.

Mr. Pope also writes that although the fourth verse immediately above is not found either in Riley, Baker or Neale, a casual reading seems to include it in the fuller message from Prudentius.

According to Pope, all four Epiphany poems end with a final doxology:

Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
qui natus es de Virgine,
cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.

Note that this doxology was added by later editors and does not occur in Prudentius.

The Riley translation:

All honor, laud, and glory be,
O Jesus, virgin-born, to thee;
all glory, as is ever meet
to Father and to Paraclete.

Baker gives the following:

O Lord, the Virgin-born, to Thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forevermore.

Neale gives:

For their redemption glory be,
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee,
With Fath

Notes From Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B., Hymns from the Breviary and Missal (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1922), pp. 108-109.

Author: Prudentius (348-413). Meter: Iambic dimeter. Translation [of All Hail, Ye Little Martyr Flowers] by Athelstan Riley. There are about twenty five translations. Liturgical Use: Hymn for Lauds on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

This hymn is a cento1 from the twelfth and last poem in the Cathemerinon of Prudentius, and in its full form it contains 208 lines. First line of complete hymn: Quicumque Christum quaeritis. Four beautiful centos from this hymn were included in the Breviary by Pius V (1568). One of these centos begins with the first line of the complete hymn. The following are the four centos, their composition, and their liturgical use:

1. Quicúmque Christum quæritis (1-4; 37-44; 85-88). Transfiguration.

2. O sola magnarum urbium (77-80; 5-8; 61-64; 69-72). Epiphany.

3. Audit tyrannus anxius (93-100; 133-136). Holy Innocents.

4. Salvete, Flores Martyrum (125-132). Holy Innocents.

There is an article in the Catholic Encyclopedia treating of all four hymns under the general heading: Quicumqmartyrs, whom on the very threshold of life, the persecutor of Christ snatched away even as the whirlwind, the budding roses." Lucis, lit., light; fig., life; or in a mystical sense, Christ.

2. "As the first sacrifice for Christ, a tender flock of victims, with sweet simplicity, ye play with your palms and crowns at the very altar side." Aram sub ipsam: The Original Text has ante for sub. Vidi subtus altare animas interfectorum propter verbum Dei (Apoc. 6, 9). This stanza has been greatly admired. It presents a picture of great beauty. The hymn Flowers Of Martyrdom, All Hail! is Father Caswall's translation of this hymn, of which Monsignor Henry says: "Not to speak of the beauty and fidelity of the rendering, the trochaic rhythm vividly conveys the sense of the suddenness of the onslaught, the ruthlessness and swiftness of the destruction." (Cath. Encycl. Vol. XII, p. 607).

Footnote 1. In this context, a Cento is a poem that is made up from excerpts from within a poem, or from another poem or poems. In the larger sense, it is a literary or musical work composed from pieces from one or several works. Return.

Editor's Note.

The Twelve Hymns of Cathemerinon by Prudentius

From the Translation by R. Martin Pope, The Hymns of Prudentius (1906)

1. Hymn at Cock-crow (Ales diei nuntius / Awake! the shining day is born!)

2. Morning Hymn (Nox et tenebrae et nubila / Ye clouds and darkness, hosts of night)

3. Hymn Before Meat (O crucifer bone, lucisator, / Blest Cross-bearer, Source of good

4. Hymn After Meat (Refreshed we rise, and for this bread that feeds / Pastis visceribus ciboque sumpto)

5. Hymn for the Lighting of the Lamps (Blest Lord, Creator of the glowing light / Inventor rutili, dux bone, luminis)

6. Hymn Before Sleep (Draw near, Almighty Father / Ades Pater supreme)

7. Hymn for Those Who Fast (O Jesus, Light of Bethlehem / O Nazarene, lux Bethlem, verbum Patris)

8. Hymn After Fasting (O Christ, of all Thy servants Guide / Christe servorum regimen tuorum)

9. Hymn For All Hours (Let me chant in sacred numbers, as I strike each sounding string / Da puer plectrum, choreis ut canam fidelibus)

10. Hymn for the Burial of the Dead (Fountain of life, supernal Fire / Deus ignee fons animarum)

11. Hymn for Christmas Day (Why Doth The Sun Re-orient Take / Quid est, quod artum circulum)

12. Hymn for the Epiphany (Lift Up Your Eyes, Whoe'er Ye Be / Quicumque Christum quaeritis)

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