The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

All Ye Who Would The Christ Descry

For the Feast of the Transfiguration and the Solemnity of the Epiphany

Words Quicumque Christum quaritis (Britt), A cento from the twelfth and last poem, Hymnus Epiphaniae, from the Cathemerinon ("The Hymns of Prudentius"), Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-405)

Translation by Allan G. McDougall

Source: Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B., Hymns from the Breviary and Missal (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1922), # 129, p. 283.

All ye who would the Christ descry.
Lift up your eyes to Him on high:
There mortal gaze hath strength to see
The token of His majesty.

A wondrous sign we there behold.
That knows not death nor groweth old.
Sublime, most high, that cannot fade.
That was ere earth and heaven were made.

Here is the King the Gentiles fear,
The Jews' most mighty King is here
Promised to Abraham of yore.
And to his seed forevermore.

'Tis He the Prophets' words foretold.
And by their signs shown forth of old;
The Father's witness hath ordained
That we should hear with faith unfeigned.

Jesu, to Thee our praise we pay,
To little ones revealed to-day,
With Father and Blest Spirit One
Until the ages' course is done.

Notes from Rev. Matthew Britt, O.S.B., Hymns from the Breviary and Missal (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1922), # 129, pp. 283-284.

Author: Prudentius (348-413). Meter: Iambic dimeter. Translation [of All Ye Who Would The Christ Descry] by Allan G. McDougall. There are twenty-four translations, nine of which are in Mr. Shipley's Annus Sanctus. Liturgical Use: Hymn for Vespers and Matins. This hymn is a cento from the twelfth and last poem in the Cathemerinon of Prudentius. The complete poem consists of 208 lines, and has furnished four centos for Breviary use:

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

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

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

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

[In 1568, these four short hymns were assembled from selected stanzas from Prudentius' hymn and introduced into the Roman Breviary by Pope Pius V, all of which conclude with the usual Marian doxology ("Jesu tibi sit gloria" etc., not composed by Prudentius), slightly varied to make the doxology appropriate for the several feasts employing the hymns. Editor.]

Read the article on Quicumque Christum quaeritis, and the two articles on Transfiguration in the Cath. Encyd.

1. "All ye who seek Christ, lift up your eyes on high; there it will be permitted you to behold a token of His eternal glory," The Tranfiguration of Our Lord is described in Matt. 17, 1-9; Mark 9, 1-8; Luke 9, 28-36. On Mount Thabor Our Lord granted Peter, James, and John a sign, or foretaste, of eternal glory. The Apostles were overwhelmed and rendered beside themselves by only a partial manifestation of the majesty of Christ's glorified Body.

2. "A brilliant Something we perceive that can know no end, sublime, exalted, interminable, older than heaven and chaos." By chaos is meant the confused, disordered, primitive mass out of which the universe was made.

3. ''This is the King of the Gentiles, and the King of the Jewish people, who was promised to our father Abraham, and to his seed forever." Christ was styled King of the Jews by the Magi (Cf. Matt. 2, 2). Abraham was the first Patriarch and the founder of the Hebrew race (Cf. Gen. 17, 1-9; Luke 1, 55).

4. ''In the presence of the prophets who had also announced Him, the Testator and Father commands us to hear and believe Him." The Prophets Moses and Elias appeared at the Transfiguration and conversed with Our Lord. The testimony of the Father is found in Matt 17, 5. Testator: The Father is styled ''testator" in reference to Ps. 2, 8: Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hæreditatem tuam, et possessionem tuam terminos terræ.

5. ''Together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, Jesus, eternal glory be to Thee, who dost reveal Thyself to the little ones" (Cf. Matt. 11, 25; Luke 10, 21).

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