The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Wisdom, Sovereign Master of Man's Soul

For Advent

Words: Veni, Veni, Emanuel (the "O" Antiphons),
Authorship Unknown, 8th Century Latin;
Published As A Hymn in Psalteriolum Cantionum Catholicarum, 7th Edition, Köln, 1710.

Translation by Charles William Stubbs, The Dean of Ely, January 6, 1901, the Feast of the Epiphany

Music: "Veni Emmanuel," Based on a 15th Century French Processional,
Arranged by Rev. Thomas Helmore  and harmonized by Rev. S. S. Greatheed in
Hymnal Noted, Part II (London: 1856)
and

Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted-Part II
(London: 1858)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Melody Only: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Meter: 88 88 88

See: Notes on Veni, Veni, Emmanuel

Source: C. W. Stubbs, In A Minister Garden : A Causerie. Second Edition. (London: Elliott Stock, 1902), pp. 132-5.
Also found in other collections of poetry by Bishop Stubbs.

XII

' THE GREAT O'S '

Bishop Stubbs preceded this translation of the Great O's with the following note:

In the Book of Common Prayer, in the Calendar, on December 16, the words "O sapientia" occur, which words some have fondly imagined to be the names of a virgin and martyr, St. Sapience, whom they tried " with much ingenuity and more ignorance " to prove one of the companions of St. Ursula. ... O sapientia, however, is but a note to remind the user of the Calendar that on that day, December 16, the greater antiphons, each beginning with " O," which are always sung in the week before Christmas, then begin to be used.' — ' Archĉologia,' xlix., pt. i.

I

O Sapientia !

O Sapientia, quĉ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia : veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiĉ.

O Wisdom, Sovereign Master of man's soul,
   Effulgent glory of Eternal Light, —
Holding the wheels of life with strong control,
   And ordering all things by divinest might ;
O come, fair Wisdom, lead us day by day
With saving hand along God's marvellous way.

 

II

O Adonai !

Adonai, et dux donus Israël, qui Moysi in igne flammĉ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina Legem dedisti : veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O mighty Lord, Thou Prince and King of Men,
   Who gav'st Thy Law of old in flame of fire,
O come, enkindle us with Love again,
   With flame of zeal our dullard wills inspire :
And guard with strong right hand and outstretched arm
Our homes from daily ill and nightly harm.

 

III

O Radix Iesse !

Radix Iesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur : veni ad liberandum nos, iam noli tardare.

Hail, Prince of Peace ! Thou root of Jesse's stock,
   God's Ensign for the People and their kings,
Thou Shepherd Who dost ever lead Thy flock
   Through pastures green to joy of all good things :
O come, with comfort of Thy staff and rod.
And hasten thus on earth the Reign of God.

 

IV

O Clavis David !

O Clavis David et sceptmm Domus Israël : qui aperis, et nemo claudit : claudis et nemo aperit : veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris et umbrá mortis.

Hail, Key of David, sceptre of the King !
   O Thou Who openest and none can dare
To shut, Who mak'st the captive heart to sing
   Of Freedom in its prison-house of care :
Come, cheer the darkened soul so sore down-trod
With news of birthright in the Home of God !

 

V

O Oriens !

O Oriens, splendor lucis ĉternĉ et sol institiĉ : veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris et umbrá mortis.

Hail Dayspring, Angel from the holiest height.
   Who sheddest gladness on Earth's farthest bound,
Thou heart of mercy, come, with healing Light
   Shine on the souls that sit in sorrow crowned :
Chase far the shadows, bid the darkness cease,
And guide our feet into the Way of Peace,

 

VI

O Rex Gentium !

Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum : veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti !

O King of Nations and their heart's desire,
   Thou Corner Stone, man's starting-place and goal,
Enhearten with Thy Spirit's holy fire
   Our manhood's faith in History's unread scroll :
Come, give us as our own best hard-won wage
Yet nobler work and loftier embassage.

 

VII

O Emmanuel !

O Emmanuel, Rex et Legifer noster, expectatio gentium, et Salvator carum, veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus Noster !

O come, Emmanuel, O come again,
   Sure Hope and Guardian of the world's true Right
From realms of Help Thou givest gifts to men.
   The cleansing splendours of Eternal Light :
O turn once more our face to kindling skies,
To hail the Sun of new Epiphanies.

Notes:

See also O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Version 1.

Compare: Rev. William Cooke, O Wisdom, Who O'er Earth Below, from Church Hymns With Tunes (1885).

John Julian noted that this translation by Bishop Stubbs of the seven O antiphons appeared in the Guardian, January 16, 1901.

The first verse only was reprinted in Elizabeth Godfrey, ed., A Book of Remembrance. Second Edition. (London: Methuen & Co., 1908), p. 395.

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