The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Saint of God, Beloved Stephen

For St. Stephen's Day
Feast day of St. Stephan the First Martyr is December 26
See:
Hymns to St Stephen

Words: Sancte Dei, pretiose, with notes
Latin hymn, 10th-16th Century
Translated by Rev. William J. Blew
Compare:
Saint Of God, Elect And Precious (Neale), with notes and music

Music: Not Stated, but there is a melody in the Salisbury Hymnal.
Additional music includes "St. Thomas,"
Melody from S. Webbe's 'Motetts or Antiphons,' 1792
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Meter: 87 87 87

Source: Howard Rice, ed., Hymns Selected From The Church Hymn and Tune Book (Oxford and London: Jas. Parker and Co., 1870), pp. 12-13, noting that it was "Christmas 18" in the original.

1. Saint of God, beloved Stephen,
    Prince of Martyrs and their pride;
Who, with such strong love and mighty
    Compassed on every side,
For thy cruel people prayedst
    To the Lamb for man That died.

2. Standard-bearer thou — and foremost
    Of the church’s war-array;
Witness of all grace, and champion
    For the truth in fearful fray;
Living stone, the rock of patience,
    Love’s foundation, pattern, stay.

3. Struck with stone and not with dagger,
    Through the cutting of sharp flint
Thou dost see thy mangled body
    Gashed and bruised by many a dint;
While with beauty, like a chaplet,
    Ruddy stones thy brows imprint.

4. Unto thee before all other
    Heaven’s far gates are opened wide;
Jesus there in power thou seest,
    Death for Whom thou dost abide,
With the Sire in glory standing,
    Yet for ever at thy side.

5. May the Son of Mary teach us
    Ever for our foes to pray;
Heavenward may His Spirit lead us,
    Where nor stone nor steel can slay;
But the spirits of the righteous
    Walk with him in perfect day.

6. To the Virgin-born be glory,
    Crowning thee with roseate wreath,
And upon a bright throne placing
    With the stars thy feet beneath;
May He of His mercy loose us
    From the bitter sting of death. Amen.

The following note is from John Julian, The Dictionary of Hymnology (1892), p. 992.

Sancte Dei pretiose, protomartyr Stephane. [St. Stephen.] The original form of this hymn is in 3 stanzas of 3 lines (ii. "Funde preces," iii. "Gloria et honor").

This form is in two MSS. of the 11th cent, in the British Museum (Vesp. D.xii., f. 36 ; Harl. 2961, f. 229); and in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church., 1851, is printed from an 11th cent. MS. at Durham. (B. iii. 32, f. 14.) Also in the Sarum, Hereford, York, Aberdeen, and other Breviaries. Sometimes used for the Invention of St. Stephen. The original form is also printed by Mone, No. 1158, from an 11th cent. MS. at Stuttgart, &c. The text in Daniel, i., No. 221, contains six additional stanzas, probably of North German origin, and of much later date. [J. M.]

Translations in Common Usage:-

1. Saint Of God, Elect And Precious. By J. M. Neale, of the 3 stanzas form of the text, in the Hymnal Noted, 1852 ; the Hymner, 1882, &c.

2. Saint of God, Beloved Stephen [this page]. By W. J. Blew, in his Church Hymn & Tune Book, 1852-55, Christmas, No. 18, and in Rice's Selections from the same, 1870, No. 12. This, in 6 stanzas of 6 lines, is from the text of Daniel abridged.

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