The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Patre Unigénite

For Vespers on the Baptism of Jesus (In Baptismate Domini, Dominica post diem 6 januarii occurrente)

Words: An Anonymous Latin Hymn from the 10th or 11th Century
Translation by John David Chambers, alt., From God The Father Comes To Earth

Source: Liturgia Horarum (The Liturgy of the Hours)


1 A Patre Unigénite,
ad nos venis per Vírginem,
baptísmi rore cónsecrans
cunctos, fide regénerans.

2 De cælo celsus pródiens
éxcipis formam hóminis,
factúram morte rédimens,
gáudia vitæ lárgiens.

3 Hoc te, Redémptor, quæsumus:
illábere propítius,
clarúmque nostris córdibus
lumen præbe deíficum.

4 Mane nobíscum, Dómine,
noctem obscúram rémove,
omne delíctum áblue,
pie medélam tríbue.

5 O Christe, vita, véritas,
tibi sit omnis glória,
quem Patris atque Spíritus
splendor revélat cælitus. Amen.

Sheet Music from Thomas Helmore and Thomas Morley, eds., Music of the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted. Containing nearly 250 Tunes for Long, Common, Short, and Peculiar Metres; together with several Gregorian Hymns and Antiphons; the Eight Gregorian Tones; the music of the Reproaches; the Seven Last Words; and Litany Tunes; &c. Second Edition. (Novello, Ewer & Co., No Date, ca. 1870), #131, p. 141. Also known as "The Tune Book as Used at St. Albans, Holborn."

Tune_131.jpg (36363 bytes)

Note from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology. Second Revised Edition with New Supplement. (1892, 1907, p. 3.

A Patre Unigenitus. Anon. [Epiphany.] Daniel, in vol. i., 1841, and later ed. No. 210, gives only the first four lines of this hymn as belonging to a hymn for the Feast of the Epiphany, of uncertain authorship, date between the 10th and 13th centuries. In the ancient MSS. in the British Museum, however, this hymn is found in three of the 11th cent. (Harl. 2961, f. 230; Juv. A. vi. f. 366; Vesp. D. xii. f. 436). In the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church (Surtees Society), 1851, p. 53, it is reprinted in full from a Durham MS. of the 11th cent.

In 1853, Mone gave the full text in vol. i., No. 59, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, heading it, "In Epiphania ad nocturnum," and added an extended note on the text, with references to a 15th cent. MS. at Stuttgart; and to Thomasius, &c. This text, with the notes and an addition or two including a reference to a MS. of the monastery of Rheinau, of the 11th cent. was repeated by Daniel, vol. iv. (1855), p. 151. It is also in the Hymn. Sarisb.). London, 1851, p. 26, as a hymn at Lauds in the Epiphany, and through the octave; where are also given the variations of York (used at Matins during the same period) ; of Evesham; Worcester, &c. It is also in Wackernagel, i., No. 173; in Cardinal Newman's Hymni Eccl., 1838-65, and others. It may be noticed that the original is an acrostic from A to T inclusively. The Gloria, of course, does not follow this arrangement. [W. A. S.]

Translations in C. U. :—

1. From God, to visit Earth forlorn. By John David Chambers in his Lauda Syon, Pt. 1, 1857, p. 109, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines. This is given in an altered form as: "From God The Father Comes To Earth" in the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted, No. 131.

2. God's Sole-Begotten came. By R. F. Littledale, made for, and 1st published in the People's Hymnal, 1867, No. 44, and signed "A. L. P."

3. Sent down by God to this world's frame. By J. M. Neale; probably originally made for the Hymnal Noted, 1852, as the first line in Latin appears in the original prospectus. Another Epiphany hymn was, however, given, and this translation seems not to have been printed till the St. Margaret's Hymnal, 1875, whence it passed through the Antiphoner and Grail, 1880, into the Hymner, 1882, No. 20. [J. J.]

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