The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Angel Spake The Word

The Annunciation of our Lady

Words: "Supernus ales nuntiat" by Jean de Santeuil (1630-1697)
But see: Caelestis ales nuntiat
Translation by Edward Caswall

Music: Tune #171.

Source: Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), 10th Edition, Appendix, #171, pp. 181-182.

1. The Angel spake the word,
"Hail, thou of women blest!"
From highest heaven the Godhead comes,
And fills her virgin breast.

2. Maiden ! how great henceforth
Thy dignity shall be ;
The Son of God becomes thine own,
This day conceived by thee.

3. This day the Holy Ghost,
From thy all-virgin blood,
Moulds in thy womb the Flesh Divine
Of the life-giving Word.

4. Thus men below obtain
Food from on high to eat ;
And God, Who Angels feeds— becomes,
As God made Man, our meat.

5. To Him, Who to redeem
Our race, came down from heaven ;
Praise, with the Father evermore,
And Holy Ghost be given. 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), #171. Also known as "The Tune Book as Used at St. Albans, Holborn."

Tune_171.jpg (32843 bytes)

Note from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology. Second Revised Edition with New Supplement. (1892, 1907), p. 240.

Caelestis ales nuntiat. Jean Baptiste de Santeuil. [Annunciation.] 1st pub. in his Hymni Sacri et Novi, 1689, p. 2, and again in the same, 1098, p. 87, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. In 1736 it was included in the revised Paris Breviary. Also reprinted in Cardinal Newman's Hymni Ecclesić, 1838 and 1865. Tr. as :—

1. The angel spake [spoke] the word, by Edward Caswall — his quoted opening line being, "Supernus ales nuntiat," — in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 267; and again in his Hymns, &c, 1873, p. 170. This is given in the Appendix to the Hymnal Noted, and in the St. John's Hymnal (Aberdeen), &c.

2. Hail blessed morn, when forth from heaven, by W. Cooke, made for the Hymnary, 1872, and given with the signature " A. C. C."

Translations not in Common Use :—

1. The herald light from Heav'n on golden wing. I. Williams. 1839.

2. The swift-winged herald from on high. J. D. Chambers, ii. 1866. [J. J.]

Editor's Note:

Dr. Julian's entry was for "Coelestis ales nuntiat." However, in Santeuil's Hymni Sacri et Novi, it begins "Caelestis ales nuntiat." Dr. Julian's entry above has been corrected accordingly.

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