The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Creator Of The Stars Of Night

Evening Hymn (Vespers) in Advent
From The Salisbury Hymnal

Words: Anonymous 7th Century Latin Hymn, “Ambrosian.”
See Conditor alme siderum, with notes, the main page for this family of hymns.

Translated by Rev. John Mason Neale.

Source: Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #10 (Complete Edition #28), pp. 33-34.

Music: Music in Neale & Helmore:
Tune 1: From the Salisbury Hymnal
Tune 2: Another version of the same melody; the Harmony in Helmore's Accompanying Harmonies was taken by permission from Spencer's Church Modes.
Additional Music:
Office Hymn, E.
Source: The English Hymnal, p. 1, mode iv. 1906
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

O. Gibbons, Angel's Song
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF/ XML

St. Ambrose*
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF/ XML
Meter: LM
Sheet music to these three are below, together with additional settings.

Now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation near than when we believed.” Rom. 13:11

1. a Creator of the stars of night, 1
b Thy people’s everlasting light;
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear Thy servants when they call.

2. c Thou, grieving that the ancient curse 5   5
Should doom to death an universe,
d Hast found the med’cine, full of grace,
To save and heal a ruin’d race.

3. e Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the Bride, 9
f As drew the world to ev'ning-tide; 10   10
g Proceeding from a Virgin shrine,
h The spotless Victim all divine.

4. i At whose dread Name, majestic now, 13
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow
And things celestial Thee shall own,   15
And things terrestrial, Lord alone.

5. k O thou, whose coming is with dread
To judge and doom the quick and dead,
l Preserve us, while we dwell below,
From ev’ry insult of the foe.20   20

6 To Him, who comes the world to free,
To God the Son, all glory be;
To God the Father, as is meet,
To God the blessed Paraclete. Amen.   24

Notes from A Short Commentary on the Hymnal Noted (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), pp. 8-10.

Line 1. We call on God as the Creator of the stars of night, both because this is an evening hymn,- and also because this world is compared to night : and we are now looking forward to Christ's Coming to be his peoples everlasting light. As it is written: "The Lord God did lighten it, and the Lamb was the light thereof." Source: A Short Commentary, p. 8. Return

Line 5. Thou grieving that the ancient curse | Should doom to death an universe. Not that God can really grieve: but the hymn speaks after the manner of Scripture, which represents God as grieving, or angry, when He does that which we should do if we had those feelings. The ancient curse is the threat made to Adam, "In the day thou eatest, thou shalt surely die." And since, by Adam's fall, we all died spiritually, and became also subject to the death of the body, God sent His Son, as the next verse tells us, to be the medicine of a sick world. Source: A Short Commentary, p. 8. Return

Line 9. Thou camest, the Bridegroom of the Bride. For the Church is constantly likened in Holy Scripture to the Bride, and our Lord to the Bride-groom. So S. Paul, after speaking of the duties of husbands and wives, says : "This is a great mystery ; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." (Ephes. v. 32.) And so the Angel said to S. John : "Come hither; I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's Wife." (Rev. xxi. 9.) Source: A Short Commentary, p. 8-9. Return

Line 10. As drew the world to evening tide. That is, when the world was drawing near to its end, as a day drawing towards night. So S. Paul tells us : "God hath in these latter days spoken unto us by His Son," (Heb. i. 2,) and again: "Now in the end of the world hath He appeared." (Heb. ix. 26.) Source: A Short Commentary, p. 9. Return

Line 13. After having told why our Lord came into the world, to be the spotless Victim, or offering, it goes on to remind us of what was the consequence of His humiliation. Just in the same way S. Paul says : "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross ; wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth ; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord," (Philip, ii, 8,) which words are almost quoted in the next verse. Source: A Short Commentary, pp. 9-10. Return

Line 20. Of the foe.  That is, of the devil. For "for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." Source: A Short Commentary, p. 10.  Return

Notes from The Words of the Hymnal Noted Complete With Scriptural References (London: J. A. Novello and J. Masters, no date, circa 1855), pp. 30-31.

a. Gen. i.16. Jer. xxxi. 35. Return

b. S. John i. 9. Isaiah xlix. 6. Return

c. Gen. ii. 17. Rom. v. 12. Rom. vi. 23. Return

d. Jer. viii. 22. S. Matt. ix. 12. Rev. xxii. 2. Return

e. S. John iii. 29. Psalm xix. 5. S. Matt. xxii. 2. Return

f. Isaiah ii. 2. Return

g. Isaiah vii. 14. Ez. xliv. 2. Cant. iv. 12. Return

h. S. John i. 29. Return

i. Philip. ii. 9, 10. S. Matt. xxviii. 18. Return

k. Zeph. i. 14. Rev. i. 7. Mai. iii. 2. Joel ii. 1. Return

l. Psalm cxxi. 7. Psalm lxiv. 1.  2 Tim. iii. 11. Return

Note:

Also found in George Radcliffe Woodward, ed., Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), #1

This common doxology appears in some versions including Woodward:

6. To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Laud, honour, might, and glory be
From age to age eternally. Amen.

Sheet Music From Rev. John Mason Neale and Rev. Thomas Helmore, eds., Hymnal Noted, Part I. (London: Novello & Co., 1852), Part II (London: Novello & Co., 1856), #10, pp. 33-34. Both tunes are from the Salisbury Hymnal according to Rev. Helmore.

Conditor-Neale-Hymnal_Noted-1851-No10-p33-96.jpg (124764 bytes) Conditor-Neale-Hymnal_Noted-1851-No10-p34-96.jpg (124887 bytes)     Conditor-Neale_Hymnal_Noted-No10-p33-96.jpg (127241 bytes) Conditor-Neale_Hymnal_Noted-No10-p34-96.jpg (135691 bytes)

Sheet Music from Thomas Helmore, Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted. Part I (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., and Masters and Son, 1852), Part II (London: Novello and Co., Joseph Masters and J. T. Hayes, 1858), #10, pp. 60-61.

10-01.jpg (409995 bytes) 10-02.jpg (626975 bytes)

Sheet Music to "Conditor alme  siderum" / Office Hymn, E. in Mode IV, from Sarum Antiphonale, in The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

Cond_a_sid-Mode4-1-Engl_Hml-1906-p1.jpg (90663 bytes)

Sheet Music to "Angel's Song" by O. Gibbons from The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

Angels_Song-259-Engl_Hmn-1906-p377.jpg (39695 bytes)

Sheet Music to "St. Ambrose" From La Feillée, ‘Méthode du plain-chant,’ 1782, in The English Hymnal (Oxford: The University Press, 1906), #1, p. 1.

St_Ambrose-215-Engl_Hym-1906-p313.jpg (38949 bytes)


From "The Confessions" by Jean Jacques Rousseau, Book III (1728-1731):

"I have always preserved an effection for a certain air of the Conditor alme Syderum, because one Sunday in Advent I heard that hymn sung on the steps of the cathedral (according to the custom of that place) as I lay in bed before daybreak. Mademoiselle Merceret, Madam de Warrens' chambermaid, knew something of music; I shall never forget a little piece that M. le Maitre made me sing with her, and which her mistress listened to with great satisfaction. In a word, every particular, even down to the servant Perrine, whom the boys of the choir took such delight in teasing. The remembrance of these times of happiness and innocence frequently returning to my mind, both ravish and affect me.

Editor's Note concerning Noteworthy Composer scores:

The original from whence I obtained this arrangement had it at a half-note = 72, which would be an excellent meter if one wishes a dirge. Wishing to celebrate the birth of the Savior in a joyful manner, I have set it at 95; play it at whatever meter suits you. Return

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