The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Hail, Gladdening Light

For Christmas

Words: St. Athenogenes (d. 845)
Trans. Rev. John Keble

Music: Not Stated

Source: H. C. Beeching, ed., Lyra Apostolica (London: Methuen & Co., 1836, 1879), p. 64.

Hail Gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured,
Who is th' immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies -- Jesus Christ our Lord!
Now we are come to the sun's hour of rest,
The lights of evening round us shine,
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!
Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, Giver of Life, alone!
Therefore in all the world, Thy glories, Lord, they own.


"Hymn of the 1st or 2nd century: preserved by St. Basil. Vid. Routh. Reliqu. Sacr. iii. p. 299."

Editor's Footnote.

In the "Office of Christmas Day" by St. Cosmas, that editor observed that

This is the very ancient Vesper Hymn of the Eastern Church which many will recognize  from the version in the Lyra Apostolica ["Hail Gladdening Light"]. The original is as follows:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸυ ἁγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου Πατρὸσ

     οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος,

          Ἰησοῦ Χοιστέ,

     ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τοῦ ἡλίου δύσιν,

          ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν,

ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, καὶ Υἱὸν, καὶ Ὰγιον Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ

ἄξιος εἱ ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναἱς ὁσίαις,

          Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς

     διὸ ὁ κόσμος σε δοξάζει.

It is, as Dr. Neale observes, the Magnificat of the Eastern Vespers. It is attributed to S. Athenogenes, who was martyred about A. D. 175.

Source: Richard Frederick Littledale, ed., Offices From The Service Books of the Holy Eastern Church (London: Williams and Norgate, 1863), Note 44, p. 277.

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