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Of the Father's heart begotten – Divinum Mysterium

First line:
Of the Father's heart begotten
Piae Cantiones Theoderici Petri Nylandensis, 1582; NEH 33
author of text
translator of text

It is not the story of the stable and manger, shepherds and angels that is essential for Christmas: after all, only two of the four Gospels mention them. It is the fact of the Incarnation, God entering our human race, that is crucial. This hymn celebrates this theme to the full, with emphasis at the beginning on who it was that came—the Alpha and Omega, the Father’s instrument in creation—continuing by urging all Creation to celebrate in song, and ending by looking forward to Christ’s return as judge. This hymn by the Spanish lawyer and then monk, Prudentius, has taken many hands to produce a satisfactory translation, and perhaps in the twenty-first century needs a complete new look.

The fine rolling tune that swings us along through the many verses had a long history from the eleventh century, in various liturgical forms, but reaches us in the version from a strange book of 1582 called Piae Cantiones (‘Devout Songs’) which is a treasure trove of old Catholic hymns adapted for the use of the protestant Swedish Church.

from notes by Alan Luff © 2002


The English Hymn, Vol. 3 - Hills of the north, rejoice
CDP12103Archive Service


Track 3 on CDP12103 [3'57] Archive Service

Track-specific metadata for CDP12103 track 3

Recording date
19 June 2002
Recording venue
Wells Cathedral, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. The English Hymn, Vol. 3 - Hills of the north, rejoice (CDP12103)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: September 2002
    Deletion date: September 2016
    Archive Service
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