Dec 15, 2009

Of the Father's Love Begotten...

What could be the oldest known Christmas carol is also one of my favorites. Sadly, it is not heard very often in Christian churches today. I'm grateful that I learned this hymn. Singing it somehow makes me feel united with the saints of old.

The author of the words, Marcus Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, was born in the year 348 in a Roman province in what is now northern Spain. Originally it was probably sung as a chant. The words were set to music in the 11th Century, and translated from Latin to English in the 1800's.

It is said that music is the universal language. I think that is because it has the ability to reach into the depths of the human soul. While the words of this hymn are filled with praise to God, the music is almost haunting, as if to say, "How can you not believe? This is love eternal!"

Take a few moments this Advent season to join your voice with those ancient believers and feel the power of God pull you to Himself. Be blessed! Evermore and evermore!

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He, Of the things that are, that have been, And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done: Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one; All that grows beneath the shining Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know, That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe, May not henceforth die and perish In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race; And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord; Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word; Now He shines, the long expected, Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing; Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King! Let no tongue on earth be silent, Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live, On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive; Who at last in vengeance coming Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing; Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering: Let their guileless songs re-echo, And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee, Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be: Honor, glory, and dominion, And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Listen here: http://nethymnal.org/htm/o/f/ofthefat.htm

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

6 comments:

Norah said...

I love these old hymns. I didn't know the origins of this one were so old!

Rose said...

How beautiful the words to some of the old hymns are and this one is no exception. Thank you for sharing the history along with the words.

Deborah Ann said...

This one is new to me! There's nothing better than a 'new' old hymn!

To answer your question on my blog...I'm the second youngest in the line. How bout you?

Shirley said...

You know...I'm not sure I've ever heard this one.

Jamey said...

I have never heard this hymn before...thanks for sharing this. :)

Jacquelyn said...

Hi all, and thanks for your comments. I love many contemporary songs, but at the holidays I just love the old hymns and carols. Many are so rich in sound theology, filled with hope, and both look back at Christ's birth and ahead to His return. I try to envision saints from other centuries gathered in places of worship, huddled together by the light of candles and torches, and singing to the same Lord I worship today! As part of my "keeping Advent" this year, I have a couple hymn books nearby and try to look at an old hymn each morning. I love going to bed and waking up with the words humming through my heart!

Deborah Ann, I'm the bossy big sis...the oldest of 7 (one in heaven)