CONDITOR alme siderum,
Aeterna lux credentium,
Christe Redemptor omnium,
Exaudi preces supplicum:
Qui condolens interitu
Mortis perire saeculum,
Salvasti mundum languidum,
Donans reis remedium,
Vergente mundi vespere,
Uti sponsus de thalamo,
Virginis matris clausula.
Cujus forti potentiae
Genu curvantur omnia
Nutu fatentur subdita.
Te deprecamur, hagie,
Venture judex saeculi,
Conserva nos in tempore
Hostis a telo perfidi.
CREATOR of the stars of night,
Your people's everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.
In sorrow that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
You came, 0 Savior, to set free
Your own in glorious liberty.
Come, Sun and Savior, to embrace
Our gloomy world, its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary's womb.
At your great Name, 0 Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heav'n, shall call you Lord.
Come in your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.
FOR many, Advent would not be Advent if introduced by any other hymn. It is well-nigh impossible for even the best of poets to find a formula that really corresponds to the first line of the Latin text. The Latin "sidus" ["siderum"] means more than "star." It includes the stars, of course, but also sun and moon and planets and all the heavenly constel-lations and comets and meteors. These are the cosmic elements that will appear in later stanzas of the hymn. For the ancients, these mysterious heavenly bodies that moved about and that had their cycles of waxing and waning and that in some unfathomable way could affect the course of human destiny-these heavenly bodies were perhaps living beings.
The opening line of this Advent hymn should make us think of the great array of all the powerful cosmic bodies that figure in those eschatological texts of scripture where the whole of the created universe responds to the presence of its God. The point of reference is not some lovely nightfall scene studded with gently glimmering stars, but rather that Great Day when "the sun will be darkened, and the moon
will not give her light, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Matthew 24:29). Indeed, this Advent hymn, if we really look at it, is something of a "Dies irae" in a less strident mode.
In stanza three, the world's evening draws to a close. We recognize in the last three lines of this stanza the allusion to verse six of Psalm 19, the verse that occurs so frequently in the Christmastide cycle: "And he, as a bridegroom coming forth from the bridal chamber, rejoices as a giant to run his course." So just when the world seems doomed to certain extinction, the Sun comes forth in a blaze of light and begins its paschal journey across the whole of human life and experience. This imagery is especially appropriate towards the beginning of December and the first Sunday of Advent, when nights are growing progressively longer and longer, until, upon the arrival of the winter solstice just before Christmas, the inexorable onslaught of darkness is reversed with the birth of Christ, the Sun of Justice, who now begins to run his course over the whole of our existence.--Chrysogonous Waddell
WHEN the Man of Heaven comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, 0 blessed of my Father, inherit the realm prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did to one of the littlest of these my dear people, you did it to me." Then the king will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and the devil's angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it notto one ofthe littlest of these, you did it not to me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
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