Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, (c 348 – 413)

Translated by John Mason Neale

Divinum Mysterium   https://youtu.be/DHhlpan7V-I

Divinum mysterium   Lutheran  https://youtu.be/m5NzIe3Doss

Divinum mysterium – Piae Cantiones  https://youtu.be/MyQX-gGZ3LY

  1. 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.
  2. Oh, that birth forever blessed
    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.
  3. 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 ring
    Evermore and evermore.
  4. This is He whom Heaven-taught singers
    Sang of old with one accord;
    Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
    Promised in their faithful word.
    Now He shines, the Long-expected;
    Let creation praise its Lord
    Evermore and evermore.
  5. Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
    And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
    Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
    And unending praises be,
    Honor, glory, and dominion,
    And eternal victory
    Evermore and evermore.

This is the oldest hymn found in most hymn books. Aurelius Clemens Prudentius started his life as a Spanish lawyer and was quite successful, rising to the rank of judge before leaving it all behind at the age of 57 to become an aesthetic and spend his remaining days writing religious poetry.

The Church had recently received its official sanction from Emperor Constantine in 313. The first couple of centuries after this occurred were marked by significant theological struggles which would lay out the shape and form of our faith. These verses are extracted from a much larger work in which Prudentius, with the precision of a legal mind, addresses one of the first heresies which threatened the early church (and which still is present to this day.)

Arius (c250 – 336) propagated one of the most contentious ideas of the time which Prudentius addresses within the context of this poem. Arius believed that God the Father and the Son did not co-exist throughout eternity. Arius said that Jesus, the Son, did not exist before his birth. Jesus was nothing more than another created being. Though he may be divine, he was not equal to God the Father. Arianism, as this position came to be called, is also known as nontrinitarianism and forms of it can be found in Armstrongism (though less so more recently), Mormonism, and Unitarianism.

Prudentius draws from a number of scripture references to show the Son has always been with the Father and is the source of all that is and will be.

John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.


Revelations 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega” says Jehovah God, “the one who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

The second stanza speaks of the virgin birth and the coming salvific role the Son will play.

Luke 1:26-38 

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”[a] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High;
and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Every voice on Earth and Heaven will declare His praises. The God who keeps His promises has fulfilled His greatest promise. The promised one from ages past has come, let all of God’s creation proclaim it. The Son, the Father, and the Holy Ghost are due unending and eternal praise, honor, and glory; evermore and evermore. Amen.

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