Rector's Reflections - 4 December

Rector’s Reflections

Monday 4th December 2023

A Favourite Advent Hymn


Do you have a favourite Advent hymn? There are so many to choose from. Perhaps your favourite is “Lo! He comes with clouds descending” or “Hills of the North, rejoice”. Some Advent hymns are much better known than others, and one of my personal favourites is a hymn which begins “Creator of the stars of night”. This hymn is not sung very often, but I think it deserves to be much better known. The words have much to teach us during this Advent season.


The hymn was originally written in Latin, sometime in the early Middle Ages, and by the later Middle Ages it was appointed to be sung everyday during Advent, at least by the clergy when they said their prayers in church. The Latin texts all have slight variations, and so it is not surprising that there are different translations into English. For the purposes of the current reflections, I’m going to refer to the Latin text which begins “Conditor alme siderum” and the English translation published in the New English Hymnal. It is most naturally sung to the beautiful plain chant melody known as “Conditor Alme” , but it can also be sung to a more familiar hymn tune.


The words of the hymn are as follows:


Creator of the stars of night,

Thy people’s everlasting light,

O Jesus, Saviour of us all,

Regard thy servants when they call.


Thou, grieving at the bitter cry

Of all creation doomed to die,

Didst come to save a ruined race

With healing gifts of heavenly grace.


Thou camest Bridegroom of the bride,

As drew the world to evening-tide,

Proceeding from a virgin shrine,

The Son of Man , yet Lord divine.


At thy great name, exalted now,

All knees must bend, all hearts must bow,

And things in haven and earth shall own

That thou art Lord and King alone.


To thee, O holy one, we pray,

Our judge in that tremendous day,

Preserve us, while we dwell below,

From every onslaught of the foe.


All praise, eternal Son, to thee,

Whose advent sets thy people free,

Whom with the father we adore,

And Spirit blest, for evermore. Amen.


We will look at each of these verses in turn in the days ahead.



- Father Jason


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