At this high feast the Lamb hath made

At this high feast the Lamb hath made

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First Line: At this high feast the Lamb hath made


Ad coenam Agni providi. [Easter.] This hymn is sometimes ascribed to St. Ambrose, but is not inserted among his undoubted compositions, by the Benedictine editors (see Migne's Patrol., tom. 17; the fourth of the works of St. Ambrose). The original text, with that revised for use in the Roman Breviary, "Ad regias agni dapes," is given in Daniel, i., No. 81; with various readings from the Collections of Cassander, and other authorities. It is headed "Hymnus Paschalis" ("A hymn for Easter-tide"). [ In Mone , it is No. 161 from manuscripts at Lichtenthal of the 13th and 14th centuries, and from others or later date. He gives a long note embracing various readings, references, and criticism. Much of this is repeated in Daniel, iv. 73, who also gives readings from Rheinau manuscripts of the 10th and 11th century, and at iv. p. 353, readings from a manuscript of the 9th century, at Bern. It is also found in a11th century manuscript in the British Museum (Jul. A. vi., f. 48.), and is printed from a Durham manuscript of the 11th century, in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 1851, p. 82. In the Junius ms. of the 8th and 9th cents, it is No. xxi. The Sarum Breviary text is in the Hymnarium Sarisburiense, Lond., 1851, p. 99, and various readings are added from English Monastic Uses, including those of Worcester, St. Alban's, Canterbury, &c, and in Biggs's Annotated edition of Hymns Ancient &Modern, 1867.)
[Concerning its use we would add that from Low Sunday [1st after Easter] till the Vigil of the Ascension it was the proper Vesper hymn in the Sarum and York uses, and is also so found in other English breviaries, Saturdays excepted (when "Chorus novae Hierusalem " was sung) whenever no feast of Apostle or patron Saint interrupted the ordinary course of the Easter season. There is no doxology, for according to Sarum and York the last 2 verses of "Jesu Salvator Saeculi" were directed to be sung at the end of all hymns of that metre [Saturdays excepted].
Passing from its history, text, and use, to the hymn itself, its design, and teaching are well brought out by the following writers:—] In a curious work which gives interpretations of hymns, mystical and otherwise, entitled "Expotitio Himnorum cum notabili commento. Coloniae apud Henricum Quentell, 1492" (many other editions in the 15th and early part of the 16th centuries; one without a date may be older than the above. See Daniel , i. p. xvi., and No. 81. The writer's name was Hilarius), we find concerning this composition:
"The matter of this hymn is that the author calls us to the banquet of that Lamb Who taketh away the sins of the world; that is, to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, of Whom it is written that he who receiveth the Body of Christ unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself; but he who doth so worthily hath eternal life: but we are placed 'ad coenam Agni providi' (at the banquet of the Lamb as those who are prepared)."
The allusion is to those who were solemnly baptized and clothed in white garments on Easter Eve, and admitted to Holy Communion on the following day. Dr. Neale works out this allusion to the newly baptized and their white garments in his Short Commentary on the Hymnal Noted, 1853, part i., pp. 26-27, where he says:—
"In order to understand this hymn, we must know for whom it was written. It was the custom of the early Church that Baptism should be solemnly administered to many catechumens, that is, persons who had been under instruction and preparation for it, on Easter Eve. This hymn then refers in the first place to them . . . The Lamb's high banquet we await. These newly baptized persons were now for the first time about to receive the Holy Communion, and therefore truly waiting for that high banquet, ‘In snow-white robes' [the ‘Et stolis albis candidi' of the original], because, at Baptism, a white garment was given to the persons baptized, with words like these: 'Take this white vesture for a token of the innocence which, by God's grate, in this holy Sacrament of Baptism, is given unto thee and for a sign whereby thou art admonished, so long as thou livest, to give thyself to innocency of living, that after this transitory life thou mayest be partaker of life everlasting.'" The chrisom-robes were worn from Easter Eve till Low Sunday (all the week-days of the octave are marked in Albis in the Sacramentary of S. Gregory), for which the ancient name was 'Dominica in albis depositis,' as in the Ambrosian Missal, or, shortly, 'Dominica in Albis,' because on this day the newly baptized first appeared without the chrisoms, or white robes, which they had worn every day since their baptism on Easter Eve.
Translations not in common use:— 2. At this High Feast the Lamb hath made. Chambers, i. 189. --Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)


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