Ambrose (b. Treves, Germany, 340; d. Milan, Italy, 397), one of the great Latin church fathers, is remembered best for his preaching, his struggle against the Arian heresy, and his introduction of metrical and antiphonal singing into the Western church. Ambrose was trained in legal studies and distinguished himself in a civic career, becoming a consul in Northern Italy. When the bishop of Milan, an Arian, died in 374, the people demanded that Ambrose, who was not ordained or even baptized, become the bishop. He was promptly baptized and ordained, and he remained bishop of Milan until his death. Ambrose successfully resisted the Arian heresy and the attempts of the Roman emperors to dominate the church. His most famous convert and disciple w… Go to person page >
Translator: John Henry Newman
Newman, John Henry , D.D. The hymnological side of Cardinal Newman's life and work is so small when compared with the causes which have ruled, and the events which have accompanied his life as a whole, that the barest outline of biographical facts and summary of poetical works comprise all that properly belongs to this work. Cardinal Newman was the eldest son of John Newman, and was born in London, Feb. 21, 1801. He was educated at Ealing under Dr. John Nicholas, and at Trinity College, Oxford, where he graduated in honours in 1820, and became a Fellow of Oriel in 1822. Taking Holy Orders in 1824, he was for a short time Vice-Principal of St. Alban's Hall, and then Tutor of Oriel. His appointment to St. Mary's, Oxford, was in the spring of… Go to person page >
Aeterne rerum conditor. St. Ambrose. [Sunday Morning.] This hymn by St. Ambrose is received as genuine by the Benedictine editors….
The use of this hymn has been most extensive. In the Mozarabic Breviary (1502, f. 2) it is the hymn at Matins on the 1st Sunday in Advent, and generally on Sundays in Advent, Lent, Palm Sunday, Whitsun Day, &c.; in the Sarum, York, Evesham, Hereford, and St. Alban's, at Lauds on Sundays from the Octave of the Epiphany to Lent, and from the 1st Oct. to Advent; in the Worcester at Matins (so also some old Breviaries of the Benedictine Order (Daniel, i. g. 15); and in the Roman, for Sundays at Lauds, from the Octave of the Epiphany to the 1st Sunday in Lent, and from the S. nearest to the 1st of Oct. to Advent.
The text of this hymn is found in the Junius of the 8th century, No. xxv., and in two llth century manuscripts in the British Museum (Harl. 2961, f. 2186; Jul. A. vi. f. 19). In the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 1851, it is printed from a Durham manuscript of the llth century, and is given in the following works: St. Ambrosii Opp., Paris, 1836, p. 200; Daniel, i. 15, iv. 3; Trench, 1864, 243; Cardinal Newman's Hymni Ecclesiae, 1838, &c. Daniel and Trench are specially rich in illustrative notes. The variations in the Roman Breviary are also found in these works. [Rev. W. A. Shoults, B. D.]
Translations in common use:—
2. Framer of the earth and sky. By Cardinal Newman. The earliest date to which we have traced this translation is in R. Campbell's St. Andrew's Hymnal, 1850. In 1853 it was repeated in Card. Newman's Verses, and again in his Verses on Various Occasions, 1868. In this latter work this translation, in common with others, is dated 1836-38. The text from Campbell is repeated with slight alterations in the Hymnary, 1872.
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)