Gabriel, from the Heaven Descending

Representative Text

1. Gabriel, from the Heaven descending,
On the faithful Word attending,
Is in holy converse blending
With the virgin full of grace:

2. That good word and sweet he plighteth
In the bosom where it lighteth,
And for Eva Ave writeth,
Changing Eva’s name and race.

3. At the promise that he sendeth
God the Incarnate Word descendeth;
Yet no carnal touch offendeth
Her, the undefilèd one.

4. She, without a father, beareth,
She no bridal union shareth,
And a painless birth declareth
That she bare the Royal Son.

5. Tale that wondering search entices!
But believe—and that suffices;
It is not for man’s devices
Here to pry with gaze unmeet:

6. High the sign, its place assuming
In the bush, the unconsuming:
Mortal, veil thine eyes presuming,
Loose thy shoes from off thy feet.

7. As the rod, by wondrous power,
Moistened not by dew or shower,
Bare the almond and the flower,
Thus He came, the virgin’s fruit:

8. Hail the Fruit, O world, with gladness!
Fruit of joy and not of sadness:
Adam had not lapsed to madness
Had he tasted of its shoot.

9. Jesus, kind above all other,
Gentle Child of gentle mother,
In the stable born our Brother,
Whom the angelic hosts adore:

10. He, once cradled in a manger,
Heal our sin and calm our danger;
For our life, to this world stranger,
Is in peril evermore.

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #1679

Author (attributed to): Adam, de Saint-Victor

Adam of St. Victor. Of the life of this, the most prominent and prolific of the Latin hymnists of the Middle Ages, very little is known. It is even uncertain whether he was an Englishman or a Frenchman by birth. He is described by the writers nearest to his own epoch, as Brito, which may indicate a native of either Britain, or Brittany. All that is certainly known concerning him is, that about A.D. 1130, after having been educated at Paris, he became, as quite a young man, a monk in the Abbey of St. Victor, then in the suburbs, but afterwards through the growth of that city, included within the walls of Paris itself. In this abbey, which, especially at that period, was celebrated as a school of theology, he passed the whole of the rest of h… Go to person page >

Translator (from Latin): J. M. Neale

John M. Neale's life is a study in contrasts: born into an evangelical home, he had sympathies toward Rome; in perpetual ill health, he was incredibly productive; of scholarly tem­perament, he devoted much time to improving social conditions in his area; often ignored or despised by his contemporaries, he is lauded today for his contributions to the church and hymnody. Neale's gifts came to expression early–he won the Seatonian prize for religious poetry eleven times while a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, England. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1842, but ill health and his strong support of the Oxford Movement kept him from ordinary parish ministry. So Neale spent the years between 1846 and 1866 as a warden of Sackvi… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Gabriel, from the Heaven descending
Title: Gabriel, from the Heaven Descending
Latin Title: Missus Gabriel de coelis
Author (attributed to): Adam, de Saint-Victor
Translator (from Latin): J. M. Neale
Meter: 8.8.8.7
Source: Manuscript, circa 1199, in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris; translation in Medieval Hymns, second edition, 1863, page 137
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain

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The Cyber Hymnal #1679
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The Cyber Hymnal #1679

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