Edward Caswall was born in 1814, at Yately, in Hampshire, where his father was a clergyman. In 1832, he went to Brasenose College, Oxford, and in 1836, took a second-class in classics. His humorous work, "The Art of Pluck," was published in 1835; it is still selling at Oxford, having passed through many editions. In 1838, he was ordained Deacon, and in 1839, Priest. He became perpetural Curate of Stratford-sub-Castle in 1840. In 1841, he resigned his incumbency and visited Ireland. In 1847, he joined the Church of Rome. In 1850, he was admitted into the Congregation of the Oratory at Birmingham, where he has since remained. He has published several works in prose and poetry.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A. 1872… Go to person page >
Ave maris stella. Anon. [Blessed Virgin Mary.] This hymn, so well known as to its words, is of uncertain authorship. It has been wrongly ascribed to St. Bernard, as it is found in a St. Gall manuscript, No. 95, of the 9th century, and to Venantius Fortunatus (by M. A. Luchi, 1789), but on insufficient authority. The text is given in Daniel, i., No. 171, with various readings. (Other notes are given in vol. iii. p. 286, and vol. iv. p. 136.) Mone gives five paraphrases of this hymn, Nos. 496-500; each line of the original being followed by versified explanations and simplifications, a certain testimony to the popularity of the original.
It has been treated with so much respect as hardly to have been altered in the Roman Breviary, 1632, and was retained in the revised Breviaries of French dioceses (Paris, Lyons, &c), as one of the few exceptions of old hymns not supplanted. It is appointed for Vespers in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, Officium parvum beatae Mariae, Paris, Lyons, Le Mans. &c.; some, as Paris, Le Mans, &c, having it also in the Saturday Office of the Blessed Virgin, Officium beatae Mariae in Sabbato, and in Feasts which have no special or proper hymns. In the Roman Breviary it is the Hymn for First and 2nd vespers in the Feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary; also in the Office of the B. V. M. on Saturdays, and in the Little Office, Officium parvum Beatae Mariae Virginis, at First vespers, there being no 2nd vespers in these two latter cases.
The hymn is found in three manuscripts of the 11th century, in the British Museum (Harl. 2961, f. 241; Vesp. D. xii. f. 63; Jul. A. vi. f. 56); and in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 1851, p. 76, it is printed from an 11th century manuscript at Durham. It is also given in Bässler, Königsfeld, Simrock, Wackernagel, i. No. 85, and various modern Roman Catholic collections. [Rev.W. A. Shoults, B.D.]
Translations in common use:—
1. Hail, thou Star of Ocean. By E. Caswall, first published in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, p. 197, where it began "Gentle Star of Ocean;" and again, in an altered form, in his Hymns & Poems, 1873, p. 105, in 7 stanzas of 4 lines. It is given in a large number of Roman Catholic collections in Great Britain and America, often in an altered form, and sometimes beginning, "Hail, bright star of ocean."
-- Excerpt from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)