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 >
Coeli Deus sanctissime. [Wednesday.] This hymn is sometimes ascribed to St. Ambrose, but on insufficient authority. It is found in two forms, the first what is usually received as the original, and the second the revised text in the Roman Breviary, 1632. Both texts are given in Daniel, i., No. 52; and the first in Mone, No. 277, who notes the oldest form of the hymn from a ms. of the 8th century, in the Town Library at Trier. The first form is in the Mozarabic, York, Sarum, and many other Breviaries, both English and continental, but the Roman form is only in that Breviary. It is found in three manuscripts of the 11th century, in the British Museum (Vesp. D. xii. f. 19; Jul. A. vi. f. 27; Harl. 2961, f. 223); in a manuscript of the 9th century, at St. Gall, No. 20; and also printed from an 11th century manuscript at Durham in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 1851. [Rev. W. A. Shoults, B.D.]
In annotating the translations it will be necessary to take the two forms of the hymn:—
i. The Textus Receptus.
Translation in common use:— 0 God, Whose hand doth spread the sky, by J. M. Neale, in the enlarged edition of the Hymnal Noted, 1854, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and the Hymner, 1882.
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)