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 >
Deus tuorum militum. [Feasts of Martyrs.] This anonymous Ambrosian hymn is in two forms, one in 32 lines and the second in 16 lines. It dates probably from the 6th century. The question as to what was the original form of the hymn has not been determined. Daniel's (i., No. 97) heading of the texts (both forms) is "De Communiunius Martyris," and he remarks that the hymns for the Common of Saints are nearly always of greater length in old and un¬altered Breviaries than in those which are of more recent date, or which have been revised. The older hymns having reference to some particular saint, certain stanzas are afterwards cut out to make the hymn suitable for general use. If this view be taken of the present hymn, then the longer form is the original, and the shorter form given in the Breviaries is an abbreviation therefrom. Against this conclusion there are two facts, the first that the lines in the fuller form, which are not given in the Breviaries, do not apply to any special martyr, and second, that the oldest form in which we now have the hymn is (omitting the doxology) in 16 lines. This form, with slight variations in the text, is in the Mozarabic Breviary. (Toledo, 1502, 317 b); in a 10th century manuscript at Munich, where it is adapted for the Nativity of St. Laurence, quoted by Mone, No. 740 ; and in the Latin Hymns of the Anglo-Saxon Church, Surtees Soc, 1851, from an 11th century manuscript at Durham. This would suggest that the shorter form of the hymn is the older of the two. As the translations into English are generally from the Roman Breviary, it may be noted that this is the shorter form, with slight variations in lines 6, 7 and 11. This hymn is also found in four manuscripts of the 11th century, in the British Museum (Jul. A. vi. f. 66; Vesp. D. xii., f. 107; Harl. 2961, f. 248 b; Add. 30851, f. 153 b.). [Rev. W. A. Shoults, B.D.]
Translation in common use:
1. 0 Thou of all Thy warriors, Lord. By E. Caswall, in his Lyra Catholica, 1849, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, and his Hymns, &c, 1873, p. 110. This was given with alterations in Murray's Hymnal, 1852, and later collections, and without alterations in several Roman Catholic hymn-books.
Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)