Of the Father's Love begotten

Representative Text

1 Of the Father's love begotten
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the Source, the Ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore!

2 O that birth forever blessed,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bore the Savior of our race;
and the babe, the world's Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

3 This is he whom heav'n-taught singers
sang of old with one accord,
whom the Scriptures of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long-expected;
let creation praise its Lord,
evermore and evermore!

4 O ye heights of heav'n, adore him;
angel hosts, his praises sing;
all dominions, bow before him,
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
ev'ry voice in concert ring,
evermore and evermore!

5 Christ, to thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be,
honor, glory, and dominion
and eternal victory,
evermore and evermore!

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #268

Author: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius

Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, "The Christian Pindar" was born in northern Spain, a magistrate whose religious convictions came late in life. His subsequent sacred poems were literary and personal, not, like those of St. Ambrose, designed for singing. Selections from them soon entered the Mozarabic rite, however, and have since remained exquisite treasures of the Western churches. His Cathemerinon liber, Peristephanon, and Psychomachia were among the most widely read books of the Middle Ages. A concordance to his works was published by the Medieval Academy of America in 1932. There is a considerable literature on his works. --The Hymnal 1940 Companion… Go to person page >

Translator: H. W. Baker

Baker, Sir Henry Williams, Bart., eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker, born in London, May 27, 1821, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated, B.A. 1844, M.A. 1847. Taking Holy Orders in 1844, he became, in 1851, Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire. This benefice he held to his death, on Monday, Feb. 12, 1877. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1851. Sir Henry's name is intimately associated with hymnody. One of his earliest compositions was the very beautiful hymn, "Oh! what if we are Christ's," which he contributed to Murray's Hymnal for the Use of the English Church, 1852. His hymns, including metrical litanies and translations, number in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 33 in all. These were cont… Go to person page >

Translator: J. M. Neale

Neale, John Mason, D.D., was born in Conduit Street, London, on Jan. 24, 1818. He inherited intellectual power on both sides: his father, the Rev. Cornelius Neale, having been Senior Wrangler, Second Chancellor's Medallist, and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and his mother being the daughter of John Mason Good, a man of considerable learning. Both father and mother are said to have been "very pronounced Evangelicals." The father died in 1823, and the boy's early training was entirely under the direction of his mother, his deep attachment for whom is shown by the fact that, not long before his death, he wrote of her as "a mother to whom I owe more than I can express." He was educated at Sherborne Grammar School, and was afterwards… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Of the Father's love begotten
Title: Of the Father's Love begotten
Latin Title: Corde natus ex parentis
Author: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
Translator: H. W. Baker
Translator: J. M. Neale
Source: Latin
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Article: Hymn Interpertation by Joan Halmo (from "The Hymn" 53.4 October 2002)


Scripture References: st. 1 = Rev. 22:13, Rev. 1:8, Rev. 21:6, Ps. 2:7, Heb. 1:5 st. 2 = Luke 1:35, Luke 2:11, Matt. 1:18, 21 st. 3 = Luke 1:70 st.4 = Ps. 148:1-2, Ps. 150:6 This hymn, with very ancient roots, is a confession of faith about the Christ, the eternal Son of God, whose birth and saving ministry were the fulfillment of ancient prophecies (st. 1-3). The final stanzas are a doxology inspired by John's visions recorded in Revelation 4-7 (st. 4-5). The text is based on "Corde natus ex parentis," a Latin poem by Marcus Aurelius C. Prudentius (b.Saragossa[?], Northern Spain, 348; d. c. 413). Prudentius was the greatest Christian poet of his time. We know little of his life–only what he tells us in his own writings. He received a fine education, served as a judge and "twice ruled noble cities." He also tells of an appointment at the imperial court in Rome. But at the age of fifty-seven Prudentius bade farewell to this successful, prosperous life and vowed to spend the rest of his days in poverty. He served the church by meditating and writing, presumably at an unnamed monastery. All of his writings are in poetic form, including learned discussions in theology and apologetics. Most of the English hymns derived from his works, including "Of the Father's Love Begotten," were taken from his Liber Cathemerinon (c. 405), which consists of twelve extended poems meant for personal devotions, six for use throughout the hours of the day and six for special feasts. Working from the Latin text, John Mason Neale (b. London, England, 1818; d. East Grinstead, Sussex, England, 1866) prepared a translation and published it as a six-stanza hymn in his The Hymnal Noted (1854). He retained the refrain "Evermore and evermore," an eleventh-century addition to the original Latin text. 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 Sackville College in East Grinstead, a retirement home for poor men. There he served the men faithfully and expanded Sackville's ministry to indigent women and orphans. He also founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, which became one of the finest English training orders for nurses. Laboring in relative obscurity, Neale turned out a prodigious number of books and artic1es on liturgy and church history, including A History of the So-Called Jansenist Church of Holland (1858); an account of the Roman Catholic Church of Utrecht and its break from Rome in the 1700s; and his scholarly Essays on Liturgiology and Church History(1863). Neale contributed to church music by writing original hymns, including two volumes of Hymns for Children (1842, 1846), but especially by translating Greek and Latin hymns into English. These translations appeared in Medieval Hymns and Sequences (1851, 1863, 1867), The Hymnal Noted (1852, 1854), Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862), and Hymns Chiefly Medieval (1865). Because a number of Neale's translations were judged unsingable, editors usually amended his work, as evident already in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modem; Neale claimed no rights to his texts and was pleased that his translations could contribute to hymnody as the "common property of Christendom." The story of "Of the Father's Love Begotten" continues with the 1859 nine-stanza revision by Henry W. Baker (b. Vauxhall, Lambeth, Surrey, England, 1821; d. Monk1and, England, 1877), published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, Baker was ordained in the Church of England in 1844. He became the vicar of the Monkland parish in 1851, where he remained until his death. Because of his high-church beliefs in the celibacy of the clergy, Baker was unmarried. In the history of hymnody Baker is well known as the editor and chairman of the committee that compiled Hymns Ancient and Modern, the most significant British hymnal of the nineteenth century. Baker devoted at least twenty years of his life to this endeavor. Considered an autocratic editor in his time, Baker freely changed hymn texts, but man' of his decisions have proven themselves over time. The 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern contained thirty-three of Baker's original hymns and translations. Liturgical Use: Christmas season; without stanza 2 on many other occasions; because the original Latin poem concerns Christ’s miracles, could be sung during Epiphany or at worship services when the New Testament gospel is preached; stanza 4 and 5 make a fine doxology for the close of any service. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook ========================== Of the Father's love begotten. This translation was given in the trial edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1859, as "Of the Father's will begotten," but in the first edition of 1861 it was given in its well-known form in 9 stanzas of 6 lines with the refrain, the additional stanzas being supplied by the Hereford Breviary text. The Hymns Ancient & Modern translation by Dr. Neale and Sir H. W. Baker is thus composed:—i. Neale; altered ii., iii., Baker; iv.-vi., Neale altered ; vii., Baker; viii., Neale altered ; ix., Baker. This arrangement was repeated in the revised Hymns Ancient & Modern 1875, and is the most popular translation of the hymn in common use. Usually, however, compilers introduce changes and abbreviations in their own account, and not always to the advantage of the hymn. These changes are easily found by collating any given text with Hymns Ancient & Modern. --Excerpt from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



DIVINUM MYSTERIUM is a plainsong, or chant, associated with the “Divinum mysterium” text in manuscripts dating from the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. The tune was published in triple meter in Theodoricis Petri's Piae Cantiones (1582). Some hymnals retain the dance-like triple meter, while othe…

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