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Veni redemptor gentium

Veni redemptor gentium

Author: St. Ambrose
Published in 3 hymnals

Author: St. Ambrose

Ambrosius (St. Ambrose), second son and third child of Ambrosius, Prefect of the Gauls, was born at Lyons, Aries, or Treves--probably the last--in 340 A.D. On the death of his father in 353 his mother removed to Rome with her three children. Ambrose went through the usual course of education, attaining considerable proficiency in Greek; and then entered the profession which his elder brother Satyrus had chosen, that of the law. In this he so distinguished himself that, after practising in the court of Probus, the Praetorian Prefect of Italy, he was, in 374, appointed Consular of Liguria and Aemilia. This office necessitated his residence in Milan. Not many months after, Auxentius, bishop of Milan, who had joined the Arian party, died; and m… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Veni redemptor gentium
Author: St. Ambrose
Copyright: Public Domain


Veni Redemptor gentium [omnium]. St. Ambrose. [Christmas.] This is one of the twelve hymns assigned to St. Ambrose by the Benedictine editors. It is plainly referred to as the work of St. Ambrose by St. Augustine (Sermo 372), and is definitely cited as his by Pope Celestine, at a Council held at Rome, 430; by Faustus, who in 455 became Bishop of Rhegium (Riez in France), in his Epistola ad Gratum diaconum; by M. A. Cassiodorus (d. 575), in his commentary on the Psalms; and by other early writers.
Celestine and Cassiodorus cite the hymn as beginning “Veni Redemptor gentium"; and this stanza does not appear to be found in any manuscript earlier than the 14th century, and has obtained no currency save in the Cistercian Breviaries. The hymn is found in the Sarum, York, Aberdeen, Mozarabic of 1502, and other Breviaries; generally assigned to Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But it is not in the Roman Breviary, and can hardly be said to be in use at the present day, a somewhat unfortunate ecclesiastical prudery having set aside this noble composition. It must however be confessed that a strictly literal English version is hardly desirable for modern congregational use. The imagery is partly borrowed from Ps. xix. [Rev. W. A. Shoults, B.D.]

This hymn has been rendered through the German into English, as follows:—
1. Nun komm der Heidenheiland. A full and faithful translation by M. Luther, first published in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524. Translated as:—
Come, Thou Saviour of our race. Omitting st. iv., by W. M. Reynolds, as No. 776 in the American Lutheran General Synod's Collection, 1850.
Other translations are:—
(1) "Now the Saviour comes indeed," by J. C. Jacobi, 1722, p. 1. (2) "Saviour of the Nations, come," as No. 340 in pt. ii., 1743, of the Moravian Hymn Book. (3) “Rejoice, our nature Christ assumes," by J. Gambold (?), as No. 1001 in the Supplement of 1808 to the Moravian Hymn Book, 1801. (4) "Now the Saviour of the heathen," by Miss Fry, 1845, p. 1. (5) "Now comes the world's Redeemer," by J. Anderson, 1846, p. 1. (6) "The time draws nigh, swift fly the years," by Dr. J. Hunt, 1853, p. 25. (7) "Saviour of the heathen, known," by R. Massie, 1854, p. 1, repeated by Dr. Bacon, 1884, p. 16. (8) "Come, Saviour of nations wild," by Dr. G. Macdonald, in the Sunday Magazine, 1867, p. 153, and his Exotics, 1876, p. 39.
ii. Komm Heidenheiland, Lösegeld (sometimes altered to " Komm Himmelsfurst, komm Wunderheld"). [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

The translations direct from the Latin into English are:—
1. Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth, Come tertify. By J. M. Neale. In the Office Hymn Book, 1889, it begins, "Come, blest Redeemer of the earth."
2. Redeemer of the nations, come, Pure offspring, &c. By Elizabeth Charles, in her Voice of Christian Life in Song, 1858, p. 97.
3. Redeemer of the nations come, Appear from out, &c. By R. F. Littledale, in the People's Hymnal, 1867, with the signature "A. L. P."
4. O come, Redeemer of mankind, appear. By D. T. Morgan.
Other translations are:—
1. Come, Redeemerof the nations. Bishop J. Williams. 1845.
2. Come, Saviour of the earth. I. Williams, in his Thoughts in Past Years. 2nd ed., 1848.
3. Come, blest Redeemer of the earth. W. J. Copeland. 1848.
4. Come, Thou Redeemer of the earth, The Virgin's, &c. W. J. Blew. 1852-55.
5. Redeemer of the nations, come, Appear, Thou Son, &c. J. D. Chambers. 1852 and 1857.
6. Come, high Redeemer, Spotless one. J. W. Hewett. 1859.
7. Come, Saviour, come, to all the earth. H. Kynaston. 1862.
8. 0 Thou Redeemer of our race. Ray Palmer, in Schaff’s Christ in Song. 1869.
9. Redeemer of the world, do Thou draw near. D. T. Morgan. 1871.
10. Redeemer of the nations, come, Display Thy, &c. H. M. Macgill. 1876.
11. Redeemer of the nations, come, Show them a Virgin, &c. R. Thornton in the S. P. C. K. Father's for English Readers. St. Ambrose. 1879.
The "Intende qui regis Israel" form of the text has also been translated by W. J. Blew, in his Church Hymn and Tune Book, 1852-55, as "Shepherd of Israel, Hear Thou our hymn."

--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)