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can well be stronger than that which in regard of some of them we possess.

After being accustomed to the softer and richer strains of the later Christian poets, to the more ornamented style of a Bernard or an Adam of St Victor—to the passionate sinking of himself in the great objects which he contemplates, that marks the first of these great poets of the Cross—to the melodies long drawn out and the abundant theological lore of the second, it is some little while before one returns with a hearty consent and liking to the almost austere simplicity which characterizes the hymns of St Ambrose. It is felt as though there were a certain coldness in them, an aloofness of the author from his subject, a refusal to blend and fuse himself with it. The absence too of rhyme, for which the almost uniform use of a metre, very far from the richest among the Latin lyric forms, and with singularly few resources for producing variety of pause or cadence, seems a very insufficient compensation, adds to this feeling of disappointment. The ear and

* This evidence is well brought together by Cardinal Thomasius in a preliminary discourse, Ad Lectorem (unpaged), prefixed to the Hymnarium, in the second volume of his Works (J. M. Thomasii, S. R. E., Cardinalis, Opera Omnia, Romæ, 1747, vol. ii. p. 351—434). This book, of rare occurrence in England, is important in fixing the text, especially of the earlier hymns. The Cardinal's position gave him access to the oldest Vatican and other Italian MSS., of all which he made diligent and careful use. Ex illo libro, says Daniel, tanquam fonte primario hauriendum est. For an estimate of St Ambrose's merits in promoting the new Christian psalmody, see Rambach, Anthol. Christl. Gesänge, vol. i. p. 58–60.


the heart seem alike to be without their due satisfaction.

Only after a while does one learn to feel the grandeur of this unadorned metre, and the profound, though it may have been more instinctive than conscious, wisdom of the poet in choosing it; or to appreciate that confidence in the surpassing interest of his theme, which has rendered him indifferent to any but its simplest setting forth. It is as though, building an altar to the living God, he would observe the Levitical precept, and rear it of unhewn stones, upon which no tool had been lifted. The great objects of faith in their simplest expression

are felt by him so sufficient to stir all the deepest affec| tions of the heart, that any attempt to dress them up, to

array them in moving language, were merely superfluous. The passion is there, but it is latent and represt, a fire burning inwardly, the glow of an austere enthusiasm, which reveals itself indeed, but not to every careless beholder. Nor do we fail presently to observe how truly these poems belonged to their time and to the circumstances under which they were producedhow suitably the faith which was in actual conflict with, and was just triumphing over, the powers of this world, found its utterance in hymns such as these, wherein is no softness, perhaps little tenderness; but in place of these a rock-like firmness, the old Roman stoicism transmuted and glorified into that nobler Christian courage, which encountered and at length overcame the world.

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VI. S. Ambrosii Opp. Paris, 1836, vol. iv. p. 201 ; Card. Thomasii Opp. Romæ, 1747, vol. ii. p. 351; Mone, Hymn. Lat. Med. Ævi, vol. i. p. 42. The German hymn-book is indebted to this immortal hymn of St Ambrose for one of its choicest treasures -I mean John Frank's Advent hymn, commencing:

Komm, Heidenheiland, Lösegeld,
Komm, schönste Sonne dieser Welt,
Lass abwärts flammen deinen Schein,

Denn so will Gott geboren sein. It is not a translation, but a free recomposition of the original, beside which it is wellnigh worthy to stand, even though we may not count it, as Bunsen does, noch tiefer und lieblicher als das Lateinische.


Procedit e thalamo suo,
Pudoris aulâ regiâ,
Geminæ Gigas substantiæ,
Alacris ut currat viam.


13. So Thomasius, on good MS. authority. The line is oftener read, Procedens de thalamo suo, which is quite inadmissible, no single instance in the genuine hymns of St Ambrose occurring of a line beginning with two spondees; invariably the second foot is an iambic. Talis partus decet Deum, which Daniel prints as the fourth line of this present hymn, is a transposition of words of which the older MSS. know nothing.

15. Gigas] The “giants” of Gen. vi. 4, were, according to the interpretation of the early Church, gemine substantiæ ; the

sons of God” who begot them (ver. 2) being angels, who formed unions with the “ daughters of men.” This scripture, so understood, must be brought into connexion with Ps. xviii. 6, (Vulg.), xix. 5 (E. V.), before we can enter into the full meaning of this line. In the “double substance” of the giants, thus born of heaven and of earth, Ambrose sees a resemblance to Him who in like manner was of twofold nature, divine and hu

He might hardly have dared trace an analogy, but for the words of the Psalmist, referred to above, in which he saw an undoubted reference to the earthly course of the Lord. Elsewhere (De Incarn. Dom. c. 5) he unfolds his meaning at full: Quem [Christum] quasi gigantem Sanctus David propheta describit, eo quod biformis geminæque naturæ unus sit consors divinitatis et corporis: qui tanquam sponsus procedens de thalamo suo exsultavit tanquam gigas ad currendam viam. Sponsus animæ secundum Verbum: gigas terræ, quia usûs nostri officia percurrens, cum Deus semper esset æternus, Incarnationis sacramenta suscepit. Thus too in another hymn he sings :

Processit aulâ Virginis,

Suæ Gigas Ecclesiæ.
And Adam of St Victor, in a Christmas hymn:

Gigas velox, gigas fortis, Ad currendam venit viam,
Gigas nostræ victor mortis, Complens in se prophetiam
Accinctus pot tiâ,

Et legis mysteria.


Egressus ejus a Patre,
Regressus ejus ad Patrem,
Excursus usque ad inferos,
Recursus ad sedem Dei.


Aqualis æterno Patri,
Carnis tropæo cingere,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.


17—20. He still draws his imagery from the 18th Psalm (19th, E. V.). It is written there of the sun: A summo cælo egressio ejus: et occursus ejus usque ad summum ejus (Vulg.). This he adapts to Him who said concerning Himself: Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum : iterum relinquo mundum et vado ad Patrem (John xvi. 28); who was acquainted with the deepest depths of humiliation, and afterwards with the highest heights of glory. In one of Augustine’s Sermons (372, 3) he quotes this stanza as having just been sung in the Church: Hunc nostri Gigantis excursum brevissime ac pulcherrime cecinit beatus Ambrosius in hymno quem paulo ante cantâstis.

22. tropeo] I preferred stropheo (strophium or stropheum =Otpódiov) in the first edition; and defended the reading, though supported by inferior MS. authority, at some length; but erroneously, I am now convinced, and from insufficient acquaintance with the language of the Fathers. For them the risen flesh of Christ is constantly a tropeum which He erected in witness of his completed victory over death, and him that had the power of death; a τρόπαιον κατά δαιμόνων, with reference to the heathen custom of claiming and celebrating a victory by the erection of 8 τρόπαιον κατ' εχθρών. Thus Clichtoweus : Christus per carnem assumptam debellato diabolo victor evasit, ipsamque glorificatam carnem tandem cælo intulit.

Ibid. cingere] This is commonly read accingere; but Mone, after Thomasius and the best MSS., as in the text. What, however, Mone means, when he remarks here, Ambrosius braucht

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