The Worship Quote of the Week for (12/21/2004):

"Savior of the Nations, Come," A Fourth-Century Christmas Hymn
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a Christmas hymn with a long history. Do you recognize the original fourth-century Latin?

Veni, Redemptor gentium;
Ostende partum virginis;
Miretur omne saeculum.
Talis decet partus Deo.

Maybe not. Our Lutheran friends are likely to know Martin Luther’s translation.

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt!
Dass sich wundre alle Welt,
Gott solch' Geburt ihm bestellt.

For the rest of us, here is the whole text in an English translation by Calvin Seerveld. At the end of this message, I have included the entire hymn in both Ambrose’s Latin and Luther’s German. See if you can recognize the biblical references that are contained in this great hymn of faith.


Savior of the nations, come,
Show yourself, the virgin’s son.
Fill with wonder all the earth,
That our God chose such a birth.

Not by human power or seed
Did the woman’s womb conceive;
Only by the Spirit’s breath
Was the Word of God made flesh.

Mary then was found with child,
Still a virgin, chaste and mild,
God had favored her with grace
To receive the Prince of Peace.

Christ laid down his majesty,
Passed through dark Gethsemane,
Though he left his Father’s home,
Christ now sits on God’s own throne.

Since the star at Bethlehem
Brought new light to earth again,
May our faith shine bright each day;
Faithful God, keep sin away.

Christ in glory, intercede
For your creatures’ suffering need.
Let your resurrecting power
Soon complete the victory hour.

Praise to you, O Lord, we sing.
Praise to Christ, our newborn King!
With the Father, Spirit, one,
Let your lasting kingdom come.

—Ambrose of Milan (c. 397), translated into German by Martin Luther (1524) and here in an English version by Calvin Seerveld (1987). As collected in the volume PROCLAIMING THE CHRISTMAS GOSPEL: ANCIENT SERMONS AND HYMNS FOR CONTEMPORARY INSPIRATION. Edited by John D. Witvliet and David Vroege. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004, page 28. ISBN 0-8010-6405-8

[This amazing new book is a collection of Christmas sermons by Jerome, Augustine, Leo the Great, Gregory the Great, Bede, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Wyclif, Thomas à Kempis, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, and others. It also includes fourteen Advent and Christmas hymns from past centuries. It will be a little late for Christmas, but this little volume would be a great gift for the pastor or music leader in your church.]

[If you are interested, see the Latin and German texts below.]

“Let every heart prepare him room!”
Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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“Veni, Redemptor gentium”
Fourth-Century Latin Hymn
Ambrose of Milan, c. 397

1. Veni, Redemptor gentium;
Ostende partum virginis;
Miretur omne saeculum.
Talis decet partus Deo.

2. Non ex virili semine,
Sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei tactum est caro,
Fructusque ventris floruit.

3. Alvus tumescit virginis.
Claustrum pudoris permanet;
Vexilla virtutum micant,
Versatur in templo Deus.

4. Procedit e thalamo suo,
Pudoris aulo regia,
Geminae gigans substantiae
Alacris ut currat viam.

5. Egressus eius a Patre,
Regressus eius ad Patrem ;
Excursus usque ad inferos
Recursus ad sedem Dei.

6. Aequalis aeterno Patri,
Carnis tropaeo accingere,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

7. Praesepe iam fulget tuum,
Lumenque nox spirat novum,
Quad nulla nox interpolet
Fideque iugi luceat.

8. Gloria tibi, Domine,
Qui natus es de virgine,
Cum Patre et saneto Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.

“Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland”
Latin original by Ambrose of Milan, c. 397
German translation by Martin Luther, 1524

1. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,
Der Jungfrauen Kind erkannt!
Dass sich wundre alle Welt,
Gott solch' Geburt ihm bestellt.

2. Nicht von Mann's Blut noch von Fleisch,
Allein von dem Heil'gen Geist
Ist Gott's Wort worden ein Mensch
Und blüht ein' Frucht Weibesfleisch.

3. Der Jungfrau Leib schwanger ward,
Doch blieb Keuschheit rein bewahrt,
Leucht't hervor manch' Tugend schön,
Gott da war in seinem Thron.

4. Er ging aus der Kammer sein,
Dem kön'glichen Saal so rein,
Gott von Art und Mensch ein Held,
Sein'n Weg er zu laufen eilt.

5. Sein Lauf kam vom Vater her
Und kehrt' wieder zum Vater,
Fuhr hinunter zu der Höll'
Und wieder zu Gottes Stuhl.

6. Der du bist dem Vater gleich,
Führ' hinaus den Sieg im Fleisch,
Dass dein' ew'ge Gott'sgewalt
In uns das krank' Fleisch erhalt'.

7. Dein' Krippe glaenzt hell und klar,
Die Nacht gibt ein neu Licht dar,
Dunkel mus nicht kommen drein,
Der Glaub' bleibt immer im Schein.

8. Lob sei Gott dem Vater g'tan,
Lob sei Gott sein'm ein'gen Sohn,
Lob sei Gott dem Heil'gen Geist
Immer und in Ewigkeit!