Rarely in one carol does an author encompass the entirety of the Redemption story from creation, the prophets, the nativity, and the eternal glory of the Triune God, but the Imperial Roman poet, Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413), skillfully weaves the redemptive narrative throughout the verses of the fine Advent poem, Corde Natus Ex Parentis. Consequently, its lyrics are also dense with the theology of the Sovereignty of God and His perfect oversight of history. Prudentius was a well-educated lawyer, judge, and chief of Emperor Honorius’ imperial bodyguard from the Spanish provinces. He exchanged all of his worldly success for spiritual contemplation when he entered a monastery late in life. It took someone like the English clergyman John Mason Neale (1818-1866), a Greek and Latin scholar, to translate and adequately convey the power and poetry of the original text.
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.
O that birth forever blessèd!
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.
He assumed this mortal body,
Frail and feeble, doomed to die,
That the race from dust created
Might not perish utterly,
Which the dreadful Law had sentenced
In the depths of hell to lie Evermore and evermore.
This is he whom once the sibyls
With united voice foretold,
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word.
Let the world unite to praise him,
Long desired, foreseen of old Evermore and evermore.
O ye heights of heaven adore him!
Angel hosts, his praises sing!
All dominions bow before him,
And extol your God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring Evermore and evermore.
Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost to Thee,
Hymn, and chant, and high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be,
Honour, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, Evermore and evermore.