Conditor alme siderum

One of the most well-known hymns of all time is "Conditor alme siderum."  We know it in English as "Creator of the Stars at Night."  The origins of the hymn stretch back to the Seventh Century (600s).  It is sung every year in Advent, primarily at Vespers.  The hymn has been edited, translated, and rewritten several times over the centuries.  

The tune is written in Mode IV, which gives it a tender, close, and sweet feeling, even though the words speak about the celestial, eternal universe.  The music, then, helps to convey the message.  The coming of the Messiah is about God's tenderness and closeness with us.  It is about the humble birth of a child rather than emotionless emptiness or the bombastic entry of a warrior.  Sometime this Advent, spend a few moments at night looking up at the stars and pondering how close Jesus is to us all.

Dayton Vespers will sing this hymn in two forms.  The first, on December 1, will use the English translation of the traditional words.  For December 8 and 16, we'll be celebrating the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  For those two services, we'll use alternate words that celebrate Mary with the same tune.  Below is the music for verse 1 of the Latin version.  Following that is the English translation for all verses.


Creator of the stars of night, 
 thy people’s everlasting light, 
 Jesu, Redeemer, save us all, 
 and hear Thy servants when they call. 

 Thou, grieving that the ancient curse 
 should doom to death a universe, 
 hast found the medicine, full of grace, 
 to save and heal a ruined race. 

 Thou cam’st, the Bridegroom of the bride, 
 as drew the world to evening-tide; 
 proceeding from a virgin shrine, 
 the spotless victim all divine. 

 At whose dread name, majestic now, 
 all knees must bend, all hearts must bow; 
 and things celestial Thee shall own, 
 and things terrestrial, Lord alone. 

 O Thou whose coming is with dread 
 to judge and doom the quick and dead, 
 preserve us, while we dwell below, 
 from every insult of the foe. 

 To God the Father, God the Son, 
 and God the Spirit, Three in One, 
 laud, honor, might, and glory be 
 from age to age eternally.

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