Today's feast of St Lucy, whose very name means “light,” is a suitable moment to take a look at an ancient Advent hymn whose primary image for Jesus is light.
As with O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Creator of the Stars of Night has its origin in the Divine Office, where it has long served as the hymn for Advent Vespers (Evening Prayer). While the original Latin hymn dates to about the 7th century, it was translated into English as early as the 14th.
With Creator of the Stars of Night we are treated to a rare bit of musical history. The melody most often used for this hymn is a medieval chant, but not the “Gregorian” chant typical of the Church of Rome. It is “Sarum” chant, dating back to 11th century England. (The word “Sarum” comes from the Latin term for Salisbury, the diocese where the Sarum liturgy was developed.)
Sister Anne Flanagan is a singer with the Daughters of St Paul Choir.
CREATOR OF THE STARS OF NIGHT by John M. Neale (Public Domain)
1. Creator of the stars of night,
Thy people’s everlasting light,
Jesu, Redeemer, save us all,
And hear Thy servants when they call.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Image attribution: © José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / , via Wikimedia Commons