And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

mandag 14. desember 2015

Two hymns for Advent

Advent is well under way and this has been a particularly busy month for me with several projects that have needed my attention. Now things are finally starting to calm down, and as I prepare to finish my last days in Denmark before Christmas, I want to share with you two of my all-time favourite Advent hymns, which have been a part of my Christmas experience ever since I was a child, and which still bring me very fond memories of Christmas in Western Norway.

The first one is a Norwegian version of a hymn traditionally attributed to Ambrose of Milan, namely Veni Redemptor Gentium, "come redeemer of the peoples".  Whether this attribution to Ambrose is correct is beyond my knowledge. However, there is reason to be suspicious of such claims, as many hymns written in the style instigated by Ambrose at Milan have been wrongly attributed to him. It has therefore proved difficult to distinguish between hymns by Ambrose and Ambrosian hymns, the latter being hymns composed in the Milanese style inspired by the sainted bishop. Back home, this hymn is traditionally sung by the congregation in one of the first Advent services, and since this is often before I have returned home it has been a while since I heard it.

The second hymn is much younger than Veni redemptor. It has traditionally been dated to the twelfth century, but its oldest appearance dates to the eighteenth century.

BL MS Egerton 809, gospel lectionary, Germany, Swabia, 12th century
Courtesy of British Library
Folkefrelsar til oss kom

Adoration of the shepherds
BL MS Additional 52539, Italian book of hours, c.1390-c.1400
Courtesy of British Library

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