Bede the Venerable

Bede The Venerable,

Hymns of. At the end of his Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Bede gave a list of his numerous writings up to the year 731. In the list we find Liber Hymnorum Diverso Metrol sive Rhythmo, and Liber Epigrammatunz Heroico Metro sive Elegiaco, But both are lost, hence it is difficult to decide which of the eleven hymns generally ascribed to Bede really belong to him. "The longest of his hymns," says the author of Christian Life in Song, p. 140 sq., "is a comparison of the six days of creation with six ages of the world; the sixth day, in which Adam was created, corresponding to the sixth age, in which 'He by whom man was created himself became man' — when, as Eve was formed out of the side of the sleeping Adam, the bride of Christ also was raised to life through him who slept in death upon the cross. The seventh age was, Bede believed, to be the age of quietness, when Christ shall command the Sabbath, and keep it with his own; and the eighth age is to be sublime above all the ages, when the dead of the earth shall arise, and the just shall see forever the face of Christ, anid be like the angels on the heavenly heights." The best-known of his hymns are:

"Hymnum canamus gloriae, Hymni novi nunc personeut, Christus novo cum tramite Ad patris ascendit thronum;"

or in Mrs. Charles's translation:

"A hymn of glory let us sing; New hymns throughout the world shall ring; By a new way none ever trod, Christ mounteth to the throne of God."

This hymn treats of the ascension of Christ. Another is for the holy innocents, viz.:

"Hymnum canentes martyrum Dicamus innocentium, Quos terra flentes perdidit, Gandens sed aethra suscipit. Vultum patris ter secula, Qorumn tuentur angeli Ejusqne laudant gratiam Hymnum canentes martyrum;"

or in Dr. Neale's translation:

"The hymn for conquering martyrs raise: The victor Innocents we praise: Whom in their woe earth cast away, But heaven with joy received to-day.

Whose angels see the Father's face World without end, and hymn his grace: And while they chant unceasing lays, The hymn for conquering martyrs raise."

Concerning this hymn, Dr. Neale remarks: "Although it stands in unfavorable contrast with the Salvete Flores Martyrum of Prudentius, it is somewhat strange that no part of it should have been introduced into any English breviary. It will be observed that the first and last lines of every verse are identical. This somewhat frigid conceit (Epanalepsis, as the grammarians call it) Bede seems to have borrowed from the Elegy of Sedulius, which is composed on a similar plan." Trench, in his Sacred Latin Poetry, gives the text of another of Bede's hymns:

"Salve tropseum glorise, Salve, sacrum victorise Signum, Deus quo perditum Mundum redemit mortuus;"

the English of which runs thus in Lyra Messianica, p. 225:

"Cross! whereon my Saviour bled, Dying to redeem our loss, Now with living trophies spread, Welcome, welcome, happy cross!"

Bede's hymns were for the first time published by Cassander in his Hymni Ecclesiastici (Paris, 1556), in which he attributes eleven hymns to Bede. The last editor of the works of Bede, Dr. Giles, has not been able to find any MS. containing these hymns, and, though not excluding them, expresses (vol. i, p. 171) many doubts regarding their authenticity. (B. P.)

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