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Aurora Lucis Rutilat


An Easter hymn consisting of eleven 4-line strophes of somewhat loose iambic dimeter, unusually rich in end-rhyme and internal alliteration, which is strikingly exemplified in the first strophe. The theme is one of joy at the Lord's triumphant Resurrection, successive incidents of which banish fear among His disciples. Vivid and extremely visual in development despite a simple vocabulary, this hymn may be a stylistic ancestor of late Carolingian rhythms and Easter tropes. It was admired by Abelard. Once attributed to St. Ambrose, it is now thought to be of Gallican origin (Wilmart); it was composed sometime between the sixth and the early eighth centuries (Bulst, Szövérffy). Besides St. Ambrose's authentic works, this and Christe, qui lux es et dies are the only pieces common to the two hymnal traditions most widespread before the Carolingian liturgical reforms (Blume, Raby, Walpole).

The hymn was traditionally sung at Matins or Lauds daily from Low Sunday to the Ascensionalthough the mozarabic Breviary of 1502 assigns it to Prime in Paschaltide. It was divided and drastically altered by the compilers of the Roman Breviary of 1632. Lines 1 to 16, scarcely recognizable as Aurora caelum purpurat, were left at Lauds between Low Sunday and Ascension (and in the Dominican rite, at Matins during Paschaltide); lines 17 to 32 (Tristes erant Apostoli ) were assigned to Vespers and Matins of Apostles and Evangelists during Paschaltide; and lines 32 to 44 (Paschale mundo gaudium, originally Claro paschali gaudio ), to Lauds of that Office. Pope pius v was responsible for the division at line 32 and for the association with the Common of Apostles. The best known English translations of both versions of this hymn, whole and divided, are those by E. Caswall (1849) and J. M. Neale (1852 and later).

Bibliography: b. stÄblein, ed., Monumenta monodica medii aevi (Kassel-Basel 1956) 1.1:665, melodies. Analecta hymnica 51:8990. m. britt, ed., The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal (new ed. New York 1948). c. blume, Unsere liturgischen Lieder (Regensburg 1932) 5359, 188190. a. byrnes, ed., Hymns of the Dominican Missal and Breviary (St. Louis 1943), nos. 27, 28. w. bulst, ed., Hymni Latini antiquissimi LXXV (Heidelberg 1956) 114115. j. connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster MD 1957) No. 59, a. wilmart "Le Psautier de la reine," Revue Bénédictine 28 (1911) 341376. j. julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York 1957) 9496. a. s. walpole, ed., Early Latin Hymns (Cambridge, Eng. 1922) xixx, 356359. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 3640. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465).

[j. du q. adams]

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