Decora Lux Aeternitatis

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An office hymn, sections of which were formerly sung on various feasts in honor of SS. Peter and Paul, the divisions beginning with Beate pastor Petre and Egregie doctor Paule. It is made up of 6 four-line stanzas (iambic trimeter) without regular rhyme. The present text arose from a 17th-century revision of the hymn Aurea luce et decore roseo (Analecta hymnica [Leipzig 18861922] 51:216), which was earlier attributed incorrectly to a certain Elpis (wife?) but which is in fact a Carolingian poem. This hymn originally had 5 five-line stanzas, but since the period from 1568 to 1629 it has been arranged as 5 four-line stanzas plus doxology. The second stanza of Decora lux names the Apostles Romae parentes, using an idea employed by Leo I (in Sermon 82). The fourth stanza comprises the brief hymn Egregie doctor Paule used on feasts of St. Paul. The fifth stanza is borrowed from another Carolingian hymn, Felix per omnes (ascribed to Paulinus of Aquileia), which in 1629 completely replaced the original fifth stanza of the Aurea.

Bibliography: j. connelly, Hymns of the Roman Liturgy (Westminster, MD 1957) 168170. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465) 1:122124. h. lausberg, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 3:186. p. paris, Dictionnaire pratique des connaissances religieuses, ed. j. brioout, 6 v. (Paris 192528) 3:836838, esp. 836.

[j. szÖvÉrffy]