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Rerum Deus Tenax Vigor


The office hymn that was historically sung at the hour of None in the Divine Office. It shows in form and language that it was by the same author who composed rector potens, verax deus (Sext) and Nunc Sancte nobis Spiritus (Terce). All three are possibly the work of St. ambrose. This hymn, like Rector potens, is so correct in form that it suffered the change of only one word for the 1632 revision of the Roman breviary. C. Blume questions the attribution of these hymns to St. Ambrose and classifies them under what he calls Hymnodia Hiberno-Celtica. Accentual rhythm, alliteration, and rhyme are characteristics that suggest a Celtic origin. Simonetti denies that the three hymns are Ambrosian, but Szövérffy disagrees. As in Rector potens, the first verse of the Rerum Deus is an invocation; the second, a petition. None (3 o'clock), the traditional hour of the Lord's death, may have suggested the reference to death. God is invoked as unchanging yet guiding the day in its course; He is begged to grant light in the evening of life so that eternal glory may be the reward of a holy death. Mearns studied the manuscript tradition; Julian gives some account of the MSS and lists 18 translations.

Bibliography: h. t. henry, "Hymns of the Little Hours," American Ecclesiastical Review 3 (Sept. 1890) 204209. Analecta hymnica 50:1920; 51.xxxxii. v. ermoni, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. f. cabrol, h. leclercq, and h. i. marrou (Paris 190753) 1.1:134752. j. julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (New York 1957) 956. j. mearns, Early Latin Hymnaries (Cambridge, Eng. 1913) 74. a. s. walpole, ed., Early Latin Hymns (Cambridge, Eng. 1922) 111112. m. simonetti, "Studi sull'innologia popolare cristiana dei primi secoli," Atti dell'Accademia nazionale dei Lincei: Memorie Classe di scienze morali, storiche e filologiche, ser. 8, 6 (1952) fasc. 6. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford 1953) 131140. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465) 1:51.

[a. j. kinnirey]

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