June 30, 2014

Aeterne Rerum Conditor

Mosaic of St. Ambrose - Courtesy of Wikipedia

Aeterne Rerum Conditor is by the Bishop of Milan, St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397). It is one of just four Ambrosian chants that modern scholars ascribe with certainty to Ambrose. Of the hymns sung in the Church of Milan at that time, St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) writes in The Confessions: "How greatly did I weep in Your hymns and canticles, deeply moved by the voices of Your sweet-speaking Church! The voices flowed into mine ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart, whence the agitation of my piety overflowed, and my tears ran over, and blessed was I therein.".  In 1632, in accordance with revisions made to the hymns of the Divine Office by Pope Urban VIII (1568-1644) it was changed to Aeterne Rerum Conditor (1632). Both versions are shown below. It is sung at Sunday Lauds in the Roman Breviary.

Ambrosian Chant


1. Aeterne rerum conditor,
noctem diemque qui regis,
et temporum das tempora,
ut alleves fastidium;

2. Praeco diei iam sonat,
noctis profundae pervigil,
nocturna lux viantibus
a nocte noctem segregans. 

3. Hoc excitatus lucifer
solvit polum caligine,
hoc omnis erronum chorus
vias nocendi deserit.

4. Hoc nauta vires colligit
pontique mitescunt freta,
hoc ipsa petra ecclesiae
canente culpam diluit.

5. Surgamus ergo strenue!
Gallus iacentes excitat,
et somnolentos increpat,
Gallus negantes arguit.

6. Gallo canente spes redit,
aegris salus refunditur,
mucro latronis conditur,
lapsis fides revertitur.

7. Iesu, labantes respice,
et nos videndo corrige,
si respicis, lapsus cadunt,
fletuque culpa solvitur.

8. Tu lux refulge sensibus,
mentisque somnum discute,
te nostra vox primum sonet
et ore psallamus tibi.

9. Sit, Christe, Rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.


1. Aeterne rerum Conditor,
Noctem diemque qui regis,
Et temporum das temporã,
ut alleves fastidium.

2. Nocturna lux viantibus
A nocte noctem. segregans,
Praeco diei iam sonat,
Iubarque solis evocat.

3. Hoc excitatus lucifer
Solvit polum caligine:
Hoc omnis erronum cohors
Viam nocendi deserit.

4. Hoc nauta vires colligit,
Pontique mitescunt freta:
Hoc, ipsa petra Ecclesiae.
Canente, culpam diluit.

5. Surgamus ergo strenue:
Gallus iacentes excitat,
Et somnolentos increpat,
Gallus negantes arguit.

6. Gallo canente spes redit,
Aegris salus refunditur,
Mucro latronis conditur,
Lapsis fides revertitur. 

7. Iesu labantes respice,
Et nos videndo corrige:
Se respicis, labes cadunt,
Fletuque culpa solvitur.

8. Tu lux refulge sensibus,
Mentisque somnum discute:
Te nostra vox primum sonet,
Et vota solvamus tibi.

9. Deo Patri sit gloria,
Eiusque soli Filio,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito,
Nunc et per omne saeculum. Amen


  1. So far as I can tell, it's sung at Sunday Lauds from October to Lent but not in Advent or Christmastide. After Pentecost, the Ecce iam noctis is sung, until Aeterne rerum conditor starts up in October... well, this year the First Sunday of October is celebrated on the 5th, the 17th Sunday after Pentecost. In the pre-1960 books, the First Sunday of October is celebrated on 28th September this year, the 16th Sunday post Pentecosten, and Aeterne rerum makes it return then.

    Ecce, jam noctis tenuatur umbra,
    Lux et auroræ rutilans coruscat:
    Súpplices rerum Dóminum canora
    Voce precémur:

    Ut reos culpæ miserátus omnem
    Pellat angorem, tríbuat salútem,
    Donet et nobis bona sempiternæ
    Múnera pacis.

    Præstet hoc nobis Deitas beáta
    Pátris, ac Nati, pariterque Sancti
    Spíritus, cujus resonat per omnem
    Glória mundum.

    1. Actually, I have a draft post started for "Ecce iam noctis", and that will probably be my next post. I've found a list of Office hymns for "Ordinary Time" that I'm slowly working my way through.

  2. I've been using the pre-1960 Office, as an experiment, if you will, and I follow what I see in front of my eyes! I don't know the whys and wherefores! not at all. (It's online.)

    The Breviarium Romanum I have was published in 1961 following Pope Bl John XXIII's Rubricarum instructum [25 July 1960]. Perhaps there is a later edition that you are usinng?

  3. I am thankful for your input Marc. When it comes to the Breviarium Romanum, I'm certainly a novice. Because of that, I'm probably a bit over cautious about what I post about the rubrics for the hymns - so I just keep it simple.

    I use the online too. The copy I have was published in 1964 by Liturgical Press, Collegeville Minn. and is Part 2 (Passion Sunday to August) of a 3 volume set. - So I've been giving it a try lately before August.

  4. Lest you imagine I know what I talk about, I should have added, supra on 1 July, that I looked online re Aeterne rerum conditor after I read your post and saw Ecce iam noctis instead, so, confused, I opened up Fr Connelly's Hymns of the Roman Breviary, which the FSSP offer for sale at whatever, very few dollars considering what books cost nowadays. :-).

    I used to have that Collegeville set! Probably fifteen bucks in 1980. These days... oh my goodness, the new editions e.g. from Nova et Vetera in Germany, almost $200. And what is worse is that I saw a set of that C. edition last summer, I think it was, and d i d n ' t buy it, for what reason I cannot recall. Very thoughtless.


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