Monday, January 24, 2011

John Mason Neale

John Mason Neale (January 24, 1818 - August 6, 1866) is, in some ways, a sort of godparent to this blog. His birthday today is one day after the anniversary of the first posting here in 2009, and, as you may remember, the title up there at the top of the page comes from one of his translated hymns.

Looking at a listing of his hymns, I am reminded of several that have already appeared here and several more that I expect to write about in the months (years?) to come. Most of his texts were translations from Latin or Greek, or any of the other languages he had mastered, and any familiarity with ancient hymn texts that we have in our own time is largely due to his work.

This short hymn is from a text (Rer­um De­us ten­ax vi­gor) ascribed to Ambrose of Milan, the fourth century bishop who was one of the original four Doctors of the Church, so called because of their importance in establishing Christian doctrine. It was an evening hymn in the Liturgy of the Hours.

O God, creation’s secret force,
Thyself unmoved, all motion’s source,
Who from the morn till evening ray
Through all its changes guid’st the day:

Grant us, when this our life is past,
The glorious evening that shall last;
That, by your holy grace attained,
Eternal glory may be gained.

Mighty Creator, hear my cry
Through Christ our Savior, ever nigh,
Who with the Holy Ghost and thee
Doth live and reign eternally.

Ambrose of Milan, 4th cent.
tr. John Mason Neale, 1852; alt.
William B. Bradbury, 1855

I've mentioned before that I think this tune by William B. Bradbury might have been meant to suggest a chant melody.

So we're beginning our fourth year here. Posting has been a bit sparse for the last few weeks, but I am making some plans for some new and different things in the upcoming year, and there are still plenty of hymns and hymnists to write about. Hope you continue to come back to see what's attracting my interest each week in the world of hymnody.


AuntE said...

I very much appreciate what you write and feel privileged and blessed to have found your blog. I don't really remember how that even happened, but I'm glad it did! I'm thankful for the knowledge you share, and your discipline in writing this blog. Keep up the great work, CWS!

C.W.S. said...

Thanks very much, Aunt E!