Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fulget in caelis - a hymn in honour of St. Augustine

Happy Feast of Our Holy Father Saint Augustine!

To the Order of Preachers, he is specially honoured as one of the holy fathers because St. Dominic adopted Augustine's Rule as the Dominicans' rules of life. To me personally, the image of Augustine has always been passionately romantic, thanks to his Confessions, a remarkable work that shows his deep love and longing for the Ancient Beauty. I mean who doesn't love his profoundly sentimental lament that precedes with "Late have I loved you"? It goes like this:
"Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace."

(Note: With a passion like this, I'm pretty sure Augustine himself was a rather fine young man back in his days. Pity he was a thug.)

I would like to share today's breviary hymn specially dedicated to the Doctor of Grace. This hymn was originally titled "Fulget in caelis" and was dedicated to St. Gregory the Great; the new translation added Augustine's name in the lyrics. I was immediately captured by the first and third stanzas: although they are about Augustine, they are also a good reflection of the Dominicans' zeal for preaching the truth, and so contemplating on this hymn has renewed my own spirit!

Here is the hymn. Enjoy!


Those who teach others sound and sacred doctrine
Shine, say the Scriptures, as the stars of heaven.
Such is Augustine, shedding light unfailing
Down through the ages.

City of Zion in the joys of heaven,
Praise the almighty Lord of true salvation,
Who led Augustine through such restless seeking
Safe to your heaven.

Earnest defender of the faith he treasured,
Dauntlessly checking all attacks of error,
Morals and virtue grew in strength and luster
From his clear teaching.

Vigilant pastor of your flock as bishop,
Light and example for both monks and clerics,
Pray for us always, so that God our Father
Ever may bless us.

Praise to the Godhead, Trinity most holy,
Whose divine Essence formed your chosen study
Even while earth-bound, what must be your rapture
Now in high heaven! Amen.

Melody: Herr Deinen Zorn
Music: Johann Crüger, 1653
Text: Fulget in caelis, T: Eckbert Scönau, 12th century
Translation: the Benedictines of Saint Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde, UK

*Credit of the above image goes to my friend, brother, and future Dominican friar, Harry Purnomo.

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