Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The "most famous of hymns " (Frere), is assigned in the Roman Breviary to Vespers (I and II) and Terce of Pentecost and throughout the octave. The Church also sings it at such solemn functions as the election of popes, the consecration of bishops, the ordination of priests, the dedication of churches, the celebration of synods or councils, the coronation of kings, etc. It is also sung in the more private devotions attending the opening and closing of that scholastic year in institutions of learning. The Congregation of Rites decreed (20 June, 1899) that the Eastertide doxology (Deo Patri sit gloria -- Et Filio qui a mortuis -- Surrexit ac Paraclito -- In sæculorum sæcula) should always be used, no matter what, the feast or season of the year might be. The Vatican Graduale (1908) gives the older text, (attestation of which does not go back beyond the ninth century) and also, under the heading "secundum usum recentiorem", the present Breviary text, which is a revision, in the interest of classical prosody, of the older text, by the correctors of the Breviary under Urban VIII. The doxology of the older text (which is probably not original with the text itsell) is: "Sit laus Patri cum Filio -- Sancto simul Paraclito -- Nobisque mittat Filius -- Charisma Sancti Spiritus". This doxology is generally associated with the hymn "Beata nobis gaudia". It is unnecessary to indicate here the points of revision, since the printing of both texts in the Vatican Graduale makes comparison easy. Hymnologists think the revision uncalled for.

Dreves (Analecta Hymnica, L, 195) places the hymn in the section he devotes to Rabanus Maurus (d. 856), Abbot of Fulda and Archbishop of Mainz, and shows (p. 194) the importance of the manuscript evidence in his favour. Frere (Introduction to Hymns Ancient and Modern, historical edition, p. xxii) thinks the hymn can with some confidence" be ascribed to him; as does also Blume (1908). Added support of the ascription is found in the scansion of the line Qui Paracletus dicitur (revised into Qui dicitur Paraclitus"), where, in accordance with precedent found in Rabanus, Paracletus is accented on the penultimate syllable, as against the almost universal medieval custom of accenting it on the ante-penultimate, an illustration of which is found in the third line of the doxology (which is not part of the original hymn ). Guéranger with many others, ascribed the hymn to Charlemagne, but with slight ground except his zeal for the doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Ghost from Father and Son. The legendary story of Ekkehard V contains its own refutation. The hymn has also been attributed to St. Ambrose and to St. Gregory the Great, but without real evidence for either ascription. No ancient writer ascribes it to St. Ambrose, nor can a good argument be based on its inclusion of two lines (Infirma nostri corporis -- Virtute firmans perpeti) from the "Veni Redemptor gentium" (which is certainly by St. Ambrose ) or on the phrasal similarity of its two lines "Accende lumen sensibus -- Infunde amorem cordibus" with the line "Infunde lumen cordibus" of the hymn "O lux beata Trinitas" (which is probably by St. Ambrose ). Borrowing from celebrated hymns was a common practice of medieval hymnodists. Mone ascribes it to St. Gregory because of its classical metre and occasional rhymes, and especially its prayerfulness, which he declares is a feature of St. Gregory'shymns ; and the scansion of Paracletus (with the accent on the penultimate) he considers referable to the learning of such an author.

The hymn was probably first assigned to Vespers. One eleventh-century manuscript has it at both Lauds and Vespers, two others have it at Lauds. Its use at Terce is said to have begun at Cluny -- a highly appropriate assignment, as it thus commemorates the descent of the Holy Ghost at the third hour of the day ( Acts 2:15 ). In the council held at Reims in 1049, Pope Leo IX presiding, it was sung at the commencement of the third session in place of the ordinary antiphon, "Exaudi nos, Domine . It is found in several pontificals of the same century. It is the only Breviary hymn retained by the Protestant Episcopal Church, a translation being given in the Prayer Book (Ordering of Priests ). There are about sixty English versions. Warton styles the translation of Dryden most elegant and beautiful. It begins:

Creator Spirit, by whose aid
The world's foundations first were laid,
Come visit every pious mind,
Come pour Thy joys on human kind;
From sin and sorrow set us free,
And make Thy temples worthy Thee.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:19-22
19 So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 6:12-16
12 Now it happened in those days that he went onto the mountain to pray; ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 28th, 2016 Image

St. Jude Thaddaeus
October 28: St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of ... Read More