Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The Roman Breviary hymn for Matins of Sundays and weekdays during the Paschal Time (from Low Sunday to Ascension Thursday ). Cardinal Thomasius ("Opera omnia", II, Rome, 1747, 370) gives its primitive form in eight strophes, and Vezzosi conjectures, with perfect justice, that this is the hymn mentioned both by Cæsarius (died 542) and Aurelianus (died circa 550) of Arles, in their "Rules for Virgins ", under the title "Rex æterne domine". Pimont (op. cit. infra, III, 95) agrees with the conjecture, and present-day hymnologists confirm it without hesitation. The hymn is especially interesting for several reasons. In his "De arte metrica" (xxiv) the Ven. Bede selects it from amongst "Alii Ambrosiani non pauci" to illustrate the difference between the metre of Classical iambics and the accentual rhythms imitating them. Ordinarily brief in his comment, he nevertheless refers to it (P. L., XC, 174) as "that admirable hymn. . . fashioned exquisitely after the model of iambic metre" and quotes the first strophe:

Rex æterne Domine,
Rerum Creator omnium,
Qui eras ante sæcula
Semper cum patre filius.

Pimont (op. cit., III, 97) points out that, in its original text, it is amongst all the hymns, the one assuredly which best evidences the substitution of accent for prosodical quantity, and that the (unknown) author gives no greater heed to the laws of elision than to quantity "qui eras", "mundi in primordio", "plasmasti hominem", "tuæ imagini", etc. The second strophe illustrates this well:

Qui mundi in primordio
Adam plasmasti hominem,
Qui tuæ imagini
Vultum dedisti similem.

Following the law of binary movement (the alternation of arsis and thesis), the accent is made to shorten long syllables and to lengthen short ones, in such wise that the verses, while using the external form of iambic dimeters, are purely rhythmic. Under Urban VIII , the correctors of the hymns omitted the fourth stanza and, in their zeal to turn the rhythm into Classical iambic dimeter, altered every line except one. Hymnologists, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are usually severe in their judgment of the work of the correctors; but in this instance, Pimont, who thinks the hymn needed no alteration at their hands, nevertheless hastens to add that "never, perhaps, were they better inspired". And it is only just to say that, as found now in the Roman Breviary, the hymn is no less vigorous than elegant.

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

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • President likens Syrian refugees to pilgrims on Mayflower in ...
  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • BIGGER THAN ISIS - There's a hidden power behind ISIS and it's so big ...
  • St. Andrew: Saint of the Day for Monday, November 30, 2015
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • Who Needs Advent? I do!
  • Daily Readings for Monday, November 30, 2015

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 33:14-16
14 "Look, the days are coming, Yahweh declares, when I shall fulfil the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
4 DIRECT me in your ways, Yahweh, and teach me your paths.5 ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
25 'There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations ... Read More

Reading 2, First Thessalonians 3:12--4:2
12 May the Lord increase and enrich your love for each other and for all, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 29th, 2015 Image

St. Saturninus
November 29: St. Saturninus Bishop of Toulouse and Martyr ... Read More