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Ales diei nuntius

As the bird, whose clarion gay

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. Ales diei nuntius
    Lucem propinquam præcinit:
    Nos excitatory mentium
    Jam Christus ad vitam vocat.
  2. Auferte, clamat, lectulos,
    Ægro sopore desides:
    Castique, recti, ac sobrii
    Vigilate, jam sum Proximus.
  3. Jesum ciamus vocibus,
    Flentes, precantes, sobrii:
    Intenta supplication
    Dormire cor mundum vetat.
  4. Tu, Christe, somnum discute:
    Tu rumpe noctis vincula:
    Tu solve peccatum vetus,
    Novumque lumen ingere.
  5. Deo Patri sit Gloria,
    Ejusque soli Filio,
    Cum Spiritu Paraclito
    Nunc et per omne sæculum.
  1. As the bird, whose clarion gay
    Sounds before the dawn is grey,
    Christ, who brings the spirit’s day,
       Calls us, close at hand:
  2. “Wake!” He cries, “and for my sake,
    From your eyes dull slumbers shake!
    Sober, righteous, chaste, awake!
       At the door I stand!”
  3. Lord, to Thee we lift on high
    Fervent prayer and bitter cry:
    Hearts aroused to pray and sigh
       May not slumber more:
  4. Break the sleep of Death and Time,
    Forged by Adam’s ancient crime;
    And the light of Eden’s prime
       To the world restore!
  5. Unto God the Father, Son,
    Holy Spirit, Three in One,
    One in Three, be glory done,
       Now and evermore.
Author: Prudentius (348-413). Meter: Iambic dimeter. Translation by W. J. Courthope. There are twelve translations. This hymn is a cento from the Hymn at Cock-Crow, the first of the twelve hymns of the Cathemerinon of Prudentius. There are twenty-five four-line stanzas in the Hymn at Cock-Crow. The Ales diei nuntius is composed of stanzas 1, 2, 21, and 25 of the complete hymn. This hymn affords a fair, but by no means an extreme, illustration of the manner in which centos have been taken from the hymns of Prudentius for Breviary use.

The hymns for Lauds on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are from the Cathemerinon. It will be observed that they are replete with figurative expressions. As darkness and mists are symbolical of sin and unbelief, so light is a symbol of truth and of Christ. In studying these three hymns, attention should be paid to the figurative, rather than to the literal meaning of their lines. Mr. Courthope’s spirited translations preserve much of the spirit and beauty of the originals. In these translations the following stanza immediately precedes the doxology. It is not a translation of any part of the Latin text:

Now before Thy throne, while we
Ask, upon our bended knee,
That this blessing granted be,
And Thy grace implore;

The above note applies equally to hymns 14,16, and 18.

  1. “The winged herald of the day proclaims the approaching light; now Christ, the awakener of souls, calls us to life.” The “winged messenger” is the cock, who in Christian symbolism is a symbol of early rising and vigilance. Propinquam, approaching; Lauds was said at daybreak, or cock-crow, the beginning of the morning watch. Excitator mentium: Christ by His grace is the awakener of souls.
  2. “Take up your beds, He cries, ye who are slothful from idle sleep, and watch ye, chaste, upright, and sober, for I am at hand.” Ægro sopore: Ye who have become slothful from idle, excessive, sickness-producing sleep. Sobrii: Sobrii estote et vigilate (I Peter 5, 8). Vigilate ergo, quia nescitis qua hora Dominus vester venturus sit (Matt. 24, 42).
  3. “Weeping, praying, and sober, let us, with our voices, invoke Jesus: fervent prayer forbids the pure heart to sleep.”
  4. “Do Thou, O Christ, dispel sleep, break the bonds of night, free us from the sins of former days, and infuse new light in us.”