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Cœli Deus sanctissime

O God, whose hand hath spread the sky

The Hymns of the Breviary and Missal

  1. Cœli Deus sanctissime,
    Qui lucidas mundi plagas
    Candore pingis igneo,
    Augens decoro lumine:
  2. Quarto die qui flammeam
    Dum solis accendis rotam,
    Lunæ ministras ordinem,
    Vagosque cursus siderum:
  3. Ut noctibus, vel lumini
    Diremptionis terminum,
    Primordiis et mensium
    Signum dares notissimum;
  4. Expelle noctem cordium:
    Absterge sordes mentium:
    Resolve culpæ vinculum:
    Everte moles criminum.
  5. Præsta, Pater piissime,
    Patrique compar Unice,
    Cum Spiritu Paraclito
    Regnans per omne sæculum.
  1. O God, whose hand hath spread the sky,
    And all its shining hosts on high.
    And painting it with fiery light,
    Made it so beauteous and so bright:
  2. Thou, when the fourth day was begun,
    Didst frame the circle of the sun,
    And set the moon for ordered change,
    And planets for their wider range:
  3. To night and day, by certain line,
    Their varying bounds Thou didst assign;
    And gav’st a signal, known and meet,
    For months begun and months complete.
  4. Enlighten Thou the hearts of men:
    Polluted souls make pure again:
    Unloose the bands of guilt within:
    Remove the burden of our sin.
  5. Grant this, O Father, ever One
    With Christ Thy sole-begotten Son,
    Whom, with the Spirit we adore,
    One God, both now and evermore.
Author: Probably by Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604). Meter: Iambic dimeter. Translation by J. M. Neale. There are thirteen translations. Theme: The work of the fourth day. On the fourth day, God created the heavenly bodies that adorn the firmament. The Mosaic account of the stupendous work which the hymn endeavors to recount is narrated with wonderful simplicity in Genesis 1, 14-19: Dixit autem Deus: Fiant luminaria in firmamento cœli, et dividant diem ac noctem, et sint in signa et tempora, et dies et annos: ut luceant in firmamento cœli, et illuminent terram. Et factum est ita. Fecitque Deus duo luminaria magna: luminare majus, ut præesset diei: et luminare minus, ut præesset nocti: et stellas. Et posuit eas in firmamento cœli, ut lucerent super terram, et præessent diei ac nocti, et dividerent lucem ac tenebras. Et vidit Deus quod esset bonum. Et factum est vespere et mane dies quartus.
  1. “Most Holy God of heaven, Thou dost adorn with fiery brilliancy the lightsome regions of the universe, and dost embellish them with becoming splendor:” The light created on the first day was a vast, luminous, nebulous mass, which contracted and solidified on the fourth day, thus forming the sun and the stars. These heavenly bodies constitute the “lightsome regions” of the universe.
  2. “Thou, on the fourth day didst light up the fiery disk of the sun, didst appoint the orbit of the moon, and the wandering courses of the stars,”
  3. “That Thou mightest give to nights and days a boundary- line of separation, and a conspicuous sign for the beginning of the months.” The boundary line between night and day—darkness and daylight—is indicated by the sun, the moon, and by the morning and evening stars. The new moon announces the beginning of the lunar month.
  4. “Drive out the darkness from our hearts; wipe away the defilements of our souls; loosen the chains of guilt; overturn the great load of our sins.”