By Prof. Barb H. Wyman
This happy poem, “Advent-Lauds,” by Blessed John Henry Newman, is a translation of a fifth-century Latin hymn. The original hymn would have been used for Lauds on Sundays and week-days during Advent in monastic prayer. Lauds was the first prayer of daybreak and hence its symbolism is of Christ’s resurrection. Lauds hails in the rising sun, the image of Christ triumphant—and reminds the Christian that the first act of the day should be praise, and that one’s thoughts should be of God before facing the cares of the day. Advent, of course, also hails in a new beginning, the birth of Christ himself. Both Advent and lauds are preparing the Christian for Christ. The first line of the original Latin hymn is the epigram for Newman’s poem: “En clara vox redarguit.” The first line of the poem is Newman’s translation of this Latin line.
En clara vox redarguit.
HARK, a joyful voice is thrilling,
And each dim and winding way
Of the ancient Temple filling;
Dreams, depart! for it is day.
Christ is coming!—from thy bed,
Earth-bound soul, awake and spring,—
With the sun new-risen to shed
Health on human suffering.
Lo! to grant a pardon free,
Comes a willing Lamb from Heaven;
Sad and tearful, hasten we,
One and all, to be forgiven.
Once again He comes in light,
Girding earth with fear and woe;
Lord! be Thou our loving Might,
From our guilt and ghostly foe.
To the Father, and the Son,
And the Spirit, who in Heaven
Ever witness, Three and One,
Praise on earth be ever given.
This beautiful hymn, through Newman’s translation, breathes the spirit of Advent: it is an excellent summary of Romans 13:11-14, and of the Gospel of St. Luke 21:25-33 for the first Sunday of Advent. Christ, the paschal lamb, was the willing lamb sent from heaven, whose birth forever destroyed our night. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!
The original Latin hymn has been recorded numerous time and can be heard here: