The singing and playing of carols are an integral part of the Christmas celebration of Christ’s birth. Every time I lead Israel tours, singing carols in the Shepherds’ Fields is always a wonderful opportunity to consider the perfect timing of God’s redemptive plan fulfilled in the coming of Christ. We usually sing just the first verse of familiar carols such a Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World, Angels We Have Heard on High, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Away in the Manger, and of course Silent Night. When we sing in the Chapel of the Shepherds design by Antonio Barluzzi (a Franciscan monk and architect who designed more than a half a dozen chapels in Israel in the 1930s-40s), we sound like an angelic choir. The acoustics are wonderful!
But there is a lesser-known carol based upon the Latin poem Corde natus written by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius. It is called Of the Father’s Love Begotten. As I learned more about the background of the song, it is interesting that Prudentius, born in 348 AD, spent most of his later years after retiring form public life, became an ascetic. He fasted until evening and abstained entirely from animal food. During this time he wrote poems and hymns. It is said that this poem, later put to a tune, was penned in the early 5th century prior to his death.
The ancient poem was translated and paired with a medieval chant melody referred to as Divinum mysterium. This was an ancient plainchant melody. According to sources, an early version of this chant appears in manuscript form as early as the 10th century. Divinum mysterium first appears in print in 1582.
What I appreciate about this classic carol are the words. No “fluff” here. The words are straight forward, preserving the miracle of the virgin birth and coming of Christ.
Here is this wonderful accapella rendition of this ancient carol. Enjoy!
Join Biblical Israel Tours in celebrating our Father’s amazing love begotten!