Because St. Ambrose Could Write Such A Hymn

Today is the Feast day commemorating Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan and one of the first four Doctors of the Church. The painting above depicts St. Ambrose with Emperor Theodosius of Rome. The reason they got together? The Emperor had ordered the massacre of 7,000 people in Thessalonica, and Ambrose demanded that he do public penance.

Other cool facts about Ambrose? I mean besides the fact that he was St. Augustine’s sensei?Well he was installed into the office of the bishop at the clamoring of the populace. At the time, see, he wasn’t even baptized, because folks remained catechumens for yours back in the late 300’s. Let’s hear it for “development!” In this case though, he was baptized, confirmed, and made the bishop all in a week back in the year 374.

Among his many God given gifts,  he had an  ability to write hymns. I find this one below especially beautiful. As you read over it, consider that this man also is known to have said the following when threatened with persecution for his faith:

If you demand my person, I am ready to submit: carry me to prison or to death, I will not resist; but I will never betray the church of Christ. I will not call upon the people to succour me; I will die at the foot of the altar rather than desert it. The tumult of the people I will not encourage: but God alone can appease it.

Take a look at this hymn translated in English,

Splendor paternae gloriae

Splendor of the Father’s glory,
Coming forth from light as light
With new beginnings of new light;
True Sun come down,
Sparkling with unfailing gleams
With all the radiance of the Spirit,
Come fill us in our every sense.
And in prayer we call upon the Father,
That Father of unending glory,
Father of all-mastering grace.
Lord, set aside our sinful guilt
And teach us eagerness of deed;
Restrain the biting teeth of foes,
prosper us in times of grief,
Grant the grace to bring us through.
Guide and rule our inmost mind,
In a chaste and faithful heart.
May our faith grow hot again,
Far from poison’s foul pretense.
Let Christ himself be all our food,
And faith our cup to drink;
Let us drain it deep in joy,
The sober drunkenness of Spirit.
Let this day be spent rejoicing.
Let shame be as the dimmest dawn,
And faith like midday sun;
Our mind ever ignorant of dusk.
The chariot of the rising sun sets forth,
The rising sun appears in fullness:
The Son complete within the Father,
The Father complete within the Word

Have a listen,

I can’t find the exact quote from his Ambrose’s own pen, but Jacques Maritain notes that,

“Whatever has been well said anywhere belongs to us who are Christians” — because according to that saying of St. Ambrose, which St. Thomas Aquinas delighted to quote, “every truth, whoever said it, comes from the Holy Spirit.”

Omne verum a quocumque dicatur, a Spiritu sancto est.

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