Christmas Song Story: Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s Love Begotten is another song considered among the oldest Christmas hymns.

It started as a Latin poem titled “Corde natus” and was written by the Roman poet Auerlius Prudentius. He wrote it for his Liber Cathemerinon.

 The song was paired with the plainchant, Medieval melody “Divinum mysterium”. Over the years the plainchant was musically embellished. The melody first appears in print in the 1582 Fiinish song book Piae Cantiones.

A manuscript from the 10th Century contains the earliest version of the song.

There are two translations commonly sung today. One by John Mason Neale and Henry W. Baker. This version contains only six stanzas of the poem. Neale translated the hymn and later Baker edited and extended it.

The other translation is by Roby Furley Davis, who was dissatisfied with Neale’s translation. He wrote a new version published in the 10-6 The English Hymnal. This is the version used in the popular Carols for Choirs series.

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