“Of The Father’s Love Begotten” by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
This hymn, with very ancient roots, is a confession of faith about the Christ, the eternal Son of God, whose birth and saving ministry were the fulfillment of ancient prophecies (st. 1-3). The final stanzas are a doxology inspired by John’s visions recorded in Revelation 4-7 (st. 4-5). The text is based on “Corde natus ex parentis,” a Latin poem by Marcus Aurelius C. Prudentius (c.348-413).
Prudentius was the greatest Christian poet of his time. … [A]t the age of fifty-seven Prudentius bade farewell to [h]is successful, prosperous life and vowed to spend the rest of his days in poverty. He served the church by meditating and writing, presumably at an unnamed monastery. All of his writings are in poetic form, including learned discussions in theology and apologetics. Most of the English hymns derived from his works, including “Of the Father’s Love Begotten,” were taken from his Liber Cathemerinon (c. 405), which consists of twelve extended poems meant for personal devotions, six for use throughout the hours of the day and six for special feasts.
A personal note: The MG choir has used this hymn in a medley by Tom Fettke at Christmas because it is such a great text on the incarnation of Christ. The tune is very chant-like, challenging yet fun to sing and direct. It is found in our hymnal, No. 118.
The first stanza begins, “Of the Father’s love begotten, Ere the worlds began to be, He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending He…”