Feast of St. Ambrose: Savior of the nations, come
One of the great Advent hymns was written by St. Ambrose, whose feast we keep today.
Savior of the nations, come;
virgin’s Son, here make thy home!
Marvel now, O heaven and earth,
that the Lord chose such a birth.
Not by human flesh and blood;
by the Spirit of our God
was the Word of God made flesh,
woman’s offspring, pure and fresh.
Wondrous birth! O wondrous child
of the Virgin undefiled!
Though by all the world disowned,
still to be in heaven enthroned.
From the Father forth he came
and returneth to the same,
captive leading death and hell
high the song of triumph swell!
Thou, the Father’s only Son,
hast over sin the victory won.
boundless shall thy kingdom be;
when shall we its glories see?
Brightly doth thy manger shine,
glorious is its light divine.
Let not sin overcloud this light;
ever be our faith thus bright.
Praise to God the Father sing,
praise to God the Son, our King,
praise to God the Spirit be
ever and eternally.
Words: Ambrose of Milan, circa 397; paraphrased by Martin Luther, 1523; translated by William Morton Reynolds, 1851.
This is usually sung to the tune Nun komm der Heiden Heiland. Here is a performance of a Bach setting, played by my former organ teacher in the place I received lessons in high school. Speaking of young players, this is the Paul Manz toccata setting played by a ten-year-old. Zoinks. Alas, I couldn’t easily find any videos of this sung as a congregational hymn.