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Catholic Activity: Advent Hymns

Appropriate family hymns for Advent.


Mother Church has wisely provided her children with Advent hymns. Favorites are the deeply moving Rorate Caeli, translated "Bedew us, heaven, from above," and "Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (Emmanuel is a Biblical name for the Messiah and means God-with-us.) Our children sing these hymns at school. We have a little pump organ at home which they play. Pump organs can often be picked up in country places for little or no money. Frequently an inquiry will bring to light one covered with dust in a church basement or in the attic of a farm house. Nothing stimulates family hymn singing so much as an organ. It is a happy adjunct to the home that is a "church in miniature."

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

1. O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee O Israel.

2. O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan's tyranny From depth of hell Thy people save And give them vict'ry o'er the grave. Refrain.

3. O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer Our Spirits by Thine Advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And earth's dark shadows put to flight. Refrain.

4. O come, Thou Key of David, come And open wide our Heav'nly Home; Make safe the way that leads on high And close the path to misery. Refrain

Bedew Us, Heaven (or Rorate Caeli)

Refrain: Rorate caeli de super, et nubes pluant justum. (Repeat Refrain)

1. Ne irascaris Domine, ne ultra memineris iniquitatis: ecce civitas Sancti facta est deserta: Sion deserta facta est: Jerusalem desolata est: domus sanctficationis tuae et gloriae tuae, ubi laudaverunt te patres nostri. (Repeat Refrain)

2. Peccavimu, et facti sumus tamquam immundus nos, et cecidimus quasi folium universi: et iniquitates nostrae quasiventus abstulerunt nos: abscondisti faciem tuam a nobis, et allisisti nos in manu iniquitatis nostrae. (Repeat Refrain)

3. Vide Domine afflictionem populitui, et mitte quem missurus es: emitte Agnum dominatorem terrae, de petra deserti admontem filiae Sion ut auferat ipse jugum captivitatis nostrae. (Repeat Refrain)

4. Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus: cito veniet salus tua: quamoerore consumeris, quia innovavit te dolor? Salvabo te, noli timere, ego enim sum Dominus Deus tuus, Sanctus Israel, Redemptor tuus. (Repeat Refrain) English Translation:

Refrain: Bedew us, heaven, from above; ye clouds rain down the Just One. (Repeat Refrain)

1. Withhold Thy wrath from us, O Lord, and remember no more our evil doing. Lo, the city of the Holy One is made a desert, Sion a desert is become. Jerusalem waste and desolate: the house of Thy hallowing presence and of Thy glory, where of old our fathers sang Thy praises. (Repeat Refrain)

2. We all have sinned, and are become life unto one unclean. We have fallen low, as a dying leaf falls earthward; and our iniquities, as a wind have swept us swiftly far. Thou has hidden Thy face from us, Thy people; Thou has broken us by the weight of our own sinning. (Repeat Refrain)

3. Behold, O Lord, the affliction of Thy people. Send quickly Him who is to come. Send forth the Lamb who rules all earthly kingdoms, from Petra in the desert, to the Mount of the daughter of Sion; that He may take away the grievous yoke of our subjection. (Repeat Refrain)

4. Be ye comforted, be ye comforted, O ye My people: for most speedily comes salvation. Why are ye consumed with sorrowing, so that your grief has quite transformed you? I come to save, be no more fearful. For know ye not that I am your God and Master, Israel's Holy One, your sole Redeemer. (Repeat Refrain)

Activity Source: Family Advent Customs by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1979

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