Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Today is the feast of St. Columba of Iona, Enlightener of Scotland, Wolf against Sin, Dove of the Church, one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and patron saint of poets. The hymn Altus Prosator, often recognized as one of the richest and most powerful theological poems of the sixth century despite its very unclassical Latin, is often attributed to him. It is abecedarian -- that is, each stanza starts with a letter of the alphabet; for instance, Capitulum A begins with the line from which the hymn takes its name, Altus Prosator. Here are Capitulum A and B in Samuel John Stone's translation:

High Creator, Unbegotten,
Ancient of Eternal days,
Unbegun ere all beginning,
Him, the world's one source, we praise:
God who is, and God who shall be :
All that was and is before:
Him with Christ the Sole-Begotten,
And the Spirit we adore,
Co-eternal, one in glory,
Evermore and evermore:—
Not Three Gods are They we worship,
But the Three which are the One,
God, in Three most glorious Persons :—
Other saving Faith is none.

All good angels and archangels,
Powers and Principalities,
Virtues, Thrones, His will created—
Grades and orders of the skies,
That the majesty and goodness
Of the Blessed Trinity
In its ever bounteous largesse
Never might inactive be;
Having thus wherewith to glory,
All the wide world might adore
The high Godhead's sole-possession
Everywhere and evermore.

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