O Splendor of God’s glory bright

Hymn #158
Text: St. Ambrose (?) (339-397)
Music: [1] Sarum Plainsong
[2] Piae Cantiones (1582), arr. by Michael Praetorius (1572-1621)

While this hymn has been traditionally attributed to St. Ambrose, bishop of Milan, some scholars question his authorship. It has long been the office hymn for Lauds on Mondays, having thus been sung every week for well over a thousand years.

The translation in our Hymnal is by Robert Bridges (1844-1930), English poet laureate, literary scholar, and cultivated musician. The Hymnal reproduces 5 of the 9 verses that Bridges translated; below, the omitted verses are presented in italics.

1. O splendor of God’s glory bright,
O thou that bringest light from light;
O Light of Light, light’s living spring,
O Day, all days illumining.

2. O thou true Sun, on us thy glance
let fall in royal radiance;
the Spirit’s sanctifying beam
upon our earthly senses stream.

3. The Father, too, our prayers implore,
Father of glory evermore;
the Father of all grace and might,
to banish sin from our delight.

4. To guide whate’er we nobly do,
with love all envy to subdue;
to make ill fortune turn to fair,
and give us grace our wrongs to bear.

Our mind be in his keeping placed
our body true to him and chaste,
where only faith her fire shall feed,
to burn the tares of Satan’s seed.

And Christ to us for food shall be,
from him our drink that welleth free,
the Spirit’s wine, that maketh whole,
and, mocking not, exalts the soul.

Rejoicing may this day go hence;
like virgin dawn our innocence,
like fiery noon our faith appear,
nor know the gloom of twilight drear.

Morn in her rosy car is borne;
let Him come forth our perfect morn,
the Word in God the Father one,
the Father perfect in the Son.

5. All laud to God the Father be;
all praise, eternal Son, to Thee;
all glory, as is ever meet,
to God the holy Paraclete.


The first tune — SPLENDOR PATERNAE — is the plainchant melody long associated with this text (as the name suggests). The second tune — PUER NOBIS — is coupled in our Hymnal with an Epiphany hymn (“What star is this, with beams so bright,” #47) and an Easter hymn (“That Easter Day with joy was bright,” #98). It is notable that all three texts using this bright and sparkling tune focus on the theme of light.

Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of SPLENDOR PATERNAE on piano.

Below is Andrew Remillard’s rendition of PUER NOBIS on piano.

Finally, here is a performance of a set of variations inspired by this hymn tune. Partita on “Puer nobis nascitur” is by the Belgian organist and composer Flor Peeters (1903-1986). It is played here in a live recording by organist Mikhail Mishchenko, playing on the organ in the Lutheran Church in Zelenogorsk, St. Petersburg, Russia.