PODCAzT 75: An Advent hymn dissected “Conditor alme siderum”; Fr. Z digresses far afield

I decided during Advent to drill into the hymns in the Liturgia Horarum

We begin today with the hymn for Vespers called Conditor alme siderum, with its variation Creator alme siderum as it was in Breviarium Romanum

I dissect this hymn and we hear different translations and many musical version.

I ramble a bit.  No… I ramble a great deal.   We get into an amusing comparison of two Latin verbs… always hilarious and interesting.   You Latin students will be ROFL, because that’s what Latin students do with this stuff.  No. Really.

Then we veer sharply into Roman agriculture and cooking. 

Then we get into a book that screwed up the world, by Jean Jacques Rousseau.  And I talk about a book that talks about books that screwed up the world.

Sing the hymns! Buy a Liber Hymnarius!

Along the way you might hear these versions of Conditor alme siderum:

O Divina Virgo – Ensemble Alpha
Chant – Music for the Soul – Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz
Old World Christmas – Alexander Blachly & Pomerium
Schola Gregoriana del Coro F. Paer – Gregorian Chants, Medieval & Renaissance Music
Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre at the Priory of the Resurrection, New Hall
Couperin: L’oeuvre d’orgue – Conditor, en HaulteContre Avec Le Poulce Droict en Trio – Davitt Moroney
The Musical Advent Calendar – Choralschola Lichtenthal
Ceballos: Lamentaciones, Motetes, Missa Tertii Toni, Salve Regina, Magnificat Secondi Toni – Ensemble Gilles Binchois

The iTunes feed is working.  It stops and starts again… mysteriously.  Beats me!

Some of the last offerings (check out the PODCAzT PAGE):

074 08-11-26 A hymn to Christ the King dissected – before and after Vatican II; a proclamation; "Sieze the Day" in Scots
073 08-11-16 Augustine on Ps. 95(96) and Fr. Z on how to avoid going to Hell
072 08-11-11 The death of St. Martin; starlings, cuckolds, bell ringing and a skull
071 08-11-06 "Faith inscribed across your heart": Benedict on Cyril of Jerusalem & Cyril on faith, your treasure
070 08-11-01 Venerable Bede on All Saints; a collage; don Camillo (Part IV)
069 08-10-30 Augustine on Ps 103; Benedictines can sing!
068 08-08-04 Interview – Fr. Tim Finigan on the Oxford TLM conference; don Camillo (Part III)
067 08-07-29 St. Augustine on Martha, active v. contemplative lives; don Camillo (part II)
066 08-07-25 don Camillo (part I): VM – advice on getting TLMs & “pro multis”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ADVENT, PODCAzT, PRAYERCAzT: What Does The (Latin) Prayer Really Sound L. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Christopher says:

    Thanks for this podcazt and the info on the Conditor alme siderum hymn. It was helpful for me to remember that there are these differences in the slight pronunciation of the words.

    Keep up the the great PodcaZts

    Christopher M

  2. Christabel says:

    Father, thank you for this great podcast. You are so right when you say that we MUST know where we come from and understand our patrimony of prayer and music. The sum is so much more than the parts!

    Here is a worrying story : I lead a small weekly prayer group in my parish, where each week we close the session with a form of Night Prayer which I adapt from the office. For Advent, this week I introduced the hymn “Creator of the stars of night”, with the Latin title provided – in this case, “Creator alme siderum.” Now this is a group of fifteen or so faithful, involved Catholics in a thriving and very well run parish. None of them had heard ever of it. The discussion moved on and I mentioned the O Antiphons and their place in the latter part of Advent. Again, none of them had ever heard of the concept of the O Antiphons, or why we shouldn’t sing “O Come, o come Emmanuel” until the Third Sunday of Advent.

    And yet they all know “Shine Jesus shine”, which has not even a modicum of decent theology in it. They will ALL receive a link to your podcast!

    Father, what is to be done? What is to be done?

  3. Craigmaddie says:

    Father Z, your podcastz are always a real eye-opener and very enjoyable! Will you please consider compiling your writings on the prayers of the liturgy in a book? I’m sure I am not the only one who thinks that your monographs are of great importance if there is to be a renewal of the life of the Church within the next few generations.

  4. Terth says:

    Dr. Wiker was my Latin teacher at Franciscan University – a great philospher and Latinist!

  5. Woody Jones says:

    “Conditor alme siderum” and other great Latin hymns or chants are also available on the new Advent/Christmas CD from the choir of the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ in Cheshire, CT, available at http://www.legionmusic.org/.

  6. Tim Ferguson says:

    Whenever I hear that hymn, I get hungry for pickles… [ROFL!]

  7. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    Pickler = Preserver?? perhaps??

    Preserver of the stars of night?

    OK, maybe it’s a stretch, but it makes me feel better about myself…

  8. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Thank you for making an otherwise dreadful morning commute quite savory.

  9. I am wondering: How many of you use these audio projects during your commute?

  10. Frank H says:

    Since I work from home I don’t have a commute, but I do listen in the car fairly often on errands and so forth. A couple of weekends ago I was listening as I picked up my high school aged son and his friend from a party. They very politely listened in nearly complete silence on the drive home! (I really should ask my son if his friend mentioned it later. Probably not quite what they are accustomed to hearing!)

  11. Frank H: Now that’s the sort of feedback that interests me and keeps me making these things! I am interested to know what those young men thought. Also, which PODCAzT was it?

  12. Flambeaux says:

    I listen at my desk at the office when I remember to bring my thumbdrive. Sometimes I’m in the mood for music when working; sometimes it’s food for thought I seek, so at those times I’ll play one of your PODCAzTs, on one of Peter Kreeft’s lectures, or a talk that Tracy Lee Simmons gave when he was promoting his book Climbing Parnassus.

  13. Frank H says:

    Fr Z – I think it was #73. I will ask him about it tonight. He has been hearing a lot from me about the TLM, the need for greater reverence for the Eucharist, etc. I was gratified to see him take communion on the tongue at our usual Novus Ordo Mass for the first time last weekend. He has also attended three or four TLMs with me in recent months. Latin is required for two years at his high school, and I have suggested he mention your site to his Latin teacher, but I don’t think he has yet done so. By the way, an older son is currently discerning a vocation to the priesthood, and he is finding your blog quite inspirational. Oddly, he is the only one of our four offspring who has never been to a TLM. We plan to remedy that when he is home for Christmas!

  14. Franks: Fantastic! Thanks for that.  That PODCAzT was about how to avoid going to Hell.

  15. I wish people had left AUDIO feedback like this through my phone and skype voicemail! I could have used it in the PODCAzTs!

  16. Roland de Chanson says:

    Cato Maior? Plinius? J.J. Rousseau? This podcast is a treasure. Perhaps they all are but this is the first I have heard. I will have to catch up on the ones I missed. I agree with your statement that so much has been lost: music, literature, art, even a bit of the Mysteries.

    Your “picky” distinction (and reference to the classical long vs short vowels) is spot on. It brings back an incident in one of my high school Latin classes when one unfortunate scholar (I won’t mention who!) pronounced “ab urbe condita” as “con-DEE-tah” rather than “CON-dee-tah”. It was quickly pointed out to the boy’s mortification by the imperious master that the Eternal City had been founded not pickled.

    By all means, continue your very entertaining digressions. They point up very persuasively “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” (as Thomas Woods titled his book.)

    Macte virtute esto, Pater, atque gratias tibi ago.

  17. Fr.,why the change from ‘creator’to ‘conditor’?Also why the change from ‘ubi cartitas et amor’to ‘ubi caritas et vera’?Did they discover a long lost manuscript?

  18. Henry Edwards says:

    Roland: This podcast is a treasure. Perhaps they all are but this is the first I have heard. I will have to catch up on the ones I missed.

    Indeed, you should. I have saved all 75 of Father Z’s PodcaZts (so far) on CD’s, listen to them first at home, take them with me in the car for encore performances while traveling, and occasionally pass them on to priests who do the same, being too busy (hearing confessions, of course) when not in the car on the road between multiple Masses they celebrate. A “treasure” like this one is the rule rather than an exception.

  19. Fr. Franklyn: Probably to avoid the cónditor / condítor accent problem.

  20. Fr. Dismas, OP says:

    I may preach tomorrow’s Mass using the cónditor/condítor story you gave. Don’t ask me where I’m going with the homily yet… I don’t always know myself!

  21. Roland de Chanson says:

    Henry Edwards: I have saved all 75 of Father Z’s PodcaZts …

    I am going to start catching up. Have you any, say, couple or even half-dozen favorites, just to get started? 75 is such an embarras du choix!

  22. Susan says:

    Dear Father Z,
    Thank you for another splendid podcazt! I only began reading your blog this summer but I have been enjoying it immensely and have learned so much from reading it and listening to the podcazts. I’m back in school now, but over the summer I began downloading all of your archived podcazts and would listen to them driving to and from work!

  23. adeodatus says:

    I hope you have visibility into download stats for iTunes. That’s how I normally obtain your PODCAzTs.

    I enjoyed getting some history of the Liturgy of the Hours in the most recent PODCAzT.

    In my town both laity and priests pray the morning hours on Mondays and Thursdays, and the Holy Spirit is using this to form His people.

    It all began three years ago when a few lay men began praying the Hours each Thursday morning at the invitation of the minister at the local Protestant Episcopal parish. We met at that location until last spring when the minister, a dear friend now, converted to Catholicism and was forced to retire and give up his livelihood. (Please pray for him and his wife!) We then began meeting in our Catholic parish, and our priest, intrigued, joined us. Then, recently, we ‘expanded’ to the other Catholic parish in town, and now pray with that priest on Monday mornings. Both priests and laity are being strengthened and renewed. Deo gratias!

    I intend to make copies of this PODCAzT and distribute. Thank you again, FrZ! Keep feeding us. I pray for you when I pray the rosary.

  24. Peter says:

    Father, I just wanted to thank you for this great podcast. I haven’t always been able to listen – due to technical issues rather than desire – but the past few have been a true joy. While I am no Latin scholar (some day, Deo volente) the wordplay digression was just perfect for my sense of humor – I love the subtle and often unintended interplay of words and sounds. Every time I hear you speak I’m reminded that I must find time for studying Latin. Again, thank you, Father.

  25. RS says:

    We are singing Creator alme siderum this evening at the EF Mass. Thanks for an excellent podcast.

  26. puella says:

    Do not apologise for going all philological, semiological, or whatever. You make language nuts like me very happy in doing so. Digress alllll you like – and really it could have been much worse, as my students will tell you.

    And that’s an order! :D

  27. Jef says:

    Thanks you for the podcazts Father, I use them on on my commute to and from work or indeed if I’m going on long journeys. Nothing better!!

    P.S I love it when you digress

Comments are closed.