PODCAzT 77: An Advent hymn dissected “Vox clara”, with digressions


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

We continue our drilling with the hymn for the Office of Lauds or "Morning Prayer" in the post-Conciliar Liturgia Horarum called Vox clara ecce intonat, with its unhappier variation from the 1632 reform which is used in the Breviarium Romanum, En clara vox.

I dissect this hymn, sing it in the Gregorian chant tone, and we hear different translations and many other musical versions.

Once again I ramble a great deal while digging into the meaning of the hymn.

Sing along with the hymns! Buy a Liber Hymnarius

Along the way you might hear these versions of Vox clara:

We are available on iTunes:


Vox clara ecce intonat,
obscura quaeque increpat:
procul fugentur somnia;
ab aethere Christus promicat.

Hark! A clear voice is thundering,
and it loudly rebukes whatever is shady:
dreams are being put far to flight;
Christ is gleaming/springing forth from heaven.

Mens iam resurgat torpida
quae sorde exstat saucia;
sidus refulget iam novum,
ut tollat omne noxium.

Now the benumbed mind rises again
which stands over wounded baseness,
now heaven shines forth something new,
that it may do away with every injurious thing.

E sursum Agnus mittitur
laxare gratis debitum;
omnes pro indulgentia
vocem demus cum lacrimis,

The Lamb is sent from on high
freely to unloose what was owed;
let us all raise our voice with tears
for this remission,

Secundo ut cum fulserit
mundumque horror cinxerit,
non pro reatu puniat,
sed nos pius tunc protegat.

So that at the Second Coming when He will shine and dread will gird the world,
He will punish us not for sin,
but, merciful, will then protect us.

Summo Parenti gloria
Natoque sit victoria,
et Flamini laus debita
per saeculorum saecula. Amen.

To the Father Most High let there be glory,
Let there be victory for the Son,
due praise let there be to the Spirit,
world without end. Amen.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Thomas says:

    Yes, En Clara Vox is rather unhappier. Now, I have a copy of the 1911 Antiphonale Romanum, and it contains, in an appendix, all of the pre-Urban VIII hymns. This has lead me to wonder whether they could be used in the Office according to the Breviarium Romanum.

  2. Franzjosf says:

    Here’s my favorite translation, found in the Adoremus Hymnal.

    Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.
    “Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;
    “Cast away the works of darkness,
    O ye children of the day.”

    Wakened by the solemn warning,
    let the earth-bound soul arise;
    Christ, her Sun, all sloth dispelling,
    shines upon the morning skies.

    Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,
    comes with pardon down from heaven;
    let us all, with tears of sorrow,
    pray that we may be forgiven;

    That when next he comes with glory,
    and the world is wrapped in fear,
    with his mercy he may shield us,
    and with words of love draw near.

    Honor, glory, might, and blessing
    to the Father and the Son,
    with the everlasting Spirit,
    while eternal ages run.

    (Translation by Edward Caswell, alt.)

  3. Franzjosf: Perhaps you didn’t listen, but I covered that version at length.

  4. Franzjosf says:

    My apologies, I didn’t listen because of a slow connection at the house I’m visiting. I’ll have to go to Starbucks or something, because I’m interested in what you have to say.

  5. Raphaela says:

    That was fascinating, Father. Thank you!

  6. Franzjosf: You can download it, though it might take a while.

  7. Brian says:

    Fr. Z,
    This site keeps getting better and better.

    These Podcasts that you have done on the Advent hymns have been outstanding. The mix of listening to the hymn, the spoken Latin, and the literal translation, along with your elucidating commentary brings them to life for me more than I could have hoped.

    Are you planning to continue through the liturgical year?

    Thank you

  8. Brian: I’ll watch the stats for these PODCAzTs and make a determination. The stats and feedback help me decide where to put my time and energy.

  9. Brian says:

    Father, On the “Conditor” Podcast I also enjoyed hearing your beautiful brief rendering of the chant.

  10. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Yes Fr Z, I enjoy them too. I have gone to Amazon and downloaded Verbum supernum prodiens and Creator of the Stars of Night as result of the podcast. I will have to get to this one tomorrow.

  11. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Father, thank you SO MUCH for identifying that piece of music by Bach, Wachet Auf, Ruft Uns Die Stimme. I have heard it many times (including used in an old Commodore 64 “Nightmare on Elm Street” game, believe it or not…), but I have never known the composer nor the title.

  12. Franzjosf says:

    Enjoyed your presentation very much. Interesting about the 17th century change. Interesting how habit and memorization play into preference. Since I have the words posted above and MERTON memorized, I love that hymn; nevertheless I prefer Vox Clara in the Latin to the revision. (Interestingly, in the Antiphonale Monasticum, Vox Clara is one of the only chants in the book which does not list the mode, since the editors weren’t exactly sure which mode it is.)

  13. henri says:

    Father: you mused in one of your podcasts about what people were thinking about them and whether you should do them.

    The answer is YEs, YES, YES! They are fantastic: bringing the sermons of the father especially to those of us who don’t have access to them, explaning them with such loving care, in short giving long and meaty sermons that help us understand our faith and what Holy Church teaches. Not to mention the whimsical and informative and enjoyable diversions into Latin, church music, Roman cooking and semiotics. Please Please Please keep it up. These are so very much appreicated.

    With every blessing and thanks for your good work

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