Three Hymns for the Transition

In hymnody as in iconography, Sts. Peter and Paul usually appear together. This is true of the three hymns provided below for use in the papal transition.

The first two are my translations of office hymns. Both may be sung to any Long Meter or iambic melody.

Aurea luce, from the 8th or 9th century, calls St. Peter the “janitor”–the keeper of the keys–and St. Paul is as always the teacher of the whole world. The hymn plays continually upon the idea of doubling. These two great saints are both like, and equal, and yet unlike. They are equal in dignity, irreducible to one another, and always “at work” together for the good of the Church.

O light of dawn,
O rosy glow,
O Light from
Light, all ages show
Your beauty, and
the martyrs fame,
That gain us
pardon from our blame.

The heaven’s
porter, and earth’s sage,
The earth’s
bright lights who judge the age.
One wins by
cross, and one by sword,
And life on high
is their reward.

These are your
princes, happy Rome!
Their precious
blood clothes you, their home.
We praise not
you, but praise their worth,
Beyond all beauty
of the earth.

One love, one
hope, twin olive trees,
One great strong
hope filled both of these.
Full fonts, in
your matched charity,
Pray that we may
in heaven be.

Give glory to the
And honor to the
And joy and
pow’r, for their reign stays
Today and through
all endless days.
Apostolorum passio is usually attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan, though we are not entirely sure that he wrote it. It is certainly a rich, theologically dense poem. Like Aurea luce above, it attributes the dignity of Rome to these two saints, pre-eminently in their martyrs’ blood.
Blest day by suff’ring sanctified:
Christ’s chosen high apostles
Today St. Peter wins renown.
Today St. Paul accepts the

Together, equally, they bled:
Together: the victorious
They followed God and sacrificed
And now their faith is crowned by

St. Peter holds the highest place,
Yet Paul is not the less by
An equal faith was giv’n to Paul:
The chosen vessel of God’s

St. Peter, downward crucified—
To honor God in how he
Securely tied, he sees unfold
The death his Shepherd once

On such foundations Rome may claim
The highest service of
God’s name.
His noble blood has dignified
The city where this prophet

Let all the world, then, run to Rome.
Let families of nations
The head of nations teaches there
Beside the nations’ teacher’s

O Lord, we ask that we may be
In their exalted company,
with our princes sing Your praise
Forever, to unending days.

And last let me offer a hymn published by CanticaNOVA Publications and printed here with their kind permission to be used by anyone during this special time of papal transition. It was sung as below at the CMAA Colloquium this past year on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and this setting may be found on page 151 of the Colloquium music packet. The outstanding organist is Jonathan Ryan.

The Son of Man
has come to save
The lost and dark
of mind.
All men and women
bound in chains
In Him their
freedom find.

In Him the blind
shall come to see,
The deaf shall
For Jesus guides
the erring soul
With His
redeeming hand.

So Peter learned
to call Him Christ,
And Paul to call
Him Lord;
So Peter died
upon a cross,
And Paul beneath
a sword.

And on their
martyrs’ witness grows
The Church of
endless days.
Its rock no more
denies the Lord
Its foe now leads
His praise.

The Son of Man
has come to serve
To seek and save
the lost.
Blest be the Lord
whose saints reveal
The triumph of
His Cross.

 Copyright © 2005
CanticaNOVA Publications. Duplication restricted.


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Kathleen Pluth (510 Posts)

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