A History of Christian-Latin Poetry (Oxford University Press by F.J.E. Raby

By F.J.E. Raby

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171), who would assign it to the seventh century. html [01-01-2009 1:27:46] page_26 < previous page page_26 next page > Page 26 There are early examples, too, of the use of two-syllabled rimes, in the grammarian Virgilius Maro (circ. D. 600),1 and in the seventh-century Bangor Antiphonary. From the Irish, the use of rime passed to AEthelwald and Boniface, and through Irish and Anglo-Saxon poets it established itself on the Continent, suffering only a temporary eclipse during the classical renaissance of Charles the Great.

The hymns of Ambrose formed the nucleus round which was collected the hymnary of the Church of Milan, or, as we are accustomed to call it, the Ambrosian hymnary. They were, indeed, an important element in the Western hymnaries as a whole. Benedict of Nursia, in his Rule, gave hymns a prominent place in the divine office by ordaining that at each canonical hour a certain hymn should be sung. But he merely says, 'Sequatur Ambrosianum' or 'hymnus eiusdem horae', leaving for us unsolved the problem of what hymns were actually in use.

Html [01-01-2009 1:27:46] page_25 < previous page page_25 next page > Page 25 non ex virili semine, sed mystico spiramine verbum dei factum est caro, fructusque ventris floruit. Again, in Prudentius, a stanza appears like the following:1 peccator, intueberis celsum coruscis nubibus, deiectus ipse et irritis plangens reatum fletibus. Sedulius, in the fifth century, is the first hymn-writer to make any considerable use of rime, for it appears in nearly every stanza of the A solis ortus cardine. Fortunatus in the next century uses it with well-designed effect in the Vexilla regis prodeunt: arbor decora et fulgida ornata regis purpura, electa digno stipite tam sancta membra tangere, and it is used likewise in the Quem terra pontus aethera: o gloriosa domina excelsa super sidera, qui te creavit provide lactasti sacro ubere.

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