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E05149: Hymn in honour of *Cyprian (bishop and martyr of Carthage S00411) composed in Latin in Spain, possibly in the 7th c.

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posted on 2018-03-02, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 107


'In honour of Cyprian'

The hymn addresses Cyprian (called Thascius), as a glorious teacher whose doctrines instruct the whole world. He taught with his word and with his example and was divinely inspired (strophes 1–3). Bacause of that he is able to inspire the faithful and restore lost souls to communion (strophe 4). Strophe 5 refers to Cyprian's martyrdom saying that he received the death as a gift and reward.

(6) Sic sic docens, quod uerum est,
fundis beatum sanguinem,
ditans cruore Africam,
uerbo docens Esperiam.

25 (7) Tu, doctor in terra pius,
tu, martyr in celestibus,
quod predicasti dogmate,
fac nos tenere per precem.

'(6) Thus teaching the truth, you shed your blessed blood, enriching Africa with your blood and teaching Hesperia with your word.

(7) Oh, you who on earth were a pious teacher and now a martyr in Heaven, let us through prayer keep the teachings that you preached.'

Here follows the strophe with the doxology.

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 394-395. Translation and summary: M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Cyprian, bishop and martyr of Carthage : S00411

Saint Name in Source

Cyprianus, Thascius

Type of Evidence

Liturgical texts - Hymns Literary - Poems


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified


The hymn is written in iambic dimeter. Pérez de Urbel (1926: 218) dated the hymn to the 7th c., highlighting the good quality of the poetic metre and the borrowings from the poem of Prudentius about Cyprian (see E04353). This date is accepted by Díaz y Díaz (1958, 366) and Szöverffy (1971, 35). The author of the hymn copies the concept of Prudentius, presenting Cyprian as a teacher who instructs people both by his martyrdom and by his writings. There is no allusion to any specific episode from the Martydom of Cyprian, which is included in the Spanish Passionary (see Fábrega Grau 1953, 189-190; 1955, 336-338). The hymn is preserved in several manuscripts: Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, ms. 10001 (9th/11th c.); London, British Library, Add. 30845 (10th/11th c.); Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, London, British Library, 30851 (11th c.); and Hymni (fragmenta), Madrid, Biblioteca de la Real Academia de la Historia, 118 guarda (10th/11th c.). Pérez de Urbel's method of dating hymns: Josef Pérez de Urbel's method is based on two preliminary assumptions: a) that the bulk of the Hispanic liturgy was composed in the 7th century, the 'golden age' of the Hispanic Church, and that important intellectual figures of this period (Braulio of Saragossa, Isidore of Seville, Eugenius of Toledo, et al.) participated in its creation; b) that the liturgy was, nevertheless, still developing and changing in the period after the Arab invasion, and therefore, many texts which we find in 9th, 10th, and 11th century liturgical manuscripts might be of more recent date. Some hymns can be dated to the period after 711, for instance if they mention 'hagaric oppression' or if they are in honour of saints whose cult was imported later to Spain (they do not feature in earlier literary and epigraphic evidence, nor are attested in the oldest liturgical book from Hispania, the Orationale Visigothicum). It is more difficult to identify the hymns which are certainly from before 711. To this group Pérez de Urbell usually attributed hymns with a probable attribution to an author from the 7th century (like Braulio of Saragossa or Quiricius of Barcelona), and those which were stylistically close to the poetry of Eugenius of Toledo from the 7th century. Pérez de Urbell then compared two groups of the hymns and noticed the following: a) late hymns contain 'barbarisms' and solecisms, while early ones are written in correct classical Latin; b) late hymns are composed in rhythmic metres, early ones are frequently in the correct classical metres; that, up until the end of the 7th century, people still could compose in e.g. hexameters is confirmed by epigraphical evidence; these metric inscriptions disappear from the 8th century onwards; the 8th and 9th century authors who make attempts at writing in classical (quantitative) metres, always make mistakes; c) some rhythmical poetry could nevertheless be early; d) although both early and late hymns sometimes have rhymes, perfect rhymes occur only in late hymns. In the absence of any certain indications for dating, Pérez de Urbell assumed that a hymn is early if at least two requirements were met: the Latin is 'correct' and there are no perfect rhymes. He also considered early every hymn composed in a quantitative metre.


The author of the hymn uses the alternative name of Cyprian—Thascius which he most probably took from Prudentius (see the discussion under E04353). In the manuscript tradition, however, the first verse became corrupted as: Urbis magister Tuscie, 'master of the city of Tuscia' (a scribal mistake corrected by modern editors). The author of the Mozarabic calendar from 961, in a note about the feast of Cyprian on 14 September, called the saint sapiens episcopus Tasie (Férotin 1912, 479), possibly influenced by an already corrupted version of the hymn.


Edition: Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispanica (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 167; Turnhout: Brepols, 2010). Castro Sánchez, J., Hymnodia hispánica (Corpus Christianorum in Translation 19; Turnhout: Brepols, 2014). Spanish translation. Further reading: Diaz y Diaz, M.C., "El latin medieval español," in: Actas del Primer Congreso Español dе Estudios Clásicos (Madrid: Congreso Español de Estudios Clásicos, 1958), 559-579. Fábrega Grau, Á., Pasionario hispánico (Madrid, Barcelona: Atenas A.G., 1953). Férotin, M., Le Liber Mozarabicus sacramentorum et les manuscrits mozarabes (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1912). Pérez de Urbel, J., "Origen de los himnos mozárabes," Bulletin Hispanique 28 (1926), 5-21, 113-139, 209-245, 305-320. Pinell, J.M., "Fragmentos de códices del antiguo Rito hispánico,” Hispania Sacra 17 (1964), 195-229. Szövérffy, J., Iberian Latin Hymnody: Survey and Problems (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998).

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