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E06238: Hymn for the feast of the Nativity of *John the Baptist (S00020), composed in Latin in Spain possibly in the 7th century.

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posted on 2018-08-23, 00:00 authored by mszada
Hymnodia Hispanica, Hymn 133



(1) Puer hic sonat Iohannes,
geniti Dei alumnus,
domini potens amicus,
rutilis lucerna orbis
5 rutilo peracto sole.

(2) Sapientie loquelle,
deitatis abtus index,
uetule refusus aluo,
uteri senilis ortus,
10 patrio decore clarus.

(3) Precibus fabe, rogamus,
pietas redundet alma,
miseris adesto nobis,
repleat salus labentes,
15 facinus remitte cunctis.

(4) Patriam regat modestas,
acies recedat ensis,
perimens ruat peremptus,
gladium retundat ignis,
20 iugulum reclinet hostis.

Here follows the strophe with the doxology.



(1) Today the boy John is praised with song, the disciple of the begotten God, the powerful friend of the Lord, the brilliant lamp of the world until the brilliant sun comes to its fullness.

(2) The words of wisdom, the worthy witness of the Divinity, brought forth from the elderly womb, born from the senile womb, distinguished by his father's honour.

(3) Hear our prayers, we beg you, let fruitful piety pour out, help us who are miserable, let salvation fill those who fell, and remit the sin of all.

(4) Let our homeland be ruled with modesty, let the sword's blade be repelled, let the one who destroys be destroyed himself, let the sword be blunted with fire, and let the foe bend his neck.'

Text: Castro Sánchez 2010, 491-92. Translation M. Szada.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

John the Baptist : S00020

Saint Name in Source

Iohannes Baptista

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

  • Chant and religious singing

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs



The hymn, written in quantitative anacreontics (Blume 1897, 191; Norberg 2004, 73), was tentatively dated to the 7th century by Pérez de Urbel (1926, 211-12). The Spanish scholar proposed that the author of the hymn might have been Ildefonsus, bishop of Toledo (657-667) – in the 10th century manuscript Liber Mozarabicus Sacramentorum (Toledo 35.6) on the margin of the page with the hymn and the office for the feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist is an anagram of the name "Ildefonsus". Moreover, Pérez de Urbel wanted to associate the composition of the hymn (and other liturgical texts for the feast) with the reign of King Recceswinth who is known to dedicate a church to John the Baptist (San Juan de Baños, for the inscription see E###). All that is, however, inconclusive. The 7th century dating is accepted by Diaz y Diaz and Szöverffy. The hymn is preserved in Psalmi, Cantica et Hymni, Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid, ms. 10001 (9th-11th c.); Officia et Missae, Archivo Central in Toledo, ms. 35.6 (9th-10th c.); and Psalmi Cantica et Hymni, British Library in London, ms. 30851 (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.


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., Códices visigóticos en la monarquía leonesa (León: Centro de Estudios e Investigación "San Isidoro", 1983). 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). Norberg, D., An Introduction to the Study of Medieval Latin Versification (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2004). 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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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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