Of the Father's Heart Begotten

This Christmas we count down the days with an advent calendar of the 25 best Christmas carols ever written, as voted for by 50 top choral experts from the across the UK and US.

Of the Father's Heart Begotten
17 December: Of the Father's Heart Begotten

Words: Prudentius

Music: Plainchant


Few carols have words that can be traced back as early as this. ‘Corde natus ex parentis’ was written by Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius Clemens, who lived in northern Spain from, roughly, 350 to 400 AD. Today, Prudentius’s text is usually translated as ‘Of the Father’s Heart Begotten’ or ‘Of the Father’s Love Begotten’. It was 19th-century music editor Thomas Helmore who decided to couple the words with a Latin plainchant taken from the Piae Cantiones Theoderici Petri Nylandensis of 1582 – the result is solid, simple and hugely atmospheric. Or, as Sarah Baldock, organist of Chichester Cathedral, puts it: ‘Such a strong tune and wonderful words!’



December 12: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

December 13: O Magnum Mysterium

December 14: Sussex Carol

December 15: Once in Royal David's City

December 16: What Sweeter Music


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