Daily Archives: January 16, 2009

Epiphany Hymns Note

Several of us at various points have noted the interesting Gospel Antiphon for Second Vespers of the Feast of the Epiphany:

We keep this day holy in honor of three miracles: this day a star led the Wise Men to the manager; this day water was turned into wine at the marriage feast; this day Christ willed to be baptized by John in the Jordan for our salvation, alleluia.

What I had never quite realized until last night is that this seasonal understanding is further reinforced by the Office hymns: Iesus Refulsit Omnium and Hostis Herodes Impie (known in these latter days in the Urbanized hack-up version Crudelis Herodes).

Thus in Iesus Refulsit Omnium, stanzas 2 and 3 discuss the arrival of the magi and their gifts to the Babe, stanzas 4-6 deal with the Baptism of our Lord, and stanza7 recalls the miracle at Cana.

In Hostis Herodes Impie, stanza 2 presents the magi, stanza 4 the Baptism of our Lord, and stanza 7 the miracle at Cana. Furthermore stanza 5 points to other miracles that take their place within the old lectionaries Epiphany season by noting “he healed sick bodies and revived corpses”.

Crudelis Herodes is similar but the versions in my Liber and ’62 Missal contain fewer stanzas; in this case stanza 2 is the magi, stanza 3 is the Baptism, and stanza 4 is the miracle at Cana.

Suddenly I find myself wondering the chicken and egg question—which came first: did the antiphon produce the hymns, the hymns the antiphon, or do they all derive from an earlier common source?