O Gracious Light – Phos Hilaron

Usually, A Collection of Prayers does not feature hymns, since another fine website, Hymnary.org, has extensive information, multiple translations, and charts on hymns appearance in hymnals. “O Gracious Light” is an exception because of its liturgical use.

“O Gracious Light” was first recorded by an unknown author in the Apostolic Constitutions, which was written in the late 3rd or early 4th century. It is an evening hymn, often used as part of the Lucernarium, the Service of Light. Ideally, candles would be lit as the hymn is sung. Several versions of Vespers (Evening Prayer) include some version of “O Gracious Light” as an opening hymn.

O gracious light,
pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven,
O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,
and our eyes behold the vesper light,
we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O Giver of Life,
and to be glorified through all the worlds.

Source: Book of Common Prayer (U. S.), 1979, p. 112.

Original in Greek:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν
ἁγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου Πατρός, οὐρανίου,
ἁγίου, μάκαρος, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ,

ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν,
ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν,
ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, Θεόν.

Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς αἰσίαις,
Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς·
διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει.

“O Gracious Light” has been translated into English many times into both prose and poetic versions.

Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978 (Prose)

Joyous light of glory of the immortal Father,
Heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ,
We have come to the setting of the Sun
And we look to the evening light.
We sing to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever.
O Son of God, O Giver of life,
The universe proclaims your glory.

This is a copyrighted text, © 1978 Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Robert Bridges, d. 1930 (Poetic)

O gladsome light, O grace
of God the Father’s face,
the eternal splendour wearing;
celestial, holy, blest,
our Saviour Jesus Christ,
joyful in thine appearing.

Now, ere day fadeth quite,
we see the evening light,
our wonted hymn outpouring;
Father of might unknown,
thee, his incarnate Son,
and Holy Spirit adoring.

To thee of right belongs
all praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, Lifegiver;
thee, therefore, O Most High,
the world doth glorify,
and shall exalt forever.

F. Bland Tucker, d. 1984 (Poetic)

O gracious Light, Lord Jesus Christ,
in you the Father’s glory shone.
Immortal, holy, blest is he,
and blest are you, his holy Son.

Now sunset comes, but light shines forth,
the lamps are lit to pierce the night.
Praise Father, Son, and Spirit; God
who dwells in the eternal light.

Worthy are you of endless praise,
O Son of God, Life-giving Lord;
wherefore you are through all the earth
and in the highest heaven adored.

This is a copyrighted text, © The Church Pension Fund

Christ Is Risen

TheRisenChrist[1]

Christ is risen: the world below lies desolate.
Christ is risen: the spirits of evil are fallen.
Christ is risen: the angels of God are rejoicing.
Christ is risen: the tombs of the dead are empty.
Christ is risen indeed from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Glory and power are his forever and ever.

Source: St. Hippolytus of Rome, third century.

A Doxology

To the only God invisible,
the Father of truth,
who sent to us
the Savior and prince of immortality,
through whom also he revealed to us
the truth and the heavenly light.
To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Third or fourth century papyrus

Source of this version: The New Archaeological Discoveries and their Bearing upon the New Testament by Camdem McCormick Cobern, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1918, p. 277

 

The Anaphora of Hippolytus

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The Anaphora of Hippolytus is from the Apostolic Constitutions, and is the basis for many eucharistic prayers, including Eucharistic Prayer II of the present Roman Rite, Eucharistic Prayer IV in Lutheran Book of Worship (Minister’s Desk Edition), and the Prayer of Thanksgiving in The Service: Setting One in Christian Worship: Hymnal (2021). 

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord.
It is right and just.

We give thanks to you God,
through your beloved son Jesus Christ,
whom you sent to us in former times
as Savior, Redeemer, and Messenger of your will.
He is your inseparable Word,
through whom you made all,
and in whom you were well-pleased.
You sent him from heaven into the womb of a virgin,
who, being conceived within her, was made flesh,
and appeared as your Son,
born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin.
It is he who, fulfilling your will
and acquiring for you a holy people,
extended his hands in suffering,
in order to liberate from sufferings
those who believe in you.

Who, when he was delivered to voluntary suffering,
in order to dissolve death,
and break the chains of the devil,
and tread down hell,
and bring the just to the light,
and set the limit,
and manifest the resurrection,
taking the bread, and giving thanks to you, said,

“Take, eat, for this is my body which is broken for you.”

Likewise he took the cup, saying,

“This is my blood which is shed for you.
Whenever you do this, do this in memory of me.”

Therefore, remembering his death and resurrection,
we set before you the bread and the cup,[1]
giving thanks to you, for you have made us worthy
to stand before you and to serve you.

And we pray that you would send your Holy Spirit
on the offering of your Holy Church.
In their gathering together,
give to all those who partake of your holy mysteries the fullness of the Holy Spirit,
toward the strengthening of the faith in truth,
that we may praise you and glorify you,
through your son Jesus Christ,
through whom to you be glory and honor,
Father and Son,
with the Holy Spirit,
in your Holy Church,
now and always.
Amen.

Source: The Anaphora of Hippolytus, third century

Note:

  1. In the early church, it was the custom for members of the church to present bread and wine as gifts to be used for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which is the “offering” or “setting before” (offerimus) mentioned here. Later (especially in the Council of Trent), the Lord’s Supper was wrongly viewed as a re-sacrificing of Christ’s body and blood. (See Hebrews 7:27 and 9:26).

Original in Latin:

Dominus vobiscum.
Et cum spiritu tuo.

Sursum corda.
Habemus ad Dominum.

Gratias agamus Domino.
Dignum et iustum est. 

Et sic iam prosequatur. Gratias tibi referimus, Deus per dilectum puerum tuum Jesum Christum, quem in ultimis temporibus misisti nobis salvatorem et redemptorem et angelum voluntatis tuae. Qui est Verbum tuum inseparabile, per quem omnia fecisti et bene placitum tibi fuit. Misisti de calo in matricem Virginis, quique in utero habitus incarnatus est et Filius tibi ostensus est ex Spiritu Sancto et Virgine natus. Qui voluntatem tuam complens et populum sanctum tibi adquirens extendit manus cum pateretur, ut a passione liberaret eos qui in te crediderunt. Qui cumque traderetur voluntariae passioni ut mortem solvat et vincula diaboli dirumpat et infernum calcet et iustos inluminet et terninum figat et resurrectionem manifestet, accipiens panem gratias tibi agens dixit: Accipite, manducate: hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis confringetur. Similiter et calicem dicens: Hic est sanguis mcus qui pro vobis effunditur. Quando hoc facitis, meam commemorationem facitis. Memores igitur mortis et resurrectionis eius offerimus tibi panem et calicem gratias tibi agentes quia nos dignos habuisti adstare coram te et tibi ministrare. Et petimus ut mittas Spiritum tecum Sanctum in oblationem sancta Ecclesiae. In unum congregans des omnibus qui percipiunt sanctis in repletionem Spiritus Sancti ad confirmationem fidei in veritate, ut te landemus et glorificemus per puerum tuum Jesum Christum, per quem tibi gloria et honor Patri et Filio cum Sancto Spiritu in sancta Ecclesia tua et nunc et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

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For Divine Strength

O mightiest King,
co-eternal with the Father,
by your might you vanquished hell and trodden death under foot,
you have bound the strong man,
by your miraculous power
and the radiance of your unspeakable Godhead
you arose as the second Adam from the tomb.
Send forth your invisible right hand,
which is full of blessing,
and bless us all.

Pity us, O Lord,
and strengthen us with your divine power.
Take away the sinful and wicked influence of carnal desire.
Let the light shine into our souls
and dispel the surrounding darkness of sin.
Unite us to the all-blessed assembly that is pleasing to you;
for through you and with you,
all praise, honor, power, adoration, and thanksgiving are due
to the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Source: Liturgy of St. Mark, third century.

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

“by your miraculous power and the radiance of your unspeakable Godhead you arose as the second Adam from the tomb.” …in Potts’ edition was, “…by Thy miraculous power and the enlightening radiance of Thy unspeakable Godhead hast raised Adam from the tomb.”

 

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For Ministers

O God,
you are great in power,
unsearchable in understanding,
and wonderful in your plans for us.
Fill your servant with the gift of the Holy Spirit
that he may stand before your holy altar blameless,
to announce the gospel of your kingdom,
to administer the Word of your truth,
to offer gifts and spiritual sacrifices to you,
and to renew your people in the font of rebirth,
that when your only Son,
our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, comes again,
by your mercies he will receive your reward;
for your holy and majestic name is blessed and glorified.

Source: Eastern Church Liturgy, third century

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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For Friends and Relatives

Have mercy, O Lord,
on all those tied with us in the bonds of friendship and family,
and grant that they, with us,
may be so perfectly conformed to your holy will,
that being cleansed from all sin,
we may be found worthy,
by the inspiration of your love,
to be partakers together of the blessedness of your heavenly kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Old Gallican Sacramentary

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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For Light

O God of Light, Father of Life,
Author of grace, Creator of worlds,
Giver of Wisdom, Benefactor of our souls,
Treasure of holiness, Teacher of pure prayers,
you give the fainthearted who put their trust in you
things into which angels long to look.

O Sovereign Lord,
you have brought us up from the depths of darkness to light,
you have given us life from death,
you have graciously given us freedom from slavery,
and you have scattered the darkness of sin within us.

Enlighten the eyes of our understanding,
that we may partake of this heavenly and immortal food
without fear of condemnation,
and sanctify us completely in soul, body, and spirit,
that with your holy disciples and apostles
we may say this prayer to you:
Our Father… Amen.

Source: Liturgy of St. Mark, third century.

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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For Blessings

Lover of mankind,
bless all your people,
the flocks of your fold.
Send the peace of heaven into our hearts,
and grant us also peace in this life.
Give life to our souls,
and let no deadly sin prevail against us,
or any of your people.
Deliver all who are in trouble,
for you are our God.
You set the captives free,
you give hope to the hopeless,
and help to the helpless.
You lift up the fallen,
and you are the Haven of the shipwrecked.
Give your pity, pardon,
and refreshment to every Christian soul,
whether in affliction or error.
Preserve us in our pilgrimage through this life
from hurt and danger,
and grant that we may end our lives as Christians,
pleasing to you and free from sin,
and that we may have our portion and lot with all your saints. Amen.

Source: Liturgy of St. Mark, third century.

Source of this version: Freely modified from Prayers of the Early Church, edited by J. Manning Potts, 1953

 

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Your Words Are Channels of Grace into Our Hearts

Lord,
inspire us to read your Scriptures
and to meditate upon them day and night.
We beg you to give us real understanding of what we need,
that we in turn may put its precepts into practice.
Yet we know that understanding and good intentions are worthless,
unless rooted in your graceful love.
So we ask that the words of Scriptures
may also be not just signs on a page,
but channels of grace into our hearts.

Source: Origen (ca. 185-254)

Source of this version: https://shadowsofaugustine.blogspot.com/2008/11/prayer-before-reading-scripture.html