Of the Father’s love begotten is a rather ancient hymn with rather recent adaptations. The tune, “Divinum Mysterium”, is a medieval chant tune, which means we have no idea when it first appeared or in what form. One thing is for certain – by the first time we know it was written down, it was certainly different than the first time it was sung. The earliest version of the chant we have appears in manuscripts dating from the 10th century; different versions with various melodic differences appear in multiple languages over the next five centuries. '
The text in our hymnal was first paired with the tune in The English Hymnal in 1851, and contained only six of the original 38 Latin stanzas. It also required a meter change from triple to duple, which has led to the two versions we know, the chant-like version where nearly every note gets the same duration, and the dance-like version presented by the choir for offertory at our 7 and 10 p.m. Christmas Eve services tonight.
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