Sacra Jam Splendent

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Sacra Jam Splendent (Latin) - the opening words of the Roman Catholic hymn for Matins of the Feast of the Holy Family. The Vatican instituted the feast in 1893, making it a duplex majus (greater double) and assigning it to the third Sunday after Epiphany.

Pope Leo XIII composed the three hymns (Vespers, Matins, Lauds) of the Breviary Office. The hymn for Matins contains nine Sapphic stanzas of the classical type of the first stanza:

Sacra jam splendent decorata lychnis

Templa, jam sertis redimitur ara,

Et pio fumant redolentque aerrae

Thuris honore.

(A thousand lights their glory shed

On shrines and altars garlanded,

While swinging censers dusk the air

With perfumed prayer.)

The hymns for Vespers (O lux beata caelitum) and Lauds (O gente felix hospita) are in classical dimeter iambics, four-lined stanzas, of which the Vespers hymn contains six and the Lauds hymn seven exclusive of the usual Marian doxology (Jesu tibi sit gloria). All three hymns are replete with spiritual unction, graceful expression, and classical dignity of form. They reflect the sentiment of the pope in his letter establishing a Pious Association in honour of the Holy Family and in his Encyclical dealing with the condition of working-men.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Sacra Jam Splendent". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.