Aurora lucis rutilat: Reflections on an Ancient Hymn of Easter

Ambrose Of Milan
Ambrose of Milan

This morning in Morning Prayer I was praying through a very old Easter hymn that has been attributed to the 4th century Bishop. St. Ambrose of Milan called Aurora Lucis Rutilat. The hymn is traditionally broken up into three parts which would be said in prayer throughout the day during the Easter season. I thought I would share a few thoughts and prayers I had while singing this hymn.

Aurora lucis rutilat:
The first part of the hymn talks about how on Easter morning the whole cosmos was shaking. Heaven was crying out in joy while hell was groaning in agony. Jesus bursts our carrying with him captives and captivity itself. As the stone is moved away; so too the gate of death is broken open. It no longer can stand between humanity and God. As the saints rise with Jesus all their pain and tears are cast down and they enter triumphantly into life with God as angels sing “Quia surrexit Dominus!” or “For the Lord Rises!”

Prayer: Lord help us to join in the Angelic song that fills the cosmos. Let he hear it and believe that you are indeed the king over the whole universe, even death itself. Let us put our whole lives into your hands!


Tristes errant apostoli
In the second part of the hymn, the apostles begin completely unaware of what has happened. They are pained to the heart, still reeling from the shock of Jesus’ death. They did not hear the shaking of the cosmos; the cry of defeat that was coming up from hell or the song of Angels rejoicing in heaven. Instead with a gentle voice and angel comes and speaks first to the women. They are sent to share this with the apostles with their own voice. Both women and men are met by Jesus in humble circumstances. Christ reveals his familiar face, his familiar form, he lets them touch him.

Prayer: Lord, sometimes we can’t hear the music of heaven. Sometimes the pain in life is all around us. Come send your word to us. Join us in our humble circumstances and show us your face. Let us touch you Lord.


Claro paschali gaudio
In the final part of the hymn we are reminded of the pure light of Christ that reveals the victory of Easter. The pain that was suffered by Jesus is transformed. His wounded hands are now filled with the light of glory which shines forth over all the earth proclaiming the resurrection. We respond to this light giving Christ our hearts, our souls, our praise and our honor; trusting in Christ the blessed giver of all blessing.

Prayer: Lord, we are amazed by your glory. It is not the glory of this world, seen  in wealth and riches. Your glory is the glory of sacrificial love. Your wounds become our hope and our light. We give you our lives that we too may become light to this world and partakers in your self-giving love. May we see where you lead us and walk faithfully in service to you and all you love.


Final thought
Thank you for praying with me today through this Easter Hymn. If you are interested in singing the hymn yourself you can find the text here along with an English translation by J. M. Neale. I’d love to hear where you are finding inspiration this Easter. Blessings!

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