Wondrous Type

“Oh wondrous type” is a wondrous Transfiguration hymn. Some hymnals emend “type” to “sight,” but that is clearly a mistake. A “type” in the old sense of the word is closer to what we now call a “prototype.” Christ’s transfiguration is a first instance of, and authoritative model for, something else: his people’s own transformation into glory.

That, anyhow, is the point of this hymn. It’s based on an old Latin text from the Sarum Rite, which was the liturgical book of the Church of England before the Book of Common Prayer.  The hymn is sung to the tune “Deo gracias” (also known as “Agincourt,” the same tune as “O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High.” A reconstruction of the medieval tune with period instruments is here).

Oh wondrous type
Sarum, 1495; trans. John Mason Neale

Oh, wondrous type! Oh, vision fair
Of glory that the church may share,
Which Christ upon the mountain shows,
Where brighter than the sun he glows!

With Moses and Elijah nigh
Th’incarnate Lord holds converse high;
And from the cloud the Holy One
Bears record to the only Son.

With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
What glory shall be theirs above
Who joy in God with perfect love.

And faithful hearts are raised on high
By this great vision’s mystery,
For which in joyful strains we raise
The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

O Father, with the eternal Son
And Holy spirit ever one,
We pray you, bring us by your grace
To see your glory face to face.

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About middlingpoet

From the Gawain poet to Rainer Maria Rilke: I love traditional poetry.
This entry was posted in Anglican, Catholic, Church Year, Hymns and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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