Alone, while others murdered lay; In safety Christ is borne away
The HYMN OF THE DAY, “Sweet Flowerets of the Martyr Band” (969) recalls the Holy Innocents, the infant boys of Bethlehem killed as Herod attempted to eliminate the infant Jesus. This account is part of the Holy Gospel for the Second Sunday after Christmas. This hymn also serves as the hymn of the day for December 28, the feast day which commemorates the Holy Innocents.
This hymn is from a larger work by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413) known as the Cathemerinon, a series of twelve hymns for various hours of the day. “These were among the most widely read devotional books in the Middle Ages; centos from them were used extensively in early breviaries and hymns” (Fred Precht, Lutheran Worship: Hymnal Companion). Prudentius was born in Spain, and later moved to Rome. Another work of his is the Peristephanon, a collection of poems honoring the martyrs of Spain, Rome, and Africa.
Today’s hymn is lines 125-136 of the twelfth poem titled “Hymnus Epiphaniae.” The English translation is by Henry W. Baker (1821-1877) from Hymns Ancient and Modern (1875).