Savior of the Nations, Come

Full Text

1 Savior of the nations, come,
Virgin's Son, make here Your home!
Marvel now, O heav'n and earth,
That the Lord chose such a birth.

2 Not by human flesh and blood,
By the Spirit of our God,
Was the Word of God made flesh --
Woman's offspring pure and fresh.

(sts. 3-8 copyrighted)

Source: Lutheran Service Book #332

Author: St. Ambrose

Ambrosius (St. Ambrose), second son and third child of Ambrosius, Prefect of the Gauls, was born at Lyons, Aries, or Treves--probably the last--in 340 A.D. On the death of his father in 353 his mother removed to Rome with her three children. Ambrose went through the usual course of education, attaining considerable proficiency in Greek; and then entered the profession which his elder brother Satyrus had chosen, that of the law. In this he so distinguished himself that, after practising in the court of Probus, the Praetorian Prefect of Italy, he was, in 374, appointed Consular of Liguria and Aemilia. This office necessitated his residence in Milan. Not many months after, Auxentius, bishop of Milan, who had joined the Arian party, died; and m… Go to person page >

Translator (English): William M. Reynolds

Born: March 4, 1812, Fay­ette Coun­ty, Penn­syl­van­ia. Died: Sep­tem­ber 5, 1876, Oak Park, Il­li­nois. Reynolds was ed­u­cat­ed at Jef­fer­son Coll­ege, Ca­non­sburg, Penn­syl­van­ia, and Luth­er­an Get­tys­burg Sem­in­ary. He was a pro­fes­sor at Penn­syl­van­ia Coll­ege (1833-50); pres­i­dent of Cap­i­tal Un­i­ver­si­ty, Co­lum­bus, Ohio (1850-53); and pres­i­dent of Il­li­nois State Un­i­ver­si­ty (1857-60). He be­came an or­dained Epis­co­pal min­is­ter in 1864, and found­ed the Evan­gel­i­cal Re­view. His last pas­tor­ate was at Christ Church, Har­lem (Oak Park), Il­li­nois, from 1872 un­til his death. Lyrics-- Come, Thou Sav­ior of Our Race Come, Th… Go to person page >

Translator (German): Martin Luther

Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody. i. Hymn Books. 1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Savior of the nations, come, Virgin's Son make here your home
Title: Savior of the Nations, Come
Latin Title: Veni, Redemptor gentium
Author: St. Ambrose
Translator (German): Martin Luther (1523)
Translator (English): William M. Reynolds
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


Scripture References:
st. 1-3 = Luke 1:26-45
st. 4 = Phil. 2:6-11

As attested by Augustine in 372, as well as by other early writers, Ambrose wrote this hymn in Latin ("Veni, Redemptor gentium") in the fourth century. The text appears in a number of eighth- and ninth-century manuscripts. Martin Luther (b. Eisleben, Saxony, Germany, 1483; d. Eisleben, 1546) translated this text into German ("Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland") in 1523 and included it in the Erfurt Enchiridia (1524). Consequently "Savior of the Nations" has become possibly the best known of the Lutheran Advent hymns. Various English translations are found in modern hymnals, many of which use, at least in part, William M. Reynolds's translation from his Hymns, Original and Selected (1851). Using the Latin and German texts as well as several English translations, Calvin Seerveld (PHH 22) prepared the translation that appears in the Psalter Hymnal in Toronto, Ontario, in 1984.

Stanzas 1-3 explain in hymn form what the Apostles' Creed confesses: he was "conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary" (see also Luke 1:26-45). Stanza 4 alludes to Philippians 2:6-11, which speaks of Christ's humiliation and exaltation. Stanza 5 is a prayer for faithfulness, and stanza 6 is a plea that Christ continue to intercede for his people. Stanza 7, a doxology, points to Christ's second coming and the coming of his eternal "lasting kingdom."

Ambrose (b. Treves, Germany, 340; d. Milan, Italy, 397), one of the great Latin church fathers, is remembered best for his preaching, his struggle against the Arian heresy, and his introduction of metrical and antiphonal singing into the Western church. Ambrose was trained in legal studies and distinguished himself in a civic career, becoming a consul in Northern Italy. When the bishop of Milan, an Arian, died in 374, the people demanded that Ambrose, who was not ordained or even baptized, become the bishop. He was promptly baptized and ordained, and he remained bishop of Milan until his death. Ambrose successfully resisted the Arian heresy and the attempts of the Roman emperors to dominate the church. His most famous convert and disciple was Augustine. Of the many hymns sometimes attributed to Ambrose, only a handful is thought to be authentic.

The influence of Martin Luther was monumental in biblical studies, theology, and the course of church history, but his influence was equally important in the worship and music of the church. He was educated at Magdeburg, Eisenach, and Erfurt and Intended to enter the legal profession. But at the age of twenty-two he decided to become a monk and entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. There he underwent the required rigors of spiritual training and was ordained in 1507. In 1510 he was commissioned to go to Rome to discuss a controversy within the Augustinian order. While in Rome, Luther was shocked by the worldliness and commercialism of the Italian clergy and the ostentation of the papacy.

After his return to Germany, Luther was appointed professor of sacred Scriptures at the University of Wittenberg, a position he retained until his death. In his lectures and preaching Luther began to teach the biblical and Augustinian doctrines of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, and he began to urge reforms of the abuses in the church. This call for reform came to a head when the Dominican friar Johann Teael appeared selling indulgences. Luther protested the whole system of salvation as taught by the church and published his "Ninety-five Theses" in 1517. This challenge resulted in a condemnation from Rome, and Luther found himself on a collision course with the church. He devoted the rest of his life to working out the implications of his stance and to assuming the leadership of the Protestant Reformation. Luther embodied his teachings in sermons, lectures, debates, table conversations, devotions, letters, and songs. His collected works number over fifty volumes (in English translation), not including one of his greatest contributions-the translation of the Bible into German.

Luther also became involved in the reformation of the worship of the church. It is generally recognized that in his liturgy Luther remained much closer to the Roman Catholic Church than did Calvin. However, both his Latin Mass ("Formula missae," 1523) and German Mass ("Deutscher messe," 1526) incorporated the basic teachings of the Reformation and became the model of worship for later Lutheran (and other) churches. Luther also promoted congregational singing and wrote thirty-five hymns, many based on the psalms and others on early hymns. Scholars are not completely certain how many hymn tunes he composed himself or arranged from other sources, but more are attributed to Luther now than in the past. Luther was a fine singer and lute player, and his love of music influenced the Lutheran tradition. In cooperation with a number of associates, Luther supervised the compilation of various hymnals, ranging from the Achtliederbuch (1524) to Babst's Geystliche Lieder (1545).

Liturgical Use:
During Advent or for Christmas Day (on Christmas Day st. 1-6 could be sung during the worship service, with st. 7 reserved for the doxology); stanzas 4-7 could also be used during Lent and for Easter Sunday.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



NUN KOMM DER HEIDEN HEILAND is a chorale derived from a chant. Among the simplest of the Lutheran repertoire, it is framed by identical lines–l and 4. Sing the entire hymn with antiphonal groups (the practice its original Latin author, Ambrose, strongly promoted). Sing some stanzas in unison and o…

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The Cyber Hymnal #5923
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Instances (1 - 16 of 16)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
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Gather (3rd ed.) #421
Gather Comprehensive #334TextPage Scan
Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #348Page Scan
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #54Text
Lutheran Service Book #332Text
Moravian Book of Worship #265Text
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #14TextPage Scan
Rejoice in the Lord #189TextPage Scan
Small Church Music #2323Audio
The Cyber Hymnal #5923TextScoreAudio
The United Methodist Hymnal #214
Include 13 pre-1979 instances