A Hymn for Catholic teachers and their pupils

Hymn attributed to St Clement

This hymn to Christ the Saviour may have been sung at the catechetical school in Alexandria around 200AD, making it the earliest surviving school hymn of a Catholic school!

Bridle-bit of the gentle foal,
Wing of the homing bird,
Firm Helm of the ship set on its course,
Shepherd of the royal lambs;
Gather your scholars all around
To utter holy praise
And with those lips that speak no wrong
To chant in guileless song
For Christ, the guide of youth.

King of holiness,
Word whose rule all must obey
Born of highest heaven's Father,
Prince of wisdom;
Support in toil with graciousness unending,
Saviour of the breed of mortal men.

Shepherd and ploughman,
Helm and bridle,
Heavenward wing of an all-hallowed flock:
Fisher of all who cry for help,
Whom He sweeps safe from the high seas of sin,
Innocent fish from the hostile swell
Caught with the bait of a sweet way of life.

Holy shepherd of the flock divine,
king of unspoilt youth,
Lead the way!
The footsteps of Christ
Are the track to Heaven.

Word who always was and is and ever shall be,
Life immeasurable,
Unfailing light,
Compassion's very source!
Craftsman forging virtue
For the holy lives
Of all who sing to God.

Christ Jesus,
Heavenly milk pressed from your Bride's sweet breasts
To nourish tender mouths of sucklings with grace and wisdom:
the guileless take their fill with reason's milk,
the dew of your Spirit.

All together dance and sing
Our simple praise and heartfelt song
For Christ the King.
So may we pay our holy fees
For schooling in the way of life.
Dancing in the ring of peace
We are the simple escort of the young Pancrator.*

Race sprung from Christ,
Wisdom's own people
All praise together
the God of our peace.


*Creator of all things
Translated from the Greek by Canon John Mooney. For Greek text and French translation, see Clément d’Alexandrie, Le Pédagogue, Livre III pp. 192 ff. (in Sources Chrétiennes, Les Éditions du Cerf, Paris, 1970.)

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