O Gladsome Light (Phos Hilaron)

Part of the Matheson Trust Sacred Audio Collection

Also translated as “O Joyful Light” or “Hail, gladdening Light”, this is the earliest known Christian hymn recorded outside of the Bible that is still in use today. Writing in the 4th century, Saint Basil called it “one of our oldest and most beloved hymns”. It is chanted at sunset during Vespers, as the oil lamps are lit to replace the waning Sun, mostly in the Orthodox liturgies, but also in some Western churches as an Evensong hymn. In Catholic liturgy, it often forms part of the Office of the Dead.

Greek

recorded at the Kaisariani Church of St Nicholas, Athens.

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Click here to download – 5:29 (5.3MB)

Latin

recording by the Coro Gregoriano De Cistierna.

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Click here to download – 2:10 (2.1MB)
Click to view the Latin text

Lumen hilare sanctae gloriae Patris immortalis coelestis,
sancti, beati, Iesu Christe.
Accedentes ad occasum solis
per luce vesperali iam accensa,
cantamus Patrem, et Filium,
et Spiritum sanctum, Deum.
Dignum es nos omni tempore te cantare vocibus puris,
Fili Dei, vitae dator.
Ideo ex toto orbe ascendit ad te gloria laudis.
Amen.

Arabic

from the Saturday Light Service at St George Church, El Mina, Lebanon.

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Click here to download – 2:03 (2MB)
“This is what chanting must have sounded like in the early centuries of Christianity.”

Armenian

by the Armash Choir of Armenian Patriarchate.

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Click here to download – 8:17 (8MB)

English

“Kindling the Evening Light” at Bishop Cronyn Anglican Church, Canada.

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Click here to download – 2:18 (2.2MB)
Click to view the English text

O gladsome light, O grace
Of God the Father’s face,
The eternal splendour wearing;
Celestial, holy, blest,
Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
Joyful in thine appearing.

Now, ere day fadeth quite,
We see the evening light,
Our wonted hymn outpouring;
Father of might unknown,
Thee, his incarnate Son,
And Holy Spirit adoring.

To thee of right belongs
All praise of holy songs,
O Son of God, Lifegiver;
Thee, therefore, O Most High,
The world doth glorify,
And shall exalt forever.