Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348-c.413) – also known simply as Prudentius – was a poet who lived most in Northern Spain. Believed to have been born in Caesaraugusta (known today as Saragossa/Zaragoza) he studied law and eventually became a judge. He spent part of his life living and working in Rome, but upon retirement in his mid-fifties he chose to live an ascetic lifestyle and devoted himself to writing religious poetry. He was much influenced by the saints and martyrs of the early church, especially St Ambrose.
While he is not so well-known today, two translations of his hymns still appear in hymnbooks and are sung during the appropriate season. ‘Of the Father’s heart begotten’ (Corde natus ex parentis) and ‘Earth hath many a noble city’ (O solo magnarum urbium) are sung, respectively, at Christmas and Epiphany. Both of these hymns come Liber Cathemirinon (literally, the book of daily things), which is a collection written by Prudentius containing hymns for daily use. ‘Of the Father’s heart’ has several English translations, which are similar to each other. The tune to which it is widely sung is called DIVINUM MYSTERIUM, an ancient Plainsong melody which was matched with the English words by Thomas Helmore (1811-1890).