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Sedulius [Caelius Sedulius] (Poet)

Born: unknown date & place
Died: unknown date & place
Flourished: first half of 5th century

Sedulius [Caelius Sedulius] was a Christian Latin poet. He is known principally for his Carmen paschale, a biblical epic in five books of dactylic hexameter, probably written in the period 425-450. It was well known by the end of the 5th century and remained popular until at least the 12th; it was frequently copied and quoted, and was the source for the text of the introit of the Votive Mass of the Virgin, Salve, sancta parens, and the Christmas antiphon Genuit puerpera regem.

Two shorter poems are also attributed to Sedulius: a text on salvation history, Cantemus socii Domino (variously designated ‘hymnus’, ‘versus’ and ‘carmen’ in the manuscripts), and the famous abecedarian iambic hymn A solis ortus cardine, which recounts the life of Christ from the Incarnation to the Ascension and is found in liturgical manuscripts from the 10th century onwards The latter text was often divided into sections for different liturgical occasions: the first seven strophes were used for Christmas, the next four (beginning ‘Hostis Herodes impie’) for Epiphany, and the following four (beginning ‘Katerva matrum personat’) for the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Both A solis ortus cardine and the Carmen paschale had a significant influence on medieval poets.


Source: Grove Music Online © Oxford University Press 2006 acc. 5/29/06 (Authors: Lawrence Gushee/Susan Boynton)
Contributed by
Thomas Braatz (May 2006)

Chorale Texts used in Bach’s Vocal Works





A solis ortus cardine > Christum wir sollen loben schon (German version by Martin Luther)

Links to other Sites

Catholic Encyclopedia: Sedulius
Coelius Sedulius (Wikipedia)

Biography and hymns of Caelius Sedulius (Cyber Hymnal)
Patron Saints Index: Saint Sedulius (Catholic Forum)


J. Huemer: De Sedulii poetae vita et scriptis commentatio (Vienna, 1878)
J. Huemer, ed.: Sedulii opera omnia (Vienna, 1885)
F.J.E. Raby: A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1927, 2/1953), 108-10
A. Bastiaensen: ‘L'antienne “Genuit puerpera regem”, adaptation liturgique d'un passage du “Paschale carmen” de Sedulius’, Revue bénédictine, lxxxiii (1973), 388-97
C.P.E. Springer: ‘Sedulius' “A solus ortus cardine”: the Hymn and its Tradition’, Ephemerides liturgicae, ci (1987), 69-75
C.P.E. Springer: The Gospel as Epic in Late Antiquity: the ‘Paschale Carmen’ of Sedulius (Leiden, 1988)
C.P.E. Springer: The Manuscripts of Sedulius: a Provisional Handlist (Philadelphia, 1995)

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