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Eternal God

Current version

Here is the version in the Byzantine Catholic Hymnal (2007):

Boh predvicnyj

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This translation of Boh predvičnyj is by Father William Levkulic. Note that the first musical phrase is repeated in this English setting, while in the Slavonic it is only sung once. This is an example of why, in the new hymnal, I am planning to print the English and original-language versions separately.

See this article for the Slavonic.


There is just a touch of the theory of subsitutionary atonement in the second verse, which is more Western than Eastern. We will see much more of it in the Lenten hymns, but I don't see it as objectionable here.

Should this be titled as "Eternal God", or with the fuller, "Eternal God, through gates of birth"?

A different English translation (by Joseph Roll) can be found on page 982 of the The Divine Liturgy: An Anthology for Worship (Ukrainian Catholic, 2004), titled "God eternal." It uses a slightly different rhythm (four half notes) for the first phase, and omits the repetition of the first line which we added:

God eternal, rich in his grace
Has come down from above
To reclaim us with his love
Christ the Son of God.

In Bethlehem, this night is born
The Messiah foretold
By the prophecies of old
Christ the Son of God

Angels appear, shepherds behold
Mystic star shining bright
But the manger holds the Light
Christ the Son of God

Three wise men bear presents so fair
Gleaming gold, frankincense
And sweet myrrh which thus declare
Christ the Son of God

"Glory to God" let us sing out
Bending low to the Child
Born of Virgin undefiled
Christ the Son of God

I include Roll's text here to give a sense of other ways we might translate a given hymn. Because the melody has to be different from our usual one to fit the text, I don't see a good reason to change what we have, in this case.

NOTE: I decided to keep the current English translation, but publish eight verses in Slavonic, using the text from George Kacan's Kolady (1958), WITH a literal English translation: PDF


Here is the harmonization of the Slavonic version, from page 10 of Professor George Kacan's Kolady (1958):

I will go ahead and set the English in this fashion shortly.

Kacan provides ten verses in Slavonic on the next page; anyone interested in trying to translate them and put them into singable English? See the article on Boh predvičnyj for another literal English translation (of the Galician text) that may be helpful.

Thoughts or suggestions?

Please leave a comment on this blog entry: Four Christmas Songs.