Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Reformed Irenicism

“Behold, A Clear Voice Thunders”

Last year around this time I posted translations of some medieval Latin Advent hymns. So, in that spirit, here is another, which continues the practice of reminding its singers of both the First and Second Coming. The imagery of light is prominent throughout the poem, from the first line to the last stanza (“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” [Rev. 22.16–see Walpole, and cf. 22.5]. Each time, Christ comes as the light that chases away darkness–first, to awaken, forgive, cleanse, restore, heal; second, to judge.

John the Baptist calls Christ the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and so the hymn speaks of Christ’s full satisfaction (ut tollat omne noxium) and of free forgiveness (laxare gratis debitum). It is, in addition, evangelical and exhortatory: let us all repent in the time of God’s mercy (omnes…vocem demus).

Once again, the meter is iambic dimeter.

Vox clara ecce intonat

Vox clara ecce intonat,

obscura quaeque increpat,

pellantur eminus somnia,

ab aethre Christus promicat.


mens iam resurget torpida,

quae sorde exstat saucia;

sidus refulget iam novum,

ut tollat omne noxium.


e sursum agnus mittitur

laxare gratis debitum;

omnes pro indulgentia

vocem demus cum lacrimis;


secundum ut cum fulserit

mundumque horror cinxerit,

non pro reatu puniat,

sed pius nos tunc protegat.

Behold, a clear voice thunders

Behold, a clear voice thunders

and makes known all that was previously hidden;1

from afar dreams2 are driven away,

Christ shines forth from heaven.


Now the sluggish mind rises again,

the mind that stands wounded by its pollution;

now a new star shines,

in order to take away all our guilt.


From on high the Lamb is sent

to pay our debt for free;

let us all lift up with tears

our voice for pardon,


so that, when he has shone a second time

and dread has wreathed the world,

he may not punish us for our guilt,

but, with pity,3 then protect us.[^4]



  1. With antithesis between clara and obscura. The line could also translated, “and upbraids all the darkness.” 
  2. Or “sleep.” 
  3. The translation is my own. 

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.