One of a series of posts about the saints featured in the mural of poets and hymnographers of the Church.
Ambrose is in the choir of hymnographers mainly for his work to encourage singing in the Church. He wrote many hymns for the offices of the Western Church. In fact, for many centuries, the rubrics of the Western Daily Office called for the singing of “an Ambrosian hymn.”
Ambrose introduced antiphonal singing — the alternation of singing between choirs or halves of the congregation — to the Western Church.
Ambrose fought heresy — specifically Arianism — through the singing of hymns, metered songs with attractive and memorable melodies. The Arians were known for their songs, so Ambrose strove to make use of this weapon in the doctrinal battles. The people could then learn their faith in an easier way that stuck with them better than discursive argument.
Known in the West as the Father of Latin hymnody, Abrose is author of the morning hymn, Splendor Paternae (“O splendor of God’s glory bright”), as well as the Advent hymn, Veni Redemptor Gentium (“Come, thou Redeemer of the Earth” or “Redeemer of the Nations, Come”).
Get the collection in a handy booklet, A Guide to the Wall of Hymnographers and Poets, by Tracey Edson, available from the parish or from Amazon.com.