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“Augustine on Hymn Singing in Milan during the time of Ambrose”
also the discovery of the relics of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius
from Confessions, 9. 7. 15
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.earlychurchtexts.com
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Chapter VII.—Of the Church Hymns Instituted at Milan; Of the Ambrosian Persecution Raised by Justina; And of the Discovery of the Bodies of Two Martyrs.
15. Not long had the Church of Milan begun to employ this kind of consolation and exhortation, the brethren singing together with great earnestness of voice and heart. For it was about a year, or not much more, since Justina, the mother of the boy-Emperor Valentinian, persecuted Thy servant Ambrose in the interest of her heresy, to which she had been seduced by the Arians. The pious people kept guard in the church, prepared to die with their bishop, Thy servant. There my mother, Thy handmaid, bearing a chief part of those cares and watchings, lived in prayer. We, still unmelted by the heat of Thy Spirit, were yet moved by the astonished and disturbed city. At this time it was instituted that, after the manner of the Eastern Church, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should pine away in the tediousness of sorrow; which custom, retained from then till now, is imitated by many, yea, by almost all of Thy congregations throughout the rest of the world.
16. Then didst Thou by a vision make known to Thy
renowned bishop the spot where lay the bodies of Gervasius and Protasius,
the martyrs (whom Thou hadst in Thy secret storehouse preserved uncorrupted
for so many years), whence Thou mightest at the fitting time produce them to
repress the feminine but royal fury. For when they were revealed and dug up
and with due honour transferred to the Ambrosian Basilica, not only they who
were troubled with unclean spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were
healed, but a certain man also, who had been blind many years, a well-known
citizen of that city, having asked and been told the reason of the people’s
tumultuous joy, rushed forth, asking his guide to lead him thither. Arrived
there, he begged to be permitted to touch with his handkerchief the bier of
Thy saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight. When he had done this, and
put it to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. Thence did the fame spread;
thence did Thy praises burn,—shine; thence was the mind of that enemy,
though not yet enlarged to the wholeness of believing, restrained from the
fury of persecuting. Thanks be to Thee, O my God. Whence and whither hast
Thou thus led my remembrance, that I should confess these 135things also
unto Thee,—great, though I, forgetful, had passed them over? And yet then,
when the “savour” of Thy “ointments” was so fragrant, did we not “run after
Thee.” And so I did the more abundantly weep at the singing of Thy hymns,
formerly panting for Thee, and at last breathing in Thee, as far as the air
can play in this house of grass.
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from Confessions, 9. 7. 15
martyrs Gervasius and Protasius
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
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