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Altus prosator

Altus prosator. This is the first line of an abecedary Hiberno-Latin hymn found in 9th-century manuscripts on the continent, and in two 11th-century copies of the Irish Liber Hymnorum, where it is attributed to St Columba*. The ‘prosator’ is the first sower, a metaphor for the creator, so that the first line means ‘High creator’ ('prosator' is an unusual Latin word, typical of Irish Latin literature). The hymn proceeds through 23 stanzas, from the Creation to the Apocalypse; it has been described by Jane Stevenson as ‘outstandingly ambitious in its content... no other Hiberno-Latin poem has anything like its range and originality’ (1999, p. 327). The text may be found in Analecta Hymnica...

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