This hymn is sung at Matins on the Feast of the Holy Innocents in the Extraordinary Form. In the Ordinary form, it is combined with “Salvete Flores Martyrum” as one hymn and sung at Lauds on the same feast day.
When it reach’d the tyrant’s ear,
Brooding anxious all alone,
That the King of kings was near,
Who should sit on David’s throne;
Stung with madness, straight he cries,
“Treason threatens—draw the sword!
Rebels all around us rise!
Drown the cradles deep in blood!”
What is guilty Herod’s gain,
Though a thousand babes he slay?-
Christ, amid a thousand slain,
Is in safety borne away.
Honour, glory, virtue, merit,
Be to Thee, O Virgin’s Son!
With the Father, and the Spirit,
While eternal ages run.
Words: Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, 5th C.; tr. Fr. Edward Caswall, C.O., 1849.
The original Latin text of this hymn may be found here.