That the dead might know salvation, who in limbo long had dwelt,
into Hell with love he entered; to him yield the broken gates,
as the bolts and massive hinges fall asunder at his word.
Now the door of ready entrance, but forbidding all return,
Outward swings as bars are loosened and sends forth the prisoned souls,
by reversal of the mandate, reading its threshold once more.
But while God with the golden splendour lighted up the halls of Death,
while he shed the dawn's refulgence on the startled shades of night,
radiant stars grew pale with sorrow in the lurid ashen sky,
And the sun took flight from heaven, clad in dusky mourning robes,
left behind his fiery chariot, hid himself in anxious grief,
For a while salvation's Leader gave himself to realms of Death,
that he might the dead, long buried, guide in their return to light,
when the chains that had been welded by that primal sin were loosed.
Then, in steps of their Creator, many saints and patriarchs,
putting on their fleshly garments and arising from their tombs,
followed Him, at length returning on the third day to the Earth.
-Prudentius, 4th Century
Hymn 9, "A Hymn for Every Hour," in tAureli Predentii Clementis Carminam, pp. 50-51.
he Poems of Predentius, translated by M. Clement Eagan, pp. 65-66. For the Latin text, see: