I could use a little help with parsing the second verse of this famous Advent hymn:

Veni, O Sapientia,
Quae hic disponis omnia,
Veni, viam prudentiae,
Ut doceas et gloriae.

I have the following three doubts:

  • Quae: Is this feminine and nominative, taking the place of "Sapientia"? Or, is neuter and accusative, paired with "omnia"?

  • hic: I am lost here.

  • viam: This appears to be accusative, but I cannot imagine why it is not nominative/vocative given that choice was made for "Sapientia" in the first line.


2 Answers 2


Quae refers to sapientia. This is a relative clause, and it (mostly) only makes sense if the relative pronoun refers to something mentioned before. I'm not a native speaker, but I get the impression that English doesn't allow second person relative clauses like the one in the question: "Come here, you who do this and that."

I'm guessing you are confused because you assume hic is the pronoun "this". Instead, it appears to be hīc, the adverb "here".

The viam is the object of doceas. The essence of the last part is: Veni, ut viam doceas. "Come, so that you may teach the way."

  • Indeed English does allow this sort of second-person relative clause, though it's not common; examples here and here.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:50
  • @BenKovitz I don't recall ever coming across that before, but I'm glad to hear it's possible. I'll try to get the time to update the answer tomorrow. Using the phone on a long and late bus ride is not the optimal circumstance for polishing an answer... Thanks!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:55
  • I don't think there's any need to update the answer. It's good that you who answered the question answered it slightly differently even while agreeing, reflecting different native languages. :)
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 21:00

The first thing to keep in mind is that hymns like this, which rely on stress and rhyme, often have irregular syntax, so word order can be very strange.

In the first half, quae refers to sapientia: with the second person verb, it means, "you who...." Hic is just an adverb (not a demonstrative pronoun) meaning "here," i.e. "on earth." So, the first part says:

Come, O Wisdom, you who arrange all things here.

The second part should be clearer if you rearrange the word-order to the following:

Veni, ut doceas viam prudentiae et gloriae.

This translates to:

Come, that you may teach [us] the way of prudence and glory.


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