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ClassicsOnline Home » NAXOS BOOK OF CAROLS (THE)
The Naxos Book of Carols is a collection of both the very old and very new. It is a selection of best-loved and new-found carols, drawing on centuries of tradition. The settings are all new, commissioned by Naxos for this recording (scores available for download from www.naxoscarols.com in association with Faber Music). The carols unfold in four narrative sequences each focusing on a different part of the Christmas Story – from The Hope of Advent to the announcements of The Message, the joy of the birth of The Baby and the celebration of the coming of The King of Kings. There are 24 carols, one for each day of Advent.
By Sara Bryan Miller
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Naxos Book of Carols
Putting together a collection of carols at the beginning of
the 21st Century is at once a daunting and a liberating task: tunes and words
alike have acquired the privilege of tradition, but also its plasticity. Carols
are part of a living ritual which grows and evolves every generation:
composers, singers, and listeners have each added their interpretations and
memories, which makes finding the ‘authentic’ version of a Christmas carol
usually both hopeless and pointless. The melodies that have survived have
mostly done so because they are great tunes, now indelibly associated with the
events of Christmas re-enacted and celebrated each year in church, on the
street, in the pub and at home.
This collection is made up of 24 carols arranged in four
sequences, each focusing on a different part of the Christmas story. The
arrangements are all new, commissioned by Naxos specially for this recording,
and tread a careful line between familiarity and novelty. The customary
alternation of unaccompanied verses, descants and last-verse harmony has been
followed in most of the best-known carols; but there are also plenty of
surprises to be unwrapped. The arrangements are designed for widespread use: it
should be possible to sing along with the tune in each verse, while the choral
parts are almost never in more than the standard four: soprano, alto, tenor and
bass. Scores of all the carols in The Naxos Book of Carols are available from
www.naxoscarols.com in association with Faber Music.
The first sequence (tracks 1-5) outlines the two-edged theme
of Advent (the season leading up through December to Christmas Eve): the hope
of the Messiah or the Christ who comes first in weakness to suffer, and finally
in glory to reign. O come, o come, Emmanuel  is a paraphrase of the seven
Advent ‘O’ Antiphons in an arrangement coloured by the gradual developments in
Western harmony over the last two thousand years. Of the Father’s heart
begotten  contrasts the eternal nature of the Son of God with the outworking
of prophecy at a specific point in Time; the tune is set alternately against a
simple repeating bass-line and in three-, two- and four-part canon. O quickly
come  is a new carol in a lively 7/8 rhythm, reiterating with greater
urgency the pleas for the King to come. Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O  is a
re-working of a polyphonic mediaeval carol, resounding with joy at the
extraordinary event of the Incarnation – God becoming Man. This Advent sequence
is crowned with the famous hymn Lo! He comes  in which the hopes of the
ancient prophets of Israel and the Church are ultimately rewarded.
The second sequence (tracks 6-12) brings together the
announcements of Christ’s conception and birth, and those who witnessed the
message – both angels and shepherds. The holly and the ivy  finds hints in
the natural world of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, with two traditional tunes
intertwined (the little-known tune was written down from a tape in the BBC
archives). The symbolism of plants and their flowers is further explored in Lo,
there a Rose is blooming . Alleluya – a new work  is a fresh take on a
late-mediaeval carol with two angels answering each other across the heavens
(here the husband-and-wife team of Joanna Forbes and Alexander L’Estrange). The
rollicking tune of Ding! dong! merrily on high  is put through its paces as
the bells of heaven peal in celebration at the birth of the Saviour. While
shepherds watched  is sung to one of its most familiar melodies, but with a
rough-hewn arrangement vaguely reminiscent of shape-note and other popular
choral styles. Following on immediately is The Song of Angels  – one of
Orlando Gibbons’ exquisite tunes from Hymnes and Songs of the Church. All join
together for Hark! the herald angels sing  in which the breathtaking
consequences of the Christmas story are elegantly summarised.
From the fields outside Bethlehem the shepherds hurry to see
the new-born baby lying in a manger: an unusual sight, surely, and the focus of
the third sequence of carols (tracks 13-18). Silent night  is sung as a
lullaby, with the opening motif of the tune mirrored at various speeds in the
other voices. Away in a manger , one of the most popular children’s carols,
reflects the humble setting of Jesus’ birth. Another lullaby follows, and in
the final verse points forward from the intimate tranquillity of mother and
child to Calvary, where Mary will later see her son being executed: Baby Jesus,
hush! now sleep . The well-known words of O little town of Bethlehem 
are clothed with a new tune, while the classic chorale tune O Jesulein süss is
newly-combined with the age-old words of Jesu dulcis memoria: Jesu, the very
thought is sweet . The sequence ends as the worshippers, both ancient and
modern, meet to adore the new-born Saviour in O come, all ye faithful .
The King of Kings
In the final sequence of carols (tracks 19-24) the gaze is
widened to encompass all those who will come to adore, from little children to
mighty kings. Personent hodie  is notable for the repeated syllables
(particularly the “vir” of “virgineo” in the first verse), and in the final
verse includes the tune of the following track as an organ descant. In dulci
jubilo  is a post-modern collage of settings by Praetorius, J. S. Bach and
Stainer, with similarly-juxtaposed words in Latin and English. Good King
Wenceslas  introduces a king with little relation to the Christmas story
except for his Christ-like compassion; the musical setting is a straightforward
response to the narrative. In We three kings of Orient are  the “three
kings” introduce themselves one by one (the Gospel refers, in fact, to “wise
men from the east”), and the three gifts point to Jesus as “King and God and
sacrifice”. I saw three ships come sailing in  is an example of a carol
that has weathered over time (in the case of the words, enough to obscure their
original meaning) but the overall intent to rejoice is clear. The sequence
closes with a carol marrying traditional words (based on Psalm 72) with a
recent tune: Hail to the Lord’s Anointed . And so the Christmas story ends
with a vision of the Messiah’s return as King of kings to bring in everlasting
peace, as promised by the angels in the fields outside Bethlehem. Merry
Many thanks to the Reverend Alan Walker and the congregation
of St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb. This recording is dedicated to
victims of persecution around the world, to all those unable to sing and worship
Tonus Peregrinus has been making music since the foundation
of the ensemble at New College, Oxford in 1990. The Latin term tonus peregrinus
was the name given to one of the Church’s ancient psalm tones; in turn, this
chant was based on a Jewish melody which may have been sung by Jesus and the
disciples after the Last Supper. This particular psalm tone was unusual in that
it had a different recitation tone in each half, hence its name: ‘wandering
tone’; it was also known, despite its history, as the tonus novissimus, or the
‘newest tone’. TONUS PEREGRINUS combines these two characteristics in a
repertoire that ranges far and wide from the Middle Ages to scores fresh from
the printer, and an interpretative approach that is bold, fresh and of the
moment (www.tonusperegrinus.co.uk). The ensemble’s previous release on Naxos
uniquely pairs the earliest complete polyphonic settings of the Mass and the
Passion (The Mass of Tournai on Naxos 8.555861), while their début recording of
Arvo Pärt’s Passio (Naxos 8.555860) hit No.1 in the UK (BBC Music Magazine June
Joanna Forbes studied cello and piano from a young age and
went on to read Music at Hertford College, Oxford. Graduating in 1993, she
began singing with TONUS PEREGRINUS and many other professional ensembles
specialising in early and contemporary music. She is currently Musical Director
of the world-renowned a cappella group the swingle singers.
Rebecca Hickey has sung in choirs from a very early age. She
started her formal singing studies whilst at university in York and now sings
in a number of small choirs and vocal ensembles, as well as working part-time
in music publishing.
Kathryn Oswald read Music at Worcester College, Oxford,
where she held a Music Scholarship. She now pursues a busy and varied musical
career, performing regularly with other leading choirs and ensembles, and also
as a solo recitalist. She features as a voice-over artist for BBC Radio 3 and
Unknown Public Radio, and is editorial director at Faber Music.
Alexander L’Estrange was a chorister at New College, Oxford
and later read Music at Merton College, singing in the choir of Magdalen
College and graduating in 1994 with First Class Honours. Besides singing
countertenor professionally, he is also much in demand as a composer, arranger
and jazz double bass player.
Richard Eteson has been singing all his life. From an early
age he was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, and later a choral scholar
there. He has since sung tenor in many of London’s finest choirs and vocal
ensembles whilst being in demand up and down the country as a soloist of
Alexander Hickey started singing as a chorister in Hereford
Cathedral, went up to Christ Church, Oxford as a choral scholar and now
practises as a barrister. He regularly sings with renowned amateur and
professional choirs in and around London.
Francis Brett was a choral scholar at King’s College,
Cambridge where he read Music. He studied as a postgraduate at the Royal
College of Music and has since performed a wide variety of music including
opera at Covent Garden and many of the major works of Oratorio.
Simon Grant is much in demand as a solo and consort singer,
working with the Taverner and Gabrieli Consorts, the New London Consort,
Tenebrae, Les Arts Florissants, the Consort of Musicke and The Scholars, as
well as contemporary music with the Matrix Ensemble, Electric Phoenix, Ensemble
Moderne and Synergy. His many solo recordings include Monteverdi’s Vespers,
Orfeo and Bach’s Magnificat. He can whistle and hum at the same time, an
unusual talent he has demonstrated on numerous television and radio programmes
world-wide. His whistling can be heard in the films Shrek and Shiner.
Nicholas Chalmers is the acting Assistant Organist of
Westminster Abbey and Director of Music at Westminster Abbey Choir School. He
studied music at Oxford University where he was Organ Scholar of Lincoln
College and conductor of the Oxford University Chamber Choir. After graduating, he spent a year as
the Michael James Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and later
studied with the harpsichordist Laura Bertani at the Piacenza Conservatoire. In
2002 he made his début as musical director of both Hand Made Opera and the
Howden Festival, and his forthcoming conducting engagements include a concert
with the South Bank Sinfonia. He also accompanies soloists and groups including
Schola Cantorum of Oxford and the Laudate Chamber Choir.
Antony Pitts was born in 1969 and sang as a boy in the
Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace. He was an Academic Scholar and later
Honorary Senior Scholar at New College, Oxford where he founded TONUS
PEREGRINUS. He graduated in 1990 with First-Class Honours in Music and joined
the BBC in 1992, where he now works part-time as a Senior Producer. In 1996 he
received the Radio Academy BT Award for an interactive internet experiment
called Facing the Radio, and for the turn of the Millennium on BBC Radio 3 he
devised an eighteen-hour history of Western music called The Unfinished
Symphony. He has composed since an early age and his music has been given first
performances in Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the
Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal in Berlin. In the last few years he has written
pieces for the Berlin Radio Choir (Rundfunkchor Berlin), Cambridge Voices, the
Clerks’ Group, the Choir of Westminster Cathedral, the King’s School
Canterbury, the London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Oxford Camerata,
Schola Cantorum of Oxford, and the Swingle Singers. His forty-part motet XL is
to be published by Faber Music.
come, o come, Emmanuel
(after Advent ‘O’ Antiphons)
John M. Neale, Antony Pitts
Veni, veni, Emanuel,
captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exilio,
privatus Dei Filio.
Gaude! gaude! Emanuel
nascetur pro te, Israel.
(see last verse for English version)
O come, O come, Thou Wisdom, come,
the Father’s own beloved Son,
Thy Voice at the beginning heard:
teach us to love Thy faithful Word.
Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
O come, Adonai, sovereign Lord,
Whom Moses on the mount adored,
to Israel Thou didst give the Law
in cloud, and majesty and awe.
O come, Thou Root of Jesse, show
the ensign of Thy folk below;
hear Thou Thy people when they call,
and kings who at Thy feet must fall.
O come, Thou Key of David, close
the door of Hell, so none oppose;
open at last Thy kingdom reign
and free the pris’ner from his chain.
O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
Thou Sun of righteousness, be nigh,
disperse the gloomy clouds of night;
make death’s dark shadows flee Thy Light.
O come, Thou King of nations, come,
Thou Cornerstone, Which makest one;
but dust and ashes at Thy feet,
now raise us to Thy mercy-seat.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
the Father’s heart begotten
John M. Neale, Henry Baker ad. Antony Pitts
Of the Father’s heart begotten
ere the worlds began to be
He is Alpha and Omega
He the source, the ending He
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see:
evermore and evermore.
At His Word was all created:
He commanded and ’twas done,
heav’n and earth and depths of ocean
in their threefold order one,
spirit, soul and body He made
in His image everyone
Then Himself in human nature
deigned to take, and death to bear
that all Adam’s countless children
might His life divine now share;
we whom by the Law were promised
no reward but bleak despair:
O that birth for ever blessed
when the Virgin full of grace
by the Holy Ghost conceiving
bore the Saviour of our race,
and the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
first reveal’d His sacred Face
O ye heights of heaven, adore Him,
angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent:
every voice in concert ring:
This is He whom seer and sibyl
chanted of with one accord,
Whose appearing long the prophets
ancient Israel assured;
now He shines, the long-expected;
let the world now praise the Lord:
Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
hymn, and song, and high thanksgiving
and unwearied praises be:
power, dominion, and all honour;
Glory to our God, to Thee:
O quickly come, dread Judge of all!
for awful though Thine advent be,
all shadows from the truth will fall,
and falsehood die, in sight of Thee.
O quickly come: for doubt and fear
like clouds dissolve when Thou art near.
O quickly come, great King of all!
reign all around us and within:
let sin no more our souls enthral,
let pain and sorrow die with sin.
O quickly come: for Thou alone
canst make Thy scattered people one.
O quickly come, true Life of all!
for death is mighty all around;
on ev’ry home his shadows fall,
on ev’ry heart his mark is found.
O quickly come: for grief and pain
can never cloud Thy glorious reign.
O quickly come, sure Light of all!
and drive the gloomy night away!
lest haply weakly souls should fall
with weary watching for the day.
O quickly come: for round Thy throne
no eye is blind, no night is known.
O Blessed Saviour, Love of Love!
O Father, Fount of life and light!
O Holy Spirit, Heav’nly Dove!
to Thee be glory, praise, and might.
God of our fathers, One in Three,
with angel hosts we worship Thee.
Patris umanatur, O, O
Verbum Patris umanatur, O, O,
dum puella salutatur, O, O,
eya, eya, eya,
Novus modus geniture, O, O,
sed excedens ius nature, O, O,
dum unitur creature
Audi partum praeter morem, O, O,
virgo parit Salvatorem, O, O,
Homo Deus nobis datur, O, O,
datus nobis demonstratur, O, O,
dum pax terris nunciatur,
The Word of the Father is made man, O, O,
as a young girl is greeted, O, O,
and greeted she conceives,
without knowing a man,
hey, hey, hey,
A new mode of begetting, O, O,
beyond the ordinary law of nature, O, O,
when the Creator of all
is united with His creation,
Hear about an exceptional birth, O, O,
a virgin brings forth the Saviour, O, O,
the creature the Creator,
the daughter the Father,
God is given to us as Man, O, O,
given, He is revealed to us, O, O,
while peace is announced to earth,
glory in heaven,
Translation: David Pitts
(after John Cennick) Charles Wesley
Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
once the Lamb for sinners slain:
thousand thousand saints attending
swell the triumph of His train.
Christ appears on earth to reign.
Every eye shall now behold Him,
robed in dreadful majesty;
they who set at nought and sold Him,
pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
shall the true Messiah see.
Those dear tokens of His passion
still His dazzling body bears,
cause of endless exultation
to His ransomed worshippers:
with what rapture,
gaze we on those glorious scars.
Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
high on Thine eternal throne;
Saviour, take Thy power and glory,
claim the kingdoms for Thine own:
come and make Thy glory known.
holly and the ivy
Trad. coll. Cecil J. Sharp, Antony Pitts
The holly and the ivy
when they are both full grown
of all the trees that are in the wood
the holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun,
the running of the deer,
the playing of the merry organ,
sweet singing [all] in the choir.
(duet: RH, FB)
The holly bears a blossom
as white as any flower,
and Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
to be our sweet Saviour.
The rising of the sun...
(duet: AL’E, RE)
The holly bears a berry
as red as any blood,
to do poor sinners good.
(duet: KO, AH)
The holly bears a prickle
as sharp as any thorn
on Christmas Day in the morn.
(duet: JF, SG)
The holly bears a bark
as bitter as any gall
for to redeem us all.
there a Rose is blooming
(after German) Antony Pitts, John M. Neale
Lo, there a Rose is blooming
on green and tender stem,
from Jesse’s root descending;
to prophecies an end.
Immaculate, this Flower
in deepest, darkest winter
springs forth at midnight hour.
(quartet: RH, AL’E, RE, SG)
The little Rose I speak of
Isaiah hath foretold:
’tis Maiden Mary’s firstborn,
yet He hath been of old.
She bore this Flower for us,
obeying God’s good purpose:
the virgin’s Child Jesus.
A great and mighty wonder
that such a thing should be:
the Lord whose voice doth thunder,
yet Mary’s baby He;
and one day He shall stand,
as Jesse’s Root triumphant,
forever God and Man.
– a new work
Anon. (15th-century) ad. Antony Pitts
(duet: JF, AL’E; organ: AP)
A new work is close at hand,
through might and grace of God’s own Son,
to save the lost of every land Alleluya!
for now is free that first was bound:
we well may sing Alleluya!
By Gabriel begun it was,
just as the sun shone through the glass,
so Jesus Christ conceived was Alleluya!
through Mary, full of grace, did pass:
now sing we here: Alleluya!
Now is fulfill’d the prophecy,
of David and of Jeremy,
as also did Isaiah see Alleluya!
sing we therefore both loud and free:
dong! merrily on high
Ding! dong! merrily on high
in heav’n the bells are ringing;
ding! dong! verily the sky
is riv’n with angels singing:
Gloria! Hosanna in excelsis!
E’en so here below, below
let steeple bells be swungen,
and I-O, I-O, I-O
by priest and people sungen:
Pray you, dutifully prime
your matin chime, ye ringers;
may you beautifully rhyme
your evetime song, ye singers:
(duet: KO, SG)
While shepherds watched their flocks by night,
all seated on the ground,
the angel of the Lord came down,
and glory shone around.
“Fear not”, said he, (for mighty dread
had seized their troubled mind),
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to you and all mankind.”
“To you in David’s town this day
is born of David’s line
the Saviour, who is Christ the Lord,
and this shall be the sign:
“The heav’nly Babe you there shall find
to human view displayed,
all meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
and in a manger laid.”
Thus spake the seraph, and forthwith
appeared a shining throng
of angels praising God, and thus
addressed their joyful song:
“All glory be to God on high,
and to the earth be peace,
Goodwill henceforth from heav’n to men
begin and never cease.”
Song of Angels
Thus angels sung, and thus sing we;
to God on high all glory be:
let Him on Earth His Peace bestowe,
and unto men His favour show.
the herald angels sing
ad. George Whitefield, Martin Madan
Hark! the herald angels sing:
Glory to the newborn King!
peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
with th’angelic host proclaim:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Glory to the newborn King!
Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail th’incarnate Deity!
pleased, as Man, with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hail! the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail! the Sun of Righteousness!
light and life to all He brings,
risen with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
born that man no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth.
(after Joseph Mohr) John F. Young
Silent night! holy night!
all is calm, all is bright
round yon virgin mother and Child,
Holy Infant so tender and mild;
sleep in heavenly peace.
shepherds quake at the sight:
glories stream from heaven afar,
heav’nly hosts singing Alleluia:
Christ the Saviour is born!
Son of God, Love’s pure light,
radiant beams from Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth!
in a manger
William J. Kirkpatrick, Charles H. Gabriel
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
the little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the night sky looked down
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying He makes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky,
and stay by my side until morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
and fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.
Jesus, hush! now sleep
(after Czech Trad.) Antony Pitts
Baby Jesus, hush! now sleep,
close Your eyes now, not a peep.
We will rock You, ever-faithful,
gently rock Your manger-cradle;
(duet: JF, AL’E)
O my darling, hush! now sleep,
safely in Your parents’ keep.
Jesu, Saviour, hush! now sleep,
one day You’ll see Mummy weep.
one day You’ll see Mummy weep.
little town of Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by:
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light:
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King,
and peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary;
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive Him, still
the dear Christ enters in.
O Holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray;
cast out our sin, and enter in:
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell:
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Immanuel.
the very thought is sweet
(Jesu dulcis memoria) John M. Neale
Jesu! the very thought is sweet;
in that dear Name all heartjoys meet;
but oh! than honey sweeter far
the glimpses of His Presence are.
No word is sung more sweet than this,
no sound is heard more full of bliss,
no thought brings sweeter comfort nigh,
than Jesus, Son of God most High.
Jesu, the hope of souls forlorn,
how good to them for sin that mourn!
to them that seek Thee, oh how kind!
but what art Thou to them that find?
No tongue of mortal can express,
no pen can write the blessedness,
he only who hath proved it knows
what bliss from love of Jesus flows.
O Jesu, King of wondrous might!
O Victor, glorious from the fight!
sweetness that may not be express’d,
and altogether loveliest!
come, all ye faithful
(after Anon.) F. Oakeley
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold Him born, the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
God of God, Light of Light,
Lo! He abhors not the Virgin’s womb;
Very God, Begotten, not created;
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above:
“Glory to God in the highest”;
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, born this
Jesu, to Thee be glory given;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing,
O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
Piae Cantiones (1582)
Qui nobis est natus,
Summo Deo datus
et de virgineo
In mundo nascitur,
Magi tres venerunt,
aurum, thus, et myrrham
cantent ut angeli,
laudes tibi fundo,
in excelsis Deo.”
Let the voices of children
sound out today,
joyfully praising Him
who has been born for us,
sent from God Most-High,
and brought forth
from a virgin womb.
Born in the world,
wrapped with swaddling clothes,
He is placed in a stall
in an animal stable,
the Ruler of the world above;
the prince of the world below
lost his spoils.
Three wise men came,
and offered gifts,
seeking the little boy,
they followed a little star,
they offered Him
gold, incense and myrrh.
Let all the clergy,
and likewise the trebles
sing as angels:
“You have come to the world,
I return praises to You,
therefore glory be
to God in the highest.”
14th-century(?), Valentin Triller, Antony Pitts
In dulci jubilo,
let us rejoicing go,
to our dearest treasure there
bright shining our dear Saviour,
matris in gremio –
Alpha es et O.
O Jesu parvule
if we might with You stay;
comfort where You find us,
O Puer optime;
there by Your loving-kindness,
O Princeps Gloriae,
trahe me post Te.
O Patris caritas,
O Nati lenitas
we were lost for ever,
per nostra crimina,
but You have opened heaven,
coelorum gaudia –
there our heart’s desire.
Ubi sunt gaudia?
To see You as You are;
there the angels singing the Good News,
and there the bells are ringing
in Regis curia,
there at last we are!
In sweet jubilation,
in a manger
in the bosom of His mother –
You are Alpha and Omega.
O dear baby Jesus,
O most excellent Boy;
O Prince of Glory,
draw me after You.
O love of the Father,
O gentleness of the Son,
through our offences,
heavens’ joys –
Where are such joys?
in the court of the King,
there at last we are!
John M. Neale
Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the Feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even;
brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.
“Hither, page, and stand by me,
if thou knowest it, telling,
yonder peasant, who is he?
where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain,
right against the forest fence,
by Saint Agnes’ fountain.”
“Bring me flesh, and bring me wine,
bring me pine logs hither:
thou and I will see him dine,
when we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch, forth they went,
forth they went together;
through the rude wind’s wild lament
and the bitter weather.
“Sire, the night is darker now,
and the wind blows stronger;
fails my heart, I know not how:
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, good my page,
tread thou in them boldly:
thou shalt find the winter’s rage
freeze thy blood less coldly.”
In his master’s steps he trod,
where the snow lay dinted;
heat was in the very sod
which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing.
three kings of Orient are
John Henry Hopkins
We three kings of Orient are,
bearing gifts we traverse afar,
field and fountain, moor and mountain,
following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of night,
star with royal beauty bright,
westward leading, still proceeding,
guide us to your perfect light.
“Born a king on Bethlehem plain,
gold I bring to crown Him again,
King for ever, ceasing never,
over us all to reign.”
O star of wonder...
“Frankincense to offer have I,
incense owns a Deity nigh;
prayer and praising all men raising,
worship Him, God most High.”
“Myrrh is mine: its bitter perfume
breathes a life of gathering gloom;
sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”
Glorious now behold Him arise:
King and God and sacrifice;
Heaven sing “Alleluia”,
“Alleluia” the earth replies.
O star of wonder..
saw three ships come sailing in
I saw three ships come sailing in
on Christmas Day, on Christmas Day,
on Christmas Day in the morning.
And what was in those ships all three?
Our Saviour Christ and His Lady
Pray, whither sailed those ships all three?
O, they sailed into Bethlehem
And all the bells on earth shall ring
And all the souls on earth shall sing
And all the angels in heaven shall sing
Then let us all rejoice amain
then let us all rejoice amain
on Christmas Day in the morning.
to the Lord’s Anointed
(after Psalm 72) James Montgomery
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed,
great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
to set the captive free;
to take away transgression,
and rule in equity.
He comes with succour speedy
to those who suffer wrong;
to help the poor and needy,
and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing,
their darkness turn to light,
whose souls, condemned and dying,
were precious in His sight.
He shall come down like showers
upon the fruitful earth,
and love, joy, hope, like flowers,
spring in His path to birth:
before Him on the mountains
shall peace, the herald go;
and righteousness in fountains
from hill to valley flow.
Kings shall bow down before Him,
and gold and incense bring;
all nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing;
for He shall have dominion
o’er river, sea, and shore:
far as the eagle’s pinion
or dove’s light wing can soar.
O’er every foe victorious
He on His throne shall rest,
from age to age more glorious,
all-blessing and all-blest.
The tide of Time shall never
His covenant remove;
His Name shall stand for ever,
that Name to us is Love.
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