Art thou weary, art thou languid…

…Art thou sore distressed?

A hymn to sing along with…

The questions asked in the opening words of this hymn could seem appropriate to many of us as we come to the end of the year 2020. But in fact they are the start of a poem written over a thousand years ago by a Greek monk who lived in Palestine.

Saint Stephen the Sabaite (725-794) was left in the monastery of Mar Saba by his uncle at the age of ten, and spent the rest of his life there. By his mid-twenties, he felt so drawn to a life of seclusion and contemplation, he asked the abbot of the community for permission to self-isolate as a hermit. Due to the great skill in giving spiritual direction he already showed at that young age, the abbot gave him limited permission. The condition was that he make himself available to others on weekends.

He is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, his name-day being 10 November in the Gregorian Calendar (28 October in the Julian Calendar as used in parts of the Orthodox Church)

Mar Saba monastery: photo by Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Holy Lavra of Saint Sabbas, known in Syriac as Mar Saba, is a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley at a point halfway between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

The poem was translated by Revd John Mason Neale (1818-1866). Not all the stanzas are used for the hymn; the missing ones are shown below. It’s understandable that congregations might not want to sing eleven verses, but stanzas 5-7 (in particular) are a key part of the whole poem.

The tune Stephanos was written for this hymn by Revd (Sir) Henry Williams Baker (1821-1877). He was ordained in 1844 and was vicar of Monkland (near Leominster) from 1851 until his death. (In 1851 he also became 3rd Baronet Baker of Dunstable House.) He was the first compiler and editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern. His best-known hymn is The King of Love my Shepherd is; among his other hymns are Lord, Thy Word abideth, O praise ye the Lord and We love the place O God.


[1] Art thou weary, art thou languid,
art thou sore distressed?
Come to me, saith one, and coming
be at rest.

[2] Hath he marks to lead me to him
if he be my Guide?
In his feet and hands are wound-prints,
and his side.

[3] Hath he diadem as Monarch
that his brow adorns?
Yea, a crown in very surety,
but of thorns!

[4] If I find him, if I follow,
what my portion here?
Many a sorrow, many a labour,
many a tear.

[8] If I still hold closely to him,
what hath he at last?
Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
Jordan past.

[10] If I ask him to receive me,
will he say me nay?
Not till earth and not till
Heaven pass away.

[11] Finding, following, keeping, struggling,
is he sure to bless?
Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs,
answer, “Yes.”

[5, 6, 7] Is this all He hath to give me
in my life below?
“Joy unspeakable and glorious
thou shalt know.

All thy sins shall be forgiven,
all things work for good;
Thou shalt Bread of Life from heaven
have for food.

From the fountains of salvation
thou shalt water draw;
Sweet shall be thy meditation –
in God’s Law.”

[9] Festal palms and crown of glory,
robes in blood washed white,
God in Christ His people’s temple, where there
is no light.”

This is the last scheduled posting in this collection of about 200 Sing-Along Hymns. The full list can be found here.

From the eastern mountains

An Epiphany hymn to sing along with…

Adoration of the Magi: Abraham Bloemaert

The words to this hymn were written by Revd Godfrey Thring (1823-1903). He was born in Alford, Somerset and was educated at Shrewsbury School. His father was also an Anglican priest, and Godfrey was his father’s curate at Alford for a time. (His father was also Lord of the Manor of Alford.) His other hymns include Fierce raged the tempest o’er the deep.

The tune King’s Weston was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) for the hymn At the name of Jesus and the tune appeared with that hymn in his publications Songs of Praise and English Hymnal. However, the tune is set to From the eastern mountains in New English Hymnal, while At the name of Jesus is set to the more familiar tune Evelyns (ironically, this was composed by rival publisher William Henry Monk (1823-1889), editor of Hymns Ancient and Modern).

The New English Hymnal notes that this hymn is “Suitable for use in Procession”. It’s probably not long enough to last all the way from the Eastern mountains, though.

King’s Weston

From the eastern mountains
pressing on they come,
wise men in their wisdom,
to His humble home;
stirred in deep devotion,
hasting from afar,
ever journeying onward,
guided by a star.

There their Lord and Saviour
as an infant lay,
wondrous light that led them
onward on their way,
ever now to lighten
nations from afar,
as they journey homeward
by that guiding star.

Thou who in a manger
once hast lowly lain,
who dost now in glory
o’er all kingdoms reign,
gather in the peoples,
who in lands afar
ne’er have seen the brightness
of thy guiding star.

Gather in the outcasts,
all who’ve gone astray,
throw Thy radiance o’er them,
guide them on their way;
those who never knew Thee,
those who’ve wandered far,
lead them by the brightness
of thy guiding Star.

Onward through the darkness
of the lonely night,
shining still before them
with Thy kindly light,
guide them, Jew and Gentile,
homeward from afar,
young and old together,
by Thy guiding star.

Until every nation,
whether bond or free,
‘neath thy star-lit banner,
Jesu, follows Thee,
o’er the distant mountains
to that heavenly home
where nor sin nor sorrow
evermore shall come.

Bethlehem, of noblest cities

A hymn to sing along with…

Adoration of the Magi: Giotto

This Epiphany hymn was written by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens (348- c413), who was a Roman Christian poet, born in what is now Northern Spain. He is often simply known as Prudentius. Originally a lawyer, he retired from public life to become an ascetic, fasting until evening and abstaining entirely from meat. He wrote poems, hymns, and controversial works in defence of Christianity. His Liber Cathemerinon (“Book in Accordance with the Hours”) comprises 12 lyric poems on various times of the day and on church festivals. The poems include Corde natus ex parentis (Of the Father’s Love Begotten) and O sola magnarum urbium (Bethlehem, of noblest cities).

The words were translated from the Latin by Revd Edward Caswall, (1814-1878) an Anglican priest who later converted to Roman Catholicism, having been influenced by Cardinal Newman. He translated a number of hymns in this collection.

Various versions of the text of this hymn exist, some beginning “Earth has many a noble city”. This version dates from 1853. Many hymnals omit the last verse.

The tune Stuttgart was written by Christian Friedrich Witt (c1660-1716). He was a composer, editor and teacher of music and published Psalmodia sacra, an important hymnal from the late baroque which contained 762 hymns, 351 with melodies and figured basses, and an appendix of 12 more hymns and five more melodies. About 100 of the tunes are considered to be by him (including this one).

In the last line of the second verse, the final phrase refers to Genesis 2:7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”


Bethlehem, of noblest cities
none can once with thee compare;
thou alone the Lord from heaven
⁠didst for us incarnate bear.

Fairer than the beam of morning
⁠was the star that told his birth,
to the lands their God announcing,
⁠hid beneath a form of earth.

By its lambent beauty guided,
⁠see the Eastern kings appear;
see them bend their gifts to offer,
⁠purest incense, gold, and myrrh.

Sacred gifts of mystic meaning;
incense doth the God disclose,
gold a royal child proclaimeth,
⁠myrrh a future tomb foreshows.

Holy Jesu, in Thy brightness
⁠to the Gentile world revealed,
still to babes thyself disclosing,
⁠ever from the proud concealed;

Honour, glory, virtue, merit,
⁠be to Thee, O Virgin’s Son,
with the Father and the Spirit,
⁠while eternal ages run.

A carol in memory of the Holy Innocents

Commemorated on 28 December

The Massacre of the Innocents – Giotto

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,” In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”

Matthew 2:16-18

This hymn is known as the Coventry Carol. Its origin is in the 15th century pageant of the Shearmen and Tailor’s Guild at Coventry.

In the Middle Ages it was customary for churches and monasteries in or near larger towns to hold pageants with plays and processions on the feast of Corpus Christi in which each of the craftsmen’s Guilds would portray different aspects of the church’s teaching. This was intended as an educational exercise at a time when most people could not read or write. The pageants were very popular and people would come in from surrounding villages to enjoy the spectacle.

Most of the original plays have been lost following their suppression a decade or two after the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, only two surviving from Coventry. More complete texts of Mystery Play cycles survive at York, Chester and Wakefield and are performed in modern (non-COVID) times.

It was common for the Baker’s guild to have the first float in the procession in view of the fact that the bread (Corpus Christi or Christ’s body) is the key element being celebrated on this particular feast day. Presumably it was the tools of their trade that led to the Tailors and Shearmen’s guild being chosen at Coventry to portray the Murder of the Innocents.

These Corpus Christi processions are the origin of the modern carnival processions with decorated floats, although in modern times they are more likely to be associated with Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

Although the plays were suppressed, some of the songs survived. The Coventry carol was introduced to a wider modern audience in 1940, when the BBC’s Christmas Broadcast to the Empire concluded with a performance of it from the recently bombed out shell of Coventry Cathedral.

The earliest surviving version of the tune was published in 1591. This arrangement of the tune is by Martin Shaw (1875-1958). He was one of the co-founders of the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). You can find the setting in Carols for Choirs.

In the play, the song is sung by three women of Bethlehem, just before Herod’s soldiers come in to slaughter their children.

Coventry carol

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
by by, lully lullay.

O sisters too,
how may we do
for to preserve this day
this poor youngling,
for whom we do sing
by by, lully lullay?

Herod the king,
in his raging,
charged he hath this day
his men of might,
in his own sight,
all young children to slay.

That woe is me,
poor child for thee!
and ever morn and day,
for thy parting
neither say nor sing
by by, lully lullay!

Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
by by, lully lullay.

St John the Evangelist

Commemorated on 27 December

A hymn to sing along with…

(part of a set of hymns about the Twelve Apostles)

The author of the Gospel of John does not identify himself by name, but only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. Most Christians believe that St John’s Gospel was written by the Apostle John. He is thought to have been born about 15AD and therefore to be the youngest of The Twelve. He was the only one of the Apostles not to die for his faith and is believed to have lived until about the year 100. The words of the hymn mention “Thy belov’d, thy latest born” and “Latest he, the warfare leaving”.

There are more scriptural references in the hymn. Verse 7 of Psalm 81: “Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee: I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah“. The psalmist is referring to the long journey of the Israelites out of Egypt. Exodus 16 tells us that Meribah was where Moses struck the rock and water gushed forth and in Exodus 19 we read how Moses went up Mount Sinai in the thunderclouds to hear the voice of God, while the people below only heard the thunder. In Chapter 12 of his Gospel, John describes how the crowds flocked to see Jesus as He was coming to Jerusalem for the Passover just after the raising of Lazarus: “And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified…. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him… Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.

The words of the hymn were written by Revd John Keble (1792-1866) There is more about him on the post for New every morning. [Keble wrote a different poem for St John’s Day in his book The Christian Year.]

The tune Grafton was published in Paris in 1881 to a French version of the hymn Tantum ergo (Therefore we before Him bending, this great sacrament revere). The composer is unknown.


Word supreme, before creation
Born of God eternally
Who didst will for our salvation
To be born on earth, and die;
Well thy saints have kept their station,
Watching till thine hour drew nigh.

Now ’tis come, and faith espies thee:
Like an eagle in the morn,
John in steadfast worship eyes thee,
Thy belov’d, thy latest born:
In thy glory he descries thee
Reigning from the tree of scorn.

He first hoping and believing
Did beside the grave adore;
Latest he, the warfare leaving,
Landed on the eternal shore;
And his witness we receiving
Own thee Lord for evermore.

Much he asked in loving wonder,
On thy bosom leaning, Lord!
In that secret place of thunder,
Answer kind didst thou accord,
Wisdom for thy Church to ponder
Till the day of dread award.

Thee, the Almighty King eternal,
Father of the eternal Word;
Thee, the Father’s Word supernal,
Thee, of both, the Breath adored;
Heaven, and earth, and realms infernal
Own, one glorious God and Lord. Amen.

A carol for St Stephen’s day…

…to sing along with

Saint Stephen is commemorated on 26 September – Boxing Day

St Stephen by Carlo Crivelli. 1476.

Stephen is first mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as one of seven deacons appointed by the Apostles to distribute food and charitable aid to poorer members of the community in the early church. He preached to the Sanhedrin as written in Acts chapter 7, which ends:

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:51-end

This happened in AD36, making St Stephen the first Christian Martyr. This may be the reason for his Saint’s Day to be the first day after Christmas. You can see three of the stones in the picture.

In fact, the first martyrs mentioned in the New Testament were the Holy Innocents – the babies of Bethlehem slaughtered by order of King Herod, although at the time they were not (and could not have been) professing Christians.

However, this carol is not about St Stephen, but about what happened on St Stephen’s Day.

Wenceslas I or Václav the Good was the Duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935 by a group including his younger brother, Boleslaus the Cruel. Wenceslas was considered a martyr and saint immediately after his death (so there is a connection with St Stephen). Although he wasn’t a king during his liftime, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously conferred on him the “regal dignity and title” of King. His personal almsgiving and visits to the poor became legendary and are illustrated in the carol.

There was a later (real) King of Bohemia Wenceslaus I (c. 1205–1253), also known as Wenceslaus the One-Eyed, who was King of Bohemia from 1230 to 1253. His sister Agnes (1211–1282) was a nun who was venerated in her lifetime, but not officially canonised as St Agnes of Bohemia until 1989. It is possible that the hymn-writer has confused the two Wenceslauses with his mention of St Agnes’s fountain, although there was a much earlier Saint Agnes of Rome (c 291-c304), virgin and martyr.

The words were written by John Mason Neale (1818-66) You can read more about him on the post for O what their joy and their glory must be.

The tune is Tempus adest floridum, originally a secular Spring song Time is here for flowering that was included in Piae Cantiones ecclesiasticae et scholasticae veterum episcoporum (Pious ecclesiastical and school songs of the ancient bishops), a collection of late medieval Latin songs first published in 1582

This arrangement of the tune is by Reginald Jacques (1894-1969). It can be found in Carols for Choirs.

Tempus adest floridum

There is a short orchestral introduction.

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,
gath’ring winter fuel.

“Hither, page, and stand by me,
if thou know 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 food 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 cold 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, my good page,
tread now in them boldly,
thou shall find the winter’s rage
freeze your 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,
while God’s gifts possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing.

According to a text discovered in a Christmas cracker, Santa’s favourite pizza is “deep pan, crisp, and even.”

O come, all ye faithful

A Christmas hymn to sing along with…

The Latin hymn Adeste fideles originally had four verses (1, 2, 6 and 7) and is often attributed to John Francis Wade (1711-1786) who published it in 1751. However, it may have been written in the previous century. These verses were translated into English by Frederick Oakley (1802-1880). Four more verses were added in the 18th century and translated by W T Brooke (1848-1917), the verse “Child for us sinners” seems to be an amalgamation of two of the Latin stanzas.

In the second verse of the English translation, the rather clumsy phrase “Lo,he abhors not the Virgin’s womb” is needed because of the number of syllables in the more straightforward Latin “gestant puella viscera” = “(the) Virgin’s viscera carry” – viscera meaning parts of the body within the abdomen.

John Francis Wade was an English Catholic who had fled to France after the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed. He made a living as a copyist of musical manuscripts which he found in libraries. The words of the hymn have been interpreted as a Jacobite birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie. From the 1740s to 1770s the earliest forms of the carol commonly appeared in English Roman Catholic liturgical books close to prayers for the exiled Old Pretender. In the books by Wade it was often decorated with Jacobite floral imagery, as were other liturgical texts with coded Jacobite meanings. (eg Bethlehem= England)

But perhaps this is an early example of Fake News.

The well-known tune was published with the words in Wade’s 1751 book Cantus Diversi pro Dominicis et Festis per annum (Various songs for Sundays and Festivals of the year). The composer’s name is shrouded in the mists of time but it is clear that words and music have been coupled for centuries.

Adeste fideles

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,
O come, let us adore him,
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: [Refrain]

See how the Shepherds, summoned to his cradle,
Leaving their flocks, draw nigh with lowly fear;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps: [Refrain]

Lo! star-led chieftains, Magi, Christ adoring,
Offer him incense, gold, and myrrh;
We to the Christ Child
Bring our heart’s oblations: [Refrain]

Child, for us sinners poor and in the manger,
Fain we embrace thee, with awe and love;
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly? [Refrain]

Sing, choirs of Angels, sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the Highest: [Refrain]

Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born on Christmas morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing: [Refrain]

See amid the winter’s snow

A Christmas carol to sing along with…

The words were written by Revd Edward Caswall, the son of an Anglican clergyman. He was ordained in the Church of England as a deacon 1838 and pries 1839. He was appointed Perpetual Curate* of Stratford-sub-Castle near Salisbury in 1840, but resigned the living in 1847 as he followed John Henry Newman into the Church of Rome. His wife died in 1849 and in 1852 he was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest based at the Birmingham Oratory.

The carol was first published as a poem in 1858. Other hymns written or translated by Revd Caswall include Hark a thrilling voice is calling, Jesu the very thought of Thee, My God I love thee, When morning gilds the skies and Glory be to Jesus.

*In the mid-19th century, many former “Chapels of Ease” became parishes in their own right. But because of the legal difficulties involved in dividing up ancient parishes, their incumbents were not appointed as Vicars, but with the status of Perpetual Curate. Incumbents of Bollington were appointed as Perpetual Curates up to and including Revd Charles Brooke Gwynne, who was responsible for the building of St Oswald’s church.

Perpetual Curates were allowed legally to call themselves “Vicar” from 1868, but the status did not disappear completely until the Pastoral Measure Act 1968.

The tune Humility was written in 1871 especially for this carol by Sir John Goss (1800–1880), who also wrote the well-known tune for Praise my soul, the King of Heaven. You can read more about him on that post. The arrangement here is by David Willcocks (1919-2015). John Goss’s original harmony is used for the refrain in verses 1 and 3.


[two bar intro]
See amid the winter’s snow,
born for us on earth below;
see the tender Lamb appears,
promised from eternal years.

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He, who throned in height sublime,
sits amid the cherubim!

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Say, ye holy shepherds, say
what your joyful news today;
wherefore have ye left your sheep
on the lonely mountain steep?

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

“As we watched at dead of night,
lo, we saw a wondrous light;
angels singing ‘Peace on earth’
told us of the Saviour’s birth.”

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Sacred Infant, all divine,
what a tender love was Thine;
thus to come from highest bliss
down to such a world as this!

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

[two bar intro]
Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,
by Thy face so meek and mild,
teach us to resemble Thee,
in Thy sweet humility!

Hail! Thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption’s happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

Away in a manger

A favourite carol to sing along with…

Although it was originally claimed that it was written by Martin Luther to sing to his children, this hymn is almost certainly entirely of American origin. Its first known publication was in 1882 in Chicago (when there were only the first two verses). The third verse appeared in 1892. There are many minor variations of the text.

The melody Cradle song was written by William James Kirkpatrick (1838–1921). He was born in Ireland; his parent emigrated to USA in 1840 and came back to take him there once they had established a home.

He was a Methodist hymn-writer, but not many of his hymns are still popular today; one that may be familiar is Will your anchor hold in the sea of life?

Cradle song

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay,
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.

What child is this?

A Christmas carol to sing along with…

The words were written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). He was the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, but in 1865 was struck down by a severe illness. While recovering, he wrote a number of hymns including this one, As with gladness, men of old and Alleluya, sing to Jesus.

The words were published in 1871 in Christmas Carols Old and New where it was coupled with the traditional English tune Greensleeves. Some people think that this tune was written by King Henry VIII, but the style of composition suggests that it is more likely to be Elizabethan. It was familiar to William Shakespeare, who mentioned it in The Merry Wives of Windsor (published in 1602). It has been associated with Christmas and New Year texts from as early as 1686.


What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.

Why lies he in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the son of Mary.

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise the song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the son of Mary.