The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christ's Nativity

For Christmas

Also known as Awake, Glad Heart! Get Up and Sing!

Henry Vaughan

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Meter:

Source: Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), Silex Scintillans: or Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. (London: Blackie and Son, 1650, 1905), pp. 125-127.

Part I was published in 1650; Part II was published in 1654, together with Part I. Vaughan was known as “The Silurist.”


I

Awake, glad heart! Get up and sing!

It is the birth-day of thy King,

    Awake! Awake!

    The sun doth shake

Light from his locks, and, all the way

Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.

 

Awake, awake! Hark, how th' wood rings,;

Winds whisper, and the busy springs

    A concert make;

    Awake! awake!

Man is their high-priest, and should rise

To offer up the sacrifice.

 

I would I were some bird, or star,

Fluttering in woods, or lifted far

    Above this inn

    And road of sin!

Then either star or bird should be

Shining or singing still to Thee.

 

I would I had in my best part

Fit rooms for Thee! Or that my heart

    Were so clean as

    Thy manger was!

But I am all filth, and obscene;

Yet, if Thou wilt, Thou can'st make clean.

 

Sweet Jesu! will then; Let no more

This leper haunt, and soil Thy door!

    Curse him, ease him,

    O release him!

And let once more, by mystic birth,

The Lord of life be born in earth.

 

II

How kind is heaven to man! If here

    One sinner doth amend,

Straight there is joy, and every sphere

    In music doth contend.

And shall we then no voices lift?

    Are mercy, and salvation

Not worth our thanks? Is life a gift

    Of no more acceptation?

Shall He that did come down from thence,

    And here for us was slain,

Shall He be now cast off? No sense

    Of all His woes remain?

Can neither Love, nor sufferings bind?

    Are we all stone, and earth?

Neither His bloody passions mind,

    Nor one day bless His birth?

  Alas, my God! Thy birth now here

  Must not be numbered in the year.*

 

Note  from Lyte:

* “The Puritans abolished the celebration of Christmas.” [Note from Lyte's edition of 1854, p. 121.]

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