The Hymns and Carols of Christmas


Words: Johan Olof Wallin (1779-1839), 1814, based on a German hymn of 1621; Translated from Swedish to English by Ernst William Olson (1870-1958).

Music: "Wie Schön Leuchtet," Philipp Nicolai (1556-1608), 1599.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

1. All hail to thee, O blessèd morn!
To tidings long by prophets borne
Hast thou fulfillment given.
O sacred and immortal day,
When unto earth, in glorious ray,
Descends the grace of heaven!
Singing, ringing, sounds are blending,
Praises sending unto heaven
For the Savior to us given.

2. 'Tis God's own Image and withal,
The Son of Man, that mortals all
May find in Him a Brother.
He comes, with peace and love to bide
On earth, the erring race to guide
And help as could no other;
Rather gather closer, fonder,
Sheep that wander, feed and fold them,
Than let evil powers hold them.

3. He tears, like other men, will shed,
Our sorrows share, and be our aid,
Through His eternal power;
The Lord's good will unto us show,
And mingle in our cup of woe
The drops of mercy's shower;
Dying, buying through His passion
Our salvation and to mortals
Opening the heavenly portals.

4. He comes, for our redemption sent,
And by His glory heaven is rent
To close upon us never;
Our blessèd Shepherd He would be,
Whom we may follow faithfully
And be with Him forever;
Higher, higher glory winging,
Praises singing to the Father
And His Son, our Lord and Savior.

William L. Simon, ed., Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (1981)

Philipp Nicolai, a 16th-century Lutheran minister, was a pastor and eloquent preacher at such centers as Westphalia and Hamburg in Germany. There he wrote a number of hymns and tunes, including what have been called the King and Queen of the Chorales, "Wachet Auf" (Sleepers, Awake) and "Wieschoen leuchtet der Morgenstern" (How Bright Appears the Morning Star). Both of these hymns were used by Johann Sebastian Bach for church cantatas. Three centuries after Nicolai wrote the melody used here, Ernest Olson, a Swedish-born Lutheran who was taken to Illinois by his parents as a boy, wrote several stanzas for the melody and made of it one of our most inspiring Christmas hymns, "All Hail to Thee."


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