The Hymns and Carols of Christmas


For Epiphany

Words: William Chatterton Dix, 1860. He wrote this on Jan. 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, while sick in bed.

Music: "Dix," adapted by William Henry Monk from the original "Treuer Heiland, Wir Sind Heir" by Conrad Kocher, Stimmen aus dem Reiche Gottes, 1838.
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Meter: 77 77 777
Sheet music available at
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Source: William Henry Monk, ed., Hymns, Ancient and Modern (London: Novello and Co., 1867), Hymn 64, pp. 78-79.

When they star the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matt. 2:10

1. As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

2. As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger-bed;
There to bend the knee before
Him Whom heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek the mercy-seat.

3. As they offered gifts most rare 03
At that manger rude and bare;
So may we, with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ! to Thee our heavenly King.

4. Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy Glory hide.

5. In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down; 06
There for ever may we sing
Alleluias to our King.

Footnotes in Hymns Ancient And Modern:

1. Psalm 43:3 Return

2. Compare a Sequence "De Tribus Regibus," extracted from Corner's "Promptuarium Devotionis," by Archbishop Trench: --
     "Currunt ad praesepia
      Reges magi."
But though there is ancient tradition in its favour, this picture seems certainly false, from Matt. ii. 11.

3. Isaiah 60:6  Return

4. 2 Sam. 24:24; See Hymn 170 ["My God, my Father, While I Stray"], ver. 4.  Return

5. Matt. 7:14  Return

6. Rev. 21:23. See Hymn 256, ver. 3  Return

Editor's Notes:

The two hymns referred to in the footnotes in the text were:

Hymn 170 ["My God, my Father, While I Stray"], ver. 4:

What most I prize, it ne'er was mine;
I only yeild Thee what is Thine;
"Thy Will be done."
Let but my fainting heart be blest.

     Footnote to the first line was Matt. xix. 21; footnote to the second line was 1 Chron. xxix. 14, 16.

Hymn 256 ["O Heavenly Jerusalem"], ver. 3

There God for ever sitteth,
Himself of all the Crown;
The Lamb, the Light that shineth,
And never goeth down.

    Footnote to the first line was apparently Rev. vii. 10. Footnote to the second line was Isa. xxviii. 5.

Also found in Roundell Palmer, ed., The Book of Praise. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1870, # XLI, p. 48, who notes:

This hymn is from Hymns Ancient and Modern, for Use in the Services of the Church (London, Novello, 1861). I am indebted to the Rev. Sir Henry Baker, Bart. (one of the editors of that collection) for the permission, which he has kindly obtained for me from the author, to publish his name, as well as for the authentication of the text. I am also indebted to him and his co-editors for their consent to the use which I have made of this hymn, and three others, contributed by Sir Henry Baker himself to the same collection, to which he has allowed me to affix his name.”

Sheet Music by H. Wolford Davies from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #617
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Verses 1, 2 and 4 above.
In four parts with piano accompaniment.

Page One
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four

Sheet Music by C. Kocher from Hutchins, Carol #654
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Sheet Music from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), #51.

Sheet Music by Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #126
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Sheet Music "Dix" from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #50, p. 86.

Sheet Music "Treuer Heiland, Wir Sind Hier" by C. Kocher from O. Hardwig, ed., The Wartburg Hymnal (Chicago: Wartburg Publishing House, 1918), #146

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"Dix," adapted by William Henry Monk

As With Gladness, Men of Old - Dix, Adapted By WH Monk

Sheet Music by H. Wolford Davies from Hutchins, Carol #617

As With Gladness, Men of Old - H. Wolford Davies

Sheet Music by C. Kocher from Hutchins, Carol #654

As With Gladness, Men of Old - C. Kocher

Sheet Music by Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope

As With Gladness, Men of Old - R. F. Smith

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William C. Dix was born at Bristol on the 14th of June, 1837, the son of John R. Dix, a surgeon and author of a biography of Thomas Chatterton, among other works. He made his living as the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland.

On January 6, 1860, the Feast of the Epiphany, Dix was ill and confined to bed. Inspired by the story of the Magi in Matthew 1:1-11, he wrote this now famous poem. (Note that some sources give the year as 1858 or 1859.)

Concerning the details of its composition, Francis Arthur Jones reported:

It was written by the late Mr. William Chatterton Dix about the year 1860. In a letter received from the author shortly before his lamented death in 1900, Mr. Dix informed me that there was little of interest to record respecting its composition. He was unwell at the time, slowly recovering from a rather serious illness. One evening, when he felt somewhat stronger than he had for several days, the lines of the now well-known hymn gradually formed themselves in his brain, and, asking for writing materials, he committed them to paper. The following year it was published in a small hymnal, which had a very limited circulation. From thence it made its way into more popular collections, and to-day its reputation has become worldwide.

Mr. Jones also wrote that Sir Roundell Palmer, the late Lord Selborne, was a great admirer of Mr. Chatterton Dix's hymns, and considered this hymn one of the finest compositions of the kind in the language. Dr. John Julian writes that this comment was made by Lord Selborne in his paper on "English Church Hymnody" at the Church Congress in York in 1866. It was described as "a work so admirable in every respect".

According to Dr. Julian, this hymn was first published in Monk and Steggall's trial edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern. Thereafter, it was privately printed in Dix's Hymns of Love and Joy, and in A. H. Ward's Hymns for Public Worship and Private Devotion, for use at St. Raphael's Church, Bristol (a.k.a., St. Raphael's Hymnal). In 1861 it appeared in the first public edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, Hymn 64. Other authorized texts are Church Hymns, 1871 and Thring's Collection, 1882. Lord Selborne's text can also be considered authoritative.

In addition to Hymns of Love and Joy (1860-1) Dix published three additional volumes of his poetry, including

and contributed other Christmas-tide hymns to “Hymns Ancient and Modern” and to several other hymnals, such as

He has also cast in metrical form some of Dr. Littledale’s translations of the Greek in his “Offices … of the Holy Eastern Church” (1863) and the Rev. J. M. Rodwell’s translations of hymns of the Abyssinian Church. It was reported that Dix contributed 21 hymns to Orby Shipley's "Lyra Messianica" (1864-5). Dr. Julian reported that Dix had between 30 and 40 hymns in Common Use.

His other works are “Light” (1883), “The Risen Life” (1883), both devotional works, and “The Pattern Life” (1885), a book of instruction for children, which contains a number of original hymns. Dr. Julian reports that Dix also published a volume titled Christmas Customs & Christmas Carols (no date).

He died at Cheddar, Somerset, England, Sept. 9, 1898.


Edwin Francis Hatfield, The Poets of the Church (A. D. F. Randolph & Company, 1884), p. 195.

John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892, 1907), pp. 302-303.

Francis Arthur Jones, Famous Hymns and Their Authors (Hodder and Stoughton, 1903), pp. 63-64.

Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

Alfred H. Miles, Critical and Biographical Essay (London: George Routledge, 1907).

Roundell Palmer, ed., The Book of Praise. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1870, # XLI, p. 48. Sir Palmer was the 1st Earl of Selborne.

William Studwell, The Christmas Carol Reader (New York: Haworth Press, 1995)

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

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