The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As, With Gladness, Men Of Old

First Version - 1859
Compare: 
As With Gladness Men Of Old - Second Version from Ward, and
As with Gladness, Men of Old - Third Version from Hymns,  with notes and sheet music

For the Epiphany, Jan. 6.
Also appears under the title "The Guiding Star"

Words: William Chatterton Dix, 1858-1859

Music: Not Stated

Source: William Chatterton Dix, Hymns of Love and Joy (Bristol: H. & T. Lane, 1859), #16, pp. 26-27.

"When they saw the star they rejoiced with exceeding joy."

1. As, with gladness, men of old
Did the lambent star behold,—
As, with joy, they hailed its light,
Leading eastward, beaming bright,—
So should we rejoice and bless
Our true Light and Righteousness.

2. As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger-bed,
There to prostrate low before
Him whom Heaven and earth adore ;
So should we, with willing feet,
Always seek the mercy-seat.

3. As they offered gifts most rare,
In that manger rude and bare,—
So should we with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin’s alloy,
All our costliest offerings bring
Unto Christ our heavenly King.

4. Lord, assist us with thy power,—
Help us every day and hour ;
And, when earthly things be past,
Bring our sinful souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,—
Where thy glory doth abide.

5. In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light ;
Thou its light, its lamp, its crown !
Thou its sun which goes not down!
Alleluia Thou for aye
Makest there a glorious day ! Amen.

Editor's Notes.

This version was in a slim volume of poems printed in 1859. It differs in many respects with other versions printed in Hymns, ca. 1859, and Ward, ca. 1860.

According to Dr. Julian, this hymn was first published in Monk and Steggall's 1859 trial edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, which was simply titled Hymns and contained no date, editor's name or publisher's name (#42, p. 33). Thereafter, according to Dr. Julian, it was privately printed in Dix's Hymns of Love and Joy, and then 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), #124, pp. 120-121.

However, when the three versions were looked at side-by-side, it became apparent that the original version of the lyrics were those printed by Dix in his Hymns of Love and Joy (1859). He then corrected the lyrics for Ward's Hymns for the Services of the Church and for Private Devotion (ca. 1860). Additional changes were made, some of which were not found in Ward's version. These would be the lyrics printed in Hymns (ca. 1859) and then in the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861).

Part of the difficulty were the dates. Only the Dix version had a printed publisher, location and date on the title page (1859). Ward's Hymnal is dated to late 1860 (or 1861) by the date in the Preface (Advent, 1860). Neither Hymns (circa 1859) nor Hymns Ancient and Modern (circa 1861) contained dates on either the title page or the Preface. Those dates are from Julian and other authorities. That the third version seems to have been printed before the second version was initially confusing. However, dates of publication are not the dates of composition by the author. A volume edited in one year can be delayed for any number of reasons such that a later version might come into print first, which seems to be the case here. And when we find changes Hymns that are not found in Ward, the order becomes clear.

Also appeared in W. Chatterton Dix, ed., Christmas Carols & Christmas Customs (No publisher, location or date; ca. 1870), #12, p. 3, who wrote that the music was by the Rev. R. F. Smith, Minor Canon of Southwell Collegiate Church. Mr. Dix did not state the name of the tune, unfortunately.

There are additional notes, links, and sheet music at the webpage of the most familiar version of this carol, the third version from Hymns and Hymns Ancient and Modern: As with Gladness, Men of Old.

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