The Black Decree
Alternate Title: Let Christians All With One Accord Rejoice
#45 on Hone's List of 89 Carols Printed
Source: G. Walters, A Good Christmas Box (Dudley: G. Walters, 1847, Reprinted by Michael Raven, 2007), pp. 43-44.
1. Let Christians all with one accord rejoice,
And praises sing with heart as well as voice,
To God on high for glorious things he has done,
In sending to us his best beloved Son.
2. That blessed Babe, and holy Child of love,
Came down from heaven that we may reign above:
The happy news was brought on Angels' wings,
Of our redemption by the King of kings.
3. An earthly wonder not to be deny'd
Born of a Virgin mother, and a bride;
Not like a prince, in worldly pomp and state,
But poor and low to make us heavenly great.
4. The night before that happy day of grace,
The Virgin mother had not a resting place:
She and her pious Joseph were so low
They scarcely knew what or which way to go.
5. For they were forced to wander up and down,
And could not get a lodging in the town;
But in an ox's stall, where beasts were fed
The mother of our Lord was brought to bed.
6. No costly silks,
not robes of rich attire,
Nor gaudy show, which rich ones do admire;
But in a manger the great Lord of life
Was nourished by a mother, maid, and wife.
7. Three wise-men by a star were thither brought,
And found the blessed Babe they long had sought
Where best of spices and rich costly things
They humbly offered to the King of kings.
8. And rather than the Lord of life betray
They worshipped Him and went another way:
Which so enraged the wicked Herod then,
(A Jewish king but very worse of men).
9. He caused young harmless infants to be kill'd;
All under two years old their blood was spilled;
Sad cries and groans were heard in every street,
With mangled bodies, bleeding hands and feet.
10. Young tender babes with limbs in pieces torn,
On soldiers' spears, with spite and horror1 borne:
Dear parents' tears could not their rage prevent,
Nor pity move the TYRANT to repent.
11. The Black Decree went all the country round,
To kill and murder children sick and sound
They tore young children from the mothers' breast,
Thinking to murder Christ among the rest.
12. But GOD
above, who knew what would be done,
Had sent to Egypt his beloved Son;
Where with his earthly parents he was fed,
Until the bloody tyrant he was dead.
13. What pains and
labour did not
To save our souls, and happiness secure!
Was always doing good, to let us see
By his example, what we ought to be.
14. He made the blind to see, the lame to go,
He rais'd the dead, which none but he could do;
He cur'd the lepers of infected evils,
And by his mighty power he cast our devils.
15. He honour'd marriage with a heavenly sign,
By turning water into the best of wine:
Five thousand hungry souls by him were fed,
With two small fishes and five loaves of bread.
16. Sufficient plenty and a welcome treat
Each wondering guest with thanks and praises eat;
Who gathering up the fragments of the feast,
Their wonder like the loaves, were much increased.
17. Twelve baskets full, not half so much before,
Instead of wasting still increasing more!
But yet for all the wonders that he wrought,
Ungrateful Jews still his destruction sought.
18. And that their wicked purpose might not miss
Brib'd Judas to betray him with a kiss;
Which being done, away they haul'd him then,
And used him as the very worst of men.
19. Spit in his face and with reproachful scorn,
They put upon his head a crown of thorns:
Cry'd with one voice and would not be deny'd,
To Pilate that he should be crucify'd.
20. This wicked judge, with base
To please the crowd, did their request allow,
Against his conscience, he to end the strife,
Condemned to death the blessed Lord of life.
21. Then to a cross the Saviour of mankind
Was led a harmless lamb, as was design'd:
To save our souls condemn'd by Adam's fall,
Without whose death we had been ruin'd all.
22. His blessed hands and feet, with bitter pain,
Were nail'd to a CROSS with sad disdain:
With hateful spears they pierc'd his tender skin,
And let out blood to wash away our sin.
23. Thus blessed Jesus freely did resign
His precious blood to save both thine and mine;
Then let us all his mercies highly prize,
Who for our sins was made a sacrifice.
Differences from the version printed by Bramley and Stainer, The Black Decree - Version 1, ca. 1878, are highlighted, excluding punctuation and capitalization such as personal pronouns that refer to Jesus (i.e., “His” vs. “his”). Also, this version tended towards the form “ nail'd” as opposed to “nailed.” Since it was not a different word, it was not highlighted.
Versions on this web site:
The Black Decree - Version 1 - Bramley and Stainer, ca. 1878, with Notes. For the Feast of the Holy Infants.
The Black Decree - Version 3 - Chope, 1894. 6 verses, with chorus. For Epiphany.
The Black Decree - Version 4 - Rodda, 1870. 3 verses, with chorus. For Christmas.
The Black Decree - Version 8 - A Shropshire Version.