The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Blest Be The God Of Israel

The Song of Zachary the Priest, called Benedictus.

For the Advent

Song XXXIII, from Luke i. 68

"Sing this as the Third Song."

Source: George Wither, Hymns and Songs of the Church (London: Printed by the Assigns of George Wither, 1623, reprinted London: John Russell Smith, 1856), pp. 145-146.

See: George Wither's Hymns of the Christmas-tide

1. Blest be the God of Israel,
For he his people bought ;
And in his servant David's house
Hath great salvation wrought ;
As by his Prophets he foretold,
Since time began to be,
That from our foes we might be safe,
And from our haters free.

2. That he might show our fathers grace,
And bear in mind the same,
Which by an oath he vow'd unto
Our father Abraham ;
That from our adversaries freed,
We serve him fearless might,
In righteousness and holiness,
Our lifetime in his sight.

3. And (of the Highest) thee, oh Child !
The Prophet I declare,
Before the Lord his face to go,
His coming to prepare ;
To teach his people how they shall
That safety come to know,
Which, by remission of their sins,
He doth on them bestow.

4. For it is through the tender love
Of God alone, whereby
That day-spring hath to visit us
Descended from on high ;
To light them who in darkness sit,
And in Death's shade abide,
And in the blessed way of peace
Their wandering feet to guide.

Note by George Wither, p. 144.

Zachary the Priest, being (upon the birth of his son) inspired with the knowledge of our Redeemer's incarnation, sung the second Evangelical Hymn,- in which two things are especially considerable : First, he blesseth God, because, through the coming of Christ, all the promises made unto the Patriarchs and Prophets were fulfilled, for the salvation of his people. Secondly, he declareth the office and duty of his own Son, who was sent before to prepare the way of the Lord. This Song the Church hath worthily inserted into the Liturgy also, and we ought therefore to sing it reverently, in memorial of our Saviour's Incarnation ; and to praise God for the fulfilling of his promises, and that evangelical preparation which he vouchsafed, by sending his Forerunner.

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