The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Come, Ye Rich, Survey the Stable

For Christmas

Words: Hannah More (1744-1833)

An excerpt from a longer poem, "O How Wondrous Is The Story"

Music: Unknown

Source: The Complete Works of Hannah More. Vol. 1. (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837), pp. 54-55.

Come, ye rich, survey the stable
Where your infant Saviour lies;
From your full o'erflowing table
Send the hungry good supplies.

Boast not your ennobled stations,
Boast not that you're highly fed;
Jesus, hear it, all ye nations,
Had not where to lay his head.

Learn of me, thus cries the Saviour,
If my kingdom you 'd inherit;
Sinner, quit your proud behaviour,
Learn my meek and lowly spirit.

Come, ye servants, see your station,
Freed from all reproach and shame ;
He who purchas'd your salvation,
Bore a servant's humble name.

Come, ye poor, some comfort gather
Faint not in the race you run,
Hard the lot your gracious Father
Gave his dear, his only Son.

Think, that if your humbler stations,
Less of worldly good bestow,
You escape those strong temptations
Which from wealth and grandeur flow.

See your Saviour is ascended !
See he looks with pity down !
Trust him all will soon be mended,
Bear his cross, you'll share his crown.


It is possible that an excerpt from this poem may be one of the hymns listed by William Hone in 1822: "Come, ye rich, survey the stable.” It is not known with certainty that this excerpt is the carol that Hone was referring to, nor how long the hymn was (the excerpt will include all text to the end of the original hymn). This is the only poem that I've found to date that contains the phrase “come, ye rich, survey the stable.”

In the original poem, the text ran continuously, not separated into four line stanzas as here. This is done to suggest a format that the hymn would follow using a meter of 87.87.

It's been written that Hannah More, a writer of the deepest religious convictions and of active benevolence, was born in Gloucestershire, England, in 1744. For many years she was principal of a boarding-school, and a constant writer. She died Sept. 7, 1833. Her books brought her a fortune.

The original poem was much longer than the excerpt above, which represents approximately the last half of the original. The beginning of the poem was:

O how wond'rous is the story
Of our blest Redeemer's birth !
See the mighty Lord of Glory
Leave his heav'n to visit earth !

Hear with transport, ev'ry creature,
Hear the Gospel's joyful sound;
Christ appears in human nature,
In our sinful world is found ;

Comes to pardon our transgression,
Like a cloud our sins to blot;
Comes to his own favour'd nation,
But his own receive him not.

If the angels who attended
To declare the Saviour's birth,
Who from heav'n with songs descended
To proclaim good will on earth:

If, in pity to our blindness,
They had brought tho pardon needed,
Still Jehovah's wond'rous kindness
Had our warmest hopes exceeded :

If some prophet had been sent
With Salvation's joyful news,
Who that heard the blest event
Could their warmest love refuse ?

But 'twas He to whom in Heav'n
Hallelujahs never cease:
He, the mighty God, was given,
Given to us a Prince of Peace.

None but He who did create us
Could redeem from sin and hell;
None but He could reinstate us
In the rank from which we fell.

Had he come, the glorious stranger,
Deck'd with all the world calls great;
Had he liv'd in pomp and grandeur,
Crown'd with more than royal state;

Still our tongues with praise o'erflowing,
On such boundless love would dwell;
Still our hearts, with rapture glowing,
Feel what words could never tell.

But what wonder should it raise
Thus our lowest state to borrow !
O the high mysterious ways,
God's own Son a child of sorrow !

'Twas to bring us endless pleasure,
He our suff'ring nature bore ;
'Twas to give us heav'nly treasure,
He was willing to be poor.

Also appears in Philip Schaff, Arthur Gilman, eds., A Library of Religious Poetry: A Collection of the Best Poems of All Ages (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1881), p. 723.

The complete poem is listed in the Birmingham Broadside Collection: "Christ's Humility (Come ye rich, survey the stable)": BR2. 87. At this time, it hasn't been included in any on-line Ballad collection.

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