The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

From Heaven Above To Earth I Come

For Christmas Eve

Words: Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her, by Martin Luther
From Joseph Klug's Gesangsbuch, 1535
Notes and Translations: Notes for Vom Himmel Hoch Da Komm Ich Her

Text based on Luke 2: 1-18

Translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, 1855.
Luther wrote this hymn for the Christmas Eve festival held annually at his house. The opening verses were traditionally sung by a man dressed as an angel. These lyrics, though sung as a separate hymn, are only part of Winkworth’s translationGive Heed, My Heart is another part.

See: The Christmas Poetry of Catherine Winkworth

Music: "Vom Himmel Hoch," Geistliche Lieder, Leipzig, 1539;
harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / XML
Sheet music also available at RoDeby Music Company

1. "From heaven above to earth I come
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing:1

2. "To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;2
This little child, of lowly birth,2a
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

3. "This is the Christ, our God and Lord,
Who in all need shall aid afford;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.2b

4. "He will on you the gifts bestow
Prepared by God for all below,
That in His kingdom, bright and fair,
You may with us His glory share.2b1

5. "These are the tokens ye shall mark:2c
The swaddling-clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid2d
By whom the heavens and earth were made."2e

6. Now let us all with gladsome cheer
Go with the shepherds and draw near
To see the precious gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.

7. Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this child, so young and fair?
The blessed Christ-child lieth there.

8. Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,2f
Through whom the sinful world is blest!3
Thou com'st to share my4 misery;
What thanks shall I return to Thee?5

9. Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How weak art Thou, how poor and small,
That Thou dost choose Thine infant bed
Where humble cattle lately fed!

10. Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
It yet6 were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

11. For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou, King, so rich and great,
As 'twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.

12. And thus, dear Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To make this truth quite plain to me,
That all the world's wealth, honor, might,
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.

13. Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be7
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

14. My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep;
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle-song:

15. Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto us His Son hath given!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.

Sheet Music from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol 632

From_Heaven_Above_632.gif (138794 bytes)

Sheet Music from Andreas Bersagel, et al, eds., The Concordia Hymnal (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1932), #126

Sheet Music "A. D. 1540" from John Clark Hollister, ed., The Sunday-School Service and Tune Book (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1863, 1865), #16, p. 35.
"Luther's Christmas Hymn"

Notes

1. Or: gladly sing Return

2. Or: Of Mary, chosen mother mild or The chosen Virgin's Infant mild Return

2a. And He, a child of lowly birth Return

2b Or:
He
is the Christ, our God and Lord,
Whose name we praise with one accord;
Your Savior He has deigned to be
And from all sin will set you free. Return

2b1 Or:
He brings those blessings long ago
Prepared by God for all below
Henceforth his kingdom open stands
To you, as to the angel bands.  Return

2c. These are the tokens you shall mark: Return

2d. In these the infant now is laid Return

2e. By whom both heav'n and earth were made Return

2f. We welcome Thee, most noble Guest, Return

3. Or: Through Whom e’en wicked men are blessed! or Through whom this sinful world is blest! Return

4. Or: our or Thy coming is a boon for me; Return

5. Or: What can we render, Lord, to Thee? Return

6. Or: She yet or It still Return

7. Or: Within my heart, and let it be Return

Alternate 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th and 15th verses from Andreas Bersagel, et al., eds., The Concordia Hymnal (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1932):

2. This night to you is born a child
The Chosen Virgin’s infant mild
And He, a child of lowly birth
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

3. He is the Christ, our God and Lord
Whose name we praise with one accord;
Your Savior He has deigned to be
And from all sin will set you free.

5. These are the tokens you shall mark:
The swaddling-clothes, the manger dark
In these, the Infant now is laid
By whom both heav’n and earth were made.

8. Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through whom e’en wicked men are blest!
Thy coming is a boon to me;
What can we render, Lord, to Thee?

15. Praise be to God upon His Throne,
Who gave to the world His only Son;
For this His hosts, on joyful wing,
A blest New Year of Mercy sing.

Alternate 4th verse from John Clark Hollister, ed., The Sunday-School Service and Tune Book (New York: E. P. Dutton and Company, 1863, 1865), #16, p. 35.

4. Now let us all with gladsome cheer,
Follow the shepherds, and draw near:
Who is this child, so young and fair?
The blessed Christ-child lieth there.

Print Page Return Home Page Close Window