For Christmas Eve
Text based on Luke 2: 1-18
Source: Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Third Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1878), Carol #66
1. From highest heaven I come to tell
The gladdest news that e'er befell;
These tidings true to you I bring,
And gladly of them say and sing.
2. 'To you today is given a Child,
Born of a chosen virgin mild;1
That blessed Child, so sweet and kind,
Shall give you joy and peace of mind.
3. 'Tis Christ our Lord and God indeed,
Your help and stay in every need:
Himself your Saviour He will be,
From sin and death to set you free.
4. 'All blessedness to you he bears
Which God the Father's love prepares;
The heavenly kingdom ye shall gain,
And now and ever with us reign.
5. 'Now hear the sign, and mark with care
The swaddling clothes and crib so bare;
There shall ye find this Infant laid
Who all the world upholds and made.'
6. Then let us all our gladness show,
And with the joyful shepherds go
To see what God for us hath done,
In sending us his glorious Son.
7. Awake, my soul! my heart, behold
Who lieth in that manger cold!
Who is this lovely baby boy?
'Tis Jesus Christ, our only joy.
8. Now welcome, ever-blessed guest,
To sinful souls with guilt oppressed;
In mercy come to our distress!
How can we thank thy gentleness?
9. Ah, Lord, who all things didst create,
How cam'st thou to this poor estate,
To make the hay and straw thy bed,
Whereon the ox and ass are fed?
10. Nay, were the world ten times so wide,
With gold and gems on every side,
Yet were it all too small to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for thee.
11. Thy samite and thy silk array
Are swathing-bands and coarsest hay
Which thou, O King, dost bathe with light
As though enthroned in heaven bright.2
12. And all this woe hath come to thee
That thou might'st show the truth to me;
For all the power and wealth of earth3
To thee are vile and nothing worth.
13. Ah, Jesu, my heart's treasure blest,
Make thee a clean, soft cradle-nest
And rest enshrined within my heart,
That I from thee may never part.
14. So shall I evermore rejoice,
And bounding sing, with heart and voice,
A lullaby which Thou wilt own,
The spirit's song of sweetest tone.
15. To God on high all glory be,
Who gave His only Son for me;
For which the Angels carol clear
And sing us such a glad New Year.
To you this day is born a Child
Of Mary, chosen Virgin mild: Return
Whereon Thou shinest, King most bright
As though Thou sat'st in heavenly light. Return
For all the goods and gifts of earth Return
Sheet Music from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Third Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1878), Carol #66.
Note: For another translation of verses 3, 14, and 15, see Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott, eds., The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), Carol 60, which also contains a good background for this carol.
For notes and other translations, see Vom Himmel hoch, o Engel kommt.
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