The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The High Forerunner of the Morn

For the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24

Words: Praecursor altus luminis, A Cento Attributed to St. Bede, with notes
Translation by John M. Neale and Compilers

Music: Not Stated

Source: Hymns, Ancient and Modern (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1904), #225, p. 206.

"Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me." (Malachi 3:1)

1. The high forerunner of the morn,
The herald of the Word, is born;
Be glad, true hearts, and never fail
With joy and praise his light to hail.

2. His lofty name of John was given
By Gabriel sent down from heaven,
Who told before with utterance true
The glorious deeds that he should do.

3. John, still unborn, yet gave his sign
Of witness to the Light Divine;
And ell his life of wondrous fame
Was spent in perfecting the same.

4. No greater, since creation's morn,
Was ever yet of woman born
Than John, by acts of wondrous might
Extoll'd to more than prophet's height.

5. But why should mortal accents raise
The theme of John the Baptist's praise;
Of whom, before his course was run,
Thus spake the Father to the Son :

6. "Behold, I send My messenger,
The way Thou goest to prepare;
Before Thy rising face to run,
Like morning star before the sun." Amen.


The full text from Malachi 3:1 is:

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts." (KJV)

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