The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Come, I Come! From Yon Celestial Clime

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

Translation: Henrietta Joan Fry

Henrietta Joan Fry, ed., Hymns of the Reformation. (London: Charles Gilpin, 1845), pp. 7-13.



And there were in the same country,
shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.
Luke ii. 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

A  hymn for the children of God, at Christmas, on the dear child Jesus, Luke ii.,
as Luther himself named this lovely hymn.

    I come, I come!
        From yon celestial clime;
    From yonder glorious heavens
        Of height sublime!
    To you I come,
        A harbinger of joy;
    Good tidings are my theme,
        Glad strains my lips employ;
    And therefore do I sing
        And publish with my voice,
    The message that I bring,
        And bid you all rejoice.

    This day to you is born
        The virgin-mother's child;
    A lovely babe of gentle mould,
        So beautiful and mild:
He shall your joy and solace be,
Your theme of pure delight and holy ecstasy.

    The same is Christ, the Lord,
        Whose God-head we confess;
    And He will lead you from the depths
        Of all distress:
He will himself, your Saviour be,
And from the guilt of sin will set your spirits free.

    Behold! to you, He brings,
    On love's extended wings,
        Each blessing which the Father has prepared;
That you with us, in heaven may dwell,
Now and for evermore, in bliss unspeakable.

    Then mark the signs with care!
    The swaddling bands so poor,
        The manger bed;
    Onwards! with stcdfast mind,
    There, truly, you shall find
        The infant laid:
    He who sustains and guides the worlds,
        The Son of woman made.

    Then let us all rejoice,
        And with the shepherds go,
    That we may trace
        What God on us, has purposed to bestow
    In Him, His Son beloved, who shines with peerless grace.

Look up, my soul! and see
What lies in yonder cot;
Whose is that form of smiling infancy,
So fair, I wot?
It is the infant Jesus there;
Jesus to each believer dear.

Welcome! thrice welcome to our world,
Thou Guest of birth divine!
For sinners have not been despised
By mercy such as Thine:
To me, as Sorrow's child, dost Thou appear, --
How shall I give Thee thanks through heaven's eternal year!

Thou, gracious Lord!
Maker and mind of all,
How art Thou now become
Thyself so small ?
That there Thou liest,on that dry bed of grass,
On which an ox may feed, or e'en an humble ass.

And though the world were e'er so wide,
In gold and jewels drest,—
Yet were its borders all too small
To offer Thee Thy rest :—
That cradle-bed too strait would be
For Thy Divine Immensity!

No velvet soft, no silken sheen,
With trappings rich and gay,-
The mansion graced, where then Thy head
In infant slumber lay:
Necessity Thy vestments wove,
And all Thy bed was hay.

Thou did'st inhabit once,
That darksome cell,
Thou, who sublime in power,
And rich in grace,
Pavilioned in the heavens, dost take Thy place;
Yet, to our shadowy zone,
From those bright portals flown,
Thou madest with us Thy rest, as on Thy glory's throne.

Lord! Thou hast taught my soul
This solemn truth to know,—
That worldly empire, wealth and power,
Their glittering show,
Before Thee, in the dust,
Is prostrate laid;
Spoiled is the sordid rust,
The gay parade;—
Man is pollution, all, before Thine eye;
With Thee the heavens are vile, and earth is vanity.

Thou blessed Saviour! to my heart most dear,
Most precious and beloved as Thou art,
Oh! deign, in answer to Thy suppliant's prayer,
To lodge within the chambers of my heart:
Thus shalt Thou take Thy rest,
Enshrined within this breast,—
In memory's book enrolled—my spirit's constant guest.

Then will I always joyful be,
And bound with holy ecstasy;
I'll sing with a melodious voice,
And singing, ever, I'll rejoice;
Whilst full Hosannas I will raise,
And tune my heart's best chords to my
Redeemer's praise.
To God, exalted on His throne,
Let incense rise;
To Him who sent his only Son,
From yonder skies:
For this shall all the angelic choir
New anthems sing,
Rejoicing whilst they tune the lyre
To heaven's great king;
And still, with each returning year,
This tribute bring.

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