The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Sing The Birth Was Born Tonight

Version 2

A Hymn On the Nativity Of My Saviour
Alternate Title: Ben Jonson's Carol

Words: Ben Jonson (1573-1637), I Sing The Birth, Was Borne To Night, from Underwoods, circa 1600
Modern Spelling: I Sing The Birth Was Born To-Night

Compare: I Sing the Birth Was Born Tonight - Version 1
I Sing The Birth Was Born To-Night (Sandys and Woodward)

Music: Ach Herr
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Meter: 887 887

1. I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light:
The angels so did sound it;
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.

2. The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the world from danger,
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Lord which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.

3. The Father's wisdom willed it so,
The Son's obedience knew no "No,"
Both wills were in one stature;
And, as that wisdom hath decreed,
The Word was now made flesh indeed,
And took on him our nature.

4. What comfort by him do we win,
Who made himself the price of sin,
To make us heirs of glory!
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A martyr born in our defense--
Can man forget this story?

Sheet Music from Edgar Pettman, ed., Modern Christmas Carols (London: Weekes & Co., 1892), #28:

28-I_Sing_The_Birth_Was_Born_Tonight.jpg (92951 bytes)

Note from Pettman: No. XXVIII.—An alternative tune will be found in the collection of carols compiled by the Rev. R. R. Chope, M.A.

Sheet Music by the Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #12
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Carol-012a.gif (183568 bytes) Carol-012b.gif (210304 bytes)


The version reproduced by William Sandys is substantially similar, and with the following attribution: From Ben Jonson (Underwoods) ed. 1756, London, vol. vi. pp. 340-1.

Sir Arthur Sullivan also created a musical setting for this hymn. For more information about his contributions to Christmas music, see A Sullivan Christmas, which includes another MIDI, plus a printable score of this hymn.

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