The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Sing The Coming Of The Lord

For Christmas

Words: Old Alan Gray

Music: Unknown

Source: Old Alan Gray, “Christmas Is Coming,” in C.H. Bateman, ed., The Bible Class Magazine, Vol. II. (London: Sunday School Union, 1849), pp. 263-5. “Old Alan Gray” was one of the many pseudonyms of George Mogridge (Old Humphrey)

 

Christmas Is Coming

Old Alan Gray

Hardly need I ask you whether you like Christmas, for scarcely could a young person be found from Carlisle to Corfe Castle, or from Margate Sands to the lighthouse at the Land's End, with whom, for one cause or other, Christmas is not a favourite. Even we, who have gray hairs on our heads, have been lovers of Christmas from our very childhood; though it might not be easier to say whether its frosty air, its red holly berries, its snowballing, its merry-meetings, or its carols, have had the most to do in winning our regard.

Rapidly have the months rolled round, and Christmas again is coming, for already has October began to play his old prank of fading the foliage and stripping the trees. Every leaf that you see withered, or flying in the air, cries out, as it were," Christmas is coming!" Let me, then, cry aloud too, and let me ask yon how you mean to spend your Christmas?

If you mean to spend it happily you must spend it usefully. There will be time enough for sliding and snowballing, and merry-making and carol-singing, as well as for doing good. To let Christmas go by without performing deeds of kindness would be to declare that we were ungrateful for our favours, and undeserving of the blessings we possess.

Among the recreations of Christmas time I dearly love a carol, for, as one says, "Sure enough it is a pleasant thing to hear, early in the morning, a Christmas carol; it seems to tone the heart for the day, and to fit it for grateful emotions and deeds of kindness." Did you ever hear the Christmas carol written by old Alan Gray? If not, I may as well spread it before you now, for it has been a favourite with many, and it may become a favourite with you.

I sing the coming of the Lord,
Then listen to my lay;—
Though thrice six hundred years have fled
Since that eventful day.
The Son of God! the Lord of life!
How wondrous are his ways;
Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

He came not as a mighty king,
With pomp, and power, and dread,
With a rich and glorious diadem
Bright sparkling on his head.
He came not as a conqueror,—
His hand no weapon bore;
No falchion glittered on his thigh,
His brow no laurel wore.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

He came unknown, unheralded,
By the mighty of the earth;
And the shouting million-throated throng,
Were silent at his birth,
He came—no living lightning flash,
Deformed the welkin wild,
No bursting thunder-clap was heard—
A simple, lamb-like child.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

No downy couch and room of state,
With tapestry fair bespread,
Were his. A stable was his home,
And a manger was his bed.
But hark! How cheerful was the lay,
How rapturous was the sound,
When, "Glory be to God!" was sung
By angel hosts around!

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

The star was bright that led aright
The wise men to the place,
Where love and peace were lighting up
The holy infant's face.
They worshipped him, and freely gave
Their gifts, a rich display,
Of spices rare and glittering gold,
And then went on their way.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

How passing strange to leave the seat
Of heaven's eternal throne,
And hosts of glittering seraphim,
For guilty man alone.
The Son of God! The Lord of life!
How wondrous are his ways;
Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

A brighter beam was spread around,
Than glory's flickering flood,
When meek and mild, the holy child,
In Judah's temple stood.
From lips of eloquence and love
The truth resistless broke,
And learned doctors listening stood,
Astonished when he spoke.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

With water and the Holy Ghost
Baptized—reproving pride;
To Israel he became a guard,
A glory, and a guide:
He led them as a shepherd leads
His flock in pastures free;
And lived a life of love to man,
And suffered on the tree.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

And did he bow his sacred head,
And die a death of shame?
Let men and angels magnify
And bless his holy name.
Oh, let us live in peace and love,
And cast away our pride,
And crucify our sins afresh,
As he was crucified.

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

He rose again, then let us rise
From sin, and Christ adore,
And dwell in peace with all mankind,
And tempt the Lord no more.
The Son of God! the Lord of life!
How wondrous are his ways!
Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise!

Oh, for a harp of thousand strings,
To sound abroad his praise.

As it is at present but the beginning of October you have plenty of time to commit my carol to memory. Should you meet with a better, you will do well to learn that too; but at all events, whether you learn one or both, be sure that you let not Christmas pass without doing all the good that lies in your power. The way to make it the best and the happiest Christmas you ever enjoyed, will be to double your diligence in loving and serving those around you, and in fearing and in glorifying God.

Think, speak, and act in love, and ready stand
To scatter kindness with a liberal hand:
Fear God, and lowly at his footstool fall,
And give your heart to him who gave you all.

Editor's Note:

An excerpt from the above carol has been published under the name, The Son of God! The Lord of Life!

The above carol was also published in The Christian Register (an unknown date) and then in The Church of England Magazine, March 21, 1868, p. 192, which noted “From the unpublished MSS. Of Mr. George Mogridge, who wrote under the sobriquet of 'Old Humphrey.'”

Note:

He is chiefly known by his pseudonym of 'Old Humphrey', under which name he published 46 works, but also used the pen-names 'Jeremy Jaunt', 'Ephraim Holding', 'Peter Parley' and 'Old Father Thames'. He wrote approximately 200 published works, and at the time of his death it was estimated that over 15 million copies of his writings were in circulation! (Wikipedia, George Mogridge (Old Humphrey)

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