The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Immortal Babe, Who This Dear Day

Alternate Title: "For Christmas Day"

Words: Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656),
circa 1597, published 1660
Compare: Immortal Babe, Who On This Day (William Knapp)

Music: German Folk Melody, 16th Century

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)

1. Immortal Babe, who this dear day
Didst change Thine Heaven for our clay,
And didst with flesh thy godhead veil,
Eternal Son of God, all hail!

2. Shine, happy star; ye angels, sing
Glory on high to Heaven's King:
Run, shepherds, leave your nightly watch,
See Heaven come down to Bethlehem's cratch.

3. Worship, ye sages of the east,
The King of gods in meanness dress'd.
O blessed maid, smile and adore
The God thy womb and arms have bore.1

4. Star, angels, shepherds, and wild sages,
Thou virgin glory of all ages,
Restored frame of Heaven and Earth,
Joy in your dear Redeemer's birth!2


1. Bramley and Stainer have the last two lines as

O blessed Maid, with smiles adore
The God thine arms, thy bosom bore. Return

2. Bramley and Stainer have the last verse as

Star, Angels, Shepherds, and Sages wise,
Thou Virgin glory of all eyes,
Restored frame of Heaven and Earth,
Rejoice in your Redeemer's birth! Return

3. Chope adds this refrain:

Hail! all hail! all hail! all hail!
Eternal Son of God, all hail!

Sheet Music from Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, Third Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., ca 1878), Carol #70.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

For_Christmas_Day_70.gif (374382 bytes)

Sheet Music by Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #50
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Carol-050.gif (340912 bytes)

Sandys' Note: From Miscellaneous Poems, by Bishop Hall (about 1597), printed at the end of his Satires. Chiswick, 1824, p. 166.

Note Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861): "This Christmas hymn is by Bishop Hall, equally celebrated as an eminent divine, and a satiric poet. He was a contemporary of Shakespeare, Jonson, Spenser, and the other stars of the Elizabethan age."

Note: Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvestre" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Also found in Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 210.

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 115-6. Bullen also notes at page 262: "From “The Shaking of the Olive Tree,” 1660. Joseph Hall, Bishop of Exeter, was born in 1574, and died on 8th September 1656. He was an eloquent, liberal-minded, witty, and bold divine. He was also one of our earliest English satirists."

Artwork by Raphael from Christmas In Art And Song. New York: The Arundel Printing and Publishing Company, 1879.

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