The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

It Was The Calm And Silent Night!

Words: Alfred Domett, 1811-87

Music: Unknown

Source: Percy Dearmer, R. Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw, Songs of Praise (London: Oxford University Press, 1925)

1. It was the calm and silent night!
Seven hundred years and fifty-three
Had Rome been growing up to might,
And now was queen of land and sea1
No sound was heard of clashing wars;
Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain;
Apollo, Pallas, Jove and Mars,
Held undisturbed their ancient reign,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago!

2. O strange indifference ! -- low and high
Drowsed over common joys and cares:
The earth was still -- but knew not why;
The world was listening -- unawares;
How calm a moment may precede
One that shall thrill the world for ever1
To that still moment none would heed,
Man's doom was linked no more to sever,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago!

3. It is the calm and silent night!
A thousand bells ring out, and throw
Their joyous peals abroad, and smite
Their darkness, charmed and holy now!
The night that erst no name had worn
To it a happy name is given;
For in that stable lay new-born
The peaceful Prince of earth and heaven,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago.


A good friend to this site sent these additional verses to complete the poem.

A CHRISTMAS HYMN
Old Style: 1837

It was the calm and silent night!
Seven hundred years and fifty-three
Had Rome been growing up to might,
And now was Queen of land and sea.
No sound was heard of clashing wars;
Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain;
Apollo, Pallas, Jove and Mars,
Held undisturbed their ancient reign,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago.

'Twas in the calm and silent night!
The senator of haughty Rome
Impatient urged his chariot's flight,
From lordly revel rolling home.
Triumphal arches gleaming swell
His breast with thoughts of boundless sway;
What recked the Roman what befell
A paltry province far away,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago!

Within that province far away
Went plodding home a weary boor:
A streak of light before him lay,
Fall'n through a half-shut stable door
Across his path. He passed - for naught
Told what was going on within;
How keen the stars! his only thought;
The air how calm and cold and thin,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago!

O strange indifference! - low and high
Drowsed over common joys and cares:
The earth was still - but knew not why;
The world was listening - unawares.
How calm a moment may precede
One that shall thrill the world for ever!
To that still moment none would heed,
Man's doom was linked, no more to sever,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago.

It is the calm and solemn night!
A thousand bells ring out, and throw
Their joyous peals abroad, and smite
The darkness, charmed and holy now.
The night that erst no name had worn,
To it a happy name is given;
For in that stable lay new-born
The peaceful Prince of Earth and Heaven,
In the solemn midnight
Centuries ago.

Alfred Domett [1811-1887]

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