The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Once Thou Didst On Earth Appear

For Christmas

Words: Charles Wesley

Source: Sacred Poetry: Selected from the Works of the Rev. Charles Wesley, M.A. (New York: W. H. Kelley & Brother, 1864), Part X, "The Incarnation of Christ," Hymn III of VIII, pp. 363-364.

Meter: 76 76 78 76

1 John 3:5; Eph. 3:18-19

1. Once thou didst, on earth appear,
For all mankind to atone,
Now be manifested here,
And bid our sin be gone!
Come, and by thy presence chase
Its nature with its guilt and power;
Jesus, show thy open face,
And sin shall he no more.

2. Thou who didst so greatly stoop
To a poor virgin's womb,
Here thy mean abode take up;
To me, my Saviour, come!
Come, and Satan's works destroy,
And let me all thy Godhead prove,
Fill'd with peace, and heavenly joy,
And pure eternal love.

3. Then my soul, with strange delight,
Shall comprehend and feel
What the length, and breadth, and height,
Of love unspeakable:
Then I shall the secret know,
Which angels would search out in vain;—
God was man, and served below,
That man with God might reign!

4. Father, Son, and Spirit, come,
And with thine own abide:
Holy Ghost, to make thee room,
Our hearts we open wide;
Thee, and only thee request,
To every asking sinner given;
Come, our life, and peace, and rest,
Our all in earth and heaven.


This hymn appears in John Wesley, ed., A collection of hymns, for the use of the people called Methodists. (London: Conference-Office, 1875), Hymn 413, pp. 392-393, with attribution to “Charles Wesley, 1762.” Introduction by John Wesley dated in London, Oct. 20, 1779.

Tune: Kingwood.

This hymn is a compilation of verses from different sources. Three of the verses occur in "Short Hymns on Selected Passages," found in G. Osborn, ed., The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley. Vol. 13 (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Conference Office, 1872):

Note: In Wesley's original Short Hymns on Selected Passages of the Holy Scriptures, Vol. 2, (Bristol: E. Farley, 1762):

Verse 4 is a slightly altered version of verse 1, Hymn 28, in Hymns for the Use of Families and on Various Occasions, Second Edition, by Charles Wesley (London: William Pine, 1767), p. 29. The only alteration was the beginning of the third line, which originally appeared as "Holy God, to make thee room,". This verse does not appear to occur in any of the 13 volumes of "The Poetical Works of John and Charles Wesley." There is an index at the back of Vol. 13 that contains most of the first line of each verse that appears in this set.

Verse 1 of Hymn 3228 (the source of verses 2 and 3 above) is:

God in mortal flesh reveal'd,
   Explain the mystery,
Show it still on man fulfill'd,
   Be manifest in me;
Thou who dist on earth appear,
   By faith conceived Thyself impart,
Pitch Thy tabernacle here
In my believing heart.

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