The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

One God There Is Of Wisdom

Man's Duty;
or, Mediation For the Twelve Hours of the Day

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

1. One God there is of wisdom, glory might,
One faith there is to guide our souls aright,
One truth there is for man to practise in,
One baptism to cleanse our souls from sin.

2. Two Testaments there are, the Old and New,
In which the Law and Gospel thou may'st view;
The one for works and deeds doth precepts give,
The other saith the just by faith shall live.

3. Three persons in the glorious Trinity
Make one true God in perfect unity,
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, those three
For ever equal and eternal be.

4. Four most divine and righteous holy men
They did the life of our Redeemer pen,
They were Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and John likewise,
Whose righteous truth let every Christian prize.

5. Five senses do in every man maintain
A governing of power, rule and reign;
The hearing, seeing, tasting, feeling, smelling,
Which at thy death1 will leave thee and thy dwelling.

6. Six days, O man, thou hast to labor in,
So merciful and good thy God Hath been,
Of seven unto himself to took but one,
O rob him not of that to leave him none.2

7. Seven liberal arts, by a divine decree,
Unto man's knowing soul united be;
Rhetorick, grammar, music, and geometry.
Arthmetick, logick, and astronomy.

8. Eight persons in the ark of Noah were
When God he would the world no longer spare;
Sin did abound, therefore all flesh he drown'd
Which in that ship of safety were not found.

9. Nine Muses their harmonious voices raise
To sing our blessed dear Redeemer's praise,
Who is the spring from whence all blessings flow
To us poor living mortals here below.3

10. There are commandments ten we should obey,
And yet how apt are we to go astray,
Leaving them all our folly to pursue,
As if we did not care what God could do.4

11. Eleven disciples did with Jesus pray
When Judas did our Saviour Christ betray,5
Though, covetous for greedy gain, he fell
To be perdition's child condemned to hell.

12. Twelve tribes there were amongst our fathers old,
Twelve articles our Christian faith does hold,
Twelve gates in New Jerusalem there by,
Unto which city Christ bring thee and me.


1. Or: "Which all at death." A Good Christmas Box. Return

2. A Good Christmas Box has:

Six days, O Man, we have to labour in,
So merciful and good our God hath been,
Of seven, to himself he takes but one,
Then rob him not of that, to leave him none. Return

3.  A Good Christmas Box has:

Nine muses do their harmonious voices raise,
All to sing our dear Redeemer's praise;
From whose blest hands, all blessings daily flow,
To us poor mortals here below. Return

4.  A Good Christmas Box has:

There are Ten Commandments we should obey,
But yet how apt are we to go astray;
Breaking them all, our folly to pursue,
As though we did not fear what God could do. Return

5 Or: "While Judas did the Son of God betray." A Good Christmas Box. Return

Also found in G. Walters, A Good Christmas Box (Dudley: G. Walters, 1847, Reprinted by Michael Raven, 2007), p. 34.

Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern Including Some Never Before Given In Any Collection. Edited, With Notes. (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861), pp. 138-140.

The following Carol is selected as a specimen from several others. It will remind the reader of the well-known German Watchman's Song, which I am satisfied would be a great favourite with the peasantry if it once got into the hawkers' broad-sheets.

Also found in William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868:

This is a more modern version of the preceding carol [One God, One Baptisme, And One Fayth].

Editor's note: See also In Those Twelve Days. This is one of many Catechisms, and one of many "counting" songs among the hymns and carols of Christmas. See the notes to the Twelve Days of Christmas.

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