The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Swathed and Feebly Wailing

For Christmas

Words and Music: Heu! quid jaces stabulo, Johannes Mauburnus (1460-1502)
an excerpt from the longer Eia mea anima;
Translator
: Rev. Dr. Herbert Kynaston, from his "Occasional Hymns" (1862), pages 12-13.

Source: Alexander Henley Grant, ed., The Church Seasons Historically and Poetically Illustrated (London: James Hogg & Son, 1869), pp. 22-23.

Swath'd, and feebly wailing.
    Wherefore art Thou laid.
All Thy glory veiling
    In the manger's shade ?
King, and yet no royal
    Purple decks Thy breast ;
Courtiers mute and loyal
    Bend not o'er Thy rest !

Sinner, here I sought thee,
    Here I made my home.
All my wealth I brought thee,
    Vile am I become ;
All thy loss redressing
    On my birthday morn,
Give my Godhead's blessing
    In a stable born.

Thousand, thousand praises,
    Jesu ! for Thy love.
While my spirit gazes
    With the Host above ;
Glory in the highest
    For Thy wondrous birth,
Lowly where Thou liest
    Peace and love on earth !

Editor's Note:

It was only recently that the original source was located, and it was then discovered that Mr. Grant took some liberties with the text, a deplorable but not uncommon occurrence among editors. I have given the correct lyrics from Occasional Hymns.

Mr. Grant introduced this hymn with the following:

Our next representative poem is taken from a hymnwriter of the Latin Church, and from a Latin original, which may be consulted in Bassler's "Auswahl Altchristlicher Lieder"; in Daniel's "Thesaurus," or, in a slightly varied form, in Archbishop Trench's "Sacred Latin Poetry." The author, Johannes Mauburnus, who was of the very latest of mediaeval hymnographers, was born at Brussels in 1460, and, after fulfilling several dignities in the church, died Abbot of the Cloister of Livry, in the neighbourhood of Paris, in 1502. The hymn in question is derived from the "Rosetum Spirituale," and taken from a longer poem of thirteen stanzas, commencing:—

Eja mea anima
Bothlehem eamus.

The three stanzas translated below, have long formed a Christmas hymn, which was in favourite use in its original Latin in the early reformed churches. It is now, Bassler informs us, to be met with in various Protestant "Gesangbucher," in an old German version, beginning with the line—

Warum liegt im Krippelein,

which represents the Heu! quid jaces stabulo of Mauburnus. English versions are not of the rarest occurrence. We take one of the latest, done by the Rev. Dr. Kynaston, and published in his "Occasional Hymns."

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