A Carol For The Holy Innocents
Words: George Wither
Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #102
1. That rage whereof
the Psalm doth say,
"Why are the Gentiles grown so mad?"
Appeared in part upon that day,
When Herod slain the Infants had;
Yet as it saith they stormed in vain;
Tho' many Innocents they slew,
For Christ they purposed to have slain,
Who all their counsels overthrew.
2. Thus still vouchsafe Thou to restrain
The tyrants, Lord, pursuing Thee;
Thus let our vast desires be slain,
That Thou mayest living in us be;
So, whilst we shall enjoy our breath,
We of Thy Love our songs will frame,
And with these Innocents, our death
Shall also glorify Thy Name.
3. In type those many died for One;
That One for many more was slain
And what they felt in Act alone,
He did in Will and Act sustain.
Lord, grant that what Thou hast decreed,
In Will and Act we may fulfil;
And though we reach not to the deed,
From us, O Lord, accept the Will.
Sheet Music from Chope
This is one of many songs which relate to the Holy Innocents, whose feast day is December 28. For more, please see The Hymns Of The Holy Innocents.
Also found in George Wither, Hymns and Songs of the Church (London: Printed by the Assigns of George Wither, 1623, reprinted London: John Russell Smith, 1856), Song LXV, pp. 228-229. The following note occurs on p. 227:
King Herod understanding that a King of the Jews was born in Bethlehem Juda ( and fearing that by him he might be dispossessed), he murdered all the young infants of that circuit, in hope among them to have slain Jesus Christ : but he was sent into Egypt by God's special appointment; and so the tyrant's fury proved vain. In honour, there fore, of the Almighty's providence, the Church celebrateth this day; to put us in mind, also, how vainly the Devil and his members rage against God's decree; and, that the cruel slaughter of those poor infants may never be forgotten ; which, in a large sense, may be called a Martyrdom ; as in the generality of the cause (being for Christ), and in the passion of the body, though not in the intention of the mind : and so in proper sense doth St. Stephen hold still the place of the first captain of that band.
For additional hymns, see: George Wither's Hymns of the Christmas-tide.
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