The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

That So Thy Blessed Birth

For the Epiphany

Words: George Wither, Juvenilia; A Collection of Poems. Volume 2 of 2. (London: John Budge, 1622), pp. 186-187. See also Wither, Hymns and Songs of the Church, A New Edition Reprinted from the Original Published in the Reign of K. James I. (London: T. Bensley printed for R. Triphook and J. Major, 1622 repr. 1815), Song 49, pp. 186-187.

Music: O. Gibbons
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #119.

See: George Wither's Hymns of the Christmas-tide

1. That so Thy blessed Birth, O Christ,
Might thro' the world be spread about,
The Star appeared in the East,
Whereby the Gentiles found Thee out;
And offered Thee Myrrh, Incense, Gold,
Thy three-fold Office to unfold.

2. Sweet Jesus, let that Star of Thine,
Thy Grace, which guides to find out Thee,
Within our hearts for ever shine,
That Thou of us found out mayest be;
And Thou shalt be our King therefore,
Our Priest and Prophet Evermore!

3. Tears that from true repentance drop,
Instead of myrrh, present will we:
For Incense we will offer up
Our prayers and praises unto Thee;
And bring for gold each pious deed,
Which doth from saving faith proceed.

4. And as those Wise Men never went
To visit Herod any more;
So, finding Thee, we will repent
Our courses followed heretofore;
And that we homeward may retire,
The way by Thee we will enquire.

Sheet Music from Chope

Editor's Note:

There were only two minor word changes made from the original, both in verse 1:

1. That so thy blessed birth, oh Christ,
Might through the world be spread about,
Thy star appeared in the East,
Whereby the Gentiles found thee out ;
And offering thee myrrh, incense, gold,
Thy three-fold office did unfold.

Concerning the occasion for this hymn, the editors of Wither's Hymns and Songs of the Church included this note:

Twelfth-Day, otherwise called the Epiphany, or the Day of Manifestation, is celebrated by the Church to the praise of God, and in memorial of that blessed and admirable discovery of our Saviour's birth, which was vouchsafed unto the Gentiles shortly after it came to pass. For as the Shepherds of the Jews were warned thereof, and directed to the place by an Angel from Heaven ; so the Magi of the Gentiles received the same particular notice of it by a star in the East, that both Jews and Gentiles might be left inexcusable, if they came not to his worship. This day is observed also in commemoration of our Saviour's Baptism, and of his first miracle in Canaan, by which he was likewise manifested to be the Son of God. (pages 185-186.)

One of a number of Christmas-tide hymns and songs from George Wither. See George Wither's Hymns of the Christmas-tide.

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