The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

'Tis Come, The Time So Oft Foretold

Angels Announcing To Shepherds The Birth of a Saviour

A Christmas Ode

For Christmas

Words: Thomas Grinfield, Dec. 25, 1826.

Tune: “The Manly Heart” by Mozart

Meter: 88 88 88

Source: Thomas Grinfield, A Century of Original Sacred Songs. Second Edition (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1838), #68, pp. 154-157.

1. 'Tis come, the time so oft foretold,
The time Eternal Love forecast:
Four thousand years of hope have roll'd,
And God hath sent His Son at last:
Let heaven, let earth, adore the plan:
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

2. And wakes no voice, that peerless night,
In rapture o'er th' amazing birth?
If man is mute, lo, angels bright
Come warbling praise from heaven to earth,
Impatient heaven's chief work to scan:
“Glory to God, and grace to man!”

3. How beauteous did that host illume
The midnight of a wintry sky!
How sweet those notes, dispelling gloom,
The silentness of earth supply!
As, peal'd sublime, the chorus ran:
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

4. Those angel spirits never fell,
Ne'er lost, like man, their primal place;
Their brethren once, who dar'd rebel,
Nor know, nor hope, redeeming grace:
On earth the blended bliss began,
“Glory to God, and grace to man!”

5. But, foremost, who those accents hear?
To Salem are they wafted first?
To priest's and prince's favour'd ear?
Or midst unconscious air dispers'd?
(That air, which wafts the warbling clan:)
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

6. To swains, that watch'd their nightly fold,
Of lowly lot, of lowly mind;
To these, the tidings first were told,
That told of hope for lost mankind: –
God gives His Son; no more He can;
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

7. To you, blest swains, the stars, that night,
Were lost amidst angelic blaze;
While one, o'er all, divinely bright,
Ye hastening Magi, fix'd your gaze,
Like angel singing in your van,
“Glory to God, and grace to man!”

8. “Glory to God,” from Time's first age
Was anthem'd by the starry train;
'Tis heard by heaven-exploring sage,
'Tis heard by wanderer o'er the main;
But oh, what star, like that which sang,
“Glory to God, and grace to man!”

9. And well to shepherds first 'tis known,
The Lord of angels comes from high,
In humblest aspect like their own,
“Good Shepherd,” for His sheep to die: –
Oh, height and depth, which who shall span?
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

10. Fain, with those meek, those happy swains,
Lord, I would hear that angel quire;
Till, ravished by celestial strains,
My heart responds with holy fire;
(That holy fire Thy breath must fan:)
– “Glory to God, and grace to man!”

Dec. 25, 1826


Also found in

This hymn is rarely reproduced in all ten verses. More typical is the four verse selection made in Palmer, who wrote:

Stanzas 1, 6, 9, and 10 of a poem in ten stanzas (No. 68 of T. Grinfield's Century of Sacred Songs). I have adhered to the selection made by the late Rev. John Hampden Gurney in the Marylebone Hymn-Book of 1851.”

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