The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Today In Bethlehem Hear I

For Christmas

Words: Δόξα έν ύψίστοις Θεώ, An Ode of S. John Damascene, VIII Century .
Translator: William Chatterton Dix

Music: Not Stated

Source: Rev. Orby Shipley, ed., Lyra Messianica: Hymns and Verses on the Life of Christ (London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green, 1864), p. 111.

1. To-day in Bethlehem hear I
     Sweet Angel-voices singing
All Glory be to God on High
     Who Peace to earth is bringing.

2. The Virgin Mary holdeth more
     Than highest Heaven most holy:
Light shines on what was dark before,
     And lifteth up the lowly.

3. God wills that Peace should be in earth
     And holy Exultation:
Sweet Babe, I greet Thy spotless Birth
     And wondrous Incarnation.

4. To-day in Bethlehem hear I
     Even the lowly singing:
With Angel-words they pierce the sky
     All earth with Joy is ringing.

Editor's Note:

S. John Damascene is also known as "John the Monk" and "John of Damascus."

Concerning St. John, Bernard Pick had this biographical note:

John of Damascas

(Died about A. D. 780)

John of Damascus stands in the first rank of Greek hymnists. He was the last but one of the fathers of the Greek Church, and the greatest of her poets. As a poet he had a principal share in the "Octoechus," which contains the Sunday services of the Eastern Church. He is the author of a canon for Christmas Day, beginning, Εσωσε λαόν, δαυματουργων Δεσπότης, and the odes are sung in service alternately with those of Cosmas's Χριστός γενναται δοξασατε (Christ Is Born! Tell Forth His Fame!).

Source: Bernhard Pick, ed., Hymns and Poetry of the Eastern Church (New York: Eaton & Mains, 1908), pp. 111-112.

Also appeared in W. Chatterton Dix, ed., Christmas Carols & Christmas Customs (No publisher, location or date; ca. 1870), where he noted that this hymn appeared in "Lyra Messianica," it was Hymn #95 on p. 111   that it was an Ode of S. John Damascene, and that the music was by Cedric Bucknall, Mus. Bac., Oxon. Unfortunately, he did not state the name of the tune.

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