The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

What Dost Thou Fear, Oh, Enemy ?

For The Epiphany

Words: Hostis Herodes impie, a Cento from Paean Alphabeticus de Christo by Caelius Sedulius, 5th Century
Was fürchtst du Feind Herodes sehr. A translation by Martin Luther, written Dec. 12, 1541, and first published in Klug’s Geistliche Lieder, Wittenberg, 1544.
Translation from the German to the English by Henrietta Joan Fry

Music: Not Stated

Source: Henrietta Joan Fry, Hymns of the Reformation (London: Charles Gilpin, 1845), pp. 23-25.


Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king,
behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying,
Where is he that is born King of the Jews ?
for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
Matt. ii. 1, 2.

What dost thou fear, oh, enemy ?
     Herod, why tremblest thou ?
That Christ, the Lord, to us is born,
     Why quails thy spirit now ?

No worldly empire does He seek,
     No fame of mortal birth,—
Who brings His heavenly kingdom down,
     And plants its reign on earth.

See where, from regions of the sun,
     The eastern magi came ;
They followed where a guiding star
     Sent down its lambent flame.

They journeyed, till at length it stood,
     With mild, celestial ray,
Above the head of Him, who shines
     With beams of endless day.

And then, before that Holy Child,
     Their three-fold offerings showed,
That He to whom they bowed the knee,
     Was there the present God :

That He was Man, since manhood's form
     He then had deigned to wear ;
And that they saw, in regal might,
     The King of Glory there !

At length that glorious Lord from heaven,
     By Jordan's waters stood ;
And there, baptized beneath the wave,
     Behold the Lamb of God !

And still that Lamb immaculate,
     Makes all His people clean,
Whilst He, thro' baptism's mighty power,
     Has washed away our sin.

We hail a miracle displayed ;—
     Six water-pots of stone,
Full to the brim, were placed in view,
     But virtue there was none,—

Until His quick, transforming word
     Went forth ; when blushing wine
Obedient to his mandate flowed,
     And proved His power divine.

Honor, and thanks, and praise, oh Christ !
     To Thee be largely paid,
That Thou wast of a virgin born,
     In human guise arrayed ;

And to the Father of us all,
     And to the Holy Ghost,
The tribute of adoring praise,
     Shall be our ceaseless boast.

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