The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When God At First Created Man

Version 2

Compare: When God At First Created Man - Version 1 (Davies Gilbert)


Words and Music: English Traditional


Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833), p. 95

1. When God at first created man
    His image for to be,
And how he fram'd him by his power
    In Scripture we may see;
And how he made his help meet Eve,
    The Scripture doth us tell;
Being free from sin, God plac'd them both
    In Paradise to dwell.

Let men therefore then praise the Lord,
    Rejoice, and cease to mourn,
Because our Saviour Jesus Christ
    On Christmas Day was born.

2. Man being entered in this place,
    We plainly understand
The glory of it, having seen
    God gave them this command:
Be sure thou eat not of the tree
    Which in the midst doth stand;
In eating it thou sure shalt die
    And perish from the land. Chorus

3. Man being blest in this estate,
    And blessed sure was he,
Having all things at his command
    But the forbidden Tree.
But when the Serpent soon appear'd
    To have beguiled eve,
And told her if she eat thereof
    That she should surely live. Chorus

4. The Serpent soon had Eve beguilded
    That she thereof did eat,
And likewise gave unto the man
    As Scripture doth repeat.
And so they both brake God's command,
    Committing of that thing,
Likewise the heavy wrath of God
    Upon them both did bring. Chorus

5. An Angel then from God was sent
    For to declare his will,
And to the Virgin Mary came,
    God's word for to fulfil.
A Virgin sure of life most pure,
    The Lord of her made choice
To bear our Saviour in her womb
    Men's hearts for to rejoice. Chorus

6. The Angel then before her stood,
    Declaring of those things,
And told her that she should conceive
    And bear the King of Kings,
To save men's souls from Hell beneath
    From which we could not fly,
For breaking of the Lord's command
    Condemn'd he was to die. Chorus

7. Mary replied, 'Tis wond'rous strange
    To hear what thou hast said,
I should conceive, being free from sin
    And still a spotless maid.
The Angel said, 'Tis not by man
    That this shall come to pass,
But was ordain'd by God at first
    Before the world e'er was. Chorus

8. The glorious Angel she believ'd
    That did those tidings bring,
And then sang praises in her heart
    To God our Heavenly King.
Then God he knew her faith was such
    For to believe aright;
The Angel then by God's own power
    Departed from her sight. Chorus

9. Then Caesar made a firm decree
    That certainly should stand,
That all the world should taxed be
    By power of his command:
Mary then being great with child
    When Caesar made this call,
For in her womb was then conceiv'd
    The Saviour of us all. Chorus

10. Thus Mary and her husband kind
    Together did remain,
And went to Bethlehem to be tax'd,
    As Scripture doth make plain.
And so it was, they being there,
    Her time being fully come,
That in a stable she brought forth
    Her first begotten Son. Chorus

11. These tidings to the Shepherds came,
    Watching their flocks by night,
For God he sent his Angel down,
    Which did them sore affright.
The Angel said, Fear not of me,
    But shew these things abroad,
For unto you this day is born
    A Saviour, Christ the Lord. Chorus

12. God grant us hearts for to believe,
    And rightly to consider,
How that our Saviour suffered death
    Our souls for to deliver.
The which if rightly we believe,
    We shall with him be blest,
And when this mortal life is o'er
    In Heaven we hope to rest. Chorus

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Sheet Music from Ralph Dunstan, The Cornish Song Book (London: Reid Bros., Ltd., 1929), pp. 90-1.

MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Dr. Dunstan gives the following verse in lieu of the fifth verse above:

5. Man being now with grief oppress'd,
    Not knowing where to go:
His soul before being fill'd with joy,
    Is now oppress'd with woe.
But see the mercy of the Lord,
    To save man's soul from hell;
His Son He promis'd to send down
    That He with us might dwell. Chorus.

Dr. Dunstan notes that this is "A Cornish variant of 'When God at first had Adam made.'"

Editor's Note: I took the liberty of replacing the E with a D in the 11th measure, third note (the word "Eve"). I don't know whether or not the E was intended, but it was immensely discordant, unusual in a Dunstan arrangement.

Note: You can find another four-part setting in Hugh Keyte and Andrew Parrott, eds., The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), #142. Keyte and Parrott reproduce seven of the 12 verses from Gilbert, "with small emendations from Sandys'...", including Sandys' verses 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 12, plus #5 from Gilberts (which they insert at position 4). They note that this is the Christmas Day companion to Gilbert's Christmas Eve carol The Lord At First Did Adam Make.

The carol is not found in The Oxford Book of Carols (1928).

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Rev. Terry:

When God At First Created Man - Gilbert

Dr. Dunstan:

When God At First Created Man - Dunstan

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