The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When God At First Created Man

For Christmas Day

Version 1
Compare: When God At First Created Man - Version 2 (William Sandys)

Words and Music: English Traditional

Source: Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823, Carol #2, pp. 5-9.
Also compared to Davies Gilbert, "Some Ancient Christmas Carols."
London: Nichols and Sons, 1822, reprinted Boston: Elibron Classics, 2007.
The 1822 edition has been scanned and posted on Google Books.

1. When God at first created man
    His image for to be,
And how he made him by his pow'r,
    In Scripture we may see;
And how he framed his helpmate Eve,
    The Scripture doth us tell;
Being free from sin, God placed them both,
    In Paradise to dwell.

Let me, therefore, then praise the Lord,
    Rejoice and cease to mourn,
Because our Saviour Jesus Christ
    This blessed day was born.

2. Man being entered in that 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 bless'd in this estate,
    And blessed sure was he,
Having all things at his command,
    But the forbidden tree;
But then the Serpent soon appeared
    To have beguiled Eve,
And said if she should eat thereof
    That she should surely live. Chorus.

4. The Serpent then hath Eve beguil'd,
    That she thereof did eat;
And likewise gave unto the man,
    As Scripture doth repeat.
And so they both broke God's command,
    Committing of this thing,
Likewise the heavy wrath of God
    Upon them both did bring. Chorus.

5. Man being now with grief oppress'd,
    Not knowing where to go;
His soul before being filled 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.

6. An Angel then from Heav'n was sent,
    For to declare God's will,
And to the Virgin Mary came,
    God's words for to fulfil.
A virgin pure of virtuous life,
    Of whom the Lord made choice,
To bear our Saviour in her womb,
    Man's heart for to rejoice. Chorus.

7. 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 man's soul from hell beneath,
    From which he could not fly;
For breaking the Lord's commands
    He was condemned to die. Chorus.

8. Mary replied, 'tis wondrous 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 should come to pass,
For God himself ordain'd it so
    Before the world ere was. Chorus.

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

10. Then Csar made a firm decree,
    That certainly should stand,
That all the world should taxed be,
    By the power of this command;
Mary then being great with child,
    When Csar made this call;
For in her womb conceived was
    The Saviour of us all. Chorus.

11. Then Mary and her husband kind,
    Together did remain,
And went to Bethlehem to be tax'd,
    As Scriptures doth make plain;
And so it was that they being there,
    Her time being fully come,
Within a stable she brought forth
    Her first-begotten Son. Chorus.

12. God grant us hearts for to believe,
    And likewise to consider,
How that our Saviour suffer'd death,
    Man's soul for to deliver;
The which, if rightly we believe,
    We shall with him be bless'd,
And when this mortal life is done,
    In Heav'n we hope to rest. Chorus.

Sheet Music from Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols (London: John Nichols And Son, First Edition, 1822)

Gilbert_When-God-01_1822.jpg (61602 bytes) Gilbert_When-God-02_1822.jpg (60775 bytes)

Sheet Music from Davies Gilbert, Carol #2 (1823)

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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