The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Why Cruel Herod Dost Thou Fear

For Epiphany

Words: Crudelis Herodes, Deum
The Roman Breviary form of Hostis Herodis
Derived from Paean Alphabeticus de Christo, with notes, by Caelius Sedulius, 5th Century
Translation by Henry S. Parsons, ca. 1844.

Music: Not Stated

Source: Henry S. Parsons, Ancient Hymns of the Holy Church (Hartford: 1845).

Why cruel Herod dost thou fear
That God thy King is drawing near?
Shall He desire thine earthly throne,
Who gives His Saints a Heavenly crown ?

The Magi came upon their way,
Led by that star's mysterious ray;
Light seeking, on by light they trod,
And with their treasures, owned their God.

'Mid Jordan's waves the Saviour stood,
And sinless sanctified the flood;
So water by His glorious grace,
From sin should wash our sinful race.

Then water by His power divine,
At Cana's marriage changed to wine,
Showed how in sacramental wise,
Wine should be blood to faithful eyes.*

Oh Jesu ! be Thou ever blest,
Who thus Thyself did'st manifest;
And to the Triune God be given,
Eternal praise in earth and Heaven.

Footnote by the Translator:

* Our own Church recognizes this three-fold manifestation, as commemorated at Epiphany.


Under the title "Hymns for Epiphany" the above carol was Number 1. The Number 2 carol was found on pages 55-56:

Chief'mongst the cities of the plain,
Bethlem to whom 'twas given,
To witness to the Virgin birth,
Of Christ the Lord from Heaven;

O'er thee blazed forth that wondrous star,
Than noon-day sun more bright,
Telling to watchful lands afar,
How God was man that night.

Led on by this, the Magi see;
Their eastern gifts behold,
Offered to Him on bended knee,
Frankincense, myrrh, and gold:

Sabaean gums and glistening ore,
The God and King disclose;
While dust like myrrh completes the store,
And the dark tomb foreshows.”

Jesu, to Thee all glory be,
Who thus wert manifest,
One in the Father's Unity,
One with the Spirit blest.

Footnote by the Translator:

* Says St. Hilary: “The oblation of their gifts expressed an understanding of His entire nature; by gold confessing the King, by frankincense the God, by myrrh the Man. And thus through the means of their worship, was there in each of these the indication of a great sacrament. In Man of death; in God of Resurrection; in the King of Judgment.— Quoted in Williams on the Nativity p. 137.


The Introduction by the editor was written in October, 1844, at St. George's Parsonage, Schenectady, New York.

The first line of this carol is a popular translation. Including this carol, we have these titled on the web site:

A fifth hymn with this same first line was posted on a website, but without attribution. Since it may be under copyright, it is not posted here. See: The Epiphany of Our Lord at the blog Knocking Everywhere.

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