The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Why, Herod, Dost Thou Fear in Vain

Vespers Breviary Hymn for the Epiphany

Words: Crudelis Herodes, Deum. Revised from Hostis Herodes Impie by Sedulius.

From The Primer, 1706

Source: Orby Shipley, Annus Sanctus: Hymns of the Church for the Ecclesiastical Year. Vol. 1. (London and New York: Burns and Oates, 1884), Appendix pp. 21, 23.

Why, Herod, dost thou fear in vain,
That Christ should take thy place and reign ?
He seeks not here an earthly throne
Who comes to make all heaven our own.

Behold, a star descends to-day,
And leads the sages on their way ;
To carry their mysterious load
By light, to light's own fountain, God.

To-day the Lamb descends, and laves
His heavenly fleece in Jordan's waves ;
To wash with a celestial dew
The stains of sin he never knew.

And since the hardened Jews mistook
Both Bethlem's star and Jordan's brook,
The waters to reproach their sin
At Cana blush, and turn to wine.

Glory to thee, O Christ, whose rays,
Illustrated the Gentiles' ways ;
With equal praises still repeat
The Father and the Paraclete.

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