The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Away, Dark Thoughts; Awake, My Joy

Hymn XII, A Song of Praise for the Birth of Christ

For Christmas

Words: John Mason (1645-1694), Spiritual Songs, or, Songs of Praise To Almighty God: Upon Several Occasions. (Bocking: Fenno and Shearcroft, 1683), pp. 18-19.

Away, dark Thoughts; awake, my Joy; 
    Awake, my Glory, sing, 
Sing Songs to Celebrate the Birth 
    Of Jacob's God and King. 
O happy Night that brought forth Light, 
    Which makes the Blind to see! 
The Day-spring from on High came down 
    To Cheer and Visit Thee.

The wakeful Shepherds, near their Flocks, 
    Were watchful for the Morn; 
But better News from Heav'n was brought, 
    Your Saviour Christ is Born. 
In Bethlem-Town the Infant lies, 
    Within a Place obscure; 
O Little Bethlem, poor in Walls, 
    But rich in Furniture!

Since Heaven is now come down to Earth, 
    Hither the Angels fly! 
Hark how the Heav'nly Choir doth Sing, 
  Glory to God on High! 
The News is spread, the Church is glad, 
  Simeon o'ercome with Joy, 
Sings with the Infant in his Arms; 
  Now let thy Servant die.

Wise Men from far beheld the Star, 
    Which was their faithful Guide, 
Until it pointed forth the Babe, 
    And Him they glorified. 
Do Heaven and Earth rejoice and sing, 
    Shall we our Christ deny? 
He's born for us, and we for Him; 
  Glory to God on High.


Several adaptations of this poem have been created, including:

Biographical notes and texts of some of his hymns can be found at Rev. John Mason, M.A.

Notes from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1892)

Away, dark thoughts, awake, my joy. John Mason. [Christmas.] This is Mason's "Song of Praise for the Birth of Christ," and appeared in his Songs of Praise, 1683, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, and in later editions including Sedgwick's reprint, 1859. Its use as a congregational hymn is limited. It is quaint, and on the whole unsuited to modern taste.

Awake, my love, awake, my joy.
John Mason. [Morning.] This is a cento adapted from Mason's Songs of Praise for Morning and Evening, and consists of stanza i. from the Evening and stanzas ii.-iv. from the Morning Hymn. It was included in the Rev. T. Darling's Hymns for the Ch. of England, new ed., 1874, No. 198. The original text appeared in Mason's Songs of Praise, 1683, and in Sedgwick's reprint, 1859, pp. 10-18.

Note and sheet music by G. A. Langford Skerry, Workington.

From Frederic William Weaver and Charles Herbert Mayo, eds., Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset. Volume 7. (Sherborne: For NQSD, 1901), pp. 152-153.

89. Old Christmas Carols.—The following Christmas Carol is one of several Carols which have been sung from time immemorial at High Ham, Somerset, and which appear to exist only in old MS. books. I have been unable to trace the origin of the music, but I find the verses of the following Carol are taken promiscuously from Hymns in a book entitled Songs of Praise, by the Rev. John Mason, M.A., formerly Rector of Water Stratford, Bucks, who died in 1694. I have not improved the harmonies, as probably a specimen of the compositions of our old village musicians will be more interesting:—

1. Away dark thoughts! awake my joy!
Awake and praises sing!
Sing songs to celebrate the birth
Of Jacob's God and King!

2. Oh! that I had an angel's tongue,
That I might loudly sing
The praises of redeeming love
To Thee, my God and King.

3. Oh! happy night that brought forth light,
That made the blind to see!
The Spirit from on high came down
To cheer and visit thee.

4. Come let us join with angels then
Our God to glorify,
Peace be on earth, good-will to men,
Glory to God on high.

Sheet Music by G. A. Langford Skerry, Workington, from Notes and Queries for Somerset and Dorset, p. 153.

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