The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas in Neale's Hymns for Children

John Mason Neale

Biography of John Mason Neale

We learn from Dr. John Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology that of Dr. Neale's first five volumes of original hymns and translations, three were for children.

#1. Hymns for Children. Intended chiefly for Village Schools. London, Masters, 1842.

#3. Hymns for the Young. A Second Series of Hymns for Children. London, Masters, 1844.

#5. Hymns for Children. A Third Series. London, Masters, 1846.

We learn from the Third Series that

The following Hymns will be found to embrace such Festivals of the English Church as are omitted in the writer’s “Hymns for Children,” and “Hymns for the Young.” Could he have foreseen that the circulation of his two former Series (of the defects of which no one can be more conscious than he is) would have been as large as the acknowledged want of some such books has caused it to be, he would have arranged the hymns of each part in a more natural order, and incorporated the present Series in the former. As it is, he hopes that the Index at the end will serve the same purpose.

Source: Rev. John Mason Neale, Hymns For Children. A Third Series. (1854), Third Edition (London: Joseph Masters, 1867),


I. Hymns for Children. The First Series

II. Hymns for The Young. A Second Series

III. Hymns for Children. A Third Series

Feast or Observance Carol or Hymn From
Advent And Now, O Lord, We Call To Mind I. 20
First Sunday in Advent Thou, Who In Every Time and Place II. 23
Second Sunday in Advent The Saviour's Coming Draws More Near II. 24
Ember-Week in Advent Lord Jesus, Who Shalt Come With Power II. 16
Third Sunday in Advent By Types And Figures, Many A Year II. 25
Fourth Sunday in Advent The Saviour Comes, Prepare His Way II. 26
The Christmas Antiphons:1    
   December 17, O Sapientia O Heavenly Wisdom, Hear Our Cry III. 1
   December 18, O Adonai O Thou, Who Camedst Down of Old III. 2
   December 19, O Radix Jesse O Root of Jesse, Thou On Whom III. 3
   December 20, O Clavis David O Key of David, Hailed by Those III. 4
   December 21, O Oriens O Very God of Very God III. 5
   December 22, O Rex Gentium O Thou, On Whom the Nations Wait III. 6
   December 23, O Emmanuel O Thou, Whose Name is “God With Us” III. 7
Christmas Day No More Sadness Now, Nor Fasting I. 21
S. Stephen, December 26 By Pain, And Weariness, And Doubt III. 10
S. John Evangelist, December 27 In The Blackness Of The Cloud III. 11
Holy Innocents, December 28 Let Children, Lord, Thy Presence Seek I. 38
Circumcision, or New Years, Jananuary 1 With Thee, O Lord, Begins The Year I. 22
Epiphany, January 6 O Thou, Who By A Star Didst Guide I. 23
Purification, February 2 Blessed Are The Pure In Heart III. 13
Annunciation of St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, March 25 It Is The Church's Holy Call III. 15
S. John Baptist, June 24 Before Thy Face, O God, Of Old III. 19


1. Note from p. 5 by Dr. Neale concerning the Antiphons of Christmas.

In old times, the eight days before Christmas had each a separate verse (or Antiphon, as it was called,) which was said in the Church service, and which had reference to the coming of the Saviour. A trace of this is found in our Prayer Book: the words O Sapientia, the beginning of the first of these Antiphons, are set down in the Calendar opposite December 16. In the following Hymns, these Antiphons are explained.

Editor's Note.

Originally, there were seven Antiphons and these began on Dec. 17. However, early on the English Church added an additional antiphon, which pushed the beginning back to Dec. 16. In this work, however, Dr. Neale only gives a hymn for the original seven antiphons. For additional information on the history of these Antiphons, see: The Great O Antiphons.

Editor's Notes.

Dr Julian also noted that a few of his translations appeared from time to time in The Ecclesiastic, and a few of his original hymns in The Christian Remembrancer.

In addition, in the collection compiled for use at St. Margaret's, East Grinstead, S. Margaret's Hymnal, Printed Privately for the use of the Community only, 1875, there are several of his hymns not traceable elsewhere. We have been unable to determine when Dr. Neale compiled this volume, bearing in mind that he died in 1866.

Finally, Dr. Julian included the following entry, but there is a problem. This hymn was for Ember Week in Lent, not Advent. For this reason, the hymn is not included in this collection. It is available in the 1914 Collected Hymns, Sequences and Carols of John Mason Neale, p. 351.

iii. From Hymns for the Young, 2nd series, 1844.
18. O God, we raise our hearts to Thee. Ember-Week in Advent. From this, "O Lord, we come before Thee now" is taken.

The derived carol was found in only one source: David Thomas, ed., The Augustine Hymn Book. A Hymnal for All Churches. (London: F. Pitman, 1866), Hymn 578, p. 183, available from Google Books.

Collections containing Christmas carols or hymns written or translated by John Mason Neale:

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