The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

As With Gladness, Men Of Old

For Epiphany, January 6
Also appears under the title "The Guiding Star"

Words: William Chatterton Dix, 1858-1859.
Third Version
Compare: As, With Gladness, Men Of Old - First Version

Music: "Dix," adapted by William Henry Monk from the original "Treuer Heiland, Wir Sind Heir" by Conrad Kocher, Stimmen aus dem Reiche Gottes, 1838.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML
Meter: 77 77 777
Sheet music available at
RoDeby Music

Source: Hymns (ca. 1859), #42, p. 33 (the trial edition)
William Henry Monk, ed.,
Hymns, Ancient and Modern (London: Novello and Co., 1861, 1867), Hymn 64, pp. 78-79.

When they star the star they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” Matt. 2:10

1. As with gladness, men of old
Did the guiding star behold;
As with joy they hailed its light,
Leading onward, beaming bright;
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

2. As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger-bed;
There to bend the knee before
02b Whom heaven and earth adore;
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek the mercy-seat.

3. As they offered gifts most rare 03
At that manger
03b rude and bare;
So may we, with holy joy,
Pure and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring,
Christ! to Thee our heavenly King.

4. Holy Jesus, every day
Keep us in the narrow way;
And, when earthly things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy Glory hide.

5. In the heavenly country bright,
Need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down; 06
There for ever may we sing
Alleluias to our King.

Footnotes in Hymns Ancient And Modern (except as noted):

1. Psalm 43:3 Return

2. Compare a Sequence "De Tribus Regibus," extracted from Corner's "Promptuarium Devotionis," by Archbishop Trench: --
     "Currunt ad praesepia
      Reges magi."
But though there is ancient tradition in its favour, this picture seems certainly false, from Matt. ii. 11.

In the 1875 edition, this line is changed to "Saviour, to Thy lowly bed." Return

2b. "Thee" in Dix's Christmas Carols & Christmas Customs (ca. 1870) and the 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.  Return

3. Isaiah 60:6  Return

3b. "That manger" is changed to "Thy cradle" in the 1875 edition. Return

4. 2 Sam. 24:24; See Hymn 170 ["My God, my Father, While I Stray"], ver. 4.  Return

5. Matt. 7:14  Return

6. Rev. 21:23. See Hymn 256, ver. 3  Return

Editor's Notes:

The two hymns referred to in the footnotes in the text were:

Hymn 170 ["My God, my Father, While I Stray"], ver. 4:

What most I prize, it ne'er was mine;
I only yeild Thee what is Thine;
"Thy Will be done."
Let but my fainting heart be blest.

     Footnote to the first line was Matt. xix. 21; footnote to the second line was 1 Chron. xxix. 14, 16.

Hymn 256 ["O Heavenly Jerusalem"], ver. 3

There God for ever sitteth,
Himself of all the Crown;
The Lamb, the Light that shineth,
And never goeth down.

    Footnote to the first line was apparently Rev. vii. 10. Footnote to the second line was Isa. xxviii. 5.

Sheet Music by H. Wolford Davies from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #617
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML (26 Pages)
Verses 1, 2 and 4 above.
In four parts with piano accompaniment.

Page One
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four

Sheet Music by C. Kocher from Hutchins, Carol #654
SATB: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Sheet Music from Mary Palmer and John Farmer, eds., Church Sunday School Hymn-Book (London: Church of England Sunday-School Institute, 1892), #51.

Sheet Music by Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #126
Melody Line: MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Sheet Music "Dix" from Henry Sloane Coffin and Ambrose White Vernon, eds., Hymns of the Kingdom of God. New York: The A. S. Barnes Company, 1910, #50, p. 86.

Sheet Music "Treuer Heiland, Wir Sind Hier" by C. Kocher from O. Hardwig, ed., The Wartburg Hymnal (Chicago: Wartburg Publishing House, 1918), #146

Sheet Music to "Heathlands" by Henry Smart and "Dix" by Conrad Kocher from Arthur Sullivan, ed., Church Hymns With Tunes (London: SPCK, 1874), #94, p. 75.

As With Gladness-Sullivan-Ch_Hms-1874-94-p75.jpg (68401 bytes)

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"Dix," adapted by William Henry Monk

As With Gladness, Men of Old - Dix, Adapted By WH Monk

Sheet Music by H. Wolford Davies from Hutchins, Carol #617

As With Gladness, Men of Old - H. Wolford Davies

Sheet Music by C. Kocher from Hutchins, Carol #654

As With Gladness, Men of Old - C. Kocher

Sheet Music by Rev. R. F. Smith from Rev. Richard R. Chope

As With Gladness, Men of Old - R. F. Smith

Only tested by Noteworthy for Netscape, Opera, and IE Browsers (Versions 4 or 5)
In my experience, it also works with Firefox.

Also found in Roundell Palmer, ed., The Book of Praise. Boston: Sever, Francis, & Co., 1870, # XLI, p. 48, who notes:

This hymn is from Hymns Ancient and Modern, for Use in the Services of the Church (London, Novello, 1861). I am indebted to the Rev. Sir Henry Baker, Bart. (one of the editors of that collection) for the permission, which he has kindly obtained for me from the author, to publish his name, as well as for the authentication of the text. I am also indebted to him and his co-editors for their consent to the use which I have made of this hymn, and three others, contributed by Sir Henry Baker himself to the same collection, to which he has allowed me to affix his name.”


William C. Dix was born at Bristol on the 14th of June, 1837, the son of John R. Dix, a surgeon and author of a biography of Thomas Chatterton, among other works. He made his living as the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland.

Concerning the authorship of this carol, the most popular story is that on January 6, 1860, the Feast of the Epiphany, Dix was ill and confined to bed. Inspired by the story of the Magi in Matthew 1:1-11, he wrote this now famous poem.

However, the date of composition was not 1860, but earlier, perhaps 1858 but not later than 1859 for it was in that year that it was first published in Dix's collection Hymns of Love and Joy. The full details are found under the first version of this carol: As, With Gladness, Men Of Old.

Concerning the details of its composition and ignoring the date of 1860 Francis Arthur Jones reported:

It was written by the late Mr. William Chatterton Dix about the year 1860. In a letter received from the author shortly before his lamented death ..., Mr. Dix informed me that there was little of interest to record respecting its composition. He was unwell at the time, slowly recovering from a rather serious illness. One evening, when he felt somewhat stronger than he had for several days, the lines of the now well-known hymn gradually formed themselves in his brain, and, asking for writing materials, he committed them to paper. The following year it was published in a small hymnal, which had a very limited circulation. From thence it made its way into more popular collections, and to-day its reputation has become worldwide.

The small hymnal of limited circulation was quite possibly Hymns (1859), the pre-publication version of the first edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). This would mark the date of composition as 1858 or early 1859.

Mr. Jones also wrote that Sir Roundell Palmer, the late Lord Selborne, was a great admirer of Mr. Chatterton Dix's hymns, and considered this hymn one of the finest compositions of the kind in the language. This comment was made by Lord Selborne in his paper on "English Church Hymnody" at the Church Congress in York in 1866.

"Of writers still living (the names of many, and of some very eminent, will at once occur to my hearers), I do not feel called upon to make myself, in this place, either the critic or the eulogist. But I may be permitted to say, that the most favourable hopes may be entertained of the future prospects of British Hymnody, when among its most recent fruits is a work so admirable in every respect as the Epiphany Hymn of Mr. Chatterton Dix; than which there can be no more appropriate conclusion to this lecture, 'As with gladness men of old.'"

Again, it was first published in Dix's Hymns of Love and Joy (1859). A second version appeared in 1860, A. H. Ward's hymnal for the congregation at St. Raphael Church in Bristol, Hymns for the Services of the Church and for Private Devotion. The third version was printed in Hymns (circa 1859), which was the trial version of the 1961 Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Jones also wrote that

The wonderfully appropriate melody to which this hymn is invariably sung was composed by Conrad Kocher in 1838. This tune was first connected with Mr. Dix's hymn in Ancient and Modern and will now probably always be associated with it. It has been suggested that Mr. Chatterton Dix wrote the hymn to fit the music, but this is not the case.

Dr Julian tells us that after 1861, this carol has been incorporated in nearly every new hymnal and in new editions of the older collections in all English-speaking countries. Very slight variations in the text are sometimes found, as in the revised edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern, 1875.

This carol also appeared in W. Chatterton Dix, ed., Christmas Carols & Christmas Customs (No publisher, location or date; ca. 1870), #12, p. 3, who wrote that the music was by the Rev. R. F. Smith, Minor Canon of Southwell Collegiate Church. Mr. Dix did not state the name of the tune, unfortunately. There was only one difference in the text from that which appears above (noted in Footnote 02b).

Dr. Julian reported that authorized texts are SPCK'S Church Hymns, circa 1872, and Godfrey Thring's Church of England Hymn Book, 1880, and that Lord Selborne's 1866 text can also be considered authoritative. However, an analysis of the texts disclosed that only two subsequent publications are consistent with the 1959 version of Hymns:

Differences from Hymns (1859) and Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861):

Church Hymns (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, No Date circa 1872), #94, pp. 78-79.

  • Verse 1, Line 5: “God” instead of “Lord”

  • Verse 4, Line 1: “Jesu” instead of “Jesus”

Arthur Sullivan, ed., Church Hymns With Tunes (London: SPCK, 1874), #94, p. 75.

  • Verse 4, Line 1: “Jesu” instead of “Jesus.”

Godfrey Thring, ed., A Church of England Hymn Book: (1880), #130, pp. 130-131.

  • Verse 1, Line 5: “God” instead of “Lord”

  • Verse 4, Line 1: “Jesu” instead of “Jesus”

  • Verse 5, Line 6. “Hallelujahs” instead of “Alleluias.”

Three final changes would be made in the 1875 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Dr. Julian reported that an anonymous hymn— As In Eastern Lands Afar — given in Holy Song For All Seasons, London, Bell and Daldy, 1869, #83, pp. 30-31, in 4 stanzas of 8 lines, is based upon, and is an imitation of "As with gladness men of old." He adds that he has not met with it elsewhere.

In addition to Hymns of Love and Joy (usually erroneously dated to 1860 or 1861) Dix published three additional volumes of his poetry, including

He also contributed Christmas-tide hymns and carols to Hymns Ancient and Modern and to several other hymnals. For additional details concerning Mr. Dix and his contributions to poetry and hymnology, please see: William Chatterton Dix.


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