The Hymns and Carols of Christmas


Alternate Title: The Temple


Words: George Herbert,1593-1638


Music: Unknown

Source: Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1914), p. 275.

1. All after pleasures as I rode one day,
    My horse and I both tired, body and mind,
With full cry of affections quite astray,
    I took up in the next inn I could find.

2. There, when I come, whom found I but my dear--
    My dearest Lord; expecting till the grief
Of pleasures brought me to Him, ready there
    To be all passengers' most sweet relief?

3. O Thou, whose glorious yet contracted light
    Wrapt in night's mantle, stole into a manger;
Since my dark soul and brutish is Thy right,
    To man, of all beasts be not Thou a stranger;

4. Furnish and deck my soul, that Thou mayst have
A better lodging than a rack or grave.
The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
    My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
    Of thoughts and words and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word, the streams Thy grace,
    Enriching every place.

5. Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
    Outsing the daylight hours.
Then we will chide the sun for letting night
    Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore He should
    Himself the candle hold.

6. I will go searching till I find a sun
    Shall stay till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly
    As frost-nipt suns look sadly.
Then we will sing and shine all our own day,
    And one another pay.

His beams shall cheer my heart, and both so twine,
Till e'en his beams sing and my music shine.

Also found in A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 113-4. Bullen also notes at page 261: "These lines are very characteristic of the polished high-born scholar, who, after strenuous attempts to gain preferment at court, abandoned at length the fruitless quest and found content in the retirement of a country vicarage. Herbert is a soothing writer; his Muse took an equable steady flight, never soaring into the “highest heaven of invention,” but yet keeping at a respectable distance from the ground. He numbers at least ten readers for Vaughan’s one, — a fact which is not at all surprising."

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