The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

At The Nativity

Alternate Title: "Gloomy Night Embraced The Place"

For Christmas

Words: A cento* from Richard Crashaw from his longer poem A Hymn Of The Nativity. Born about 1612, a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, he was received into the Church, took Holy Orders, and eventually became a Canon of Loreto. He died in 1650.

Music: An Alsatian Cradle Song, Cantiques de Strasbourg, 1697.

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #158, pp. 38-39.

1. Gloomy night embraced the place
Wherein the noble Infant lay.
The Babe look'd up and shew'd His face;
In spite of darkness, it was day!
It was Thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from Thine eyes.

2. Winter chid1 aloud, and sent
The angry North to wage his wars.
The North forgot his fierce intent,
And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes' persuasive powers
Where he meant frost, he scattered flowers.

3. We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Young Dawn of our eternal day!
We saw Thine eyes break from their east 
And chase the trembling shades way, 
We saw Thee; and we blessed the sight, 
We saw Thee by Thine Own sweet light.

4. Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span!
Summer in winter, day in night!
Heaven in earth, and God in Man!
Great little one! Whose lowly birth,
Lifts earth to heav'n, stoops Heav'n to earth.

5. To Thee, meek Majesty soft King 
Of simple graces and sweat loves; 
Each one of as his lamb will being, 
And each his pair of silver doves; 
Till burnt in fire of Thy fair eyes, 
Ourselves become our sacrifice!

Editor's Footnotes

* A cento is a song that is derived from one or more verses from one or more other songs. Return

1. *The word "Chid" is an archaic form of “chide,” which is defined as “To scold mildly so as to correct or improve; reprimand: chided the boy for his sloppiness.” Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Return

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #158, pp. 38-39.

158a-At_The_Nativity.jpg (92044 bytes) 158b-At_The_Nativity.jpg (62803 bytes)

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Old Christmas Carols. Part One. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., n.d., ca. 1923), Carol #6, p. 9.

Footnote Concerning Sheet Music by Rev. Terry.

The notes in brackets will not be sung in verses 1 and 2.

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