The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Hail, O Thou, Of Woman Born

For the Nativity of S. John The Baptist

Words: Salve, O sanctissime, Anonymous, from Karlsruhe MS, 15th Century
Translation by
The Hymner

Source: George Radcliffe Woodward, ed, Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), #253

1. Hail, O thou, of woman born,
Highest rank attaining,
Saint of whom an Angel spake,
“John” thy name ordaining:
Hallow’d from thy mother’s womb,
Lamp divinely lighted
To enlighten them that sit
In death’s shade benighted.

2. Hail to thee, devoted one,
Desert-ward retreating,1
Clad in sackcloth, honey wild
And the locust eating:
Water pure thy thirst assuaged;
Thus, by sin untainted,
Thou, afar from earthly joys,
Wast a hermit sainted.

3. Hail to thee, with herald-voice
God in flesh revering,
With thy finger pointing out
Christ, the Lamb, appearing:
At the Jordan thou didst cry,
Sinner’s doom declaring,
And, by water’s cleansing sign,
Way for God preparing.2

4. Hail, who, over mortals all,
Meetly wast appointed
To baptize the sacred head
Of the Lord’s Anointed:
Who didst hear the Father’s voice,
That blest rite attending,
And didst see the Holy Ghost,
As a dove descending.

5. Hail thou rose incarnadined,
Whom thy life-blood staineth;3
Lily sweet, whose virgin flower
Ever pure remaineth;
Aid us, as we hymn thy praise,
With thy supplication,
That we find, in death’s dread hour,
Peace and consolation.


1. Or: To the wilds retreating, Return

2. Alternate 3rd verse:
    Hail, thou shepherd sent before
        To prepare the pasture:
    With thy finger thou didst point
To the Lamb thy Master.
    At the Jordan thou didst cry,
        With the voice of warning,
    And by water's cleansing sign
        Way for God preparing. Return

3. Or for the first two lines:
    Hail! thou rose-bud blushing red
        In thy passion's hour,  Return

These notes were from the version found in Arthur Henry Brown, ed., The Altar Hymnal (London: Griffith, Farrar, Okeden & Welsh, 1885), #81, p. 271. Brown gives translation credit to G. Moultrie and M. J. Blacker.

Sheet Music From Arthur Henry Brown, ed., The Altar Hymnal, pp. 266-270.

Melody of "Regina clementiae," from a MS. in the Harleian Collection

"Ulm," German Tune
76 76 76 76

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