The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

In The Reign Of Great Caesar

The Joyful Sounds of Salvation

For Christmas

Words and Music: Unknown

Source: William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868), pp. 56-58.

1. In the reign of great Caesar, the emp'ror of Rome,
The first work of salvation for sinners was done
By Heaven's decree, -- for a Babe then was sent
As a ransom for sinners so let us repent.

2. Great Caesar commanded and ordered it so,
All the world should be taxed, the high and the low;
Every one to his city this tax went to pay,
So strict was this despot in absolute sway.

3. Then from Naz'reth to Bethlem in Jewry it was,
That Joseph and Mary together did pass;
These two to be taxed with others did go,
For Caesar commanded and ordered it so.

4. They both having entered the city so fair,
Such numbers of people so mighty were there,
That Joseph and Mary, their substance being small,
Could get at the inns no lodging at all.

5. So they were constrain'd in a stable to lie,
Where oxen and asses they used to tie;
Although mean their lodging they thought it no scorn;
And early next morning our Saviour was born.

6. Then God sent a Angel from heaven so high
To certain poor shepherds in fields that did lie,
And bade them no longer in sorrow to stay,
For their blessed Saviour was born on that day.

7. And presently after the shepherds did spy
A great number of Angels appear in the sky,
Who merrily talked, and sweetly did sing;
All glory to God and their heavenly King.

8. He's the Prince of Salvation, so be not afraid;
With this salutation to the shepherds they said,
Be ye no longer strangers, for in swaddling clothes
The Babe lies in a manger. So the shepherds arose,

9. Being resolved together to Bethlehem to go;
And when they came thither they found it was so.
So let us be merry in a moderate way,
Sing praises with homage, and honour the day.

10. The great King of Glory to this world being brought,
God's love for poor sinners with wonder was wrought:
And when they had swaddled our Saviour so sweet,
In an ox's manger they laid him to sleep.

11. At Bethlehem in Judea the slaughter begun
By king Herod's orders; to make sure of one,
Many thousands of smiling young infants were slain;
To murder our Saviour was the tyrant's aim.

12. Then Joseph, being warned by God in a dream,
He arose and took Jesus and Mary with him,
And fled for a season into Egypt, where
The Child and its Mother preserved were there.

13. God's love to the world, lost sinners to free,
His love's so enduring to both thee and me:
So let us love each other, to no hatred inclined;
For Christ died to save all the race of mankind.

Husk's Note:

This was formerly a favourite Carol in the metropolis, as the numerous copies emanating from the Seven-Dials and Smithfield presses prove, but does not seem to have been reprinted of late years. Some of its verses are almost identical with those of the carol A Virgin Most Pure. It is now first included in a collection of carols.

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