The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Joyful Sounds of Salvation

First Line: "In The Reign Of Great Caesar"

For Christmas

Words and Music: Unknown

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #35 pp. 62-63.

Meter: 11 11 11 11.

Compare: In The Reign Of Great Caesar, from 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 work of salvation for sinners was done
By Heaven's decree, for a Babe it was sent
A ransom for sinners so let us repent.

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

3. From Naz'reth and Bethlem in Jewry it was,
That Joseph and Mary together did pass;
These two to be taxed with the 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 an 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 host of Angels appear in the sky,
Who merrily talked, and sweetly did sing;
All glory to God and their heavenly King.


This version has a slightly different meter than that in Husk, and gives seven of the 13 verses. Some of its verses are almost identical with those of the carol A Virgin Most Pure. See: In Bethlehem City - Notes.

Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #35 pp. 62-63.

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