The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Lord, With What Zeal Did Thy First Martyr Breath

For St. Stephen's Day

Words: George Wither

Music: Orlando Gibbons
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #96

1. Lord, with what zeal did Thy first martyr breath
Thy blessed Truth, to such as him with-stood!
With what stout mind embraced he his death,
A holy witness sealing with his blood!
The praise is Thine that him so strong didst make,
And blest is he, that died for Thy sake.

2. Unquenched love in him appeared to be,
When for his murderous foes he did intreat;
A piercing eye made bright by faith had he;
For he beheld Thee in Thy glory set;
And so unmoved his patience he did keep,
He died, as if he had but fallen asleep.

3. Our lukewarm hearts with his hot zeal inflame,
So constant, and so loving let us be;
So let us living glorify Thy Name;
So let us dying fix our eyes on Thee;
And when the sleep of death shall us o'ertake,
With him to Life Eternal us awake!

Sheet Music from Chope


Also found in George Wither, Hymns and Songs of the Church (London: Printed by the Assigns of George Wither, 1623, reprinted London: John Russell Smith, 1856), Song LXIII, pp. 224-225. The following note is from the text, p. 224.

Stephen was one of the seven Deacons mentioned Acts vi. and the first Martyr of Jesus Christ; whose maintained by dispute, he constantly sealed it with his blood. The Church, therefore, hath appointed this anniversary in remembrance thereof, that so God might perpetually be glorified for the same ; and the story of his martyrdom the oftener mentioned, to the encouragement and direction of other men in their trials.

For additional hymns, see: George Wither's Hymns of the Christmas-tide.

Saint Stephen's feast day is December 26. Other hymns and carols for St. Stephen: Hymns to St Stephen. Saint Stephen was among the first seven deacons and was the first martyr. See the book of Acts, Chapters 6 and 7, and this biography of St. Stephen from the Catholic Encyclopedia.

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