The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Mortals Awake, With Angels Join

For Christmas

Words: Samuel Medley, 1782.

Music: "Christmas," George Frederick Handel, 1728; arranged in Harmonia Sacra, 1812
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer

 Source: W. A. Pickard-Cambridge, A Collection of Dorset Carols (London: A. W. Ridley & Co., 1926), #32.

1. Mortals, awake, with angels join,
And chant the solemn lay,
Joy, love, and gratitude combine,
To hail the auspicious day,
To hail the auspicious day.

2. In heav’n the rapturous song began,
And sweet seraphic fire
Through all the shining legions ran,
And strung and tuned the lyre,
And strung and tuned the lyre.

3. Swift through the vast expanse it flew,
And loud the echo rolled,
The theme, the song, the joy, was new—
’Twas more than heav’n could hold,
’Twas more than heav’n could hold.

4. Down through the portals of the sky
The impetuous torrent ran;
And angels flew, with eager joy,
To bear the news to man,
To bear the news to man.

[5. Wrapt in the silence of the night
Lay all the Eastern world,
When bursting, glorious, heavenly light
The wondrous scene unfurl'd.
The wondrous scene unfurl'd.]

6. Hark! the cherubic armies shout,
And glory leads the song:
Good will and peace are heard throughout
The harmonious heav’nly throng,
The harmonious heav’nly throng.

7. Oh for a glance of heavenly love
Our hearts and songs to raise,
Sweetly to bear our souls above,
And mingle with their lays!
And mingle with their lays!

8. With joy the chorus we repeat,
"Glory to God on high!"
Good will and peace are now complete,
Jesus was born to die,
Jesus was born to die.

9. Hail, Prince of Life, forever hail!
Redeemer, Brother, Friend!
Though earth, and time, and life shall fail
Thy praise shall never end,
Thy praise shall never end.

Sheet Music from W. A. Pickard-Cambridge, A Collection of Dorset Carols (London: A. W. Ridley & Co., 1926), #32
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF
Editor's Note: Due to the complexity of the piece, the lyrics are not printed.


Also found in Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861), pp. 124-126:

Although this carol is included in most of the broadside sheets of the present day, still it is doubtful if it was composed later than the time of Watt or Wesley [e.g., 18th Century].

The version given by Sylvester does not repeat the last line.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

Also found in William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868):

This is found on the West-country broadsides with sufficient frequency to indicate a large share of popularity. It seems a comparatively modern production, and probably owes its birth to some of the hymn-writers of the last century. The broadside printers place the fifth verse between brackets, possibly to indicate its being an addition to the original carol.

This version does not repeat the final line in each verse.

Also found in A Selection of Hymns for Christmas Day, 1814, To Be Sung at the Methodist New Chapel, Waltham Street, Hull, (Hull: Topping & Dazson, 1814), Hymn #9, p. 10. This version does not repeat the final line in each verse.

Also found in A Selection of Carols, Pieces, and Anthems, Suitable for Christmas. (London: W. Kent and Co.; Penzance: F. Rodda, ca. 1872), pp. 41-42, with five verses, 1-3, 6, and 9. The only difference was the third line of the third verse:

The theme, the song of joy was new,

This version does not repeat the final line in each verse.

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