The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now My Soul To Bethlehem

Eia mea anima

For Christmas

Words and music from Michael Praetorius' Musae Sionae, 1609.

English Translation by the Rev. J. O'Connor

Source: Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #141, pp. 8-9.

Original text excerpted from Eia mea anima.


1. Eia mea anima, Bethlehem eamus,
Virtute magnanima puerum quaeramus,
Verbum in effabile, Angelis merabile,
Cubans sinu patris,
Objectum amabile, Semper contemplabile,
Datum fide matris.

1. Now my soul to Bethlehem,
Let our willing way be;
See the shepherds, follow them,
Seek the new-born Baby.
Word that only God can say,
Sunlight of the angel's day,
Father's bosom leaving,
Love is He of all that is,
Hope of all undying eyes
Giv'n to Maid believing.

2. Virgo pudicitiae, Mater Caritatis,
Joseph est nutritius, Jesu paupertatis,
Quis indignum famulum ducet me stabulum
Mei creatoris,
Tundam tintinnabulum, laudis et cunabulum
Volvam et amoris.

2. Maiden of the modest eyes,
Mother true and tender,
Joseph of the lowly guise
Is thy Babe's defender.
Who will bring me all unmeet
To adore those little feet
Of my dear Creator?
I will ring my little bell
Try with love to warm Him well
Angels' emulator.

3. Hen quod jacet stabulo omnium creator,
Vagiens cunabulo mundi reparator,
Si rex ubi purpura, vel clientum munera
Ubi aula regis,
Hic omnes penuria, papertatis curia,
Forma nova legis.

3. Ah! that in the stable lies
Author of creation,
That in swathing bands He cries,
Earth's whole restoration;
Where's His purple if He's king,
Where the gifts His clients bring,
Where His throne-room royal?
Every kind of penury
Sovereign sway of poverty,
Law most new and loyal.

4. Salve rex, principium, verbum incarnatum
Effectum mancipium, indignum cunatum,
Saleve sordens stabulum, salveto cunabulum
Sponsi amatoris,
Te meum latibulum, construam hic nidulum,
Non videbor foris.

4. Hail Thou King the first and last,
Word of God incarnate,
Into slavery self-cast,
Meet for Thee these are not.
Hail thee stable sore-defiled
Hail thee cradle of the Child
Of my spouse and lover
Deep in thee I'll hide and rest
Here I make my little nest
None shall me discover.

5. O puer dulcissime, me purges lustrato,
Surrigas altissime corde inflammato,
Redimens vivifica, me compuerifica,
Hoc tuo natali,
Perfecte sanctifica, Tecum beatifica
Vita aeternali.

5. O most winsome Babe Divine
Wash and make me cleanly,
O most High rain fire like thine
Oh my heart most inly.
Buy me life and liberty
Make me o'er a child with Thee
For Thy birthday honour:
Consummate in holiness
Share Thy great eternal bliss
With Thy stable's owner.


Sheet Music from Richard Runciman Terry, Two Hundred Folk Carols (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne Limited, 1933), Carol #141, pp. 8-9.

141a-Now_My_Soul.jpg (116843 bytes) 141b-Now_My_Soul.jpg (93778 bytes)

Note from Rev. Terry:

Five verses have been selected from the thirteen of the original. I have left capital and roman letters as in text. Verse 1 has no capitals at the beginning of lines: they are inserted here for the sake of uniformity with other verses.

Editor's Note:

Eia mea anima, Bethlehem eamus. J. Mauburn. [Christmas.] In his Rosetum exercitiorum spiritualium et sacrarum meditationum, N. P. 1494 [Brit. Mus.], this is found at folio 104 b, as a Rosary on the Birth of Christ, in 13 stanzas of 10 lines. The full text is also in Wackernagel, i. No. 402, and in Dreves, xlviii., p. 515.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II, and New Supplement (1907), alt.

A setting of Eia mea anima” by Henricus Beginiker can be found at the CPDL (Choral Public Domain Library).

Also translated as “Come, My Soul, To Bethlehem,” English version by Jane May, published by Concordia Publishing House, edited by Cyril F. Simkins (1978); attribution is given to Musiae Sionae (1609), sections 6 & 7.

Another excerpt from Eia Mea Anima – three verses beginning with verse 4 – is a version which begins Heu quid jaces stabulo. There have been numerous translations of this hymn. See: Heu quid jaces stabulo.

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