The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

O Child Of Wonder

Alternate Title: Noel, Noel, Noel

Words: Rev. W. J. Irons, D. D.

Music: Mr. Arthur Henry Brown
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Source: Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #138

Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

1. O Child of wonder! Child of love!
Good Angels hasting from above,
Did guard Thee safe from Herod's hand,
And convoy Thee to Egypt's land. Chorus

2. To Egypt's land our Lord was brought
When Judah's King His life had sought
There God full soon a work had done,
And then from Egypt called His Son. Chorus

3. For what had Egypt known like this,
Marvel of Heliopolis --
When prostrate idols fell before
Christ coming to their temple floor. Chorus

4. But O what mightier deed is told,
When God, the Child of twelve years old,
To His own Temple's dread surprise
Cast down the wisdom of the wise? Chorus

5. O Child of Bethlehem! man's delight;
O Glorious Child of Egypt's flight;
O Child, Who in the Temple stood,
We praise Thee, Wisdom of our God! Chorus

Sheet Music from  Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, Complete Edition, 1894), Carol #138

Sheet Music from Arthur H. Brown, ed., In Excelsis Gloria-Carols for Christmastide (London: Thomas Bosworth & Co., 1885), Carol #9, p. 18-19.

o child of wonder pp 18-19.jpg (97210 bytes)

Below the title, Brown added:

"De excelso cadit ros,
Et in terra crescit flos,
Cujus odor sanat nos."

This is an excerpt from the second verse of a 13-verse, 65-line Latin poem of the 4th century concerning the life of Christ, Quando noctis medium. It is Hymn 29, pp. 41-2 from Franz Mone's Hymni latini medii aevi, Volume 1 of 3, Hymni ad Deum et Angelos. (Freiburg: Sumptibus Herder, 1853), taken from a Stuttgart MS. of the 14th century that reflected the belief that the Messiah was born on the stroke of midnight.

The complete second verse is:

Laudet deum omne os,
quia patet nova dos,
de excelso cadit ros
et in terra crescit flos,
cujus odor sanat nos.

One translation is "When in silence and in shade" by John Mason Neale, in the Hymnal Noted, Part II,  Hymn 50, Quando noctis medium, pages 101-102 (1854), melody from the Spanish Graduals. His translation of the first two verses is:

1. When in silence and in shade
Earth, at midnight, had been laid,
Working out the Fatherís plan,
In the Virginís womb made Man,
God His earthly life began.

2. By each mouth His praise be showed
For the new gift now bestowed;
From on high came down the dew,
From the earth the floweret grew,
Health in mortals to renew.

It is also found in The Hymnary, Hymn 10 (1872); the tune was "Hymnary No. 10" by Henry Thomas Smart.

For the complete seven verses by John Mason Neale, see: When In Silence And In Shade. Seven verses in English and Latin are reproduced in John Freeman Young, ed., Great Hymns, Hymn 19, Quando noctis medium ("When in Silence and in Shade"), pp. 26-27. It was noted that "three stanzas of this Hymn are omitted."

A writer in Notes and Queries gave another translation, from an unidentified source, of these three lines:

"The dew descends from above,
and out of the earth springs a flower,
the perfume of which is our cure."

"Stray Notes on Christmas," from Notes and Queries. December 26, 1863. 3rd Series, Volume IV. July-December, 1863. Dec. 26, '63. (London, 1863), p. 511.

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