The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Saint Stephen Was A Holy Man

For Saint Stephen's Day
See Hymns to St Stephen

Version 1
Compare: Saint Stephen Was An Holy Man - Version 2

Words and Music: English Traditional

Source: Davies Gilbert, Some Ancient Christmas Carols. London: John Nichols And Son, Second Edition, 1823, Carol 17, pp. 53-56.

1. Saint Stephen was a holy man,
    Endued with heavenly might,
And many wonders he did work
    Before the people's sight;
And by the blessed Spirit of God,
    Which did his heart inflame,
He spared not, in every place,
    To preach God's holy name.

O man, do never faint nor fear,
    For Christ the truth shall try;
But mark how Stephen, for Christ's sake,
    Was willing for to die.

2. Which doctrine seemed wondrous strange
    Amongst the faithless Jews,
Who for the same despitefully
    Good Stephen did accuse.
Before the Elders was he brought,
    His answer for to make;
But they could not th' spirit withstand,
    Whereby this man did speak. Chorus.

3. And then false witness did appear,
    And look'd him in the face,
And said he spake blasphemous words
    Against the holy place.
This had he said, that Jesus he
    The temple should destroy,
And change the Laws which they so long
    From Moses did enjoy. Chorus.

4. Whilst this was told, the multitude
    Beholding him aright,
His comely face began to shine
    Most like an angel bright;
The High Priest thereupon did speak,
    And bid him tell at large
If this was true that at that time
    They laid unto his charge. Chorus.

5. Then Stephen did put forth his voice,
    And he did first unfold
The wondrous works which God had wrought,
    Even for their fathers old;
That they thereby might plainly know
    Christ Jesus should be he
That from the burthen of the Law
    Should quit us frank and free. Chorus.

6. But woe, quoth he, you wicked men,
    Which of the Prophets all
Did not your fathers persecute
    And keep in woeful thrall;
Who told the coming of the just,
    In prophecies so plain,
Who here amongst us was betray'd,
    And most unjustly slain? Chorus.

7. But when they heard him so to say,
    Their hearts in sunder clave,
And gnashing on him with their teeth,
    Like madmen they did rave;
And then they all so sharp and shrill,
    With violence gan ran,
That there, without the city-walls,
    They ston'd this holy man. Chorus.

8. There they most meekly on his knees,
    In chiefest of their rage,
Desired God he would not lay,
Desired God he would not lay
    This thing unto their charge.
Then yeilding up his soul to God,
    That had so dearly bought,
He lost his life, whose body then
    To grave was seemly brought. Chorus.

Sheet Music from Richard R. Terry, Gilbert and Sandys' Christmas Carols (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., 1931)
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Saint Stephen Was A Holy Man - Terry

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