The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

To Greet Our Saviour's Dear One

Song for St. John's Day

See Hymns To St. John The Evangelist

Author: Unknown

Tune: Carol for New Year's Day


The Kilmore Carols

Christmas Carols of Waddinge and Devereux

Source: Joseph Ranson, “The Kilmore Carols” from The Past, no. 5 (1949), pp. pp. 82-83.

To greet our Saviour’s dear one I will give you a new song,
In honour of the great evangelist, St John,
To whom, Our Saviour dying, His Mother did commend,
And then made him her son who was His dearest friend.

Of John seek no parentage of nobleness or birth,
Since he has got a Brother, the King of Heaven and Earth.
For though he was a fisherman, taught to the nets and oar,
He is now the son of Mary, and who could wish for more.

But ye that are so curious his father for to know:
He is the son of thunder as Christ Himself doth show.
He is the towering eagle which serves the Mighty Jove
To spread his heavenly lightning and burn all hearts with love.

To Christ we are all brothers by grace ‘tis plain and clear,
But John among the rest is Benjamin the dear.
Not one besides His brother, search both earth and heaven,
Was so beloved by Jesus, by angels and by men.

Why then should we compare him to any of the rest,
Who was the loved disciple that leaned on Jesus’ breast,
Where he sucked in such mysteries as ne’er till then were known
To angels or to prophets or man but John alone.

Our Church, the Spouse of Christ, was left to Peter's charge,
Though John had greater merit, he was not come of age,
Being as yet but twenty, he is fit to be a son,
But a husband to the Church, you see he is too young.

You have heard the love of Jesus and now hear that of John,
Who still stood by His Master when all the rest were gone,
Though Peter thrice denied Him before the cock did crow,
St. John loyal and constant unto the Cross did go.

The most afflicted Mother he lovingly did hand,
Arid whilst Our Saviour suffered along with her did stand.
When Christ said to the Virgin: “Woman, there is thy son,”
He said: “Look to thy Mother,” unto His dear St. John.

No heart can here conceive nor any tongue express
Their tears, their grief, their fondness, their love and their distress,
All three were so united in that one dying Heart
Though two were forced to live they’d rather die than part.

In short when all was over—I will not raise your grief,
In this great time of joy, solemnlty, relief—
For fifteen years he served her as the most humble slave,
Until with his own hands he laid her in the grave.

When John had thus discharged his chief and only care,
He then begins to travel and preach both far and near.
If all his works and wonders to sing we did pretend,
A day would not suffice us, our song would never end.

Inflamed with Peter’s glory, and Paul’s, he goes to Rome,
Hoping as well as they to die by martyrdom.
He entered with great joy unto the tub of oil,
In which the cruel tyrants intended him to boil.

When this and all the rest of tortures they could invent
Could not molest or hurt him, he’s doomed to banishment
Unto the Isle of Patmos with grief to end his days,
But he converts the people and leaves them long in peace.

To see the Church well grounded he’s left till very old,
But the glad hour at length an angel him foretold,
His blood no hands of tyrant would God permit to stain,
But as he lived a Phoenix, he died by God’s sweet flame.

His testament and will and constant theme before,
Was still “Love one another” be said it o’er and o’er
Thus peacefully he died, the earth could not contain
His virgin corpse which angels triumphing took to Heaven.

And now the loved disciple, amidst eternal bliss,
With Jesus and His Mother, he dwells in happiness
By Stephen we are taught to pardon, by John we are taught to love;
By following their example you’ll rest with them above.

Sheet Music “The First Day of the Year” from Ranson, "The Kilmore Carols," p. 88.

Note from Joseph Ranson:

This song like the preceding one for St Stephen. and the one for St. Sylvester are all sung to the air of the "Carol for New Years Day." These songs are sung only when the respective feast days fall on a Sunday.

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