The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When Augustus Caesar

Source: William Sandys, Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern (London: Richard Beckley, 1833)

1. When Augustus Caesar throughout
    All the world had made peace,
He in Jury for his pleasure,
    His revenues to increase,
A tax did he set on great and small,
    Both men and women to return,
The same to pay without delay,
    Unto the town where they were born.

2. When aged Joseph with his Mary,
    Caesar's precepts to fulfill,
After many a weary journey
    Came to Bethlehem with good will,
To pay their due, with obedience too,
    Unto the prince that they were sworn,
Whilst they were there, our Saviour dear,
    To set us free, that time was born.

3. Blessed Mary, though a Virgin,
    Yet a wife, and great with child,
Weary of her blessed burden,
    Did intreat with speeches mild
In every inn, but could not win
    A lodging, thus was left forlorn
In wofull state with her dear mate,
    Yet there our Saviour Christ was born.

4. So that at last they were constrained
    In a stable to be laid,
Her humble bed she not refused,
    But implored Heaven's aid;
She meekly was with ox and ass
    Accompanied, yet took no scorn;
No midwife's aid to help her staid,
    Yet there our Saviour Christ was born.

5. No ornaments, nor robes of honour
    Had this King of Kings to dress him;
No princely train in sumptuous manner
    Came their services to press him:
No musick sweet did rock to sleep
    This princely Child upon that morn,
But his dear Mother, and no other
    Present was when he was born.

6. No cradle had our blessed Saviour,
    Yet was Lord of Heaven and Earth,
Like a poor distressed stranger
    He receives a beggar's birth.
Yet Angels bright with glorious light
    Adorn'd the sky that blessed morn,
And there proclaim'd the glorious name
    Of the bless'd bade that there was born.

7. To certain Shepherds they appeared
    Who were feeding of their sheep,
To whom with happy news returned
    Before the blessed day did break,
O go, said they, without delay,
    To Bethlehem this instant morn,
And there proclaim the glorious name
    Of Jesus Christ, in stable born.

8. The Shepherds did no longer tarry
    In the fields their flocks to fold,
But ran to Bethlehem, where sweet Mary
    With her babe they did behold.
What joy was then made by those men,
    Till time and all things be out worn,
Let us all make e'en for his sake,
    Who on this blessed day was born.