The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

When The Harping Seraphim

Words: C. F. Alexander (1823-1895)

For Epiphany-tide

Source: George Radcliffe Woodward, ed, Songs of Syon (London: Schott & Co., Third Edition, 1908), # 42

1. When the harping Seraphim
Sang Creation’s mattin hymn,
Ere this world grew cold and dim,
All was holy, good, and fair;
Angel wings were in the air,
And the voice of God was there.

2. Oftentimes a dream will rise,
In the light of summer skies,
Of man’s forfeit Paradise:
Fondly, vainly, we retrace
All the glory and the grace
Of that long-lost dwelling-place.

3. Bitter, hitter was the shoot,
Deadly, deadly was the fruit
Of the fatal knowledge-root:
When the serpent, preaching sin,
Dared his subtil way to win
Eva’s wayward heart within.

4. Then our Eden was o’erthrown:
Man was driven forth alone,
In the world to toil and groan:
Weary heart and aching brow
Stubborn earth to dig and plow,
This must he his portion now.

5. But the heaven-horn light of faith
Shines upon the couch of death,
Soothes and cheers the failing breath:
One there is who opens wide
Eden’s portal long denied,
Christ, our Saviour and our guide.

6. Life has sorrow, death has fear;
But the Son of God is near,
Pointing to a happier sphere:
Where, their toils and trials o’er,
Souls, by him redeem’d, adore
God their Saviour evermore.

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