The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Who are these who ride by starlight

A Hymn for the Epiphany

Words: Marnie Barrell, copyright 1996
Many other Marie Barrell hymns can be found at Oremus
Both links open a new window at

Music: "Esther" by Jillian Bray, copyright circa 1996
Also, "Dona Dona, " MIDI / Noteworthy Composer
Meter: 87 87 D

1. Who are these who ride by starlight
from the corners of the earth,
leaving home, forsaking comfort,
drawn to one mysterious birth?
These are wise men seeking wisdom,
disciplined to watch and pray;
we will read the signs and follow,
see where Christ is born today.

2. Who is this who hears the wise men,
trembling while their tale is told,
sending troops to slaughter blindly,
crush what cannot be controlled?
This is Herod, every Herod
building power by others' pain;
we will mourn the murdered children
while their blood is shed again.

3. Who is this, a homeless exile,
destined from his earliest hour
for rejection, conflict, danger,
marked for death by worldly power?
Jesus, born to show God's glory
shining through despair and loss,
we will know you when we meet you
by the shadow of your cross.

This Epiphany hymn is reproduced here by the generous permission of the author, Marnie Barrell.  According to the author, you are welcome to use it, unaltered, and with proper acknowledgement. She adds that there is a nice tune for it by Jullian Bray, published in a New Zealand hymnbook, Carol Our Christmas (1996).  She adds that the hymn can be sung to "Dona Dona." If you wish to reproduce it further, please apply for permission by sending her an email.

Ms. Barrell is also the author of numerous other hymns. Steve Benner at Oremus has a great list. Her Christmas-tide hymns and carols include:

Four of her Christmas hymns are published in the New Zealand hymnbook, Carol Our Christmas -- A Book of New Zealand Carols (The New Zealand Hymnbook Trust Inc,  PO Box 2011, Raumati Beach,  New Zealand,  1996; ISBN: 1869340582). It is published by the New Zealand Hymnbook Trust, and also available through the Hymn Society of America. The book Carol Our Christmas is also available at OC Books and New Zealand Books. Also available are Alleluia Aotearoa: Hymns and Songs For All Churches (1993) and Faith Forever Singing (2000), both of which contain additional hymns by Marnie Barrell. "Aotearoa" is the Maori term which means "land of the long white cloud," which is now known as New Zealand.


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