The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Worcestershire Christmas Carol

(Alternate Title: How Grand and How Bright)

Words and Music: William Henry Havergal (1793-1870)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF / XML

Source: Carol 557, Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir), 1916

1. How grand and how bright
That wonderful night,
When angels to Bethlehem came!
They burst forth like fires,
They struck their gold lyres,
And mingled their song with the flame.

2. The shepherds were amazed,
The pretty lambs gazed
At darkness thus turned into light:
No voice was there heard
From man, beast, or bird,
So sudden and solemn the sight.

3. And then, when the sound
Re-echoed around
The hills and the dales all awoke;
The moon and the stars
Stopped their fiery cars,
And listened while Gabriel spoke:

4. "I bring you," said he,
"From the glorious Three,
Good tidings to gladden mankind;
The Saviour is born,
But he lies all forlorn
In a manger, as soon you will find."

5. At mention of this,
(The source of all bliss,)
The angels sang loudly and long;
They soared to the sky,
Beyond mortal eye,
But left us the words of their song:

6. "All Glory to God,"
Who laid by His rod,
To smile on the world through His Son:
"And peace be on earth,"
For this wonderful birth
Most wonderful conquests has won;

7. "And good-will to man,"
Though his life’s but a span,
And his thoughts so evil and wrong;
Then pray, Christians, pray;
But let Christmas-Day
Have your sweetest and holiest song.

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Sheet Music from Charles L. Hutchins

Worcestershire_Christmas_Carol_557.gif (215905 bytes)

Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861):

I cannot find this carol in any printed collection that I have examined. Hone does not mention it in his extensive list. [See: Christmas Carols now annually Printed] It occurs on an old broadside printed at Birmingham in my collection. Apart from its exceeding grandiloquence, it will be found to contain many quaint touches and pleasing lines. The date is apparently some time during the last [18th] century.

Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

The version printed by Sylvester is substantially the same as that found in Hutchins.

William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity. London: John Camden Hotten, 1868:

This carol possesses a qualification which in the eyes of many entitles it to great consideration; -- that of rarity. It has only been met with on two broadsides, both bearing the above title, and both printed at Birmingham at a not very distant date, and in a collection published under the pseudonym of Joshua Sylvester in 1861. To something like an affection of sonorousness, the author has united a truthfulness of expression which render this one of the most pleasing of modern carols.

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