Scripture Verse

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:10–12

Introduction

illustration
Lyra Germanica, 1862

Words: Mar­tin Lu­ther, 1531 (Vom Him­mel hoch da komm ich her). Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by J. S. in the Church Hymn Book, by Paul Hen­kel, 4th ed­i­tion (New Mar­ket, Vir­gin­ia: So­lo­mon Hen­kel, 1857), num­ber 41-A.

Music: Vom Him­mel Hoch from Geist­liche Lied­er, by Val­en­tin Schu­mann (Leip­zig, Ger­ma­ny: 1539). Har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach (🔊 pdf nwc).

portrait
Martin Luther, 1529

Lyrics

“I come from th’lofty heav’ns today;
I bring a new melodious lay;
A rich melodious lay I bring,
And this the tale I tell, I sing:

“Lo! from a chosen maid this morn,
A lovely Babe for you is born;
That Babe, so soft, so mild, shall be
Your joy, your sweet felicity.

“He is the Lord, our God on high!
His bounty shall your need supply,
His own heart’s blood your ransom pay,
And wash each stain of guilt away.

“He brings you all the bliss profound
His Father, God, diffuses round,
That with us now and evermore,
Ye may the realms of light explore.

“How mark the sign with fond desire,
The manger and the mean attire;
Lo! there you find the Infant lain,
Whose hands the universe sustain.

Come all, and let us joyful be;
Come with the shepherds in and see
What God’s unbounded love has done,
To bless us with His own dear Son.

Attend, my heart! behold yon shed!
Who fills that rude, that lowly bed?
What babe is that, so sweet, so fair?
Jesus, the lovely Babe, is there!

Welcome, illustrious Guest sublime!
Thou hast not scorned a world of crime,
But come in banishment to me:
How shall I pay my thanks to Thee?

Alas! Creator, Lord of all!
Art Thou the inmate of a stall?
And hast Thou lain Thy lovely head
Where menial beasts are nightly fed?

Had this wide world far wider bounds,
Of gems and gold a rich compound,
It were too poor, too small to be,
A narrow cradle bed for Thee.

The swathing-band, the briary hay,
Thy purple these, Thy silk array;
On these, great Monarch! Thou canst shine,
Rich as upon Thy throne divine.

Thus wouldst Thou teach my soul to see
This worthless world’s reality;
How power and fame, and fortune’s store,
Beneath Thy splendor shine no more.

O Jesus! lovely Babe divine!
Thy cradle be this heart of mine;
There make a pure, soft shrine for Thee,
That I may ne’er forgetful be.

That gladness may forever string
My chainless soul to leap and sing,
The luscious tones with bliss that brim,
The charming songs of Susannim.

Glory and praise to God supreme!
Glad hosts of angels seize the theme;
With joy they peal the anthem new!
He gave His own dear Son for you!