Scripture Verse

It is not enough for You to be My servant raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the protected ones of Israel. I will also make You a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6

Introduction

portrait
John B. Dykes
(1823–1876)

Words: Tho­mas B. Mur­ray, Lays of Christ­mas (Lon­don: Fran­cis & John Ri­vin­gton, 1847), num­ber 6, alt. The last three stan­zas could be omit­ted or mo­di­fied when the hymn is used out­side Eng­land.

Music: Vox Di­lec­ti John B. Dykes, 1868 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Mur­ray (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), or a bet­ter one of Dykes (head-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els), would you send us an e-mail?

illustration

Lyrics

Augustus ruled imperial Rome,
When wars began to cease,
And all the nations of the world
Enjoyed the sweets of peace.
The fir and myrtle took the place
Of briar and of thorn,
And swords were turned to pruning hooks,
When Jesus Christ was born.

The rust had gathered round the hinge
Of Janus’ open fane;
And fiery war had fouled the walls
With many a purple stain;
But when the light of lovely Peace
Above the storm arose,
The wondering city saw her chief
The massive portal close.

To Israel’s sons their God had giv’n
His own revealèd Word;
And some at the appointed time
Were waiting for the Lord.
A faithful few in Salem’s courts
Watched anxiously to hear
The joyful accents that proclaimed
Messiah’s advent near.

How favored then were Judah’s sons,
That first of all to them
The Savior came: His word was preached
First at Jerusalem;
But they had ears that would not hear,
And eyes that would not see;
So other branches grafted were
On Judah’s olive tree.

Inquiring eyes in heathen lands
Had seen a wondrous sign;
The heav’ns declared God’s glory, and
The sky His work divine;
A new and shining light was shed
O’er Gentile Galilee,
And lighted up with golden rays
The islands of the sea.

There was an island of the sea,
An island far away,
Upon whose shores there had not beamed
The dawn of perfect day:
Dark altars reared to gloomy gods
With human blood were dyed;
And there they stand, those giant blocks,
To humble Britain’s pride.

Within thy circles rude, Stonehenge,
The white robed Druids stood;
Their eyes were raised to heaven, and
Their hands were bathed in blood:
They knew not of the Son of God,
Who bought us with a price;
And gave Himself upon the cross,
A perfect sacrifice.

But now the Lord of light and truth
Hath blessed our plains, for there
The taper spires that point to Heav’n
The Savior’s name declare.
May He vouchsafe increasing light
To this our English home,
And pour His grace upon our church,
Till all its fulness come!