Scripture Verse

[He] took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. Philippians 2:7

Introduction

portrait
Joost van den Vondel (1587–1679)

Words: Joost van den Von­del, in his play Gijs­brecht van Aem­stel (af­ter Act 3), 1637. The lyr­ics are some­times in­cor­rec­tly at­trib­ut­ed to Hen­ri­cus Sel­yns, who brought them to Brook­lyn in 1600, and used them with an ad­di­tion as Brid­al Torch. Trans­lat­ed from Dutch to Eng­lish by How­ard Mur­phy, 1865.

Music: Kers­nacht Dutch tra­di­tion­al me­lo­dy. Har­mo­ny by Van Duyse in Die mel­o­die van het Ne­der­land­ische lied, 1902 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Lyrics

O Christ­mas night! Day’s light trans­cend­ing,
Who no be­gin­ning had or end
Till He a man be­came, was God.
Then He who ne’er be­fore was hu­man
Was born in Beth­le­hem of wo­man,
When nips the frost the ver­dant sod.

This rich­est Babe comes poor in be­ing,
More pearled with­in than to the see­ing
With dia­dem and roy­al pow­er;
He takes no heed of great­er plac­es,
But that small spot alone em­brac­es,
Where light il­lumes the mid­night hour.

This Prince, do they de­sire to find Him?
They’re worn out swad­dling clothes that bind Him.
A man­ger, spread with hay’s His bed.
His throne is high­er than the high­est,
Yet He among the cat­tle li­eth;
What Him to such a lot has led?

Now seeks He God with chaste af­fect­ion
Who takes be­fore such crib di­rect­ion,
Are bet­ter than this Beth­le­hem,
Which Christ no rest­ing place shall give;
For they, the af­ter life, shall live
With Him, in Je­ru­sa­lem.