Scripture Verse

Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10

Introduction

portrait
George L. Taylor (1835–1903)

Words: George L. Tay­lor, in As­ters and Gold­en-Rod (New York: Ea­ton & Mains, 1904), pag­es 11–14.

Music: Oak­land Ar­thur E. John­stone, 1885 (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pho­to of John­stone (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

illustration

Lyrics

Hark! the bells of Christ­mas ring­ing!
All abroad their ech­oes fling­ing!
Wider still and wid­er wing­ing
On the waste of win­try air—
On their so­lemn, swift vi­bra­tions,
Rapture, rap­ture through the na­tions!
Rapture, till their glad pul­sa­tions
Million bliss­ful bo­soms share!

Every bell to ev­ery ham­mer
Answers with a joy­ous cla­mor—
Answers, till from out the gl­amour
Of the ag­es far and dim,
Till from Beth­le­hem’s sta­ble low­ly,
Fair as moon­rise, op­en­ing slow­ly,
Streams of ra­diance pure and ho­ly
Down the bright­en­ing cen­tu­ries swim.

Then the bells ring fine and ten­der;
And from out that far-off splen­dor,
Veiled in light no dreams could lend her,
Lo, the vir­gin mo­ther mild,
Pale from guilt­less pain un­spok­en,
Calm in faith’s deep trust un­brok­en,
Bright the Hea­ven’s un­con­scious to­ken,
Bends above her won­drous child!

Still the bells ring soft­ly, sweet­ly,
Mingling all their chimes so mee­tly,
Trancing all my soul com­plete­ly,
Till the ro­sy clouds di­vide;
And o’er Beth­le­hem’s mount­ains hoa­ry
Bursts a strange ce­les­ti­al glo­ry,
Swells a sweet, se­raph­ic st­ory,
Trembling o’er the pas­tures wide!

Glory! glo­ry! God, des­cend­ing
Weds with man in bliss un­end­ing!
Hark! th’ec­sta­tic choirs at­tend­ing
Smite their lyres with tem­pest sound!
Shout! Old dis­cord’s reign is riv­en!
Peace on earth! good-will is giv­en!
Shout the joy through high­est Hea­ven!
Make the crys­tal spheres re­sound!

Earth’s sad wails of woe and wrang­ling—
Like wild bells in night-storms jang­ling,
Now their jar­ring tones un­tang­ling,
In some deep, har­mo­ni­ous rhyme—
Touched by Love’s own hand su­per­nal,
Hush their dis­so­nance in­fer­nal,
Catch the rhyth­mic march eter­nal,
Throbbing through the pulse of time,

Lo, the Babe, where, glad, they found Him,
By the chris­mal light that crowned Him!
See the shag­gy shep­herds round Him,
Round His man­ger, kneel­ing low!
See the star-led Ma­gi speed­ing,
Priest and scribe the re­cord read­ing,
Craft and hate each omen heed­ing,
Brooding swift the dire­ful blow!

Vain the wrath of kings con­spir­ing;
Vain the ma­lice de­mons fir­ing;
On the na­tions, long de­sir­ing,
Lo, at last, the Day-star shines!
Earth shall bless the hour that bore Him;
Unborn em­pires fall be­fore Him,
Unknown climes and tribes adore Him
In ten thou­sand tongues and shrines.

Hark! the Christ­mas bells, re­sound­ing,
Earth’s old jar­gon all con­found­ing!
Round the world their tu­mult, bound­ing,
Spreads Im­ma­nu­el’s match­less fame!
Million hands their of­fer­ings bring­ing,
Million hearts around Him cling­ing,
Million tongues ho­san­na sing­ing,
Swell the hon­ors of His name!

Crown Him, mon­archs, seers, and sag­es!
Crown Him, bards, in death­less pag­es!
Crown Him king of all the ag­es!
Let the migh­ty an­them rise!
Hark! the crash of tune­ful nois­es!
Hark! the child­ren’s thrill­ing voic­es!
Hark! the world in song re­joic­es,
Till the chor­us shakes the skies!

Living Christ, o’er sin vic­to­ri­ous,
Dying Lamb, all-me­ri­to­ri­ous,
Rising God, for­ev­er glo­ri­ous,
Take our songs and hearts, we pray.
May we, Thee by faith des­cry­ing,
On Thy death for life re­ly­ing,
Rise to rap­ture ne­ver-dy­ing,
Rise with Thee, in end­less day.