Sunday Poetry – Christmas

This week’s choice is an early version of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing, called Hark! How All the Welkin Rings. I first heard it on this wonderful CD, While Shepherds Watched, recorded by Psalmody & The Parley of Instruments (now available at a very reasonable price as part of the bargain Helios label). The whole CD is full of 18th century English carols & hymns that would have been sung in parish churches of the time. Often they’re carols we still sing today – God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, While Shepherds Watched & Angels From the Realms of Glory – but with alternate tunes. It always reminds me of the Melstock Choir in Thomas Hardy’s Under the Greenwood Tree. The CD is one of my favourites & I listen to it every Christmas.

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
join the triumph of the skies;
universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born today!”

Christ, by highest Heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord:
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a Virgin’s womb!

Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see,
hail the incarnate Deity!
pleased as man with men to appear,
Jesus, our Emmanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace,
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,
born that man no more may die;
born to raise the sons of earth;
born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman’s conquering Seed,
bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
ruined nature now restore;
now in mystic union join
thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner man:
O, to all thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Poetry – Christmas

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