Christmas Carols

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G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
A Christmas Carol (1900)

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)
Ach Gott vom Himmelreiche (1609)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Sir John Stainer
1) Three Kings came riding from far away,
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar;
Three Wise Men out of the East were they,
And they travelled by night and they slept by day,
For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star.
2) The star was so beautiful, large and clear,
That all the other stars of the sky
Became a white mist in the atmosphere,
And by this they knew that the coming was near
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy.
3) Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows,
Three caskets of gold with golden keys;
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows
Of bells, pomegranates and furbelows,
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees.
4) And so the Three Kings rode into the West,
Through the dusk of the night, over hill & dell,
& sometimes they nodded with beard on breast,
And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest,
With the people they met at some wayside well.
5) “Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar,
“Good people, I pray you, tell us the news;
For we in the East have seen his star,
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far,
To find and worship the King of the Jews.”
6) And the people answered, “You ask in vain;
We know of no King but Herod the Great!”
They thought the Wise Men were men insane,
As they spurred their horses across the plain,
Like riders in haste, who cannot wait.
7) And when they came to Jerusalem,
Herod the Great, who had heard this thing,
Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them;
And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem,
And bring me tidings of this new king.”
8) So they rode away; and the star stood still,
The only one in the grey of morn;
Yes, it stopped—it stood still of its own free will,
Right over Bethlehem on the hill,
The city of David, where Christ was born.
9) And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard,
Through the silent street, till their horses turned
And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard;
But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred,
And only a light in the stable burned.
10) And cradled there in the scented hay,
In the air made sweet by the breath of kine,
The little child in the manger lay,
The child, that would be king one day
Of a kingdom not human, but divine.
11) His mother Mary of Nazareth
Sat watching beside his place of rest,
Watching the even flow of his breath,
For the joy of life and the terror of death
Were mingled together in her breast.
12) They laid their offerings at his feet:
The gold was their tribute to a King,
The frankincense, with its odor sweet,
Was for the Priest, the Paraclete,
The myrrh for the body’s burying.
13) And the mother wondered and bowed her head,
And sat as still as a statue of stone,
Her heart was troubled yet comforted,
Remembering what the Angel had said
Of an endless reign and of David’s throne.
14) Then the Kings rode out of the city gate,
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array;
But they went not back to Herod the Great,
For they knew his malice and feared his hate,
And returned to their homes by another way.

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When Righteous Joseph Wedded Was To
Israel’s Hebrew Maid
1. When righteous Joseph wedded was
To Israel’s Hebrew maid,
The Angel Gabriel came from Heav’n,
And to the Virgin said:
Hail, blessed Mary, full of grace,
The Lord remain on thee;
Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son,
Our Saviour for to be.
Then sing your all, both great and small,
Now well, now well, now well;
We may rejoice to hear the voice
Of the Angel Gabriel.
2. ‘Tis wondrous strange, said Mary then,
I should conceive and breed,
Being never touched by mortal man,
But pure in word and deed.
The Angel Gabriel thus replied,
‘Tis not the work of man,
But as the Lord in Heav’n decreed,
Before the world began. Chorus.
3. This Heavenly message she believ’d,
And did to Jury go;
There three months with her friends to stay,
God’s blessed will to show;
And then return’d to Joseph back,
Her husband meek and mild,
Who thought it strange his wife should be
Untouch’d and yet with child. Chorus.
4. Then Joseph he to shun the shame,
Thought her for to forsake,
But then God’s Angel in a dream
His mind did undertake.
Fear not, just Joseph, this thy wife
Is still a spotless maid;
And not consent of sin, said he,
Against her can be laid. Chorus.
5. For she is pure, both maid and wife,
And mother of God’s own heir;
The babe of Heav’n and blessed lamb
Of Israel’s flock so fair.
To save lost man from Satan’s fold,
Which Adam lost by thrall,
When first in Eden Paradise
Did forfeit by the fall. Chorus.
6. Thus Mary and her husband kind
Together did remain,
Until the time of Jesus birth,
As Scriptures doth make plain.
As mother, wife, and virtuous maid,
Our Saviour sweet conceiv’d;
And in due time to bring us him,
Of whom we were bereav’d. Chorus
7. Sing praises all, both young and old,
To him that wrought such things;
And all without the means of man,
Sent us the King of Kings;
Who is of such a spirit bless’d,
That with his might did quell,
The world, the flesh, and by his death,
Did conquer death and hell. Chorus.

The Espousal of Mary and Joseph (The Fatima Center)

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Gentle Mary laid her Child Lowly in a manger
Joseph Simpson Cook (1919).
John Mason Neale (1853).
Gentle Mary laid her child.
Tempus Adest Floridum.
1. Gentle Mary laid her Child
Lowly in a manger;
There He lay, the undefiled,
To the world a stranger:
Such a Babe in such a place,
Can He be the Savior?
Ask the Saints of all the race
Who have found His favor.
2. Angels sang about His birth;
Wise men sought and found Him;
Heaven’s star shone brightly forth,
Glory all around Him:
Shepherds saw the wondrous sight,
Heard the angels singing;
All the plains were lit that night,
All the hills were ringing.
3. Gentle Mary laid her Child
Lowly in a manger;
He is still the undefiled,
But no more a stranger:
Son of God, of humble birth,
Beautiful the story;
Praise His name in all the earth,
Hail the King of glory!

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