A Hymn for Christmas Day

By John Byrom, 1692-1763–

Christians awake, salute the happy morn,
Whereon the saviour of the world was born;
Rise, to adore the mystery of love,
Which hosts of angels chanted from above:
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate, and the Virgin’s son:
Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice — “Behold!
I bring good tidings of a saviour’s birth
To you, and all the nations of the earth;
This day hath God fulfilled his promised word;
This day is born a saviour, Christ, the Lord:
In David’s city, shepherds, ye shall find
The long foretold redeemer of mankind;
Wrapped up in swaddling clothes, the babe divine
Lies in a manger; this shall be your sign.”
He spoke, and straightway the celestial choir,
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;
The praises of redeeming love they sung,
And heaven’s whole orb with halleluhjahs rung:
God’s highest glory was their anthem still;
Peace upon earth, and mutual good-will.
To Bethlehem straight the enlightened shepherds ran,
To see the wonder God had wrought for man;
And found, with Joseph and the blessed maid,
Her son, the saviour, in a manger laid.
Amazed, the wondrous story they procaim;
The first apostles of this infant fame:
While Mary keeps, and ponders in her heart,
The heavenly vision, which the swains impart;
They to their flocks, still praising God, return,
And their glad hearts within their bosoms burn.
Let us, like these good shepherds then, employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy:
Like Mary, let us ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind;
Artless, and watchful, as these favoured swains,
While virgin meekness in the heart remains:
Trace we the babe, who has retrieved our loss,
From his poor manger to his bitter cross;
Treading his steps, assisted by his grace,
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place:
Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among,
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;
He that was born, upon this joyful day,
Around us all, his glory shall display;
Saved by his love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels, and of angel-men, the king.

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