Christmas Day by John Byrom

The last line of the poem reads, “Of angels, and of angel-men, the King.” I found it confusing at best and heretical at worst, and altered it.–JW

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 upon 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 cloaths, the Babe divine
Lies in a manger; this shall be your sign.’
He spake, 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 Hallelujahs 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 Savior, in a manger laid.
Amazed, the wondrous story they proclaim,
The first apostles of his 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 bosom 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 throngs 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 shall we sing,
Of angels and of Jesus Christ the King.

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One Response to Christmas Day by John Byrom

  1. Carol says:

    Christmas Day by John Byrom
    by anglicanprayer

    The last line of the poem reads, “Of angels, and of angel-men, the King.” I found it confusing at best and heretical at worst, and altered it.–JW

    The last line reminds me somewhat of St. Irenaeus’ observation that “God became man so that men could become gods.”

    The early Church Father was not speaking metaphysically, that would have been heresy. He was refering to the psychlogical/spiritual reality that by participating in the Divine Life through an intimate relationshipip with the Crucified/Resurrected God-Man, our wounded humanity would be healed and our godlikeness, lost when when our relationship with God was broken in the Garden, would, as the relationship deepened over time, be restored and the potential for New Life in Christ would be realized.

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