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12

Christmas Eve

Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

Luke 2:10.

8,8,8,8

Von Himmel hoch da komm ich her

Luther

Written for his little son Hans.
1540

trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1855

From Heaven above to earth I come

To bear good news to every home;

Glad tidings of great joy I bring

Whereof I now will say and sing:

To you this night is born a child

Of Mary, chosen mother mild;

This little child, of lowly birth,

Shall be the joy of all your earth.

'Tis Christ our God who far on high

Hath heard your sad and bitter cry;

Himself will your Salvation be,

Himself from sin will make you free.

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He brings those blessings, long ago

Prepared by God for all below;

Henceforth His kingdom open stands

To you, as to the angel bands.

These are the tokens ye shall mark,

The swaddling clothes and manger dark;

There shall ye find the young child laid,

By whom the heavens and earth were made.

Now let us all with gladsome cheer

Follow the shepherds, and draw near

To see this wondrous gift of God

Who hath His only Son bestowed.

Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!

Who is it in yon manger lies?

Who is this child so young and fair?

The blessed Christ-child lieth there.

Welcome to earth, Thou noble guest,

Through whom e'en wicked men are blest!

Thou com'st to share our misery,

What can we render, Lord, to Thee!

Ah, Lord, who hast created all,

How hast Thou made Thee weak and small,

That Thou must choose Thy infant bed

Where ass and ox but lately fed!

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Were earth a thousand times as fair,

Beset with gold and jewels rare,

She yet were far too poor to be

A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

15

For velvets soft and silken stuff

Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,

Whereon Thou King, so rich and great,

As 'twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.

Thus hath it pleased Thee to make plain

The truth to us poor fools and vain,

That this world's honour, wealth and might

Are nought and worthless in Thy sight.

Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child,

Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,

Within my heart, that it may be

A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,

My lips no more can silence keep;

I too must sing with joyful tongue

That sweetest ancient cradle-song-

Glory to God in highest Heaven,

Who unto man His Son hath given!

While angels sing with pious mirth

A glad New Year to all the earth.

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