The Epiphany of the Lord

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We didn't sing my favorite Epiphany hymns, but as the choir director said "It's our last chance to sing Christmas Carols". Listening to Benediction on EWTN, I was struck by the fact that the nuns chose for Benediction many of the same hymns we sang for Mass. The First Nowell, What Child is This, We Three Kings, (And we sang one that I am not sure really qualifies as a hymn, lovely though it is - Go, Tell it on the Mountains)

However, something that struck me at Christmas hit me even harder at mass today - where are the missing lyrics to "What Child is This?"
I just KNEW that there are different refrains for each verse. But my usually reliable Oremus Hymnal let me down, and even my Anglican hymnal simply repeats the usual:
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

Enter the Internet. What Child Is This? has them all.
Source: Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer, Christmas Carols New and Old, First Series (London: Novello, Ewer & Co., 1871), Carol #14

1. What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

2. Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

3. So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

My favorite Epiphany hymns are rarely heard.
Brightest and best of the sons of the morning, for example. See here the penultimate verse:
Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
vainly with gifts would his favor secure,
richer by far is the heart's adoration,
dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.
Of course, this was another hymn written by Reginald Heber. Anglican Bishop Heber seemed to have a profound understanding of the mystery of the Incarnation, and I think that he would have made an excellent Catholic of the Roman sort, if only he had been born in another time and place.


It never occurred to me that there were different refrains for What Child is This?. The hymn will seem poorer now that I know. There's a lot packed into those missing lines.

I never realized how much theology was packed into the full version of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing until this year, either. While my father was visiting we had a family carol sing-along, and it was the first time in ages that I sang more than the first verse of the carol.

I thank you for posting the full refrains. They were niggling at the back of my mind during mass, but I just couldn't remember. (Actaully for two weeks, since we sang it on Holy Family as well..)

I think that the theology in carols is incredible, and that has always been one of my favorites.

I love "What Child is This?" It touches my heart somehow.

Ahem. (Clearing throat)

We sang your favorite song on Epiphany at St. Mary's!

Lucky us, huh?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alicia published on January 7, 2007 5:24 PM.

too bad that the bean counters don't pay attention to stuff like this was the previous entry in this blog.

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