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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
A Hymn for Children at Christmas
By Martin Luther (1483–1546)
 
The Child Jesus: Luke ii.

Translation of Catherine Winkworth

FROM heaven 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        5
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;        10
Himself will your salvation be,
Himself from sin will make you free.
 
He brings those blessings, long ago
Prepared by God for all below;
Henceforth his kingdom open stands        15
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.        20
 
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!        25
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!        30
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        35
Where ass and ox but lately fed!
 
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.        40
 
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        45
The truth to us poor fools and vain,
That this world’s honor, wealth, and might
Are naught and worthless in thy sight.
 
Ah! dearest Jesus, Holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,        50
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 raise with joyful tongue        55
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.

  1535.
        60
 
 
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