The Babe of Bethlehem
Singers: KT, ST, DA, HC, RH
Words and melody anonymous, arranged William Walker (1809-1875) in The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, 1835.
The words and melody appear unattributed in William Walker’s Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (1835 and subsequent editions). Presumably "Singing Billy" (1809–1875) wrote the words, but it seems likely that the melody is drawn from the folk tradition, like so many Southern shapenote compositions of this era.
Ye nations all, on you I call, come hear this declaration,
And don’t refuse this glorious news of Jesus and salvation.
To royal Jews came first the news of Christ the great Messiah,
As was foretold by prophets old: Isaiah, Jeremiah.
His parents poor in earthly store to entertain the stranger
They found no bed to lay his head, but in the ox’s manger:
No royal things, as used by kings, were seen by those that found him
But in the hay the stranger lay, with swaddling bands around him.
The city’s name is Bethlehem, in which God has appointed,
This glorious morn a Saviour’s born, for him God has anointed;
By this you’ll know, if you will go, to see this little stranger,
His lovely charms in Mary’s arms, both lying in a manger.
To Abraham the promise came, and to his seed for ever,
A light to shine in Isaac’s line, by Scripture we discover;
Hail, promised morn! the Saviour’s born, the glorious Mediator.
God’s blessed word made flesh and blood, assumed the human nature.
On the same night a glorious light to shepherds there appeared,
Bright angels came in shining flame, they saw and greatly feared
The angels said: Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
We do appear good news to bear, as now we will inform you.
When this was said, straightway was made a glorious sound from heaven
Each flaming tongue an anthem sung: To men a Saviour’s given,
In Jesus’ name, the glorious theme, we elevate our voices,
At Jesus’ birth be peace on earth, meanwhile all heaven rejoices.