Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Great and Mighty Wonder

AN ANCIENT Christmas Hymn, A Great and Mighty Wonder:
A great and mighty wonder, a full and holy cure:
The virgin bears the Infant with virgin honor pure!
Repeat the hymn again: “To God on high be glory
And peace on earth to men!”

The Word becomes incarnate and yet remains on high,
And cherubim sing anthems to shepherds from the sky.
Repeat the hymn again: “To God on high be glory
And peace on earth to men!”

While thus they sing your Monarch, those bright angelic bands,
Rejoice, ye vales and mountains, ye oceans, clap your hands.
Repeat the hymn again: “To God on high be glory
And peace on earth to men!”

Since all He comes to ransom, by all be He adored,
The Infant born in Bethl’em, the Savior and the Lord.
Repeat the hymn again: “To God on high be glory
And peace on earth to men!”

And idol forms shall perish, and error shall decay,
And Christ shall wield His scepter, our Lord and God for aye.
Repeat the hymn again: “To God on high be glory
And peace on earth to men!”
— Saint Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (a.D. 634-734); translated by John M. Neale, 1818-1866



This has the same melody as an anonymous German Christmas carol Es ist ein Ros entsprungen, translated into English as Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, by Theodore Baker (1851–1934)
Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow'ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God's love aright,
She bore to men a Savior,
When halfspent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.


This harmonization of the melody is by Michael Praetorius (1571–1621).

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