Author Topic: Add: Babe of Bethlehem

Jon Freeman

Posted - 13 Aug 03 - 12:52 am

Babe of BethlehemYe 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.

To Abraham the promise came,
And to his sons forever,
A light to shine in Isaac's line,
By Scripture we discover,
Hail! promised morn, the Savior's born,
The glorious mediator,
God's blessed Word made flesh and blood
Assumed the human nature.

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 around him,
But in the hay the stranger lay
With swaddling bands around him.

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.

'The city's name is Bethlehem,
In which God hath appointed
This glorious morn a Savior's born
For him God hath 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.'

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.'

Source: The Second Penquin Book of Christmas Carols, ed. Elizabeth Poston

Notes: This jolly bustling tune, probably of folk origin, occurs only in The Southern Harmony, 4-shape-note song book compiled at Spartanburg, South Carolina, and printed at New Haven, Connecticut, 1835.

Database entry is here

masato sakurai

Posted - 13 Aug 03 - 02:27 am

Two more verses were given in the original. See The Babe of Bethlehem -- Southern Harmony no. 78.

7. Then with delight they took their flight, and winged their way to glory,
The shepherds gazed and were amazed, to hear the pleasing story;
To Bethlehem they quickly came, the glorious news to carry,
And in the stall they found them all, Joseph, the Babe, and Mary.

8. The shepherds then returned again to their own habitation,
With joy of heart they did depart, now they have found salvation.
Glory, they cry, to God on high, who sent his Son to save us
This glorious morn the Savior's born, his name it is Christ Jesus.


Posted - 13 Aug 03 - 06:46 am

I have a recording of this by "The Valley Folk", along with many other good carols. See this site describing Bury Folk Club for a little more information.

Edited By dmcg - 8/13/2003 6:46:13 AM

masato sakurai

Posted - 16 Aug 03 - 12:10 am

George Pullen Jackson wrote in Spiritual Folk-Songs of Early America (1937; Dover, 1964, p. 84; note to "Babe of Bethlehem"):
The tune, evidently dorian, is of a type that was widely used and varied by folk singers. I mentioned this type in the Introduction, page 14, and called it the 'Babe of Bethlehem' family of tunes because the above [i.e., "Babe of Bethlehem"] seems to have been one of its members. Other members, in either the dorian or the aeolian mode, are 'Happy Souls (A)', 'Marion', 'Atonement', and 'Enquire' in this collection; related spiritual tunes not included here are 'Help me to Sing', OSH 376; 'Staunton', SKH 26; 'Melody', PB 313; 'Brownson', OL 256; 'Howland', REV 73; and 'Sweet Prospect', OSH 65.
Related worldly songs are 'The Peevish Child', Petrie, No. 591; a song without title, Petrie, No. 193; 'When First I Left Old Ireland', Petrie, No. 863; 'Lowlands of Holland', Sharp, i, 200; 'Virginia Lover', Sharp, ii, 149; and 'The Little Red Lark of the Mountain', Petrie, No. 383. John Powell has set 'Babe of Bethlehem' in a beautiful dorian-mixolydian form for mixed chorus. It is published by J. Fisher and Brother, New York.
This song is also included in The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford UP, 1992, no. 82 [pp. 288-90]), where it is credited to William Walker (music & words?).

masato sakurai

Posted - 16 Aug 03 - 09:26 am

The name of William Walker (as composer or arranger) was on the Southern Harmony page (see the link above).

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