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~Christians, Awake!


       What would you like for a Christmas present? T

       To any young girl such a question would evoke delighted visions of long-wished-for possessions. But to Dolly the answer to her father, John Byron, was, “Please write me a poem.”

       And so, on Christmas morning in 1749, Dolly found on her plate at breakfast a piece of paper on which was written a hymn entitled, “Christmas Day, For Dolly.”

       Soon after, John Wainwright the organist of Manchester Parish Church wrote a tune for it.

       On the following Christmas morning, Byron and Dolly were awakened by the sound of singing below their windows. It was Wainwright with his choir singing Dolly’s hymn, “Christians, Awake.”



Christians, Awake[1]

1           Christians, Awake, salute the happy morn,

Whereon the Savior of the world was born;

Rise to adore the mystery of love,

Which hosts of angels chanted from above;

With them the joyful tidings first begun

Of God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son.

2           Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,

Who heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold,

I bring good tidings of a Savior’s birth

To you and all the nations on the earth:

This day hath God fulfilled his promised word,

This day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.”

3           He spake, and straightway the celestial choir

In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;

The praises of redeeming love they sang,

And heaven’s whole orb with alleluias rang;

God’s highest glory was their anthem still,

Peace on the earth, and unto men good will.

4           To Bethlehem straight the happy shepherds ran,

To see the wonder God had wrought for man;

And found, with Joseph and the blessed maid,

Her Son, the Savior, in a manger laid;

Amazed, the wondrous story they proclaim,

The earliest heralds of the Savior’s name.

5           Let us, like these good shepherds, then employ

Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy;

Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss,

From his poor manger to his bitter cross;

Treading his steps, assisted by his grace,

Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place.

6           Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among,

To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;

He that was born upon this joyful day

Around us all his glory shall display;

Saved by his love, incessant we shall sing

Eternal praise to heaven’s Almighty King.


[1]Eckert, Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.






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