would you like for a Christmas present? T
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.”
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,
after, John Wainwright the organist of Manchester Parish Church wrote a
tune for it.
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, salute the happy morn,
the Savior of the world was born;
to adore the mystery of love,
hosts of angels chanted from above;
them the joyful tidings first begun
God incarnate and the Virgin’s Son.
Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
heard the angelic herald’s voice: “Behold,
bring good tidings of a Savior’s birth
you and all the nations on the earth:
day hath God fulfilled his promised word,
day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.”
He spake, and straightway the celestial choir
hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;
praises of redeeming love they sang,
heaven’s whole orb with alleluias rang;
highest glory was their anthem still,
on the earth, and unto men good will.
To Bethlehem straight the happy shepherds ran,
see the wonder God had wrought for man;
found, with Joseph and the blessed maid,
Son, the Savior, in a manger laid;
the wondrous story they proclaim,
earliest heralds of the Savior’s name.
Let us, like these good shepherds, then employ
grateful voices to proclaim the joy;
we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss,
his poor manger to his bitter cross;
his steps, assisted by his grace,
man’s first heavenly state again takes place.
Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among,
sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;
that was born upon this joyful day
us all his glory shall display;
by his love, incessant we shall sing
praise to heaven’s Almighty King.
Paul, Steve Green’s MIDI Hymnal, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos
Research Systems, Inc.) 1998.