I was turned on to this little gem by my friends, Nick Lannon and Jono Linebaugh, over at Liberate. Jono gives a brief run-down on the background of this Christmas Carol (one of five) written by Martin Luther. It was likely that this particular one (which has a part for “angels,” “children,” and “all”) was written for a Christmas pageant in which his own kids would have participated. I love how it tells the story of Christmas while interacting with and weaving in our own (simple, child-like) response to the profundities of the incarnation. I set it to a simple, bouncy tune that I think captures the heart of the text. Listen to it and download it right here. I haven’t yet drawn up a lead sheet for it, but below are the lyrics. The older I get, the more I value singing of Christ’s story and the less I value singing my own (my own emotions, my own feelings, my own fleeting passions).
From heaven high I come to earth. I bring you tidings of great mirth.
This mirth is such a wondrous thing that I must tell you all and sing.
A little child for you this morn has from a chosen maid been born.
A little child so tender, sweet, that you should skip upon your feet.
He is the Christ, our God indeed, who saves you all in every need.
He will himself your Savior be. From all wrong doing make you free.
He brings you every one to bliss. The heavenly Father sees to this.
You shall be here with us on high. Here shall you live and never die.
Look now, you children, at the sign, a manger cradle far from fine.
A tiny baby will you see. Upholder of the world is He.
How glad we’ll be if it is so! With all the shepherds let us go
To see what God for us has done, in sending us his own dear Son.
Look, look, my heart, and let me peek. Whom in the manager do you seek?
Who is that lovely little one? The Baby Jesus, God’s own Son.
Be welcome, Lord; be now our guest. By you poor sinners have been blessed.
In nakedness and cold you lie. How can I thank you – how can I?
O Lord, who made and molded all, how did you come to be so small
Here lies a prince and Lord of all, a king within the donkey’s stall.
And if the world were twice as wide, with gold and precious jewels inside,
Still such a cradle would not do to hold a babe as great as you.
You wanted so to make me know, that you had let all great things go.
You had a place up in the sky; you left it there for such as I.
O dear Lord Jesus, for your head now will I make the softest bed.
The chamber for this bed shall be, within my heart, inside of me.
And I can play the whole day long. I’ll dance and sing for you a song,
A soft and soothing lullaby, so sweet that you will never cry.
To God who sent his only Son, be glory, laud, and honor done.
Let all the choir of heaven rejoice, the new ring in with heart and voice.
Words: Martin Luther, 1535, tr. and arr. Roland Bainton, 1948, alt. Zac Hicks, 2013
Music: Zac Hicks, 2013
©2013 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)