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by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 - 1909)
Thou whose birth on earth
Thou whose birth on earth Angels sang to men, While thy stars made mirth, Saviour, at thy birth, This day born again; As this night was bright With thy cradle-ray, Very light of light, Turn the wild world's night To thy perfect day. God whose feet made sweet Those wild ways they trod, From thy fragrant feet Staining field and street With the blood of God; God whose breast is rest In the time of strife, In thy secret breast Sheltering souls opprest From the heat of life; God whose eyes are skies Love-lit as with spheres By the lights that rise To thy watching eyes, Orbed lights of tears; God whose heart hath part In all grief that is, Was not man's the dart That went through thine heart, And the wound not his? Where the pale souls wail, Held in bonds of death, Where all spirits quail, Came thy Godhead pale Still from human breath - Pale from life and strife, Wan with manhood, came Forth of mortal life, Pierced as with a knife, Scarred as with a flame. Thou the Word and Lord In all time and space Heard, beheld, adored, With all ages poured Forth before thy face, Lord, what worth in earth Drew thee down to die? What therein was worth, Lord, thy death and birth? What beneath thy sky? Light above all love By thy love was lit, And brought down the Dove Feathered from above With the wings of it. From the height of night, Was not thine the star That led forth with might By no worldly light Wise men from afar? Yet the wise men's eyes Saw thee not more clear Than they saw thee rise Who in shepherd's guise Drew as poor men near. Yet thy poor endure, And are with us yet; Be thy name a sure Refuge for thy poor Whom men's eyes forget. Thou whose ways we praised, Clear alike and dark, Keep our works and ways This and all thy days Safe inside thine ark. Who shall keep thy sheep, Lord, and lose not one? Who save one shall keep, Lest the shepherds sleep? Who beside the Son? From the grave-deep wave, From the sword and flame, Thou, even thou, shalt save Souls of king and slave Only by thy Name. Light not born with morn Or her fires above, Jesus virgin-born, Held of men in scorn, Turn their scorn to love. Thou whose face gives grace As the sun's doth heat, Let thy sunbright face Lighten time and space Here beneath thy feet. Bid our peace increase, Thou that madest morn; Bid oppressions cease; Bid the night be peace; Bid the day be born.
About the headline (FAQ)
- by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 - 1909), "In church", appears in Songs Before Sunrise, in Christmas Antiphones, no. 1 [author's text checked 1 time against a primary source]
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive):
- by William Reginald Pasfield (1909 - 1994), "Thou whose birth on earth", published 1972. [SATB chorus and organ or piano ad libitum] [text not verified]
- by Joseph Roff (1910 - 1993), "This day born again", published 1958. [SSA or SAB chorus and piano] [text not verified]
Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
This text was added to the website: 2009-01-27
Line count: 100
Word count: 449