Adoration of the Shepherds, by Fray Juan Bautista Maino (1581-1649)

This is Pastor Paul Gerhardt’s great Christmas hymn. It first appeared in a collection of hymns published in Leipzig by Johann Crüciger in 1653, with the tune that Crüciger specifically prepared for it. The hymn is a sermon on the meaning of Christmas, and a deeply devotional meditation on what Christmas is all about. It is deeply realistic, and anchors the singer in the solid hope and joy that comes in and through Christ Jesus. It is a powerful assertion of the Gospel. I can think of no finer Christmas hymn ever written.

1. All my heart this night rejoices, as I hear far and near sweetest angel voices. “Christ is born,” their choirs are singing, till the air everywhere now with joy is ringing.

2. Forth today the conqueror goeth, who the Foe, sin and woe, Death and hell, o’erthroweth. God is man, man to deliver. His dear Son now is one With our blood forever.

3. Shall we still dread God’s displeasure, who, to save, freely gave His most cherished Treasure? To redeem us, He hath given His own Son from the throne of His might in heaven.

4. Should He who Himself imparted aught withhold from the fold, leave us broken-hearted? Should the Son of God not love us, Who, to cheer sufferers here, left His throne above us?

5. If our blessed Lord and Maker hated men, would He then be of flesh partaker? If He in our woe delighted, would He bear all the care of our race benighted?

6. He becomes the Lamb that taketh sin away and for aye full atonement maketh. For our life His own He tenders and our race, by His grace, meet for glory renders.

7. Hark! a voice from yonder manger, Soft and sweet, doth entreat: “Flee from woe and danger. Brethren, from all ills that grieve you you are feed; All you need I will surely give you.”

8. Come, then, banish all your sadness, one and all, great and small, come with songs of gladness. Love Him who with love is glowing. Hail the star, near and far light and joy bestowing.

9. Ye whose anguish knew no measure, weep no more, see the door to celestial pleasure. Cling to Him, for He will guide you where no cross, pain, or loss can again betide you.

10. Hither come, ye heavy-hearted, who for sin, deep within, long and sore have smarted. For the poisoned wound you’re feeling help is near, One is here Mighty for their healing.

11. Hither come, ye poor and wretched. Know His will is to fill every hand outstretched. Here are riches without measure. Here forget all regret, fill your hearts with treasure.

12. Let me in my arms receive Thee; On Thy breast Let me rest, Savior, ne’er to leave Thee. Since Thou hast Thyself presented now to me, I shall be evermore contented.

13. Guilt no longer can distress me; Son of God, Thou my load Bearest to release me. Stain in me Thou findest never; I am clean, All my sin is removed forever.

14. I am pure, in Thee believing, From Thy store evermore, righteous robes receiving. In my heart I will enfold Thee, treasure rare, let me there, loving, ever hold Thee.

15. Dearest Lord, Thee will I cherish. though my breath fail in death, Yet I shall not perish, But with Thee abide forever there on high, in that joy which can vanish never.

Notes: Hymn #77 from The Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal Text: Luke 2:11 Author: Paul Gerhardt, 1653; Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1858, altered.

Titled: Froehlich soll mein Herze springen

Composer: Johann Crueger, 1653 Tune: Froehlich soll mein Herze

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