24 Dec 2023

Hymns on Sunday, 24 December 2023

From Hymns on Sunday, 4:15 am on 24 December 2023

What's the connection between the well-loved Christmas song O Holy Night and the early days of broadcasting? Find out in today's programme for the Fourth Sunday in Advent.

Journey to Bethlehem, detail of Holy Family HR (Peter Brueghel the Elder, Fine Arts Museum Brussels)

Journey to Bethlehem, detail of Holy Family HR (Peter Brueghel the Elder, Fine Arts Museum Brussels) Photo: Asaf Braverman, Creative Commons


Artist: Robert Shaw Chamber Singers
Words/Music: Von Rist/Anon harm J S Bach
Recording: Telarc 480461

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
and usher in the morning.
O shepherds, shudder not with fright,
but hear the angel's warning:
this child, now weak in infancy,
our confidence and joy shall be,
the power of Satan breaking,
our peace eternal making.


Artist: Elora Festival Singers, Michael Bloss (organ)
Words/Music: Placide Cappeau trans Dwight/Alphonse Adam
Recording: Naxos 8.573421

Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh, night divine, oh, night when Christ was born!
Oh, night divine, oh, night, oh, night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the wise men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend!
He knows our need—to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King; before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! Oh, praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!


Artist: The Choir of the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
Words/Music: Shirley Murray/Trad Zulu
Recording: NZ Hymnbook Trust 941001

Come now, Lord Jesus,
enter our Christmas,
be to us no stranger
in this new-made manger.

Come, small and human,
born of a woman,
yet a Son much greater
of our own Creator.

Come, cold and crying,
comfort denying,
no place to receive you,
few yet to believe you.

Come, poor and simple,
our flesh your temple,
in your body feeling
hurt as well as healing.

Come, gift and token,
bread to be broken,
star and sign still point you,
myrrh will yet anoint you.


Artist: Hatea Kapa Haka, David Tapene (dir)
Words/Music: Charles Wesley trans Bishop George Connor/Felix Mendelssohn
Recording: Hatea Kapa Haka 2023

Whakarongo ki te reo
E karanga iho nei;
Rongopai ki te whenua,
Rongomau ki te Atua!
Oho ake, e katoa,
Uru mai ki tēnei kī;
Te Karaiti, t’Ariki,
Tēnei rā ka whānau nei.
Whakarongo! nei te koa,
Mō te Kīngi whānau hōu.

Te Karaiti, t’Ariki,
Tama tahi a t’Atua:
Nei rā ia ka puta mai,
Momo o te Wahina! (Puhi)
Tango iho ana ia
I te āhua tangata:
Whānau tonu mai anō,
Noho ana i te ao.

Te Imanuera nui!
Piriniha rongo pai!
Take o te oranga,
Te Karaiti, haere mai!
Te maharatia e koe
Tōu korōria tino nui;
Tāu i tūmanako ai,
Ko te ora mō te ao.


Listen to the voice
Good tidings to the Lands,
Peace to God
Awake all
Listen to this saying
The Christ the Lord
Was born on this day.
Listen to the gladness
For the newly born King.

The Christ, the Lord
God’s only Son
He has appeared
Child of the Virgin
He took on
The nature of humanity
On his birth
He lived in this world.

Almighty Emanuel
Prince of peace
The source/meaning of life
Christ, welcome
We remember you
Your great glory
Your hopes
For life for this world.



Artist: Musica Sacra, Indra Hughes (dir)
Words/Music: Trad/Arthur Sullivan
Recording: Atoll ACD 207

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From heav’n’s all gracious king.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife
And hear the angels sing.

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.


Artist: Elora Festival Singers, Noel Edison (dir), Michael Bloss (organ)
Words/Music: Benjamin Hanby/Benjamin Hanby arr Young
Recording: Naxos 8.573421

Who is he in yonder stall
at whose feet the shepherds fall?

'Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord, the King of glory;
at his feet we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Who is He, who stands and weeps,
at the grave where Laz’rus sleeps?

Who is he in Calvary's throes
asks for blessings on his foes?

Who is he who from the grave
comes to seek and help and save?


Artist: Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, Malcolm Archer (dir)
Words/Music: Christina Rosetti/Malcolm Archer
Recording: Griffin GCCD 4051

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the God-head,
Love incarnate, Love divine;
worship we our Jesus,
but wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token;
love be yours and love be mine;
love to God and others,
love for plea and gift and sign.


Artist: Choir of Tewkesbury Abbey
Words/Music: William Chatterton Dix/Conrad Kocher
Label: Naxos 8.553077

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to thy lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
thee, whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
at thy manger, rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our heavenly king.

Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.


Artist: Los Angeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon (dir)
Words/Music: Reginald Heber/Shawn Kirshner
Recording: Priory LMC 2015

Brightest and best of the stars of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid;
Star in the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.
Brightest and best of the stars of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid;
Star in the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dew-drops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all.

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom, and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?
Chorus (x2):

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