Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Whereon the Saviour of the world was born!
Rise to adore the mystery of love
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the virgin’s Son.
Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard th’angelic herald’s voice: ‘Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Saviour’s birth,
To you and all the nations on the earth;
This day hath God fulfilled His promised Word,
This day is born a Saviour, Christ the Lord!’
O may we keep and ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind!
Trace we the Babe, who hath retrieved our loss,
From His poor manger to His bitter cross;
Tread in His steps, assisted by His grace,
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place.
A Christmas poem as a special gift to a little girl – that’s how this carol came to be written! In 1749, Dolly Byrom asked her father, John, a poet and hymnwriter, if he would write her a special poem for Christmas, and she found this on her breakfast plate on Christmas morning. A year later John Wainwright, the organist of the Byroms’ church, borrowed the poem and secretly set it to music. On December 25, 1750, a male choir greeted the Byrom household by singing the new carol. The tune is called Yorkshire , after the place where it was written. (In S.A. song books, though, the tune is simply called Christians, Awake.)A Christmas poem as a special gift to a little girl Click To Tweet
John Byrom, a gifted intellectual, was born in Manchester, England in 1692 and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was interested in linguistics, literature, world religions and the sciences. Although he studied medicine in France, he decided on a career of teaching at university. He invented and taught his own system of shorthand, called the Universal English Shorthand, for which he was honoured as a Fellow of the Royal Society. The system was made official by an Act of Parliament, but sadly was not published until four years after Byrom’s death. Today’s young texters have their own system of spelling/shorthand!Today’s young texters have their own system of spelling/shorthand! Click To Tweet
Still another interest of John Byrom was what we might call social justice: Christian ethics for the betterment of human life. In this regard he paraphrased many of the writings of William Law, a contemporary of his, into verse form, receiving much praise from clergymen, including Charles and John Wesley, the founders of the Methodist Church.