Vom Himmel Hoch is my favorite Christmas hymn (and the only hymn I refer to by tune name, for some reason). I was in the church choir growing up – I was the bass section for three years – and we sang this hymn on Christmas Eve, variously alternating verses between soloist, choir a capella, and congregation. Silent Night eat your heart out – this hymn is the high point of my Christmas Eve.
Here it is, Vom Himmel Hoch, in all its fourteen verse glory. A blessed Christmas to all!
From Heaven Above
From heav'n above to earth I come
to bear good news to ev'ry home!
Glad tidings of great joy I bring
to all the world, and gladly sing:
To you this night is born a child
of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
this newborn child of lowly birth
shall be the joy of all the earth.
This is the Christ, God's Son most high,
who hears your sad and bitter cry,
who will himself your Savior be
and from all sin will set you free.
The blessing that the Father planned
the Son holds in his infant hand,
that in his kingdom, bright and fair,
you may with us his glory share.
These are the signs that you will see
to let you know that it is he:
in manger-bed, in swaddling clothes
the child who all the earth upholds.
Now let us all with joyful cheer
go with the shepherds and draw near
to see this wondrous gift of God,
the blessed child to us bestowed.
Look, look, dear friends, look over there!
What lies within that manger bare?
Who is that lovely little one?
The baby Jesus, God's dear Son.
Welcome to earth, O noble Guest,
through whom this sinful world is blest!
You turned not from our needs away;
how can our thanks such love repay?
O Lord, you have created all!
Wow did you come to be so small,
to sweetly sleep in manger-bed
where lowing cattle lately fed?
Were earth a thousand times as fair
and set with gold and jewels rare,
still such a cradle would not do
to rock a prince so great as you.
For velvets soft and silken stuff
you have but hay and straw so rough
on which as king so rich and great
to be enthroned in humble state.
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy child,
prepare a bed, soft, undefiled,
a quiet chamber in my heart,
that you and I may never part.
My heart for very joy now leaps;
my voice no longer silence keeps;
I too must sing with joyful tongue
the sweetest ancient cradle-song:
Glory to God in highest heav'n,
who unto us the Son has giv'n.
With angels sing in pious mirth
a glad new year to all the earth!
Text: Martin Luther, 1483-1546; tr. Lutheran Book of Worship
Text © 1978 Lutheran Book of Worship, admin. Augsburg Fortress.