This is the text of this hymn as it appeared in the Second Edition of William Chatterton Dix’s “Altar Songs.” He gives it the heading “Christmas. Knowing Him in the breaking of Bread.”
And can it be that God is born
This happy morn;
That He, Most High, Who framed the earth
Is come to birth;
That He in time, the Ageless One,
Is Mary’s Son?
Yes, even so; Faith leads the way
Unto the Day,
And Hope, with songs, beguiles the road
To that abode
Where Love, her journey past, shall see
To Bethlehem come, what see I there?
A Child most fair;
Yet He is God, Who finds His rest
A little One but newly born,
The Star of Morn;
A helpless Babe of mean estate,
A Child, of fleshly pride abhorred,
Sight is offended, will not own,
Faith sees alone
The Mystery to Faith displayed,
How God was made
Man for us men, for sinners born,
This Christmas morn.
To Bethlehem, true house of bread
I would be led,
And find Thee there, no more the Child,
With Mother mild,
But Man, with Wounds and piercèd Side,
No more the creatures of the stall
Before Thee fall;
Thy courtiers now, the Angel-choir,
Spirits of fire
Who come to greet Thee, as of yore
On stable floor.
I hear the solemn hymn go up,
I see the bread, the cup;
I see the priest in vestment meet,
The incense sweet;
But art Thou here in very deed,
Thine own to feed?
Some knew Me not at Bethlehem,
Art thou of them?
Words: William Chatterton Dix, 1867.
Tune: “Zpivejmez Vsickni Vesele” Velka Partitura, 1936.