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350. Christians, Awake

1 Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
on which the Savior of the world was born.
Rise to adore the mystery of love
which hosts of angels chanted from above.
With them the joyful tidings were begun
of God incarnate and the virgin's Son.

2 Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
who heard the herald angel's voice: "Behold,
I bring good tidings of a Savior's birth
to you and all the nations on the earth.
This day has God fulfilled his promised word:
this day is born a Savior, Christ the Lord!"

3 O may we keep and ponder in our mind
God's wondrous love in saving lost mankind!
Christ, who was born upon this joyful day,
around us all his glory shall display.
Saved by his love, unceasing we shall sing
eternal praise to heaven's almighty King.

Text Information
First Line: Christians, awake, salute the happy morn
Title: Christians, Awake
Author: John Byrom (1749, alt.)
Meter: 10 10 10 10 10 10
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: Love: God's Love to Us; Christmas; Angels
Tune Information
Composer: John Wainwright (1750)
Meter: 10 10 10 10 10 10
Key: C Major

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Luke 2:1-20

John Byrom (b. Broughton, Manchester, England, 1692; d. Manchester, 1763) wrote this text in 1749 as a Christmas present for his daughter Dorothy. Originally in eight stanzas, "Christians, Awake" was printed in broadsheet around 1750 and then in Byrom's posthumous Miscellaneous Poems (1773).

The original stanzas 1-6 were all narrative. Many hymnals delete at least some stanzas, primarily as a gesture of goodwill to congregations who would find it difficult to sing all eight stanzas in this very long meter! The Psalter Hymnal version of the text includes Byrom's first and second stanzas, based on the familiar Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20. Stanza 3, a combination of Byrom's original stanzas 7 and 8, is a theological commentary on this narrative.

Byrom studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, England, and then received a medical degree in Montpellier, France, although he never practiced medicine. Instead, he made his living teaching a form of shorthand he had devised, for which he received a parliamentary monopoly for twenty-one years. John and Charles Wesley (PHH 267) were among his pupils–John used this shorthand for his voluminous journal entries and Charles for jotting down hymns at unusual times and places. Byrom was attracted initially to Methodism and later to the Quakers. He wrote many poems, some of which became hymn texts. His collected Miscellaneous Poems were published posthumously in 1773.

Liturgical Use:
Christmas Day worship service, especially as the opening hymn on Christmas morning.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

John Wainwright (b. Stockport, England, 1723; d. Stockport, 1768) wrote YORKSHIRE for [the] text [Christian's awake, salute the happy morn, by John Byrom] in 1750. The tune was first sung on Christmas Day, 1750, in the parish church of Stockport; it was first published in Caleb Ashworth's Collection of Tunes (1760) and then in Wainwright's Collection of Psalm - Tunes, Anthems, Hymns and ChantsCollection of Psalm Tunes, Anthems, Hymns and Chants for 1, 2, 3, and 4 Voices in 1766. His sons also became well-known musicians.

YORKSHIRE has some marvelous ascending phrases. The second line repeats in the final line with a happy rhythmic change. Try having a small group (a choir or two antiphonal groups) sing stanzas 1 and 2, or begin with a small group and then add singers every two lines. The entire congregation could then sing stanza 3. The hymn also works well as a processional. See 80 for a setting of this tune in the key of B-flat.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

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