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353. Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

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1 Infant holy, infant lowly,
for his bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the child is Lord of all.
Swiftly winging angels singing,
bells are ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the child is Lord of all!
Christ the child is Lord of all!

2 Flocks were sleeping, shepherds keeping
vigil till the morning new
saw the glory, heard the story,
tidings of a gospel true.
Thus rejoicing, free from sorrow,
praises voicing, greet the morrow:
Christ the child was born for you!
Christ the child was born for you!

Text Information
First Line: Infant holy, infant lowly
Title: Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
Original Language: Polish
Translator: Edith M. G. Reed (1921)
Meter: 87 87 88 77
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Topic: King, God/Christ as; Suffering of Christ; Songs for Children: Hymns (1 more...)
Source: Polish
Tune Information
Name: W ZLOBIE LEZY
Meter: 87 87 88 77
Key: F Major
Source: Polish; harm. Psalter Hymnal, 1987


Text Information:

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

Evoking the atmosphere at the manger (st. 1) and among the shepherds (st. 2), this traditional Polish carol tells the Christmas story in short phrases with tight rhymes. A final refrain sums up the significance of the event Christ the child, Lord of all, was born for our salvation!

“W Zlobie Lezy” ("In a manger lies") may date back to the thirteenth or fourteenth century. However, it was not published until the early twentieth century, when it was included with its traditional tune in Spiewniczek Piesni Koscielne (1908). Edith M. Gellibrand Reed (b. Islington, Middlesex, England, 1885; d. Barnet, Hertfordshire, England, 1935) translated the text into English and published it in Music and Youth (vol. 1, Dec. 1921), a journal that she edited.

Reed was educated at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England, and devoted her life to the musical education of children. In association with Percy Scholes she edited various magazines such as Music and Youth, The Music Student, and Pan’s Pipes. Her publications include Story Lives of Great Composers. (1925) and several Christmas dramas. She also contributed to the Kingsway Carol Book and various church school songbooks.

Liturgical Use:
Christmas season, in regular worship services, or in carol and candlelight services, especially those that feature carols from many lands.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

The Polish tune is a rounded bar form (AABA). Its lines consist of short figures and phrases bound together by the consistent rhythmic pattern of the Polish mazurka (made famous by Frederic Chopin). Note especially the third line with its fine sequences and harmonic suspensions. Sing in parts with adults or in unison with young children. Use light organ accompaniment, preferably played on two manuals and pedal. Add handbells (or even sleigh bells) on the first beat of each bar. Sing in four long lines and avoid the choppiness suggested by the short melodic phrases.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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