The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter's night

Author: Robert Southwell
Published in 2 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 As I in hoary winter’s night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat,
Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe, all burning bright,
Did in the air appear.

2 Who scorchèd with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
Which with His tears were fed.
"Alas!" quoth He, but newly born,
“In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts,
Or feel My fire but I.

3 “My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuèl wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ashes shame and scorn.
The fuèl Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metals in this furnace wrought
Are men’s defilèd souls.

4 "For which, as now on fire I am,
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in My blood";
With this He vanished out of sight,
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callèd unto mind
That it was Christmas Day!

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #14167

Author: Robert Southwell

Southwell, Robert, was b. at Horsham St. Faith, Norfolk, about 1561, educated at Paris and at Rome, and entered the Society of Jesus at Rome, Oct. 17, 1578. He spent part of his noviciate at Tournai in Belgium, but returned to Rome and completed his studies there. After being ordained priest in 1584, he returned to England in 1586. He was arrested in 1592 on the charge of high treason, committed to the Tower of London, formally tried at Westminster, Feb. 21, 1594-5, and executed the next day at Tyburn. His Poetical Works were collected in 1856 by W. B. Turnbull, and re-edited in 1872 more completely and more carefully by Dr. A. B. Grosart, from the Add. manuscript 10422 in the British Museum, from a manuscript, perhaps autograph, at Stonyh… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: As I in hoary winter's night
Title: The Burning Babe
Author: Robert Southwell
Meter: D
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


The Cyber Hymnal #14167
  • PDF (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer Score (NWC)


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The Cyber Hymnal #14167

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