I May Not Go Tonight to Bethlehem

Representative Text

1. I may not go tonight to Bethlehem,
Nor follow star-directed ways, nor tread
The paths wherein the shepherds walked, that led
To Christ, and peace, and God’s good will to men.

2. I may not hear the herald angel’s song
Peal through the oriental skies, nor see
The wonder of that Heavenly company
Announce the King the world had waited long.

3. The manger throne I may not kneel before,
Or see how man to God is reconciled,
Through pure St. Mary’s purer, holier Child;
The human Christ these eyes may not adore.

4. I may not carry frankincense and myrrh
With adoration to the Holy One;
Nor gold have I to give the Perfect Son,
To be with those wise kings a worshipper.

5. Not mine the joy that Heaven sent to them,
For ages since Time swung and locked his gates,
But I may kneel without—the star still waits
To guide me on to holy Bethlehem.

Author: E. Pauline Johnson

[Tekahionwake] Born: March 10, 1861, Six Na­tions Re­serve, near Brant­ford, On­tar­io, Ca­na­da. Died: March 7, 1913, Van­cou­ver, Ca­na­da. Buried: Stan­ley Park, Van­cou­ver, Ca­na­da. Daughter of Mo­hawk chief G. H. John­son and his Eng­lish wife, Em­i­ly How­ells, Paul­ine was a re­cit­al­ist, po­et, and au­thor. Be­tween 1892 and 1910, she con­duct­ed read­ing tours in Ca­na­da, Amer­i­ca and Bri­tain. Her works in­clude: The White Wam­pum (Lon­don: John Lane, 1895) Canadian Born (To­ron­to, Can­a­da: Mor­ang, 1903) Legends of Van­cou­ver (Van­cou­ver, Ca­na­da: Da­vid Spen­cer, Lim­it­ed, 1911) Flint and Fea­ther (To­ron­to, Ca­na­da: Mus­son, 1912) The Sha… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: I may not go tonight to Bethlehem
Title: I May Not Go Tonight to Bethlehem
Author: E. Pauline Johnson (1912)
Language: English
Notes: Alternate tunes: ELLERS, Edward J. Hopkins, 1869; EVENTIDE, William H. Monk, 1861; LANGRAN, James Langran, 1862; MAORI, Maori melody; MORECAMBE, Frederick C. Atkinson, 1870
Copyright: Public Domain



TOULAN was originally an adaptation of the Genevan Psalter melody for Psalm 124 (124). In one melodic variant or another and with squared-off rhythms, the tune was used in English and Scottish psalters for various psalm texts. It was published in the United States in its four-line abridged form (cal…

Go to tune page >


The Cyber Hymnal #2940
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)


Instances (1 - 1 of 1)

The Cyber Hymnal #2940

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.