Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

Representative Text

1 Infant holy, infant lowly,
for His bed a cattle stall;
oxen lowing, little knowing
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.
Swift are winging angels singing,
noels ringing, tidings bringing:
Christ the Babe is Lord of all,
Christ the Babe is Lord of all.

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

Source: Hymns to the Living God #126

Paraphraser: Edith M. G. Reed

Edith Margaret Gellibrand Reed (1885-1933) was born in Middlesex, London, England, and educated at St. Leonard’s School in St. Andrew’s and Guildhall School of Music in London. She was an associate at the Royal College of Organists and was assistant editor of The Music Student, Music and Youth, and Panpipe. In addition, Reed wrote two Christmas plays and Story Lives of the Great Composers. She died in Herfordshire. --Presbyterian Hymnal Companion  Go to person page >


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, 1988



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 a…

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