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Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Representative Text

1 Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

2 King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood,
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heav'nly food.

3 Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the pow'rs of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

4 At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, alleluia,
alleluia, Lord Most High!"

Source: Trinity Psalter Hymnal #292

Paraphraser: Gerard Moultrie

Moultrie, Gerard, M.A., son of the Rev. John Moultrie, was born at Rugby Rectory, Sept. 16, 1829, and educated at Rugby and Exeter College, Oxford (B.A. 1851, M.A. 1856). Taking Holy Orders, he became Third Master and Chaplain in Shrewsbury School; Chaplain to the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry, 1855-59; curate of Brightwaltham, 1859; and of Brinfield, Berks, 1860; Chaplain of the Donative of Barrow Gurney, Bristol, 1864: Vicar of Southleigh, 1869, and Warden of St. James's College, Southleigh,1873. He died April 25, 1885. His publications include: 1) The Primer set forth at large for the use of the Faithful. In Family and Private Prayer. Edited from the Post Reformation editions, 1864. (2) Hymns and Lyrics for the Seasons and Saint… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Let all mortal flesh keep silence
Greek Title: Σιϒησάτω πδσα Σάρξ βροτЄία
Paraphraser: Gerard Moultrie (1864)
Source: Liturgy of St James
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Uses: Communion Liturgy, Communion Songs


Scripture References:
st. 1 = Hab. 2:20,Zech. 2:13
st. 2 = Rev. 19:16,Luke 22:19-20
st. 3 = Matt. 16:27
st.4 = Isa. 6:2-3

Evidence suggests that the Greek text of "Let All Mortal Flesh" may date back to the fifth century. The present text is from the Liturgy of St. James, a Syrian rite thought to have been written by St. James the Less, first Bishop of Jerusalem. It is based on a prayer chanted by the priest when the bread and wine are brought to the table of the Lord.

The text expresses awe at Christ's coming (st. 1) and the mystery of our perception of Christ in the body and blood (st. 2). With images from Isaiah 6 and Revelation 5, it portrays the glory of Christ (sung to by angels) and his victory over sin (st. 3-4). Although it has eucharistic emphasis, the text pictures the nativity of Christ in a majestic manner and in a much larger context than just his birth in Bethlehem. We are drawn into the awe and mystery with our own alleluias."

Gerard Moultrie (b. Rugby, Warnickshire, England, 1829; d. Southleigh, England, 1885) translated the text from the Greek; his English paraphrase was first published in Orby Shipley's Lyra Eucharistica (1864) and entitled "Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn." The Psalter Hymnal alters that paraphrase in part to solve Reformed sensitivities about eucharistic theology. Moultrie's great-grandfather had settled in South Carolina, but after siding with England during the American Revolution, he had moved back to Britain. Educated at Exeter College, Oxford, England, Moultrie served as a pastor and chaplain in the Church of England. In addition to writing his own hymns he prepared translations of Greek, Latin, and German hymns. He also edited several hymnals, including Hymns and Lyrics for the Seasons and Saints' Days (1867) and Cantica Sanctorum or Hymns for the Black Letter Saints' Days in the English and Scottish Calendars (1880).

Liturgical Use:
Ideal to use during Lord's Supper services at Christmastime, but may be used at any time during the Christmas season; Lord's Supper at other times of the church year (especially as a sung part of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving at the beginning of the eucharistic liturgy).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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Instances (1 - 66 of 66)

Ambassador Hymnal #163


Ancient and Modern #452

Anglican Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #424

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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #80

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Baptist Hymnal 2008 #178

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Breaking Bread (Vol. 39) #212

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Catholic Book of Worship III #596

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Celebrating Grace Hymnal #81

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Chalice Hymnal #124


Christian Worship #361

Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #427

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Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #666

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Common Praise (1998) #48

Common Praise #309


Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #381


Evangelical Lutheran Worship #490

Gather (3rd ed.) #619

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Gather Comprehensive #540

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Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #542


Glory and Praise (3rd. ed.) #730

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Glory to God #347

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Hymnal 1982 #324

Hymnal #463

Hymns Ancient and Modern, New Standard Edition #256

Hymns and Psalms #266


Hymns for a Pilgrim People #142

Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #61


Hymns of Glory, Songs of Praise #666

Hymns Old and New #295

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Hymns to the Living God #107

Journeysongs (2nd ed.) #611


Journeysongs (3rd ed.) #591

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Lift Up Your Hearts #821


Lutheran Service Book #621


Lutheran Worship #241

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Moravian Book of Worship #271

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One in Faith #550

Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #500

Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #177

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #341

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Rejoice in the Lord #188

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Renew! Songs and Hymns for Blended Worship #229

RitualSong (2nd ed.) #717

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RitualSong #658

Sing Glory #472

Singing the Faith #591


Small Church Music #230


Songs of Zion #217

The Christian Life Hymnal #82

The Covenant Hymnal #127


The Cyber Hymnal #3646

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The New Century Hymnal #345

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The New English Hymnal #295

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The Presbyterian Hymnal #5

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The United Methodist Hymnal #626

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The Worshiping Church #167


Together in Song #497

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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #193

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Trinity Psalter Hymnal #292


Voices United #473

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Worship (3rd ed.) #523

Worship (4th ed.) #620

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Worship and Rejoice #232


Worship in Song #75


生命聖詩 - Hymns of Life, 1986 #109

찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship #150

Include 85 pre-1979 instances
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