1. The day the Christ-child’s tender eyes
Unveiled their beauty on the earth,
God lit a new star in the skies
To flash the message of His birth;
And wise men read the glowing sign,
And came to greet the Child divine.
2. Low kneeling in the stable’s gloom,
Their precious treasures they unrolled;
The place was rich with sweet perfume;
Upon the floor lay gifts of gold.
And thus adoring they did bring
To Christ the earliest offering.
3. I think no nimbus wreathed the head
Of the young King so rudely throned;
The quilt of hay beneath Him spread
The sleepy kine beside Him owned;
And here and there in the torn thatch
The sky thrust in a starry patch.
4. Oh, when was new-born monarch shrined
Within such canopy as this?
The birds have cradles feather lined;
And for their new babes princesses
Have sheets of lace without a flaw,
His pillow was a wisp of straw!
5. He chose this way, it may have been,
That those poor mothers, everywhere,
Whose babies in the world’s great inn
Find scanty cradle-room and fare,
As did the Babe of Bethlehem,
May find somewhat to comfort them.
Dmitri Stephanovich Bortnianski (b. Gloukoff, Ukraine, 1751; d. St. Petersburg, Russia, 1825) was a Russian composer of church music, operas, and instrumental music. His tune ST. PETERSBURG (also known as RUSSIAN HYMN) was first published in J. H. Tscherlitzky's Choralbuch (1825).
The tune is suppo…