That Boy-Child of Mary

What shall we call him

Author: Tom Colvin (1967)
Published in 13 hymnals

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Representative Text

That boy-child of Mary was born in a stable,
a manger his cradle in Bethlehem.

What shall we call him, child of the manger?
What name is given in Bethlehem? Refrain

2 His name is Jesu, God ever with us,
God given for us in Bethlehem. Refrain

3 He came to save us, he came to help us,
born here among us in Bethlehem. Refrain

4 One with the Father, he is our Savior,
heaven-sent helper of Bethlehem. Refrain

5 Gladly we praise him, love and adore him,
give ourselves to him of Bethlehem. Refrain

(This is the only representative text available.)^ top

Author: Tom Colvin

Thomas Stevenson Colvin (Tom), Church of Scotland missionary in Malawi and Ghana, was born in Glasgow on 16 April 1925. He attended the Royal Technical College, Glasgow (now Strathclyde University) where he was chairman of the Student Christian Movement and from where he graduated B.Sc. in 1945. After a period with the Royal Engineers in Burma and Singapore, Colvin returned to Scotland in 1948 to become student assistant minister at Fallin Parish Church in Stirling. Later in the same year he began a three year course in divinity at Trinity College, Glasgow, was again an active member of student bodies, and held the post of president of the SCM. He spent a year after leaving Glasgow as the Travelling Secretary of the SCM, then between 1952 a… Go to person page >

Text Information


Scripture References: st. 2 = Matt. 1:21, 23 African missionary Thomas S. Colvin (b. Glasgow, Scotland, 1925) wrote this text in 1967 for use at St. Michael's Cathedral in Blantyre, Malawi. In his missionary work Colvin learned that the name given to a child often expresses hopes for the child as well as events associated with his or her birth. The significance of Christ's birth and name, expressed in this text, is patterned after that African practice. Stanza 1 asks about the identity of Jesus; stanzas 2-4 explain who Jesus is; and stanza 5 offers our praise and service to "that boy-child of Mary." The simple and direct text is for God's children of all ages. Colvin was trained as an engineer and worked in that profession in Burma and Singapore from 1945 to 1948. After studying theology at Trinity College, Glasgow University, he was ordained in the Church of Scotland in 1954. He served as missionary in Nyasaland (now Malawi) from 1954 to 1958, in Ghana from 1958 to 1964, and again in Nyasaland from 1964 to 1974. His work there included preaching, education, and community development. After completing his missionary work, Colvin became a minister in the United Reformed Church of England and served an inner-city church in London. He returned to Africa in 1984 as a development consultant to the Zimbabwe Christian Council. He is now retired in Edinburgh. Colvin's writings include Christ's Work in Free Africa (1964) and three collections of hymns, many written in collaboration with African Christians–Free to Serve (1966), Leap My Soul (1976), and Fill Us with Your Love (1983). Liturgical Use: Christmas season; church school programs and carol worship services of various kinds. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook



Colvin adapted a traditional Malawian melody for this text and named the tune for the Blantyre Synod in Malawi. BLANTRYE is in a call-and-response form; therefore, it is best to alternate between soloists or small choir and the entire group or congregation. Try having a soloist sing stanza 1, the ch…

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Worship and Rejoice #211
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