When Christ came down on earth of old

Representative Text

1 When Christ came down on earth of old,
He took our nature, poor and low;
He wore no form of angel mold,
But shared our weakness and our woe.

2 But when He cometh back once more,
Then shall be set the great white throne;
And earth and Heav’n shall flee before
The face of Him that sits thereon.

3 O Son of God! in glory crowned,
The Judge ordained of quick and dead;
O Son of Man! so pitying found
For all the tears Thy people shed.

4 Be with us in that awful hour,
And by Thy crown, and by Thy grave,
And by Thy love and all Thy power,
In that great day of judgment, save!

Source: The Cyber Hymnal #11527

Author: Cecil Frances Alexander

As a small girl, Cecil Frances Humphries (b. Redcross, County Wicklow, Ireland, 1818; Londonderry, Ireland, 1895) wrote poetry in her school's journal. In 1850 she married Rev. William Alexander, who later became the Anglican primate (chief bishop) of Ireland. She showed her concern for disadvantaged people by traveling many miles each day to visit the sick and the poor, providing food, warm clothes, and medical supplies. She and her sister also founded a school for the deaf. Alexander was strongly influenced by the Oxford Movement and by John Keble's Christian Year. Her first book of poetry, Verses for Seasons, was a "Christian Year" for children. She wrote hymns based on the Apostles' Creed, baptism, the Lord's Supper, the Ten Commandment… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: When Christ came down on earth of old
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Copyright: Public Domain


When Christ came down on earth of old. Cecil F. Alexander. [Advent.] Contributed to the S. P. C. K. Hymns, 1852, No. 2, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. This is altered in Kennedy, 1863, to “From heaven when Christ came down of old," and in the Westminster Abbey Hymn Book, 1883, to “When Christ from heaven came down of old." In the Lyra Anglicana, 1862, Mrs. Alexander expanded the original hymn to 8 stanzas of 4 lines, as “When Jesus came to earth of old." This is in Thring's Collection, 1882. From it "O Son of God, in glory crowned," in the Ibrox Hymnal, 1871, is taken.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)




Initially Luther used the folk melody associated with his first stanza as the tune for this hymn. Later he composed this new tune for his text. VOM HIMMEL HOCH was first published in Valentin Schumann's Geistliche Lieder in 1539. Johann S. Bach (PHH 7) used Luther's melody in three places in his wel…

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FRANK (Waterbury)



The Cyber Hymnal #11527
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The Cyber Hymnal #11527

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