The First Noel, and a second

For the fourth text of Christmas, this blogger gives to thee…

The First Noel is rightfully one of the most iconic Advent hymns we have today. It is a summary of the Christmas narrative collected from Luke 2 and Matthew 2. “Noel” is the English derivation of the French word for Christmas, Noël. The poem is likely an accumulation of many authors words, and first appeared in English hymnals in the nineteenth century. Its simple tune and rich overview of Jesus’ birth and our response in the final verse make it a hymn worth teaching.

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep:

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Born is the King of Israel.

They looked up and saw a star
shining in the east, beyond them far;
and to the earth it gave great light,
and so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
three Wise Men came from country far;
to seek for a king was their intent,
and to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
o’er Bethlehem it took its rest;
and there it did both stop and stay,
right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those Wise Men three,
full reverently upon the knee,
and offered there, in his presence,
their gold and myrrh and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord
sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
that hath made heaven and earth of nought,
and with his blood our life hath bought.

A simple modern version of The First Noel…

And a rich choral setting

More recently written is the brief Sing We Now of Christmas. A shorter summary of the same parts of Scripture, it was originally a French carol, first appearing in English carol books in the early twentieth century. The unusual tune makes it a neat twist on the holiday favorite.

Sing we now of Christmas, Noel, sing we here!
Hear our grateful praises to the babe so dear.

Sing we Noel, the King is born, Noel!
Sing we now of Christmas, sing we now Noel!

Angels called to shepherds, “Leave your flocks at rest,
journey forth to Bethlehem, find the child so blest.”

In Bethlehem they found him; Joseph and Mary mild,
seated by the manger, watching the holy child.

From the eastern country came the kings afar,
bearing gifts to Bethlehem, guided by a star.

Gold and myrrh they took there, gifts of greatest price;
there was never a stable so like paradise.

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