From Highest Heaven, on Joyous Wing

Representative Text

1. From highest Heaven, on joyous wing,
I come to you good news to bring;
Good news I bring, a plenteous store,
Whereof my song shall tell you more.

2. For unto you, this happy morn,
Of virgin meek and pure, is born
A holy Child, a gentle Boy,
To be your bliss and chiefest joy.

3. It is the Christ, our God indeed,
The very help poor sinners need;
He will Himself your Savior be,
From sin and sorrow set you free.

4. To you the blessedness He bears,
Which God the Father’s love prepares,
That in His heavenly kingdom blest,
You may with us for ever rest.

5. So mark ye well the signs I show,
The swaddling bands, the manger low;
There shall ye find the young Child laid,
By whom the universe was made.

6. Then let us all right merry be,
And with the shepherds go and see
The gift which God to us hath given,
His own dear Son sent down from Heaven.

7. Mark thou, my heart, look well mine eyes,
What yonder in the manger lies!
What Child is that so wondrous fair?
The little Jesus lieth there.

8. Welcome, thrice welcome, noble Guest!
The sinner’s friend, the mourner’s rest;
For coming thus to grief and me,
How can I thank Thee worthily?

9. Ah! mighty Lord, who madest all,
How couldst Thou make Thyself so small,
To lie upon the coarse dry grass,
The food of humble ox and ass?

10. And were the world ten times as wide,
With gold and jewels beautified,
It would be far too small to be
A little cradle, Lord, for Thee?

11. Thy silk and velvet are coarse hay,
Thy swaddling bands the mean array,
With which e’en Thou, a King so great,
Art clad as with a robe of state.

12. And thus, perhaps, it pleaseth Thee
To make this truth quite plain to me,
That worldly honor, wealth, and might
Are mean and worthless in Thy sight.

13. Ah! Jesus, lay Thy gentle head,
And make Thyself a clean, soft bed
Here in the corner of my heart,
That I and Thou may never part.

14. So will I ever joyful be,
And sing and dance right merrily,
As mothers sing, the cradle nigh,
Their sweetest, softest lullaby.

15. Now praise we God on His high throne,
Who giveth us His only Son!
Such the good news the angels bring,
Such the new year of which they sing.

Author: Martin Luther

Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody. i. Hymn Books. 1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >

Translator (from German): Richard Massie

Massie, Richard, eldest son of the Rev. R. Massie, of Goddington, Cheshire, and Rector of Eccleston, was born at Chester, June 18, 1800, and resides at Pulford Hall, Coddington. Mr. Massie published a translation of Martin Luther’s Spiritual Songs, London, 1854. His Lyra Domestica, 1st series, London, 1860, contains translations of the 1st Series of Spitta's Psalter und Harfe. In 1864 he published vol. ii., containing translations of Spitta's 2nd Series, together with an Appendix of translations of German hymns by various authors. He also contributed many translations of German hymns to Mercer's Church Psalter & Hymn Book; to Reid's British Herald; to the Day of Rest, &c. He died Mar. 11,1887. -- John Julian, Di… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: From highest Heaven, on joyous wing
Title: From Highest Heaven, on Joyous Wing
German Title: Von Himmel hoch da komm ich her
Author: Martin Luther (1531)
Translator (from German): Richard Massie (1854)
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain



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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The Cyber Hymnal #1631
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The Cyber Hymnal #1631

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