• The Manger
  • The Infant
  • The Oxen
  • The Shepherds
  • The Star
  • The Magi

  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Chorus: SATB unaccompanied 
  • Published by: Hawes Music

The Nativity is a collection of six carols with brand-new texts by my brother.  Three of these – The Infant, The Shepherds and The Magi – which are more upbeat in nature, follow the structure of verse and chorus and intersperse themselves with the more reflective poetry of The Manger, The Oxen and The Star, thereby providing a sense of overall momentum and contrast.

The Manger, The Oxen and The Star are all relatively static elements of the nativity story, demanding a more meditative approach to tempo, atmosphere and structure whereas The Infant, The Shepherds and The Magi are each about human protagonists, full of the Holy Spirit and the wonder and excitement which accompanies new life.

As a whole, they make an effective collection for concert performance but are also designed for individual use within the context of a Christmas service.

Buy Vocal Score:

1. The Manger

Come in. Stoop down through
This low door.
Come: kneel upon this
Earthen floor.

Come in, with humble mind.
Be still.
Consider here
Our Father’s will.

For here He empties
All His life;
All power and might.

To dwell
In such an awful place:
To feel the weight
Of our disgrace.

In the pain of those
Whose birthing
Finds them far from home,

For the world to see
His love
Embracing poverty.

Come in. Stoop down through
This low door.
Come: kneel upon this
Earthen floor.

Come in. Stoop Down
Kneel and be still;
Consider here
Our Father’s will.

2. The Infant

This Infant is enthroned in straw,
His palace is this stable floor;
His head is crowned in lantern light,
This outhouse is his heart’s delight.

   The heavenly dance has now begun!
   This Infant makes all sorrow song!

Rejoice! The Infant now he shares
The cold dark night that all shall bare;
Dance with the angels, keep in step,
This Infant’s love removes regret.  Refrain

So long expected and desired
This Infant lights a burning fire:
A fire of light and life and love,
The flames will leap to heaven above!  Refrain

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rise up and dance!
For all there is another chance
To know the hope of sweetest love
This Infant brings from God above!  Refrain

3. The Oxen

Our yoke hangs upon the stable wall,
And winter’s cold has laid our burden down.
We slumber, eat, ignored by all;
Hidden here, the world goes by in sound.

Into our haven at this darkest time,
A young girl with an old man found their way:
Upon the straw the girl in trust lay down;
The old man for the Lord’s mercy prayed.

The stillness shattered in her shouts and moans,
The night wore on, we watched, still, standing by.
The man with patient kindness nursed alone.
We were the first to hear the New Born Baby’s cry.

Tenderly on our sweet hay she laid Him,
The man hung high the lantern on our yoke.
We dare not pull the hay, afraid to wake Him;
All was still until the maiden spoke:

“Dear Oxen, with your brown and shining eyes,
So quiet, calm, so strong and yet so kind,
Before all creatures you are the first to see
The One who will bear our yoke eternally!”

4. The Shepherds

Another night upon that hill.
Nothing stirs the world is still.
Shepherds a tedious vigil keep:
Somnolent men guard sleeping sheep.

   Gloria! Gloria!
   Veritas de terra orta est.*

Light splits the sky and opens wide
The hidden mystery beyond all sight.
The shepherds shocked and tearful shake,
The fearful flock about them wake. Refrain

Descending from eternal heights
A choir bedecked in golden light
Surround the flock, the men, the hill.
Heaven lies open.Time stands still. Refrain

Out of silence song is born:
‘Wake up! Wake up! A day is dawned!
Glory to God, Father of Light!
The Prince of Peace is born this night!’ Refrain

‘Stand up! Stand up! Make your way!
This is the dawn of endless day!
God’s Son true Light from Light is born
Soon death’s darkness shall be torn!’ Refrain

Down in the town below the hill
Nothing stirs the world is still;
Joseph his loving vigil keeps
Mother and the child are sound asleep. Refrain

* Epistle of James 1:17 ‘Truth shall flourish out of the earth’

5. The Star

Did the starlight find thee?
Did deep dark surround thee?
Babe now hid from my sight,
Come, shine thy purest light.
Light of Life; Hope thou art.
Revealèd by The Star.

Thou Morning Star of life,
Come be my way and life.
When the dark shades my days
Will your truth light my way?
By This Star we find thee;
With thy Love surround me.

Not that distant star thou art
Held close to Her warm heart.
Deep within starlight shines:
Love to heal, wounds to bind.
God from God, Light from Light
New born on Christmas Night.

6. The Magi

O joy at that discovery!
A new star rising westerly!
All our wakeful watching
Had answered our hearts’ longing!

   Veni Redemptor gencium!

The heart and mind imagining
All now that is beginning:
The thrill of that long journey,
Encountering such mystery. Refrain

Each night in faith we journey,
Moonlight and stars for company;
Sounds of silence soothe us,
The star compels and pulls us. Refrain

And day by day we’re closer,
In hope still near and nearer;
Our pace and hearts soon quicken
As we near Jerusalem. Refrain

With honour we are welcomed
And for directions beckoned;
Dreadful dreams forewarn us,
Betrayal goes before us. Refrain

The end was unexpected,
The place poor and neglected.
There was a child, as promised,
A presence pure and hallowed. Refrain

Now homeward bound and praising,
Our hearts and voices raising
To God who in His kindness
Revealed to us His purpose. Refrain

Words: Andrew Hawes (1954 –   )