Text by: William C Dix 1860
Tune: Dix By Conrad Kocher 1838
- As with gladness, men of old
did the guiding star behold
as with joy they hailed its light
leading onward, beaming bright
so, most glorious Lord, may we
evermore be led to Thee.
2. As with joyful steps they sped
to that lowly manger bed
there to bend the knee before
Him whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek Thy mercy seat.
3. As they offered gifts most rare
at that manger rude and bare;
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.
4. Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and, when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds Thy glory hide.
5. In the heavenly country bright,
need they no created light;
Thou its Light, its Joy, its Crown,
Thou its Sun which goes not down;
there forever may we sing
alleluias to our King!
William Dix wrote this hymn on January 6, 1859 while he was recuperating from an extended illness. We do not know what had made him ill, but it was severe enough to keep him home and bed bound for several months. In the days before easy entertainment, where you flip on the television to while away the hours of your illness, there may have been little you could do to pass the time than to read and in the case of Mr. Dix, write. He was too ill to attend Epiphany services that day so he spent his time reading the story of the Magi in Scriptures and contemplating what it may mean. By the end of the day he penned this hymn but kept it in his private papers until the next year when it was published.
Dix continues the theme of “light” which so predominates this season. The beaming light of the star led the “men of old” to the light of Heaven. The use of light to lead God’s people harkens all the way back to the Israelites in the desert with the flame which led them at night. At the end of the second stanza we have a powerful connection which places the events of Bethlehem in context to some of the oldest parts of Scripture. Through Moses, God commanded that an ark be built to hold the 10 Commandments and to be covered with the Mercy Seat of God. It was here that the presence and will of God was made known to the people of Israel and where the propitiation of the nation’s sin was dispensed after the shedding of blood.
The Mercy Seat was made of solid gold and was atop the Ark of the Covenant and kept in the Holy of Holies in the temple. Dix contrasts the glory of the golden Mercy Seat with the manger which is really a feeding trough. And the child in the trough will be the propitiation for the entire world; the Final Sacrifice. It is this final sacrifice which will bring our ransomed souls into the light of heaven when everything has passed away.
Here are my completed Hymnals:
Presbyterian 1955 Hymnbook: http://amzn.to/2zSRdpL
Episcopal 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DEOl1H
Broadman 1940 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2C1WuwK
Lutheran 1941 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2zUmYi2
Methodist 1939 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2CfJ1Wq
Pilgrim 1935 Hymnal: http://amzn.to/2DDvbJC
Now Sings My Soul, New Songs for the Lord by: Linda Bonney Olin: http://amzn.to/2DQ6gUy
Here are my new projects:
Choice Hymns of the Faith 1945 http://amzn.to/2Dx97nA
J S Bach Riemenschneider 371 Harmonized Chorales http://amzn.to/2DSy5f9
Dictionary of Hymnology: http://amzn.to/2BxPabk