A Hymn for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

The Nativity of John the Baptist in Speyer, Germany
Audio: Listen to A Hymn for the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist chanted.

1. Let the example of Saint John remind us,
Ere we can meetly sing his deeds of wonder,
Hearts must be chastened,
And the bonds that bind us broken asunder!

2. Lo! a swift angel, from the skies descending,
Tells to his father what shall be his naming;
All his life’s greatness to its bitter ending
Duly proclaiming.

3. But when he doubted what the angel told him,
Came to him dumbness to confirm the story;
At John’s appearing, healed again behold him,
Chanting John’s glory!

4. Oh! what a splendour and a revelation
Came to each mother, at his joyful leaping,
Greeting his Monarch, King of ev’ry nation,
In the womb sleeping.

5. E’en in his childhood, ‘mid the desert places,
He had a refuge from the city gained,
Far from all slander and its bitter traces,
Living unstained.

6. Often had prophets in the distant ages
Sung to announce the Daystar and to name Him;
But as the Savior, last of all the sages,
John did proclaim Him.

7. Than John the Baptist, none of all Eve’s daughters
E’er bore a greater, whether high or lowly:
He was thought worthy, washing in the waters
Jesus the holy.

8. Angels in orders everlasting praise Thee,
God in Thy triune Majesty tremendous;
Hark to the prayers we, penitents, upraise Thee:
Save and defend us. Amen.


Antra deserti, Paulus Diaconus, 8th century, trans. by R.E. Roberts, alt.
*At Morning Prayer: stanzas 1-4, 8; at Vespers: stanzas 5-8.
*An excerpt from The Brotherhood Prayer Book

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