Five Christmas Songs

Here are is the second batch of spiritual songs for Christmas that we are considering as part of the Hymnal Project.  Click on the link for the status and discussion page for each one, and see what you think:

Please post your thoughts and suggestions by leaving a comment below!

The current status of the entire project can be found by going to the MCI website (  Look on the left-hand side to find The Hymnal Project, and then click on any Discuss link in the article – especially the ones in bold face, since these are the songs we are focussing on currently.

And if  you have suggestions for Christmas songs or hymns to add, now is a very good time to do so!  I hope to have a first draft of the Christmas/Theophany portion of the hymnal done by December 16.

12 thoughts on “Five Christmas Songs”

  1. Lordy I have been singing Jesus came from Heaven my whole life. I think rewriting the wording would be very appropriate.

  2. I don’t like having two separate versions of a song that uses the same refrain. I’m all for combining the 2 hymns if we can reword the problematic verse (no suggestions at the moment).

  3. Has the possibility of including a few of the commonly sung, public domain, Western Christmas Hymns to the books? Such as “Silent Night”, “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Joy to the World,” or others? Christmas is a time when families often attend the Divine Liturgy together, and including a few hymns that are familiar to those who practice in the Roman Rite might be welcoming. There are also those who have changed from the Roman Rite to the Byzantine Rite for whom these also are beloved hymns. On the other hand, I can appreciate the value of keeping the hymnal exclusively in the Byzantine Catholic tradition. Curious about others thoughts on this?

    1. Christine – the MCI books (the Chrismas Eve service and the Christmas/Theophany Hymnal) currently include the following (text only):

      Angels have heard on high
      Hark! the herald angels sing
      In came upon the midnight clear
      Joy to the World
      O come, all ye faithful
      O little town of Bethlehem
      Silent night

      and all these are listed on the status page for the MCI Hymnal Project:

      I expect these to be in the Christmas section of the final hymnal, POSSIBLY with one or two removals or additions. We may also add Slavonic and/or Hungarian texts for Silent Night (Jasna Zorja) or O come, all ye faithful.

  4. Regarding “Heaven and Earth”, it might be good to give some kind of a tempo marking, either a metronome suggestion, or some easily understandable Italian marking (English would be fine too). If this hymn is sung too fast, it just sounds silly, especially in the refrain where there is hardly enough time to take a breath. At a slower tempo, it because more reasonable. This is in the same category as adding dynamics. I realize it’s “not what we do”, but maybe it’s what we should do.

    1. Father Deacon – the Music Commission choice to omit tempi and dynamics is definitely something we can revisit, and should be. I believe that choice was made because (a) there was sometimes disagreement about how to determine the proper tempo; (b) dynamics were sometimes peculiar (at times, VERY peculiar) to how particular choirs or congregations sang them; and (c) some of the markings were things like “Religiously” or “Moderately”; it’s hard to assess such things. Shouldn’t everything in church be sung “religiously”?

    1. Edward – I don’t have plans to include it. If we did, it would have to go into its own section, “Not for use in church”, and I’d rather not take that path.

      Sure, it’s popular, but (a) the story in it is simply not true, and (b) we have a hard enough time teaching our young ones the truth about God and Christ without making them decide which stories we tell are true and which are made up. It’s the same sort of thing as the people many people have (probably from Hollywood movies) in the back of their minds that people become angels when they die.

      If Jesus, bearing our human nature, could flit up to heaven to get a blanket for Mary, then there was no need for the sacrifice of the Cross.

  5. Perhaps replace
    “Jesus came from heaven, Adam’s son through birth”
    “Unbegotten Son, Adam’s son through birth.”

    Or maybe composing a new lyric without reference to what’s being translated is a bad move?

  6. Both are possibilities, but I agree: the fix-up may not be the best thing. Consider the rest of the verse:

    Jesus came from heaven,
    Adam’s son through birth.
    Just a lowly stable
    A king’s palace on earth.

    The second couple of lines doesn’t form a coherent sentence, nor does it refer back to anything in the first couple. The chorus is exactly the same as that of “God the Lord Eternal.” So in changing the first line to “Unbegotten Son, Adam’s son through birth”, we would r eally just be creating another translation of Hospod Boh predvicnyj in order to “save” the three lines:

    Just a lowly stable
    A king’s palace on earth.

    What I would MUCH rather do is start with a literal translation of Spas nas narodilsja – all six verses -and see if we can come up with an English translation from that. One thing is for sure: the phrase “Jesus came from heaven” is not in the original.

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