A hymn of the Incarnation

by Richard on December 26, 2004

This hymn is probably Charles Wesley’s boldest statement of the Incarnation and, for my money, his best “unsung” Christmas carol. (Can anyone explain to me how pious tripe like Once in Royal can achieve greater popularity than a great hymn like this?)

GLORY be to God on high,
And peace on earth descend!
God comes down, he bows the sky,
And shows himself our friend:
God the invisible appears!
God, the blest, the great I AM,
Sojourns in this vale of tears,
And Jesus is his name.

Him the angels all adored,
Their Maker and their King.
Tidings of their humbled Lord
They now to mortals bring.
Emptied of his majesty,
Of his dazzling glories shorn,
Being’s source begins to be,
And God himself is born!

See the eternal Son of God
A mortal Son of man;
Dwelling in an earthly clod,
Whom heaven cannot contain!
Stand amazed, ye heavens, at this!
See the Lord of earth and skies;
Humbled to the dust he is,
And in a manger lies.

We, the sons of men, rejoice,
The Prince of peace proclaim;
With heaven’s host lift up our voice,
And shout Immanuel’s name:
Knees and hearts to him we bow;
Of our flesh and of our bone,
Jesus is our brother now,
And God is all our own.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }


Ian McKenzie 12.26.04 at 10:28 pm

I’ve always thought of OIRDC as a children’s carol and the sentiment appropriate to a child. Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I sang that carol. I do like these words you’ve posted, though they are unfamiliar to me. Blessings


Dale 12.11.09 at 9:50 pm

Dwelling in an earthly clod,
Whom heaven cannot contain! Only Mr. Wesley, filled with the Spirit of God would pen these words. You are right my friend, I agree that this was Mr. Wesley’s boldest statement on the Incarnation. Awesome!


Peggy Bell 12.07.11 at 11:47 pm

Richard, I read your blog on A Hymn of the Incarnation. I have been trying to find the music score for it or the hymn melody. I have been unsuccessful. Even my old Methodist Hymnal didn’t have it. Could you please tell me what melody this Hymn is set to. Thank yo ever so much.
Peggy Bell
Staunton, VA


Richard 12.08.11 at 6:47 am

In the 1930’s ‘Methodist Hymn Book’ it was set to ‘Hatfield’. ‘Hymns & Psalms’ has it to ‘Amsterdam’, which I think is a very fine tune. It’s in the metre 76767776.

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