Joy to the world! New Christmas hymns are here!

Of course Christmas is not confined to a particular season or date on the calendar, but this seems a particularly appropriate time to share some wonderful news.

Work is continuing as we finalize the selections for a new Christian Science Hymnal Supplement, but we couldn’t wait to share several of the Christmas selections that will be part of the new Supplement. Three Christmas hymns, with the melody line, will be printed in the Sentinels of December 9, 16, and 23. The full musical scores are available as free PDF downloads in the online Collection, Christmas Hymns!Please visit our Permissions for information on sharing materials from JSH-Online. Other hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal and its Supplements not found on JSH-Online may require permission to reproduce. . We hope that you will enjoy singing them as part of services, carol sings, and gatherings of friends and family.

We plan to share more of the new hymns occasionally in the coming months. These will be sneak previews and will give you a taste of the various genres of music that will be included in the new Supplement. If you would like to read more about the Hymnal Supplement project, please see Rosalie Dunbar’s interview with Ann White, Hymnal Supplement Coordinator, in the September 2012 Journal titled, New Hymnal Supplement: A healing resource for all.

Below, you will find hymn notes about these three new hymns as well as a list of other Christmas hymns found in our Christian Science Hymnal.

Happy singing and merry Christmas!

Christmas hymn notes

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

History: This poem first appeared in the magazine The Christian Register in 1850. It was written by a contemporary of Mary Baker Eddy, poet-pastor Edmond H. Sears, who ministered in several Unitarian churches in Massachusetts. Of all his poems, this has been the most enduring, having been sung at Christmas time for over 150 years now. It has been paired with various hymn tunes, but this setting by Richard Storrs Willis has become the beloved Christmas hymn known around the world today.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

History: When our Hymnal was published in 1932, the hymn tune “Adeste Fideles” was often used with other texts, including “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymn 123). However, in the decades since then, it has become well known and loved as the now traditional setting for this Christmas poem.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

History: The verses for this carol are a collection of several short texts that were sung during Advent services in the medieval Christian church in a responsorial fashion, with a soloist or one group singing some lines and another group responding with concluding lines. During the 19th century there was a renewed interest in translating hymns from other languages and introducing them into the English hymn repertoire. James Mason Neale’s translation from Latin was first published in England in 1851 formatting the text in the verse format we know today. Additional verses and translations have since been added. This musical arrangement respects the original chant form of the tune but combines it with the 19th century harmonization to which we have become accustomed.

Christmas hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal

And for your easy reference, we’re happy to provide a list of Christmas-related hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal:

Hymn 11, Angels at the Saviour’s Birth, by Marion Susan Campbell

Hymns 23-28, 432, 433, Christmas Morn, by Mary Baker Eddy

Hymns 158, 159, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, by Edmund H. Sears (1810-1876)

Hymn 170, Let Every Creature Hail the Morn, by John Greenleaf Whittier

Hymns 222, 223, O Little Town of Bethlehem, by Phillips Brooks

Hymn 310 Sing, Ye Joyous Children, Sing, by John Randall Dunn

Hymn 362 To Us a Child of Hope Is Born, by John Morison

Hymns 368, 369 Watchman, Tell Us of the Night, by John Bowring

Hymns 417, 164, 165 Joy to the World, by Isaac Watts

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