When Christ’s Appearing Was Made Known

Thanks to Kristen S. for suggesting this great Epiphany hymn text written in the 5th century by Cael­i­us Se­dul­i­us and translated by John M Neale in the 19th century. This text is unusual in that it connects the infant narratives with Jesus’s early ministry.  There aren’t many hymns that do this and this one does it really well.  For most of us there are ‘advent and xmas’ songs and then music for the rest of the year.  If your church doesn’t celebrate epiphany per say this is a great song to use for those early Sunday’s in January when Christmas is still very much in mind.  This text directs our thoughts helpfully back to Jesus.

I asked a few friends to take a shot at retuning it and here are some rough drafts of what they came up with. enjoy!

mp3 | chord chart (Rick Jensen)

mp3 | chord chart (Kevin Garrett)

mp3 | lead-sheet (Michael Van Patter)

mp3 | lead-sheet (Bruce Benedict)

When Christ’s appearing was made known,
King Herod trembled for his throne;
But He Who offers heavenly birth
Sought not the kingdom of this earth.

The eastern sages saw from far
And followed on His guiding star;
By light their way to Light they trod,
And by their gifts confessed their God.

Within the Jordan’s sacred flood
The heavenly Lamb in meekness stood,
That He, to Whom no sin was known,
Might cleanse His people from their own.

And O what miracle divine,
When water reddened into wine!
He spake the word, and forth it flowed
In streams that nature ne’er bestowed.

All glory, Jesus, be to Thee
For this Thy glad epiphany:
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Ghost forevermore.

Cael­i­us Se­dul­i­us is one of a number of well known early Latin poets, which would include Augustine, Ambrose and Fortunatus .  A great introduction to their works is Early Christian Latin Poets.

3 thoughts on “When Christ’s Appearing Was Made Known

  1. Great stuff.

    We will be using this hymn and a slightly tweaked version of Kevin Garrett’s arrangement this Sunday at Red Mountain Church.

  2. Pingback: Happy Epiphany! « This Classical Life

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