Christmas Carols – extra verses and alternate lyrics fest

Every year I always notice a few posts online that feature extra verses to familiar carols or the occasional rewrite.  Especially when it comes to the familiar stuff of xmas carols I imagine I’ve got the words all wrapped up – it’s genuinely surprising to discover verses to these familiar gems that are completely unknown.  This year I’ve collected a few of them for your post-Christmas enjoyment –


HARK! The Herald Angels Sing: From Charles Wesley’s “Hymns and Sacred Poems” published in 1739 most folks don’t know that the original first line was “Hark, how all the welkin rings.”  I also enjoy the last two verses that we seldom sing!

vs. 3 Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
vs. 4 Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Once in David’s Royal City: Written as a hymn for children by Cecil Alexander in 1848. Verses 2 and 3 seldom see the light of day.

vs. 2
And, through all His wondrous childhood,
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms He lay:
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as He.
vs. 3
For He is our childhood’s pattern;
Day by day, like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless,
Tears and smiles like us He knew;
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.
Silent Night: An additional verse that I’ve never seen before.
Silent night, holy night,
God’s dear Son brings us light,
Saving us from death’s dark thrall,
Giving life and love to all,
Christ, the Light of the world,
Christ, the Light of the world.
O Little Town of Bethlehem – here is verse 4 that seldom gets included in hymnals.  I would also highly recommend reading this complete rewrite by british hymnwriter Martin Leckebush that works to update the text for the modern world.
Where children pure and happy
Pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee,
Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching
And faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.


Come Thou Long Expected JesusCharles Wesley only penned two verses for this beloved advent carol.  In 1978 Mark Hunt wrote two additional verses that you can find in a number of modern hymnals (c) Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
Joy to those who long to see thee, Dayspring from on high, appear;
come, thou promised Rod of Jesse, of thy birth we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing news, glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to him, your praises bringing; Christ the Lord has come to earth.”
Come to earth to taste our sadness, he whose glories knew no end;
by his life he brings us gladness, our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number, born within a cattle stall;
this the everlasting wonder, Christ was born the Lord of all.
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus – here is one more additional verse by Devon Pogue.
“Come to us again, King Jesus,
make your work in us complete;
bring your kingdom in all its fullness,
take away our pain and defeat.
Stand victorious with all creation,
pain and sorrow in their grave;
every tongue and every nation
bow before the one who saves.
O Come All Ye Faithful: Additional verse by Ron Rienstra
Gently she holds him, deity enshrouded
love comes redeeming our mortal estate
sharing our dying, firstborn of our rising.
What Child is Thisan additional verse from Josh Davis of Proskuneo written for his multi-cultural worshipping community that lifts up the refugee status of Jesus.
What child is this who flees with haste
from Herod’s violent jealousy?
His Heavenly Father makes a way
in Egypt for his safety.
This, this is Christ the King
whom angels guard and sinners sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe the Son of Mary
Haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe the Son of God.
Angels from the Realms of Glorythe original hymn is 7 verses and works its way through the characters of the story. Emily Ulmer wrote a verse from the perspectives of the OT prophets.
Prophets who have ears for hearing
Mouths that speak things yet to be
Come for now the time is nearing
See what you have longed to see
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King!
O Little Town of Bethlehema thoroughly modern rewrite by british hymnwriter Martin Luckebusch. It’s under (c) so I’ll only include the first verse below but you can read the whole text here.
O West Bank town of Bethlehem,
how still thy victims lie;
the grieving weep, deprived of sleep;
militiamen roam by;
for through thy dark streets rageth
the never-ending fight:
such hopes and fears, such bitter tears
are met in thee tonight.
O Mary Did You Know? – a total rewrite of this popular Christmas song.
Mary did you know, that your ancient words
would still leap off our pages?
Mary did you know, that your spirit song
would echo through the ages?
Did you know that your holy cry
would be subversive word,
that the tyrants would be trembling
when they know your truth is heard?
Mary did you know, that your lullaby
would stir your own Child’s passion?
Mary did you know, that your song inspires
the work of liberation?
Did you know that your Jubilee
is hope within the heart
of all who dream of justice,
who yearn for it to start?
The truth will teach, the drum will sound, healing for the pain
The poor will rise, the rich will fall. Hope will live again
Mary did you know, that we hear your voice
for the healing of the nations?
Mary did you know, your unsettling cry
can help renew creation?
Do you know, that we need your faith,
the confidence of you,
May the God that you believe in,
be so true.
Lyrics by Jennifer Henry


Away in a Manger: Here is a well executed spoof by Brit David Lee for those wearied of its sentimentality.
1.  Away with the fairies theology flies:
    the little sweet Jesus gets saccharinised.
    The star and the bright lights look down from my tree,
    eclipsing the Jesus I’d rather not see.
2.  The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
    but we, not the ass, sing “no crying he makes”.
    I love my twee, rose-tinted Jesus, that’s why
    I ditch incarnation for pie in the sky.
3.  Be not near me, Jesus; I ask thee to stay
    away in your manger on my Christmas day.
    Bless all our nice tinsel and glittery stuff,
    and fit us for Christmas while you’re sleeping rough.
Copyright © David Lee, 2011

One thought on “Christmas Carols – extra verses and alternate lyrics fest

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  1. Sacred City Hymns has a new verse for “O Come All Ye Faithful”

    O Come all ye weary
    Weak and heavy laden
    Come ye o Come ye and find your rest
    Come and behold him
    He who is your Saviour

    There’s also new verses for O Come O Come Emmanuel that Paul Baloche has on his Christmas record. I also had some additional verses from a Sovereign Grace church on FL, but they’re on another computer…

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