Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

I love this ancient hymn.  I don't know that it was written specifically as a Christmas hymn, but it sure seems to fit. . .


From the 4th-century Liturgy of St. James
(translated from Greek into English by Gerard Moultrie):

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
And in fear and trembling stand.
Ponder nothing earthly-minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood.
Lord of lords in human vesture,
In the body and the blood.
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of Heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of Hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six-winged seraph;
Cherubim with sleepless eye
Veil their faces to the Presence
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!


  1. Merry Christmas to you and yours, Craig.

  2. lovely. hope you and your family enjoyed a special christmas.

  3. Thank you, one and all. Our family's Christmas was apropriately blessed. As, I hope, all of yours were. . .

  4. That's a good one. Never heard it before. Is the music as weighty as I imagine?

    (Not that you could possibly know what I'm imagining. Duh. I'm assuming it is slightly ponderous, with a touch of regal; maybe "Pomp And Circumstance" by way of a Gregorian chant.)

  5. Suldog - I have no idea what the 4th-century hymn sounded like (nor, I think, does anyone else). But there is a hauntingly beautiful 'modern' arrangement that is fairly well-known. Here is a decent rendition of it. . .

  6. very interesting...never heard it before but i really like the words...wish i knew the tune it went to as well....

  7. Hi Brian - Thanks for stopping by! I just checked the link in my above comment to Suldog, and it works. As I said, it certainly isn't what 4th-century Christians were singing, but it is quite beautiful. . .

  8. Thanks, Craig. The tune is somewhat familiar, and it's lovely.