Behold that splendour: hear the shout

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General information

Behold that splendour: hear the shout is a carol text first set to music on pages 162-163 of William Knapp's New Church Melody (1st edition, [1753]), where it is headed 'A Carol, or Redemption the Wonder of Angels. 1749 [/] A 4 Voc.': the first verse of the text is underlaid, with three further verses printed after the music, on p164. The background to this and two other carols in New Church Melody is explained by Knapp on pp171-172 of the book:

The three last carols were sent me according as they bare date, by a Gentleman unknown, desiring me to Set them to Music. with the third I received the following Letter.

I take the liberty, tho' unknown, of troubling you with another Carol which I beg you will do me the Honour of Setting to Music. if this performance, as I fear it will, should prove less animated than the occasion require; your candor must ascribe it, in some measure, to an illness under which I have long labour'd, and which has greatly depres'd my Spirits; and likewise to the frequency of my attempts upon the same subject, this before you being the fifth Composition of the kind. you will see here too many Symptoms of a Sickly Muse. And yet I expect that Music which works wonders, and is known to be Sovereign in some diseases, will at least give her a more sprightly Air, if not totally relieve her. It will not be the first instance, in which Poetry has been supported, enlivend and recommended by the help of her Sister-Art. my own obligations of this sort to you I take this opportunity of very Sincerely and thankfully acknowledging. Some time or other I may possibly make so free, as to send you a few Songs in behalf of which I shall intreat the same assistance from the Art, in which you are so scknowledged a Master; Amusements of that kind, when decently entertaining, being, in my apprehension, no way dishonourable to the Cloth I wear. Please to return the new Carol assoon as possible and you will lay a double obligation on your Obedient Humble

Servant &c.

The text was subsequently set to music as 'A Carol or Redemption, the Wonder of Angels. A 4 Voci.' by Joseph Stephenson, published on pp28-29 of Church Harmony Sacred to Devotion (first edition 1757).

It was also used in America: a setting to a tune 'Lanesborough' was published without attribution in John Stickney's The Gentleman and Lady’s Musical Companion, Newburyport: 1774; and was set to a tune 'Northborough' by William Billings in The Suffolk Harmony, Boston: 1786.

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Text and translations

English.png English text

Behold that splendour: hear the shout!
Heav'n opens; angels issue out
And throng the nether sky.
What solemn tidings do they bring?
Rapt at th'approach of Israel's King,
They speak the Monarch nigh.

Why does the King approach our land?
Comes he with thunder in his hand,
The merit of our crimes?
Shepherds, be glad: he comes with peace,
Not wrath, but universal grace,
To bless ev'n distant climes.

See heav'n's great heir, a woman's son!
Behold; a manger is his throne!
Nay: see him born to die.
Yours is the guilt, but his the pain:
His are the sorrows, yours the gain:
Then let his praise be high.

Come, mighty King, the grace enhance,
A stable was thy palace once;
Dwell in these hearts of ours:
Teach us to praise the Father's love,
Till blest, transported, fired above,
We sing with nobler pow'rs.

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