“Babe in Bethlehem” was written as a shape-note tune by William Walker for his shape-note hymn compilation Southern Harmony.
1. Ye nations all, on you I call, come, hear this declaration.
And don’t refuse this glorious news of Jesus and salvation.
To royal Jews came first the news of Christ the great Messiah,
As was foretold by prophets old, Isaiah, Jeremiah.
2. To Abraham the promise came, and to his seed for ever,
A light to shine in Isaac’s line, by scripture we discover;
Hail, promised morn! the Savior’s born, the glorious Mediator–
God’s blessed Word made flesh and blood, assumed the human nature.
3. His parents poor in earthly store, to entertain the stranger
They found no bed to lay his head, but in the ox’s manger:
No royal things, as used by kings, were seen by those that found him,
But in the hay the stranger lay, with swaddling bands around him.
4. On the same night a glorious light to shepherds there appeared,
Bright angels said, “Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
The angels said, “Be not afraid, although we much alarm you,
We do appear good news to bear, as now we will inform you.
5. “The city’s name is Bethlehem, in which God hath appointed,
This glorious morn a Savior’s born, for him God hath anointed;
By this you’ll know, if you will go, to see this little stranger,
His lovely charms in Mary’s arms, both lying in a manger.”
6. When this was said, straightway was made a glorious sound from heaven
Each flaming tongue an anthem sung, “To men a Savior’s given,
In Jesus’ name, the glorious theme, we elevate our voices,
At Jesus’ birth be peace on earth, meanwhile all heaven rejoices.”
7. Then with delight they took their flight, and winged their way to glory,
The shepherds gazed and were amazed, to hear the pleasing story;
To Bethlehem they quickly came, the glorious news to carry,
And in the stall they found them all, Joseph, the Babe, and Mary.
8. The shepherds then returned again to their own habitation,
With joy of heart they did depart, now they have found salvation.
Glory, they cry, to God on high, who sent his Son to save us
This glorious morn the Savior’s born, his name it is Christ Jesus.