Christ Shall We Now Begin to Praise

Tune: Christum wir sollen loben schon

Download: Printable Booklet

Alternate Tune: Simplified Melody
  1. Christ shall we now begin to praise,
    The Son of Mary, virgin maid,
    Far as the sun doth shine with mirth,
    Unto the ends of all the earth.

  2. Though blest Creator of all things,
    A humble servant’s form He brings,
    Through flesh to pay for flesh the cost,
    Lest His creation all be lost.

  3. From heav’n above God’s boundless grace
    Was poured into the mother chaste;
    A maiden bore the Pledge concealed,
    As yet to nature unrevealed.

  4. The virgin house, that tender heart,
    Was as God’s temple set apart.
    She who by none had been defiled
    Came through God’s Word to be with child.

  5. The honored mother gave Him birth
    Whom Gabriel announced to earth,
    Whom holy John leapt to display
    While yet in mother’s womb he lay.

  6. In straw He lay with humble lot;
    The manger rude chagrined Him not,
    A little milk His only fare
    Who ne’er lets birds of food despair.

  7. The heav’nly choirs thereon rejoice
    And angels praise God with their voice.
    To lowly shepherds is revealed
    The Shepherd who made all the world.

  8. Laud, honor, thanks to Thee be paid,
    O Christ, born of the virgin maid,
    Whom with the Father we adore
    And Holy Ghost forevermore.

A solis ortu cardine
Coelius Sedulius, c. 450
German Version: Christum wir sollen loben schon
Martin Luther, 1523
Tr. Christopher J. Neuendorf, 2014

German Text

Tune: Christum wir sollen loben schon

Alternate Tune: Simplified Melody
  1. Christum wir sollen loben schon,
    Der reinen Magd Marien Sohn,
    So weit die liebe Sonne leucht,
    Und an aller Welt Ende reicht.

  2. Der selig Schöpfer aller Ding
    Zog an eins Knechtes Leib gering,
    Daß er das Fleisch durchs Fleisch erwürb
    Und sein Geschöpf nicht alls verdürb.

  3. Die göttlich Gnad vom Himmel groß
    Sich in die keusche Mutter goß;
    Ein Mägdlein trug ein heimlich Pfand,
    Das der Natur war unbekannt.

  4. Das züchtig Haus des Herzens zart
    Gar bald ein Tempel Gottes ward;
    Die kein Mann rühret noch erkannt,
    Von Gottes Wort man schwanger fand.

  5. Die edle Mutter hat geborn,
    Den Gabriel verhieß zuvorn,
    Den Sanct Johanns mit Springen zeigt,
    Da er noch lag im Mutterleib.

  6. Er lag im Heu mit Armut groß,
    Die Kripplein hart ihn nicht verdroß;
    Es ward ein kleine Milch sein Speis,
    Der nie kein Vöglein hungern ließ.

  7. Des Himmels Chör sich freuen drob
    Und die Engel singen Gott Lob,
    Den armen Hirten wird vermeldt
    Der Hirt und Schöpfer aller Welt.

  8. Lob, Ehr und Dank sei dir gesagt,
    Christ, geborn von der reinen Magd,
    Mit Vater und dem Heilgen Geist,
    Von nun an bis in Ewigkeit.

A solis ortu cardine
Coelius Sedulius, c. 450
German Version: Martin Luther, 1523
Source: C.F.W. Walther’s Kirchen-Gesangbuch, 1898 printing, No. 15


Latin Text

Tune: Christum wir sollen loben schon

  1. A solis ortus cardine,
    Ad usque terræ limitem,
    Christum canamus Principem,
    Natum Maria Virgine.

  2. Beatus autor seculi
    Servile corpus induit:
    Ut carne carnem liberans,
    Non perderet, quos condidit.

  3. Castæ parentis viscera
    Cœlestis intrat gratia
    Venter puellæ bajulat
    Secreta, quæ non noverat.

  4. Domus pudici pectoris
    Templum repente fit Dei,
    Intacta, nesciens virum,
    Verbo concepit filium.

  5. Enixa est puerpera,
    Quem Gabriel prædixerat:
    Quem matris alvo gestiens
    Clausus Johannes senserat.

  6. Fœno jacere pertulit,
    Præsepe non abhorruit,
    Parvoque lacte pastus est,
    Per quem nec ales esurit.

  7. Gaudet Chorus cœlestium,
    Et angeli canunt Deo,
    Palamque fit pastoribus
    Pastor creator omnium.

  8. Summo parenti gloria,
    Natoque laus quam maxima,
    Cum sancto sit spiramine,
    Nunc et per omne seculum.

Coelius Sedulius, c. 450
Source: Johann Hermann Schein, Cantional, 1645, No. 6, p. 14r

Available Recordings

Some of the best recordings of this hymn include:

  • Lucas Osiander’s 1586 arrangement is performed as the opening track of the album Praetorius: Mass for Christmas Morning, by Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort & Players (iTunesAmazonMP3)
  • Another recording of the same arrangement, on The Carol Album: Seven Centuries of Christmas Music, by Andrew Parrott and the Taverner Consort, Choir & Players, Track 18 (iTunesAmazonMP3)
  • An arrangement by Bartholomäus Gesius, 1601, on the album Altdeutsche Weihnachtsgesänge, by Pavel Kühn and the Kühn Chamber Soloists, with Symposium Musicum (iTunesAmazon)
  • Johann Walter’s 1524 arrangement, performed by the Dresdner Kreuzchor on the album Music of the Reformation, Disc 2, Track 4 (iTunesAmazon)


Martin Luther

Martin Luther, 1483–1546, portrait by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1533

Author: Martin Luther

Christum wir sollen loben schon” first appeared in the Erfurt Enchiridion of 1524. It was Luther’s translation of a fifth-century Latin hymn by Coelius Sedulius, “A solis ortus cardine.” The tune that accompanied this hymn upon its first appearance was a simplified, syllabic version of the melismatic plainchant original, but in later hymnals published under Luther’s direction, the original melismatic version of the melody was restored and persisted. Though for centuries a chief Christmas hymn of the Lutheran tradition, “Christum wir sollen loben schon” appears in the Lutheran Service Book, 2006, No. 385, only in an abbreviated form, “From East to West,” using a translation by John Ellerton based on Sedulius rather than on Luther, with the tune “Vom Himmel hoch.” It appears in The Lutheran Hymnal, 1941, No. 104, “Now Praise We Christ, the Holy One,” together with the simplified melody from the Erfurt Enchiridion, but is missing the fourth stanza. The translation there is a slightly altered version of the 1854 translation of Richard Massie. A new translation has been prepared for the Free Lutheran Chorale-Book that is as close as possible to Luther’s word choice and phrasing, and may be freely used and reproduced for any purpose whatever.