Monday, January 4, 2016

Love Shall Be Our Token (Day Eleven)

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God, love to all,
Love, the universal sign.

Christina Georgina Rossetti, 1885; alt.
Tune: GARTAN (
Traditional Irish melody

For the Eleventh Day of Christmas we have another song of the Incarnation by the English poet
Christina Rossetti, which was published in her collection Time Flies, A Reading Diary (1885).
It was first used as a hymn in the Oxford Hymn Book (1908) but was probably spread most
widely by its later inclusion in the popular Songs of Praise (1925), edited by Percy Dearmer.
The last line here is actually Rossetti's original version, which she later altered, but which I
decided to restore.

The Irish melody GARTAN is often sung with this text, though there have been other tunes
and also several different anthem settings for choirs, by composers such as Harold Darke, John
Rutter, and Leo Sowerby. Research posted at the Musica Sacra forum of the Church Music
Association of America suggests that GARTAN had earlier been matched to the Latin com-
munion hymn Sancti venite in the eighteenth century.

Six Years Ago: In the lonely midnight

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