358. As with Gladness Men of Old

1 As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold,
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore your splendor see.

2 As with joyful steps they sped
to that lowly infant bed,
there to bend the knee before
Christ, whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek your mercy seat.

3 As they offered gifts most rare
at that cradle plain and bare,
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin's alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to you, our heavenly King.

4 Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way,
and when mortal things are past,
bring our ransomed lives at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds your glory hide.

5 In that glorious city bright
none shall need created light;
you its light, its joy, its crown,
you its sun which goes not down;
there forever may we sing
alleluias to our King!

Text Information
First Line: As with gladness men of old
Title: As with Gladness Men of Old
Author: William C. Dix (1860, alt.)
Meter: 77 77 77
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12; Revelation 21; Revelation 22:5; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 22; Matthew 2:12
Topic: Epiphany & Ministry of Christ; Songs for Children: Hymns
Language: English
Tune Information
Name: DIX
Composer (desc.): Sydney H. Nicholson (1944)
Adapter: William H. Monk (1861)
Composer: Conrad Kocher (1838)
Meter: 77 77 77
Key: G Major
Copyright: Descant © The Royal School of Church Music


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1-3 = Matt. 1:1-12
st. 4-5 = Rev. 21:23, Rev. 22:5

Inspired by the Epiphany gospel, Matthew 1:1-11, William C. Dix (b. Bristol, England, 1837; d. Cheddar, Somerset, England, 1898) wrote this text in 1858 while recuperating from illness. The text was first published in A. H. Ward's Hymns for Public Worship and Private Devotion (1860). The following year it was published in both Dix's Hymns of Love and Joy and Hymns Ancient and Modern.

Taking Matthew 1: 1-11 as his theme for stanzas 1-3, Dix likens the journey of the wise men who came to worship the Christ to our own Christian pilgrimage. The pattern of these stanzas is "as they … so may we." Stanzas 4 and 5 are a prayer that our journey on the "narrow way" may bring us finally to glory where Christ is the light (Rev. 21:23) and where we may perfectly sing his praise.

Most British hymn writers in the nineteenth century were clergymen, but Dix was a notable exception. Trained in the business world, he became the manager of a marine insurance company in Glasgow, Scotland. Dix published various volumes of his hymns, such as Hymns of Love and Joy (1861) and Altar Songs: Verses on the Holy Eucharist (1867). A number of his texts were first published in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861). In addition to the two printed in the Psalter Hymnal (also 406), another popular hymn by Dix is "What Child Is This."

Liturgical Use:
Epiphany; Christmas season.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

An early form of the tune DIX was composed by Conrad Kocher (b. Ditzingen, Wurttemberg, Germany, 1786; d. Stuttgart, Germany, 1872). Trained as a teacher, Kocher moved to St. Petersburg, Russia, to work as a tutor at the age of seventeen. But his love for the music of Haydn and Mozart impelled him to a career in music. He moved back to Germany in 1811, settled in Stuttgart, and remained there for most of his life. The prestigious Cotta music firm published some of his early compositions and sent him to study music in Italy, where he came under the influence of Palestrina's music. In 1821 Kocher founded the School for Sacred Song in Stuttgart, which popularized four-part singing in the churches of that region. He was organist and choir director at the Striftsckirche in Stuttgart from 1827 to 1865. Kocher wrote a treatise on church music, Die Tonkunst in der Kirche (1823), collected a large number of chorales in Zions Harfe (1855), and composed an oratorio, two operas, and some sonatas. William H. Monk (PHH 332) created the current form of DIX by revising and shortening Conrad Kocher's chorale melody for “Treuer Heiland, wir sind hir,” found in Kocher's Stimmen aus den Reiche Gottes (1838). Monk's tune was published with Dix's text in the 1861 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern, of which Monk was music editor. Dix regretted the use of this tune for his text, but the combination has proven a good match–"As with Gladness" is the most popular Epiphany hymn today.

DIX is a simple bar form tune (AAB) with a wavelike contour in each of its three lines. Sing in three long lines rather than six short ones in order to reflect the longer phrases of the text. Sing stanzas 14 in unison or in harmony. In stanza 5 add the descant from Sydney H. Nicholson's Royal School of Church Music collection Music for Boys’ Voices (1944).

Sydney H. Nicholson (b. St. Marylebone, London, England, 1875; d. Ashford, Kent, England, 1947) was an organist and church music educator who greatly influenced English hymnody. Educated at Oxford's New College, the Royal College of Music in London, and in Frankfurt, Germany, he became organist at several famous cathedrals, including Westminster Abbey (1919-1928). Nicholson founded and administered the School of English Church Music at Chislehurst in 1927; this important institution, with branches throughout the English-speaking world, was renamed the Royal School of Church Music in 1945. Located in Canterbury after World War II, its headquarters were moved to Addington Palace, Croydon, in 1954. Nicholson was music adviser for the 1916 Supplement of Hymns Ancient and Modern and prepared the way for its 1950 edition. He wrote Church Music: a Practical Handbook (1920) and Quires and Places Where They Sing (1932) and composed operettas, anthems, and hymn tunes. In 1938 he was knighted for his contributions to church music.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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