Let all mortal flesh keep silence

Full Text

1 Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

2 King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood,
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

3 Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the shadows clear away.

4 At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
“Alleluia, alleluia,
alleluia, Lord most high!”


Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #347

Paraphraser: Gerard Moultrie

Moultrie, Gerard, M.A., son of the Rev. John Moultrie, was born at Rugby Rectory, Sept. 16, 1829, and educated at Rugby and Exeter College, Oxford (B.A. 1851, M.A. 1856). Taking Holy Orders, he became Third Master and Chaplain in Shrewsbury School; Chaplain to the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry, 1855-59; curate of Brightwaltham, 1859; and of Brinfield, Berks, 1860; Chaplain of the Donative of Barrow Gurney, Bristol, 1864: Vicar of Southleigh, 1869, and Warden of St. James's College, Southleigh,1873. He died April 25, 1885. His publications include: 1) The Primer set forth at large for the use of the Faithful. In Family and Private Prayer. Edited from the Post Reformation editions, 1864. (2) Hymns and Lyrics for the Seasons and Saint… Go to person page >

Notes

Scripture References:
st. 1 = Hab. 2:20,Zech. 2:13
st. 2 = Rev. 19:16,Luke 22:19-20
st. 3 = Matt. 16:27
st.4 = Isa. 6:2-3

Evidence suggests that the Greek text of "Let All Mortal Flesh" may date back to the fifth century. The present text is from the Liturgy of St. James, a Syrian rite thought to have been written by St. James the Less, first Bishop of Jerusalem. It is based on a prayer chanted by the priest when the bread and wine are brought to the table of the Lord.

The text expresses awe at Christ's coming (st. 1) and the mystery of our perception of Christ in the body and blood (st. 2). With images from Isaiah 6 and Revelation 5, it portrays the glory of Christ (sung to by angels) and his victory over sin (st. 3-4). Although it has eucharistic emphasis, the text pictures the nativity of Christ in a majestic manner and in a much larger context than just his birth in Bethlehem. We are drawn into the awe and mystery with our own alleluias."

Gerard Moultrie (b. Rugby, Warnickshire, England, 1829; d. Southleigh, England, 1885) translated the text from the Greek; his English paraphrase was first published in Orby Shipley's Lyra Eucharistica (1864) and entitled "Prayer of the Cherubic Hymn." The Psalter Hymnal alters that paraphrase in part to solve Reformed sensitivities about eucharistic theology. Moultrie's great-grandfather had settled in South Carolina, but after siding with England during the American Revolution, he had moved back to Britain. Educated at Exeter College, Oxford, England, Moultrie served as a pastor and chaplain in the Church of England. In addition to writing his own hymns he prepared translations of Greek, Latin, and German hymns. He also edited several hymnals, including Hymns and Lyrics for the Seasons and Saints' Days (1867) and Cantica Sanctorum or Hymns for the Black Letter Saints' Days in the English and Scottish Calendars (1880).

Liturgical Use:
Ideal to use during Lord's Supper services at Christmastime, but may be used at any time during the Christmas season; Lord's Supper at other times of the church year (especially as a sung part of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving at the beginning of the eucharistic liturgy).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Timeline

Media

Baptist Hymnal 1991 #80
The Cyber Hymnal #3646
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #341
The United Methodist Hymnal #626
Worship and Rejoice #232

Instances

Instances (35)TextImageAudioScoreFlexscore
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #80TextImageAudioScore
Baptist Hymnal 2008 #178TextImage
Celebrating Grace Hymnal #81Image
Chalice Hymnal #124Text
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #361Text
Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #427
Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #666Text
Common Praise #48Text
Complete Anglican Hymns Old & New #389
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #490Image
Gather (3rd ed.) #619Image
Gather Comprehensive #540Text
Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #542
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #347TextImageAudioFlexscore
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #324TextImage
Hymns Ancient & Modern, New Standard Edition #256
Hymns for Today's Church (2nd ed.) #61
Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #295
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #821ImageAudio
Lutheran Service Book #621Text
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #5TextImage
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #341TextImageAudioScore
Rejoice in the Lord #188Text
Renew! #229TextImage
Sing Glory: Hymns, Psalms and Songs for a New Century #472
The Christian Life Hymnal #82
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #127
The New Century Hymnal #345Image
The United Methodist Hymnal #626TextImageAudioScore
The Worshiping Church #167TextImage
Together in Song: Australian Hymn Book II #497
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #193TextImage
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #473Text
Worship and Rejoice #232TextImageAudioScore
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #75