The Hands That First Held Mary's Child

Full Text

1 The hands that first held Mary's child
were hard from working wood,
from boards they sawed and planed and filed
and splinters they withstood.
This day they gripped no tool of steel,
they drove no iron nail,
but cradled from the head to heel
our Lord, newborn and frail.

2 When Joseph marveled at the size
of that small breathing frame,
and gazed upon those bright new eyes
and spoke the infant's name,
the angel's words he once had dreamed
poured down from heaven's height,
and like the host of stars that beamed
blessed earth with welcome light.

3 "This child shall be Emmanuel,
not God upon the throne,
but God with us, Emmanuel,
as close as blood and bone."
The tiny form in Joseph's palms
confirmed what he had heard,
and from his heart rose hymns and psalms
for heaven's human word.

4 The tools that Joseph laid aside
a mob would later lift
and use with anger, fear, and pride
to crucify God's gift.
Let us, O Lord, not only hold
the child who's born today,
but charged with faith may we be bold
to follow in his way.

Source: The Worshiping Church #144

Author: Thomas H. Troeger

(no biographical information available about Thomas H. Troeger.) Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: The hands that first held Mary's child
Title: The Hands That First Held Mary's Child
Author: Thomas H. Troeger (1985)
Language: English
Notes: Poem; suggested tune: KINGSFOLD
Copyright: © 1985 Oxford University Press



Thought by some scholars to date back to the Middle Ages, KINGSFOLD is a folk tune set to a variety of texts in England and Ireland. The tune was published in English Country Songs (1893), an anthology compiled by Lucy E. Broadwood and J. A. Fuller Maitland. After having heard the tune in Kingsfold,…

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