Biblically Correct Christmas Carol Words!

I love Christmas carols (probably much more than the average person)! But I also want them to be Biblically accurate, so below are some simple changes to (hopefully!) make carols even better! I've kept any changes to a minimum and in keeping with the style of the original words.

Away in a Manger

Changes: There's nothing in the Bible about Jesus not crying, so I've changed what the little Lord Jesus did.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.
The stars in the sky looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay.

The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes an interest he takes.
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my side until morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And take us to heaven, to live with Thee there.

Words: Verses 1 & 2 Unknown, Verse 3 attributed to John Thomas McFarland.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Changes: We don't know the weather condition the shepherds faced (and changing this also means the rather iffy rhyming of 'wind' with 'mind' and 'find' is no longer there.). There's also another ox...

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's pow'r
When we were gone astray;

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

From God our heavenly Father
A blessed angel came.
And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same,
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by name:

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding,
In tempest, storm, and wind, As joy was unconfined,
And went to Bethlehem straightway
This blessed babe to find:

But when to Bethlehem they came,
Whereat this infant lay
They found him in a manger,
Where oxen livestock feed on hay;
His mother Mary kneeling,
Unto the Lord did pray:

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface:

Words: English Traditional, 18th Century.

Good Christian Men, Rejoice

Changes: The 'Ox and ass' don't make an appearance until the 7th century. So I've updated the 1st verse with more accurate words.

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Give ye heed to what we say,
Jesus Christ is born today;
Ox and ass We must all before Him bow,
And He is in the manger For He has come to save us now.
Christ is born today;
Christ is born today!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye hear of endless bliss,
Jesus Christ was born for this:
He hath opened heaven's door
And man is blessed forever more.
Christ was born for this;
Christ was born for this!

Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice;
Now ye need not fear the grave,
Jesus Christ was born to save;
Calls you one and calls you all
To gain His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save;
Christ was born to save!

Words: Heinrich Suso; translated into English by John M. Neale.

I Saw Three Ships

Changes: Where to start with this one?! Well, Bethlehem is about 50km (30 miles) from the sea and there's no big river in Bethlehem for anyone to sail up! I think we'll just have to let this carol go. It was basically a folk tune from the middle ages and might as well stay as one!

I saw three ships come sailing in,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
I saw three ship come sailing in,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And what was in those ships all three?
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
Our Saviour Christ and His lady,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And where they sailed those ships all three?
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And where they sailed those ships all three?
On Christmas Day in the morning.

All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
All they sailed in to Bethlehem,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the bells on earth shall ring,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the angels in heaven shall sing,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the angels in heaven shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And all the souls on earth shall sing,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

And let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas day on Christmas day.
And let us all rejoice again,
On Christmas Day in the morning.

Words: Traditional

In the Bleak Midwinter

Changes: This is actually my favourite carol, but I wanted it to be even better! The one definite change is in verse 2 swapping 'stable' for 'humble' as Jesus probably wasn't born in a stable. Jesus also probably wasn't born in the midwinter either. However 'In the mild late summer' or 'In the mid of Autumn' doesn't have quite the same ring to it, so we'll leave verse 2 as it is!

In the bleak midwinter,
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone.
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow;
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him,
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter
A stable humble-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air.
But His mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd,
I would bring a lamb.
If I were a wise man,
I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him -
Give my heart.

Words: Christina G. Rossetti

It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Changes: There's nothing about angels having harps in the Bible. (We also don't know that it was at midnight, but it was dark when the shepherds saw the angels, that's close enough...)

It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth, to touch their harps of gold, who sing their song so bold!
'Peace on the earth, good will to men,' from heaven's all gracious King!
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come, with peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats, o'er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains, they bend on hovering wing.
And ever o'er its Babel sounds, the blessed angels sing.

Yet with woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not the love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife, and hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet bards foretold,
When, with the ever-circling years, shall come the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song which now the angels sing.

Words: Edmund H. Sears, 1849.

Once, in Royal David's City

Changes: Jesus probably wasn't born in a stable, so all the sheds and stables have been replaced with better options. We also delete ALL of verse three as it's Victorian moralising nonsense!

Once, in royal David's city,
Stood a lowly cattle shed humble sted,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for His bed.
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child.

He came down to earth from heaven,
Who is God and Lord of all,
And His shelter was a stable so humble,
And His cradle was a stall:
With the poor and meek and lowly
Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood
He would honour and obey,
Love and watch the lowly mother
In whose gentle arms He lay.
Christian children all should be
Mild, obedient, good as He.

For He is our childhood's pattern:
Day by day like us He grew;
He was little, weak and helpless;
Tears and smiles like us He knew:
And He feeleth for our sadness,
And He shareth in our gladness.

And our eyes at last shall see Him
Through His own redeeming love;
For that child, so dear and gentle,
Is our Lord in heaven above;
And He leads His children on
To the place where He is gone.

Not in that poor lowly stable cradle,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God's right hand on high;
When like stars His children crowned,
All in white shall wait around.

Words: Cecil F. Alexander, 1848.

See, Amid the Winter's Snow

Changes: Jesus probably wasn't born in the winter and there's no mention of snow in the Bible. This means the carol really needs a new title!

See, amid the winter's snow, the heav'nly show
Born for us on earth below,
See, the Lamb of God appears,
Promised from eternal years.

Hail, thou ever-blessed morn!
Hail, redemption's happy dawn!
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem!

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies,
He who throned in height sublime
Sits amid the cherubim.

Say, ye holy shepherds, say,
What your joyful news today;
Wherefore have ye left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

'As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light:
Angels singing, "Peace on earth"
Told us of the Saviour's birth.'

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this!

Teach, O teach us, holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee
In Thy sweet humility.

Words: Edward Caswall

The First Noel

Changes: Jesus probably wasn't born in the winter; there's nothing about the shepherds seeing the star (although you kind of need them to for all of verses two and three to work...) and we don't know there were three wise men. So multiple little changes needed in this one!

The first noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's In the midst of the night that was so deep.

Noel, noel, noel, noel,
Born is the King of Israel!

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east, beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three Some wise men came from country far;
To seek for a King was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the north-west;
Over Bethlehem it took its rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three with glee
Full reverently upon their knee,
And offered there in His presence
Their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord,
That hath made heaven and earth of nought,
And with His blood mankind hath bought.

Words: English Traditional

We Three Kings

Changes: The Bible doesn't give a number of the Magi or say that they were Kings. Another carol which really needs a new title!

We three kings Wise Men of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar;
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star.

O Star of wonder star of night
Star with royal beauty bright
Westward leading still proceeding
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a king on Bethlehem plain.
Gold I bring, to crown him again.
King forever, ceasing never.
Over us all to reign.

Frankincense to offer have I.
Incense owns a deity nigh.
Prayer and praising, all men raising;
Worship Him, God on high.

Myrrh is mine its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, alleluia,
Earth to the heavens replies.

Words and Music: John H. Hopkins,Jr., 1857

What Child is This

Changes: The Ox and Ass are back - so they need to go! But bonus points with this carol for the shepherds 'guarding' Jesus. This fits in with the 'Migdal Eder' birth theory.

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping:
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste, to bring Him praise,
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass animals are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The babe, the Son of Mary.

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The babe, the Son of Mary.

Words: William C. Dix, 1865