Exercise for the Degree of Bachelor of Music

[Printed extract glued into the diary]

Exercise for the Degree of Bachelor of Music, composed by Edwin George Monk, Fellow and Precentor of St Peter’s College, Radley.

To be performed in the Hall of Exeter Coll.
On Saturday, December 2nd, 1848, at 2 o’clock.

Chorus. It was the Winter wild,
While the Heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe of Him,
Had doff’d her gaudy trim,
With her Great Master so to sympathize.
Recit. Bass. No war or battle’s sound,
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high hung up;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their Sovereign Lord was by.
Chorus But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kiss’d:
Whispering new joys to the wild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
Recit. Treble. The Shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sat in a rustic row:
Air. Treble When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortal fingers strook,
Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
Chorus The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Quartet Yea Truth, and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orb’d in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And Heaven as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
Chorus Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let our silver chime,
Move in melodious time;
And, with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full concert to the angelic symphony.

The words are abridged from John Milton’s Hymn on the morning of Christ’s Nativity. Monk has altered several verses, by removing Milton’s darker final couplets, and abridging some of the verse on Truth, justice and mercy. The final verse, ‘Ring out, ye crystal spheres’ has been moved from an earlier position in the entire poem. The most notable omissions are all references to Mary – (an ironic change given that they were originally written by Milton the Puritan and have now been removed by Monk the Tractarian), to Satan and the fall of the angels before Creation, which Milton links to the song of the angels to the shepherds, and the fate of the gods of the classical world.