As With Gladness Men of Old

“As With Gladness Men of Old” was written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) as a reflection on the account of the journey of the magi to the Christ-child as told in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 2, verses 1-12, with additional allusions to the Book of Revelation, 21:23 and 22:5.

Unlike most, if not all, hymns and carols referencing the Epiphany, Dix’s poem does not specifically refer to magi or kings, but to “men of old.” Dix analogizes their journey to each Christian’s individual pilgrimage to Jesus, using in the first three stanzas the pattern “as they … so may we.” Stanza 4 is a direct petition to Jesus, asking that at the journey’s end, the Christian find rest in Him “in the heavenly country bright” (stanza 5).

Although most prominent hymn-writers of the 19th century were clergymen, Dix was a layperson and manager of a maritime insurance company. He was prolific, however, as a writer of Christian poems and hymns, publishing several volumes of his works, which also include “What Child is This?” and “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus.”

Written circa 1859, purportedly while Dix was convalescing during a long illness, “As With Gladness Men of Old” rapidly earned popularity after its publication in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861) with a melody adapted by its editor, W.H. Monk (1823-1889), from a tune by Conrad Kocher (1786-1872).

This new setting for SATB choir and organ incorporates four of Dix’s five stanzas and features a folk-like melody that rises to its peak in the penultimate line of each verse before gracefully descending to the verse’s end.

SATB/organ score (8 pages, 8.5×11″) — $2.00 USD/copy

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