The Great Forerunner of the Morn

This is a hymn about John the Baptist.  It is based on The Ven­er­a­ble Bede's  (673-735) La­tin hymn "Prae­cur­sor al­tus lum­i­nis" 

This Eng­lish-translation was made by by English Anglican priest, scholar and hymnodist John M. Neale (1818–1866) in 1854, and first published in The Hymn­al Not­ed.

With Long Meter (LM, ie tunes that it has been set to include:
  • THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE - a traditional carol from Herefordshire, harmonised by Ralph Vaughan Williams (d 1958)
  • BECCLES by C. Gall, 1625
  • WINCHESTER NEW - from Musikalisches Handbuch der geistlichen Melodien, 1690
  • ACH GOTT UND HERR (17655) from As hymnodus sacer, Leipzig, 1625
  • THIS IS THE DAY (Lungay); Fr. J. Roel Lungay, © 1996


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Choir with organ, recorded live during a church service:

Instrumental (celtic instruments, stylised) - tune THE TRUTH FROM ABOVE:

Choir and congregation with piano, trumpet and percussion - live recording in a church service:

Singer with backing track style accompaniment - tune THIS IS THE DAY (Lungay)


The great forerunner of the morn,
The herald of the Word, is born:
And faithful hearts shall never fail
With thanks and praise his light to hail.

With heavenly message Gabriel came,
That John should be that herald’s name,
And with prophetic utterance told
His actions great and manifold.

John, still unborn, yet gave aright
His witness to the coming Light;
And Christ, the Sun of all the earth,
Fulfilled that witness at His birth.

Of woman born shall never be
A greater prophet than was he,
Whose mighty deeds exalt his fame
To greater than a prophet’s name.

But why should mortal accents raise
The hymn of John the Baptist’s praise?
Of whom, or e’er his course was run,
Thus spake the Father to the Son?

“Behold, My herald, who shall go
Before Thy face Thy way to show,
And shine, as with the day-star’s gleam,
Before Thine own eternal beam.”

But why should mortal voices raise
The hymn of John the Baptist's praise,
Of whom, before his course was run,
The Father said unto the Son:

"Behold my herald who shall go
Before your face, your way to show,
And shine, as with the Day-star's gleam,
Before your own eternal beam."

All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
Whom with the Spirit we adore
Forever and forevermore.

See also

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