Hail, harbinger of morn:
thou that art this day born,
and heraldest the Word with clarion voice!
Ye faithful ones, in him
behold the dawning dim
of the bright day, and let your hearts rejoice.
John--by that chosen name
to call him, Gabriel came
by God's appointment from his home on high:
what deeds that babe should do
to manhood when he grew,
God sent his Angel forth to testify.
There is none greater, none,
than Zechariah's son;
than this no mightier prophet hath been born:
of prophets he may claim
more than a prophet's fame;
sublimer deeds than theirs his brow adorn.
"Lo, to prepare thy way,"
did God the Father say,
"Before thy face my messenger I send,
thy coming to forerun;
as on the orient sun
doth the bright daystar morn by morn attend."
Praise therefore God most high;
praise him who came to die
for us, his Son that liveth evermore;
and to the Spirit raise,
the Comforter, like praise,
while time endureth, and when time is o'er.
St Bede (The Venerable Bede), translated by Charles Calverley
A short musical excerpt from the hymn:
Hail harbinger of morn tune Hail harbinger of morn New English Hym by Belfast Cathedral Choir
The NLM today has some interesting notes on the liturgical observance of St John's Nativity.