Though it appears in quite a few hymnals, “This Little Babe” doesn’t often appear in Christmas programs. Robert Southwell’s lyrics are wonderful, but maybe a bit too bellicose for neighborhood caroling.
This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold doth shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell He will surprise.
With tears He fights and wins the field,
His tiny breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh His warrior’s steed.
His camp is builded in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib His trench, haystalks His stakes,
Of shepherds He His army makes;
And thus, as sure His foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps the charge now sound.
My soul with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to His tents, the place of might.
Within His crib is surest ward;
This little Babe will be thy Guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heav’nly Boy!
My favorite version of this carol is Benjamin Britten’s, which you can listen to below. I found many stunning records, but I particularly like this one because A) the singers are children and B) they are British. French and Scandinavian choirs just don’t sound the same.