Welcome to RSCM Music Direct – the leading Church Music suppliers

Beneath a Travelling Star

More Views

Beneath a Travelling Star

Availability: More than 50 in stock!

Beneath a Travelling Star
New Edition, Revised and Enlarged
45 contemporary hymns and carols for Christmas by Timothy Dudley-Smith

Only 136 left

Sample Pages



MOST OF US at Christmastime like to sing the old favourites. Our Christmas worship would be incomplete without ‘Hark! The herald-angels sing’ or 'O come, all ye faithful’. Some of them have been sung for many centuries. ‘A great and mighty wonder’ is from an eighth-century original and ‘Unto us a boy is born’ from the fifteenth. By comparison, some, however traditional, are not in fact so very old. ‘Away in a manger’ first appeared in Philadelphia in 1885 and in Britain in 1905. We are also indebted to the United States for ‘It came upon the midnight clear’ and for ‘O little town of Bethlehem’. They both date from the middle of the nineteenth century; as does, for example, Mrs Alexander’s ‘Once in royal David’s city’, Christina Rossetti’s ‘In the bleak mid-winter’, or Edward Caswell’s ‘See, amid the winter snow’. They are, perhaps not surprisingly, firmly Victorian.

It is worth remembering that we only have these ‘old favourites’ (old enough, at any rate, to be the carols we sang as children) because Christian worshippers were willing to embrace and sing them when they were new and unfamiliar; and indeed that is how all our hymnody has come down to us. My hope therefore is that, along with our traditional favourites (along with, not instead of) some congregations may like to ‘refresh their worship’ by adding something new. It may be easier if the tune is already known, and about half these 45 texts are here set to familar hymn tunes. I would plead with leaders of worship not to spring a new item on an unsuspecting congregation, but to give them a chance to learn and sing it by way of ‘rehearsal’, perhaps a week or two beforehand or informally before the Service begins. If however there is a choir or music group to give a lead, perhaps by singing the first verse, then surely most congregations will be happy to join in. This is, I know, all rather obvious; but I write it with feeling as I remember occasions when a totally unknown hymn of mine has been included in a Service where I am, for example, the visiting preacher. It is well-intended, perhaps as a courteous recognition of my presence there – but few things are more cringe-making for a hymn writer than to have to listen to embarrassed and faltering attempts to make sense of unfamiliar words and music!

Perhaps, too, this collection could find a place on top of the piano where families make music together. In Christian homes I believe this still happens more frequently than many might suppose.

The words ‘new, revised and enlarged edition’ indicate that a similar collection of thirty of my Christmas hymns, under the same title, was published by Canterbury Press some fifteen years ago and has been long out of print. It was originally conceived thanks to the encouragement of Dr Lionel Dakers, who also acted (since I am all but totally unmusical) as Music Editor. I am fortunate indeed that William Llewellyn was willing to take over; he builds on Lionel Dakers’ work in this new edition, while adding much that is new. William Llewellyn as Music Editor has now partnered me in seven similar collections and I am glad to record here my heartfelt thanks for his skill and friendship; as I thank also Mr Tim Ruffer, Head of Publishing at the Royal School of Church Music, and those contemporary composers whose music enhances this edition. The fifteen or so additional texts in this ‘enlarged edition’ are mostly from my Christmas cards of the last few years. I write a Christmas hymn or carol every year, and over time they mount up. They serve to wish my friends, as I wish all who use this collection, a Happy Christmas, filled with timeless ‘wonder, love and praise’ for the Father who sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.

Timothy Dudley-Smith

September 2016

Ford, Salisbury

Additional Information

Additional Information

Catalogue No. 9780854022625
Publisher RSCM Press


1 A glory fills the midnight sky

2 A new song God has given

3 A song was heard at Christmas

4 A sound of singing fills the air

5 Child of Mary, newly born

6 Child of Mary, softly sleeping

7 Child of the stable’s secret birth

8 Chill of the nightfall

9 Christ is come! Let earth adore him

10 Come now with awe, earth’s ancient vigil keeping

11 Come, watch with us this Christmas night

12 Donkey plod and Mary ride

13 Forsake the courts of heaven

14 Gold for a manger bed

15 Had he not loved us

16 He comes, the Way that all may tread

17 Hear how the bells of Christmas play!

18 Here is the centre: star on distant star

19 Holy child, how still you lie

20 How faint the stable-lantern’s light

21 How silent waits the listening earth

22 Hush you, my baby

23 In our darkness light has shone

24 In the stillness, hark

25 Jesus Christ is born today

26 Light to the world, a child is born

27 Not in lordly state and splendour

28 O child of Mary, hark to her

29 O Prince of peace whose promised birth

30 Peace be yours and dreamless slumber

31 Ring out the bells! The Promised One

32 See, to us a child is born

33 Soft the evening shadows fall

34 Stars of heaven, clear and bright

35 The darkness turns to dawn

36 The hush of midnight here below

37 The King of glory comes to earth

38 The light of glory breaks

39 The shining stars unnumbered

40 Through centuries long the prophets of old

41 To this our world of time and space

42 We sing the song of Christmas

43 When night was over all the earth

44 Where do Christmas songs begin?

45 Within a crib my Saviour lay