31 Days of Song, Day #21

I got to work extra hours today!  I've hardly been working at all for the last few weeks because there's just no work, but I got to work extra today!

"Who Is He In Yonder Stall?" is such a beautiful Christmas carol that I recently discovered.  Enjoy!

* For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Would you believe it?  This beautiful Christmas carol about the birth of Jesus Christ was written by the same American who composed "Up on the Housetop," arguably the first popular Christmas song emphasizing the role of Santa Claus: "Up on the housetop, click, click, click, / Down thru' the chimney with good Saint Nick."
   Benjamin Russell Hanby was born in Rushville, Ohio, in 1833, to a United Brethren minister.  As a young man, Benjamin attended Oberlin University in Westerville, Ohio.  Those were the days leading up to the Civil War, and young Benjamin became a passionate and outspoken abolitionist.  His home in Westerville became a secret stop on the famous Underground Railroad.
   According to reports, a freed slave named Joe Selby stopped at Hanby's home one day, looking for work and wanting to earn enough money to purchase the freedom of his girlfriend, Nellie Gray.  Joe fell ill, however, and died of pneumonia before he could free her, and Benjamin deeply grieved as he watched Joe die.  It was reportedly from this experience that Hanby wrote his most famous song, "Darling Nellie Gray."
   Hanby sent the song to the Oliver Ditson Company, a Boston publishing firm, but heard nothing back.  One day he learned that "Darling Nellie Gray" was a hit.  As it turned out, the executives at Oliver Ditson had filed for the song's copyright in their own names, though still listing him as the author.  When he wrote asking for his share of the profits, the company sent him a dozen copies of the sheet music along with a note saying, "We have the money and you have the fame.  That balances the account."
   Hanby went on to become a college employee, a school principal, a pastor, and a songwriter before dying in his early thirties just after the conclusion of the Civil War.  "Up on the Housetop" was published in about 1860, and "Who Is He in Yonder Stall?" was published in 1866, the year before Hanby's death.  Today his home, located a block from Otterbein College, is owned by the Ohio Historical Society and in his memory is managed by the Westerville Historical Society.

Who is He in yonder stall, at whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress, fasting in the wilderness?

'Tis the Lord!  O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord!  The King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him!  Crown Him, Lord of all!

Who is He the people bless for His words of gentleness?
Who is He to whom they bring all the sick and sorrowing?

Who is He that stands and weeps at the grave where Lazarus sleeps?
Who is He the gathering throng greet with loud triumphant song?

Lo! at midnight, who is He prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne rules through all the world along?

* excerpt taken from Then Sings My Soul Special Edition by Robert Morgan, pages 50-51

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