Meanwhile the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, and she gave birth to a son; and when her neighbours and relations heard that the Lord had shown her so great a kindness, they shared her joy. Now on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother spoke up. 'No,' she said 'he is to be called John.' They said to her, 'But no one in your family has that name', and made signs to his father to find out what he wanted him called. The father asked for a writing-tablet and wrote, 'His name is John'. And they were all astonished. At that instant his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God. All their neighbours were filled with awe and the whole affair was talked about throughout the hill country of Judaea. All those who heart of it treasured it in their hearts. 'What will this child turn out to be?' they wondered. And indeed the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:57-66)
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 that 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. Amen.
Splendid words written by The Venerable Bede, 673-735