Mary Macdonald lived on the Isle of Mull, in Scotland, and wrote a poem about Christmas, in Gaelic. It was translated by L. Macbean and published in “Songs and Hymns of the Gael” in 1888. “Bunessan” is a Gaelic tune first published in that volume as a setting for the words. It is named after Macdonald’s birthplace.
Robert Ellis Key was a Christian Science teacher and practitioner and his poems and articles appeared for many years in the Christian Science periodicals.
I have married the two sets of words and re-harmonised the tune for them.
What of the Day When Jesus Was Born?
Music from “Bunessan” arranged by John F. Wilson
Words by Mary Macdonald and Robert Ellis Key
Child in the manger, infant of wonder!
Angels behold him on the throne.
Worthy our Saviour of all their praises;
Happy forever are his own.
What of day when Jesus was born?
Light in the cloud-way, gold in the dawn.
Peace to the penitent, strength to the weak,
With joy for the sorrowful, grace for the meek.
What of this day, and what of this hour?
Space for repentance, healing and power.
Infinite wisdom pointing the way,
And fruits of the faithful who trustfully pray.