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Christmas Eve

The Adoration, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen.
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few believe
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve
“Come; see the oxen kneel

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

--Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

Reader Comments (4)

This is set to the most gorgeous, contemplative music in Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Hodie." It is a baritone solo, and it gives me chills every time.

December 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLuisa Perkins

I'll have to see if I can find it--the picture is gorgeous, too! Merry Christmas, Luisa!

December 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

Just sang this with the Salt Lake Symphony. A stirring piece indeed!

December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDarrell

I'm reading these last few poems as wistfully as I'm packing away the last of the Christmas decorations. I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to Christmas.

January 3, 2009 | Unregistered Commentercharrette

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