Entries in Advent (27)

Tuesday
Dec162008

Nativity

The Birth of Jesus, Chinese Bible Painting, 19th Century

A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast,
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the Kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)

The Christ-child stood at Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him
And all the stars looked down.


--G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Monday
Dec152008

Lullaby

Virgin and Child, Stefano da Verona (1375-1438)

The Holy Night

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem;
The dumb kine from their fodder turning them,
Softened their horn'd faces,
To almost human gazes
Toward the newly Born:
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks
Brought visionary looks,
As yet in their astonished hearing rung
The strange sweet angel-tongue:
The magi of the East, in sandals worn,
Knelt reverent, sweeping round,
With long pale beards, their gifts upon the ground,
The incense, myrrh, and gold
These baby hands were impotent to hold:
So let all earthlies and celestials wait
Upon thy royal state.
Sleep, sleep, my kingly One!


--Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

Sunday
Dec142008

The Shepherds Worship

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Christmas

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?
My God, no hymn for Thee?
My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds
Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.
The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace
Enriching all the place.
Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers
Outsing the daylight hours.
Then will we chide the sun for letting night
Take up his place and right:
We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should
Himself the candle hold.
I will go searching, till I find a sun
Shall stay, till we have done;
A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,
As frost-nipped suns look sadly.
Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,
And one another pay:
His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,
Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.


--George Herbert (1593-1633)

Saturday
Dec132008

Heavenly Choirs

Angels Singing and Playing Instruments, Jan Van Eyck (1395-1441)

The Heavenly Choir

What sudden blaze of song
Spreads o'er th' expanse of heaven?
In waves of light it thrills along,
Th' angelic signal given--
"Glory to God!" from yonder central fire
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry quire;

Like circles widening round
Upon a clear blue river,
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound
Is echoed on forever;
"Glory to God on high, on earth be peace,
And love toward men of love--salvation and release."

Yet stay, before thou dare
To join that festal throng;
Listen and mark what gentle air
First stirred the tide of song;
'Tis not, "the Saviour born in David's home,
To whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:"

'Tis not "the Christ the Lord:"--
With fix'd adoring look
The choir of angels caught the word,
Nor yet their silence broke;
But when they heard the sign, where Christ should be,
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony.

--John Keble (1792-1866)

Friday
Dec122008

Annunciation to the Shepherds

The Shepherds, Arnold Friberg (b. 1913)

New Prince, New Pomp

Behold a silly tender Babe,
In freezing winter night,
In homely manger trembling lies
Alas! a piteous sight.

The inns are full, no man will yield
This little Pilgrim bed;
But forced He is with silly beasts
In crib to shroud His head.

Despise Him not for lying there,
First what He is inquire;
An orient pearl is often found
In depth of dirty mire.

Weigh not His crib, His wooden dish,
Nor beasts that by Him feed;
Weigh not His mother's poor attire,
Nor Joseph's simple weed.

This stable is a prince's court,
This crib His chair of state;
The beasts are parcel of His pomp,
The wooden dish His plate.

With joy approach, O Christian Wight!
Do homage to thy King;
And highly praise this humble pomp
Which He from heaven doth bring.


--Robert Southwell (1516-1595)