Entries in Advent (27)


A New Star

The Star of Bethlehem, Lord Frederick Leighton (1830-1896)

The Hymn

But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
(If ye have power to touch our senses so)
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the bass of Heaven's deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

But see! the Virgin blest,
Hath laid her Babe to rest,
Time is our tedious song should here have ending,
Heaven's youngest teemed star,
Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord with hand-maid lamp attending:
And all about the courtly stable,
Bright-harness'd Angels sit in order serviceable.

--John Milton (1608-1674)


Some Children See Him

Madonna and Child, Madame Lo Chang, 20th century

Some Children See Him

Some children see Him lily white
the infant Jesus born this night
Some children see Him lily white
with tresses soft and fair.

Some children see Him bronzed and brown
the Lord of heav'n to earth come down
Some children see Him bronzed and brown
with dark and heavy hair.

Some children see Him almond-eyed
This Saviour whom we kneel beside
Some children see Him almond-eyed
With skin of yellow hue.

Some children see Him dark as they
Sweet Mary's Son to whom we pray
Some children see Him dark as they
And, ah! they love Him so!

The children in each different place
Will see the Baby Jesus' face
Like theirs but bright with heav'nly grace
And filled with holy light.

O lay aside each earthly thing
and with thy heart as offering
Come worship now the infant King
'tis love that's born tonight.

--Alfred Burt (1920-1954)


New Birth

Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

New Birth
(For N.)

In the snow, a Lily blooms,
Its warmth belies the frost;
It waits for one to shelter it
Regardless of the cost.
Through the mist, its fragrance swells
And softens winter's air;
Breathe it in, and learn the way
To Heaven's gardens fair.

In the gloom, a candle burns,
Though brightly, all unseen;
It lights the way to happiness
For those with eyes more keen.
Through the storm, that beacon shines
With beams of radiant gold;
Follow it, not looking back,
And haven safe behold.

In the waste, a fountain springs
Though bracken thorns conceal;
The rocky path is worth the pain
The parchèd soul to heal.
Through the drought, this river flows
Its water, living grace;
Come, drink of it, and find anew
Home's compassing embrace.

The seeds, yet deep, will bear.
And soon the hour when forth will flow'r
Their gifts, so fine and rare.

Every heart's a broken circle that longs to be complete.

--Luisa Perkins, b. 1966

The verses above are actually lyrics to a song I wrote with my friend D. Fletcher; I wrote it to mark the occasion of the adoption of a lovely little girl by two of our best friends.

Since Blogger won't allow straight audio clips, I've made a little movie with some semi-random photos. Jeff Hardy is singing, along with Jonathan Austin and another tenor whose name I don't know. D. is accompanying. I hope you enjoy it.




The Census at Bethlehem, Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569)




The day was done, and slowly in the west
Judea’s sun was sinking low to rest,
And o’er the top of Gedor cast a glow
Of deep’ning crimson. The twilight fadings grow
Far in the east, and with their waning light
Throw dark’ning shadows, heralds of the night,
O’er Bethlehem. Fair Bethlehem, set in
Mid scenes of beauty; city of the King
Of David, Juda’s pride; the sun’s last ray
Kisses thy walls with love, then fades away.

To Bethlehem this winter’s eve there come
Two travelers, who haste ere day is done
To reach the inn: and one of them, a man,
Of stately mein, with eager eyes does scan
The roadway through the town—a princely form
Tall and erect, his liquid eyes, so warm,
With tender friendship shone; and by his side
Upon a patient animal, does ride
A woman veiled, but see, her veil falls low,
Her face is clear, lit by the sunset’s glow.

Surpassing fair, by right, for it is she
Who is the mother of the Christ, to be:
‘Tis Mary, and her soul’s exceeding grace
Is greater than all else. They reach the place
Of rest, they stop, and Joseph, for ‘tis he,
Enters, but soon returns and plain to see
With disappointment weighed, ‘tis true not there
Is room for them; it seems as though nowhere
They may find rest. At last he leads the way
Out of the town, out in the twilight gray.

Sadly they wander on, the dying day
Now fading fast has almost fled away,
The Virgin fainter grows, but soon they see
A hillside cavern—here their rest shall be.
They haste, they reach the place, they enter in,
The cave is cold, ‘tis full of shadows dim.
It is a stable, for against the wall
Are straw-filled mangers, meant for cattle stall.
Here is their rest, they raise their hearts above
With grateful prayers for God’s protecting love.


--Henry S. Kirk (1895)




The Dream of St. Joseph, Georges de La Tour (1593-1652)

The Temptation of Saint Joseph

All I ask is one
Important and elegant proof
That what my Love had done
Was really at your will
And that your will is Love.
No, you must believe;
Be silent, and sit still.

--W.H. Auden (1907-1973)