Category : Poetry & Literature

A Poem for the Feast of the Annunciation from Andrew Hudgins

The angel has already said, Be not afraid.
He’s said, The power of the Most High
will darken you. Her eyes are downcast and half closed.
And there’s a long pause ”” a pause here of forever ””
as the angel crowds her. She backs away,
her left side pressed against the picture frame….

Read it all.

Posted in Poetry & Literature, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Scott Cairns–Anya Silver’s imaginative poems speak from nothingness into new creation

Among the many recoveries manifested in Silver’s subtle arguments, the very heart of her matter in this collection is an insistent recovery of common life. The speaker””ostensibly identified with the poet herself””admits to her own bodily sufferings, but a good many of these poems speak to and of the bodily sufferings of others. Employing classical and historical allusion as well as references to friends and family, Silver articulates in no uncertain terms an emphatic empathy that recovers for us what it means to be a person in the image of a triune God. Each of our lives partakes of every other.

I am reminded here of that very strange passage in Paul’s letter to the Colossians wherein the apostle claims to rejoice in his own sufferings, adding that he “fill[s] up in my flesh what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col. 1:24). As I have observed elsewhere, instead of “what is lacking,” a more likely translation of isterimata might be “what is yet to be done.”

Silver grapples with an array of difficult human experiences to bring back into view the absolute interconnectivity of persons, and she presents the compelling proposition that what is yet to be done is our bravely accepting the cost of bearing one another’s afflictions, of becoming one. May it be blessed.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

Wesley Hill: Cruciform Epiphany

But a closer look reveals a more complicated scene. If I may quote myself once more,

The gifts the magi present to Jesus are, at one level, what we would have expected. The gold is a fitting sign of kingship. The incense attests, however obliquely, to Jesus’ deity (incense being used in the Old Testament for the worship of Israel’s God). But the myrrh foreshadows a funeral. The myrrh casts a shadow over the other two gifts, forcing us to ask whether the kingship and deity of Jesus will somehow culminate in tragedy. Myrrh, as the jaunty Christmas carol puts it, is a “bitter perfume”; it “breathes a life of gathering gloom; / Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, / Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” Or, as T.S. Eliot’s great poem “The Journey of the Magi” has it, when the wise men crest the hills of Judea and make their way toward Bethlehem, what they see is “three trees on the low sky.”

This is the ultimate unpredictability and irregularity of Epiphany. It is a feast day, and we are celebrating the appearance of Jesus the king of the Jews to all the nations of the world. And yet it is a strange feast, a poignant one, in which we can already smell the acrid odor of a corpse. It’s important, I think, to bear this strange Christological concertina wire of reconfigured chronology in mind when we observe ”” and teach others to observe ”” the Christian calendar, so that we don’t forget where the narrative’s real center lies. The church year has the hallmark of every good story: a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the more you inhabit it, the more you realize that its end is given in its beginning: There is no Christ anywhere in the Christian year who is not already “the Lamb that was slaughtered from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and that, ultimately, is the mystery the calendar invites us to plumb.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Poetry & Literature, Soteriology, Theology

New Heaven, New War

Come to your heaven, you heavenly quires!
Earth hath the heaven of your desires;
Remove your dwelling to your God,
A stall is now His best abode;
Sith men their homage do deny,
Come, angels, all their faults supply.

His chilling cold doth heat require,
Come, seraphim, in lieu of fire;
This little ark no cover hath,
Let cherubs’ wings his body swathe;
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat,
Provide our little Toby meat.

Let Gabriel be now His groom,
That first took up His earthly room;
Let Michael stand in His defence,
Whom love hath link’d to feeble sense;
Let graces rock when He doth cry,
And angels sing this lullaby.
he same you saw in heavenly seat,
Is He that now sucks Mary’s teat;
Agnize your King a mortal wight,
His borrow’d weed lets not your sight;
Come, kiss the manger where He lies;
That is your bliss above the skies.

This little babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at His presence quake,
Though He Himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak unarmèd wise
The gates of hell He will surprise.

With tears He fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield,
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows, looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns, cold and need,
And feeble flesh His warrior’s steed.

His camp is pitchèd in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib His trench, hay-stalks His stakes,
Of shepherds He His muster makes;
And thus, as sure His foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that He hath pight;
Within His crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heavenly boy.

–Robert Southwell

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

In The Holy Nativity Of Our Lord

CHORUS

Come we shepherds whose blest sight
Hath met love’s noon in nature’s night;
Come lift we up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

To all our world of well-stol’n joy
He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
While we found out heav’n’s fairer eye,
And kiss’d the cradle of our King.
Tell him he rises now too late
To show us aught worth looking at.

Tell him we now can show him more
Than he e’er show’d to mortal sight,
Than he himself e’er saw before,
Which to be seen needs not his light.
Tell him, Tityrus, where th’ hast been;
Tell him, Thyrsis, what th’ hast seen.
TITYRUS

Gloomy night embrac’d the place
Where the Noble Infant lay;
The Babe look’d up and show’d his face,
In spite of darkness, it was day.
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
CHORUS

It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
THYRSIS

Winter chid aloud, and sent
The angry North to wage his wars;
The North forgot his fierce intent,
And left perfumes instead of scars.
By those sweet eyes’ persuasive pow’rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter’d flow’rs.
CHORUS

By those sweet eyes’ persuasive pow’rs,
Where he meant frost, he scatter’d flow’rs.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Young dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless’d the sight,
We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
TITYRUS

Poor World, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow,
A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
Contend, ye powers of heav’n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
CHORUS

Contend, ye powers of heav’n and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.
THYRSIS

Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
And let the Mighty Babe alone;
The ph{oe}nix builds the ph{oe}nix’ nest,
Love’s architecture is his own;
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
CHORUS

The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made his own bed ere he was born.
TITYRUS

I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow,
Come hovering o’er the place’s head,
Off’ring their whitest sheets of snow
To furnish the fair Infant’s bed.
Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
CHORUS

Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
THYRSIS

I saw the obsequious Seraphims
Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;
For well they now can spare their wings,
Since Heav’n itself lies here below.
Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
CHORUS

Well done, said I, but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?
TITYRUS

No no, your King’s not yet to seek
Where to repose his royal head;
See see, how soon his new-bloom’d cheek
‘Twixt’s mother’s breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
CHORUS

Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
BOTH

We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw thine eyes break from their east,
And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw thee, and we bless’d the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
CHORUS

We saw thee, and we bless’d the sight,
We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
FULL CHORUS

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.

Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
To more than C{ae}sar’s birthright is;
Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
With many a rarely temper’d kiss,
That breathes at once both maid and mother,
Warms in the one, cools in the other.

Welcome, though not to those gay flies
Gilded i’ th’ beams of earthly kings,
Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
Whose wealth’s their flock, whose wit, to be
Well read in their simplicity.

Yet when young April’s husband-show’rs
Shall bless the fruitful Maia’s bed,
We’ll bring the first-born of her flow’rs
To kiss thy feet and crown thy head.
To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepherds more than they the sheep.

To thee, meek Majesty! soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves,
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

–Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Flannery O'Connor on Christmas: Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child?

(It is very difficult to set the stage for this scene, but some background will be helpful. Rayber is one of the novel’s central characters and is strongly anti-Christian. He is looking as hard as he can for his nephew, Francis Tarwater, who has run away. This has led him to a small church service, likely a revival meeting, and he is watching what is occurring through a window. Rayber is unable to hear in one ear and in the other he wears a hearing device which sometimes vexes him. The “old man” is a reference to another key character in the novel, Mason Tarwater, whose death and desired burial form an important early part of the book. There is also a mention of Bishop who is Rayber’s son and who appears to have Down’s syndrome).

. . . A little girl hobbled into the spotlight.

Rayber cringed. Simply by the sight of her he could tell that she was not a fraud, that she was only exploited. She was eleven or twelve with a small delicate face and a head of black hair that looked too thick and heavy for a frail child to support. A cape like her mother’s was turned back over one shoulder and her skirt was short as if better to reveal the thin legs twisted from the knees. She held her arms over her head for a moment. “I want to tell you people the story of the world,” she said in a loud high child’s voice. “I want to tell you why Jesus came and what happened to Him. I want to tell you how He’ll come again. I want to tell you to be ready. Most of all,” she said, “I want to tell you to be ready so that on the last day you’ll rise in the glory of the Lord.”
Rayber’s fury encompassed the parents, the preacher, all the idiots he could not see who were sitting in front of the child, parties to her degradation. She believed it, she was locked tight in it, chained hand and foot, exactly as he had been, exactly as only a child could be. He felt the taste of his own childhood pain laid again on his tongue like a bitter wafer.

“Do you know who Jesus is?” she cried. “Jesus is the word of God and Jesus is love. The Word of God is love and do you know what love is, you people? If you don’t know what love is you won’t know Jesus when He comes. You won’t be ready. I want to tell you people the story of the world, how it never known when love come, so when love comes again, you’ll be ready.”

She moved back and forth across the stage, frowning as if she were trying to see the people through the fierce circle of light that followed her. “Listen to me, you people,” she said, “God was angry with the world because it always wanted more. It wanted as much as God had and it didn’t know what God had but it wanted it and more. It wanted God’s own breath, it wanted His very Word and God said, ‘I’ll make my Word Jesus, I’ll give them my Word for a king, I’ll give them my very breath for theirs.’

“Listen, you people,” she said and flung her arms wide, “God told the world He was going to send it a king and the world waited. The world thought, a golden fleece will do for His bed. Silver and gold and peacock tails, a thousand suns in a peacock’s tail will do for His sash. His mother will ride on a four-horned white beast and use the sunset for a cape. She’ll trail it behind her over the ground and let the world pull it to pieces, a new one every evening.”

To Rayber she was like one of those birds blinded to make it sing more sweetly. Her voice had the tone of a glass bell. His pity encompassed all exploited children–himself when he was a child, Tarwater exploited by the old man, this child exploited by parents, Bishop exploited by the very fact that he was alive.

“The world said, ‘How long, Lord, do we have to wait for this?’ And the Lord said, ‘My Word is coming, my Word is coming from the house of David, the king.'” She paused and turned her head to the side, away from the fierce light. Her dark gaze moved slowly until it rested on Rayber’s head in the window. He stared back at her. Her eyes remained on his face for a moment. A deep shock went through him. He was certain that the child had looked directly into his heart and seen his pity. He felt that some mysterious connection was established between them.

“‘My Word is coming,'” she said, turning back to face the glare, “‘my Word is coming from the house of David, the king.'”

She began again in a dirge-like tone. “Jesus came on cold straw. Jesus was warmed by the breath of an ox. ‘Who is this?’ the world said, ‘who is this blue-cold child and this woman, plain as the winter? Is this the Word of God, this blue-cold child? Is this His will, this plain winter-woman?’

“Listen you people!” she cried, “the world knew in its heart, the same as you know in your hearts and I know in my heart. The world said, ‘Love cuts like the cold wind and the will of God is plain as the winter. Where is the summer will of God? Where are the green seasons of God’s will? Where is the spring and summer of God’s will?’

“They had to flee into Egypt,” she said in a low voice and turned her head again and this time her eyes moved directly to Rayber’s face in the window and he knew they sought it. He felt himself caught up in her look, held there before the judgment seat of her eyes.

“You and I know,” she said turning again, “what the world hoped then. The world hoped old Herod would slay the right child, the world hoped old Herod wouldn’t waste those children, but he wasted them. He didn’t get the right one. Jesus grew up and raised the dead.”

Rayber felt his spirit borne aloft. But not those dead! he cried, not the innocent children, not you, not me when I was a child, not Bishop, not Frank! and he had a vision of himself moving like an avenging angel through the world, gathering up all the children that the Lord, not Herod, had slain.

“Jesus grew up and raised the dead,” she cried, “and the world shouted, ‘Leave the dead lie. The dead are dead and can stay that way. What do we want with the dead alive?’ Oh you people!” she shouted, “they nailed Him to a cross and run a spear through His side and then they said, ‘Now we can have some peace, now we can ease our minds.’ And they hadn’t but only said it when they wanted Him to come again. Their eyes were opened and they saw the glory they had killed.

“Listen world,” she cried, flinging up her arms so that the cape flew out behind her, “Jesus is coming again! The mountains are going to lie down like hounds at His feet, the stars are going to perch on His shoulder and when He calls it, the sun is going to fall like a goose for His feast. Will you know the Lord Jesus then? The mountains will know Him and bound forward, the stars will light on His head, the sun will drop down at His feet, but will you know the Lord Jesus then?”

Rayber saw himself fleeing with the child to some enclosed garden where he would teach her the truth, where he would gather all the exploited children of the world and let the sunshine flood their minds.

“If you don’t know Him now, you won’t know Him then. Listen to me, world, listen to this warning. The Holy Word is in my mouth!

“The Holy Word is in my mouth!” she cried and turned her eyes again on his face in the window. This time there was a lowering concentration in her gaze. He had drawn her attention entirely away from the congregation.

Come away with me! he silently implored, and I’ll teach you the truth, I’ll save you, beautiful child!

Her eyes still fixed on him, she cried, “I’ve seen the Lord in a tree of fire! The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean!” She was moving in his direction, the people in front of her forgotten. Rayber’s heart began to race. He felt some miraculous communication between them. The child alone in the world was meant to understand him. “Burns the whole world, man and child,” she cried, her eye on him, “none can escape.” She stopped a little distance from the end of the stage and stood silent, her whole attention directed across the small room to his face on the ledge. Her eyes were large and dark and fierce. He felt that in the space between them, their spirits had broken the bonds of age and ignorance and were mingling in some unheard of knowledge of each other. He was transfixed by the child’s silence. Suddenly she raised her arm and pointed toward his face. “Listen you people,” she shrieked, “I see a damned soul before my eyes! I see a dead man Jesus hasn’t raised. His head is in the window but his ear is deaf to the Holy Word!”

Rayber’s head, as if it had been struck by an invisible bolt, dropped from the ledge. He crouched on the ground, his furious spectacled eyes glittering behind the shrubbery. Inside she continued to shriek, “Are you deaf to the Lord’s Word? The Word of God is a burning Word to burn you clean, burns man and child, man and child the same, you people! Be saved in the Lord’s fire or perish in your own! Be saved in . . .”

He was groping fiercely about him, slapping at his coat pockets, his head, his chest, not able to find the switch that would cut off the voice. Then his hand touched the button and he snapped it. A silent dark relief enclosed him like shelter after a tormenting wind.

The Violent Bear It Away (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1960), pp.129-132 [my emphasis]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Poetry & Literature

More Poetry as 2017 begins–The Thread of Life

[1] The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me: ””
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self””chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?””
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow’s foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
[2] Thus am I mine own prison. Everything
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you ?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.

[3]Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time’s winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanative;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
He bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Poetry & Literature

Poetry for New Years Day–'To the New Year' by W S Merwin

so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Defense, National Security, Military, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

Ring out, Wild Bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

–Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

James Allen Francis' "One solitary Life" for Christmas 2016

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never owned a home. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of His divine manhood. While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying””and that was his coat. When he was dead He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

–James Allan Francis (1864”“1928) from a sermon preached on July 11, 1926 (for anyone who took the time to listen this was quoted in Jeffrey Miller’s Christmas sermon posted earlier–KSH)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Poetry & Literature

More Poetry for Christmas: T. S. Eliot – Journey Of The Magi – Alec McCowen

Listen to and ponder it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature, Theology

W.H. Auden's Christmas Oratorio

The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week —
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted — quite unsuccessfully —
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.

The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

Holy Child

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

–Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Poetry & Literature

The Nativity of Christ

Behold the father is his daughter’s son,
The bird that built the nest is hatched therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The Word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.
O dying souls, behold your living spring;
O dazzled eyes, behold your sun of grace;
Dull ears, attend what word this Word doth bring;
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace.
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs
This life, this light, this Word, this joy repairs.
Gift better than himself God doth not know;
Gift better than his God no man can see.
This gift doth here the giver given bestow;
Gift to this gift let each receiver be.
God is my gift, himself he freely gave me;
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.

Man altered was by sin from man to beast;
Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh.
Now God is flesh and lies in manger pressed
As hay, the brutest sinner to refresh.
O happy field wherein that fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew.

—-Robert Southwell (1561-1595)

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