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Poems for the Christmas Season

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost-how long ago!-
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are.
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house is the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Gilbert K. Chesterton, 1874-1936

Nativity Ode
Saint Cosmas
(Died 760)

The Holy Children boldly stand
Against the tyrant's fierce command:
The kindled furnace they defy-
No doom can shake their constancy;
They in the midmost flame confessed,
"God of our Fathers! Thou art blessed!"

The Shepherds keep their flocks by night;
The Heaven glows out with wondrous light;
The glory of the Lord is there,
The Angel-bands their Lord declare:
The watchers of the night confessed,
"God of our Fathers! Thou art blessed!"

The Angel ceased; and suddenly
Seraphic legions filled the sky;
"Glory to God," they cry again;
"Peace upon earth, good will to men;
Christ comes!"-And they that heard confess
"God of our Fathers! Thou art blessed!"

What said the Shepherds? "Let us turn
This new-born miracle to learn."
To Bethlehem's gate their footsteps drew;
The Mother with the Child they view;
They knelt, and worshipped and confessed,
"God of our Fathers! Thou art blessed!"

From the Greek by J.M. Nee

The Nativity of Christ
Luis De Argote y Gongora
(1561 - 1627)

Today from the Aurora's bosom
A pink has fallen - a crimson blossom -
And oh, how glorious rests the hay
On which the fallen blossom lay!

When silence gently had unfurled
Her mantle over all below.
And crowned with winter's frost and snow,
Night swayed the sceptre of the world,
Amid the gloom descending slow,
Upon the monarch's frozen bosom
A pink has fallen,-a crimson blossom.

The only flower the Virgin bore
(Aurora fair) within her breast,
She gave to earth, yet still possessed
Her virgin blossom as before;
That hay that colored drop caressed,-
Received upon its faithful bosom
That single flower,-a crimson blossom.
The manger, unto which 'twas given,
Even amid wintry snows and cold,
Within its fostering arms to fold
The blushing flower that fell from heaven,
Was as a canopy of gold,-
A downy couch,-where on its bosom
That flower had fallen,-that crimson blossom.

From the Spanish by H.W. Longfellow


Angels, from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth,
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth;
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the infant-light;
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter versions beam afar;
Seek, the great Desire of nations;
Ye has seen His natal star;
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear;
Come and worship,
Worship Christ the new-born King.

James Montgomery, 1771-1854

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