Peace on earth, and glory to God: a happy Christmas to all!
RICHARD CRASHAW.IN THE HOLY NATIVITY OF OUR LORD GOD.A HYMN SUNG AS BY THE SHEPHERDS.THE HYMN.CHORUS.Come, we shepherds, whose blest sightHath met Love’s noon in Nature’s night;Come, lift up our loftier song,And wake the sun that lies too long.To all our world of well-stolen joyHe slept; and dreamt of no such thingWhile we found out Heaven’s fairer eye,And kissed the cradle of our King.Tell him he rises now, too lateTo show us aught worth looking at.Tell him we now can show him moreThan 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 embraced the placeWhere the noble Infant lay.The Babe looked up, and showed 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 sentThe angry North to wage his wars.The North forgot his fierce intent,And left perfumes instead of scars.By those sweet eyes’ persuasive powers,Where he meant frosts he scattered flowers.CHORUS.By those sweet eyes’ persuasive powers,Where he meant frosts he scattered flowers.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 blest the sight,We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.CHORUS.We saw Thee; and we blest the sight,We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.TITYRUS.Poor world (said I) what wilt thou doTo entertain this starry Stranger?Is this the best thou canst bestow?A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?Contend, the powers of Heaven and Earth,To fit a bed for this huge birth.CHORUS.Contend, the powers of Heaven 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 phœnix builds the phœnix’ 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 curled drops, soft and slow,Come hovering o’er the place’s head;Offering 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 Heaven itself lies here below.Well done, said I; but are you sureYour down so warm, will pass for pure?CHORUS.Well done, said I; but are you sureYour down so warm, will pass for pure?TITYRUS.No, no! your King’s not yet to seekWhere to repose His royal head;See, see how soon His new-bloom’d cheek’Twixt mother’s breasts is gone to bed.Sweet choice, said we! no way but soNot to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.CHORUS.Sweet choice, said we! no way but soNot 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 blest the sight,We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.CHORUS.We saw Thee; and we blest 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 birthLifts Earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to Earth!Welcome, though nor to gold nor silk,To more than Cæsar’s birthright is;Two sister-seas of virgin-milk,With many a rarely temper’d kissThat breathes at once both maid and mother,Warms in the one, cools in the other.[She sings Thy tears asleep, and dipsHer kisses in Thy weeping eye;She spreads the red leaves of Thy lips,That in their buds yet blushing lie:She ’gainst those mother-diamonds triesThe points of her young eagle’s eyes.]*Welcome, though not to those gay flies,Gilded i’ th’ beams of earthly kings;Slippery souls in smiling eyes:But to poor shepherds, home-spun things;Whose wealth’s their flock; whose wit, to beWell-read in their simplicity.Yet when April’s husband-showersShall bless the fruitful Maia’s bed,We’ll bring the first-born of her flowersTo kiss Thy feet, and crown Thy head.To Thee, dread Lamb! Whose love must keepThe shepherds, more than they their sheep.To Thee, meek Majesty! soft KingOf 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.
* This verse is not in the Paris edition of 1652, which is the version otherwise followed (though in modern spelling).