December 25, 2014

Poem: The Nativity of Christ

15th Century Painting by Petrus Christus - Wikipedia

The Nativity of Christ is a poem by the Jesuit Priest, Fr. Robert Southwell (1561-1595). Because of his efforts as a missionary loyal to the Holy See in post-Reformation England; he was tried, convicted, and hanged for high treason. In 1970, he was canonized by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and WalesThe Nativity of Christ is included in the Poems for Advent and Christmas Appendix of the Divine Office (1974).

Setting by Christopher M. Wicks


Behold the father is his daughter's son,
The bird that built the nest is hatch'd 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 alter'd 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 press'd,
As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!

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