The Nativity of the Christ
by Robert Southwell, Jesuit poet (1561-1595)
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 does not know;
Gift better than his God no man can see.
This gift 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 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 brutish sinner to refresh.
O happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew.
(And thanks to Erin Adler for this amazing poem-it'll go in the poetry reader that accompanies the Christmas play at church.)