A Hymn for Christmas Day

December 25, 2010

By John Byrom, 1692-1763–

Christians awake, salute the happy morn,
Whereon the saviour of the world was born;
Rise, to adore the mystery of love,
Which hosts of angels chanted from above:
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate, and the Virgin’s son:
Then to the watchful shepherds it was told,
Who heard the angelic herald’s voice — “Behold!
I bring good tidings of a saviour’s birth
To you, and all the nations of the earth;
This day hath God fulfilled his promised word;
This day is born a saviour, Christ, the Lord:
In David’s city, shepherds, ye shall find
The long foretold redeemer of mankind;
Wrapped up in swaddling clothes, the babe divine
Lies in a manger; this shall be your sign.”
He spoke, and straightway the celestial choir,
In hymns of joy, unknown before, conspire;
The praises of redeeming love they sung,
And heaven’s whole orb with halleluhjahs rung:
God’s highest glory was their anthem still;
Peace upon earth, and mutual good-will.
To Bethlehem straight the enlightened shepherds ran,
To see the wonder God had wrought for man;
And found, with Joseph and the blessed maid,
Her son, the saviour, in a manger laid.
Amazed, the wondrous story they procaim;
The first apostles of this infant fame:
While Mary keeps, and ponders in her heart,
The heavenly vision, which the swains impart;
They to their flocks, still praising God, return,
And their glad hearts within their bosoms burn.
Let us, like these good shepherds then, employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy:
Like Mary, let us ponder in our mind
God’s wondrous love in saving lost mankind;
Artless, and watchful, as these favoured swains,
While virgin meekness in the heart remains:
Trace we the babe, who has retrieved our loss,
From his poor manger to his bitter cross;
Treading his steps, assisted by his grace,
Till man’s first heavenly state again takes place:
Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among,
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song;
He that was born, upon this joyful day,
Around us all, his glory shall display;
Saved by his love, incessant we shall sing
Of angels, and of angel-men, the king.

On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity

December 25, 2010

By John Milton, 1608-1674–

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven’s eternal King,
Of wedded maid and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven’s high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and, here with us to be,
Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

Say, Heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the heaven, by the Sun’s team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

See how from far upon the Eastern road
The star-led Wisards haste with odours sweet!
Oh! run; prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessèd feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the Angel Quire,
From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.

This Endris Night

December 25, 2010

Anonymous, 15th century. This endris night: “The other night” or “A few nights ago”

This endris night I saw a sight,
A star as bright as day,
And ev’r among, a maiden sung,
“Lully, bye bye, lullay.”

This lovely lady sat and sang,
And to her child did say,
“My son, my brother, father dear,
Why liest thou thus in hay?”

“My sweetest bird, ’tis thus required,
Though I be king veray,
But nevertheless I will not cease
To sing ‘Bye bye, lullay.'”

The child then spake in his talking,
And to his mother did say,
“Yea, I am known as heaven-king
In crib though I be laid.

“For angels bright down on me light;
Thou knowest ’tis no nay.
And for that sight thou may delight
To sing, ‘Bye bye, lullay.'”

“Now, sweet son, since thou art a king,
Why art thou laid in stall?
Why dost not order thy bedding
In some great kinges hall?

“Methinks ’tis right that king or knight
Should lie in good array.
And then among, it were no wrong
To sing ‘Bye bye, lullay.'”

“Mary mother, I am thy Child,
Though I be laid in stall;
For lords and dukes shall worship Me,
And so shall kingès all.

“Ye shall well see that kingès three
Shall come on this twelfth day.
For this behest give Me thy breast
And sing, By by, lullay.”

“Now tell, sweet Son, I Thee do pray,
Thou art my Love and Dear—
How should I keep Thee to Thy pay,
And make Thee glad of cheer?

“For all Thy will I would fulfill—
Thou knowest well, in fay;
And for all this I will Thee kiss,
And sing, By by, lullay.”

“My dear mother, when time it be,
Take thou Me up on loft,
And set Me then upon thy knee,
And handle me full soft.

“And in thy arm thou hold Me warm,
And keep Me night and day,
And if I weep, and may not sleep,
Thou sing, By by, lullay.”

“Now sweet Son, since it is come so,
That all is at Thy will,
I pray Thee grant to me a boon,
If it be right and skill,—

“That child or man, who will or can
Be merry on my day,
To bliss Thou bring—and I shall sing,
Lullay, by by, lullay.”

Luke 2:8-14

December 25, 2010

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” (Luke 2:8-10)
      Holy Father, please help us hear and receive these glad tidings of great joy into our hearts. Help us to be messengers carrying this good news to others.

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
      Jesus, you are the Messiah, the chosen and anointed one; come and be Lord of our lives.

“And this will be the sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)
      Holy Spirit, please help us recognize and respond to the signs you give us.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:13-14)
      LORD, please help us have this same goodwill toward all we meet. Thank you.

[Note: I have thought for many years that Van Gogh captured what it must have been like on that first Christmas morning with all the angels doing Catherine Wheels in the sky. Torre]

Christmas Day: 2, 85 * 110:1-5(6-7), 132; Zech. 2:10-13; 1 John 4:7-16; John 3:31-26
      HC I: 96; Isaiah 9:2-4,6-7; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14(15-20)
      HC II: 97; Isaiah 62:6-7,10-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:(1-14)15-20
      HC III: 98; Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-12; John 1:1-14
First Sunday after Christmas: 93, 96 * 34; Isaiah 62:6-7,10-12; Heb. 2:10-18; Matthew 1:18-25
      HC: 147; Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18

Albany Intercessor

O Burning Babe

December 25, 2010

O burning babe in Bethlehem, whose faultless heart the furnace is, spread Your fire of love to Joseph, Sally, Chris, Lauren, Gaenor, Mark, Samuel, Erin, Isabella, Christy, Nick, Alan, David, John, Brian, LaTosha, Danny, Jared, Jonathan, and all those who suffer from neurologic disease and brain injury.
Burn away the thorns of rejection. May Your mercy, like a bellows, blow the coals within Your heart and send the life-charging, life-changing, life-shaping wind of the Holy Spirit into theirs. Amen.

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