love’s noon in nature’s night

It hardly looks like Christmas should be coming soon! The weather outside is warm enough to fetch the mail without a coat and there is no snow in sight.  I usually forget about some of the beloved nativity hymns and readings until the last minute, but with a whole nine days to spare, here are some portions of my all-time favorite holiday poem. I love the imagery of Christ as the light, the eternal day, and all wonders in one sight.

From “In the Nativity of Our Lord God: As sung by Shepherds” by Richard Crashaw.

Come we shepherds, whose blest sight
Hath met love’s noon in nature’s night;
Come lift up our loftier song
And wake the sun that lies too long.

Gloomy night embraced the place
Where 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.

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 blessed the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

Poor world (said I), what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry Stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow?
A cold, and not too cleanly, manger?
Contend, ye powers of heaven and earth
To fit a bed for this huge birth.

Proud world, said I; cease your contest
And let the mighty Babe alone.
The phoenix builds the phoenix’ nest,
Love’s architecture is his own.
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.

Welcome, all Wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer to winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

To Thee meek Majesty! Soft King,
Of simple graces and sweet loves.
Each of us a lamb will bring,
Each a pair of silver doves;
‘Til burn’t at last in fire of thy fair eyes
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

Adoration of the Shepherds by Caravaggio

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