CHRISTMAS EVE

Let the door be open wide
And no blind be down at all,
For maybe she'd be walking
With the child within her shawl;
And how could we be bearing
The weight of shame and sin,
If she'd pass upon the roadway
With no light to guide her in?

Let the chair be readied now,
And the fire kept burning bright;
For sorely she'll be needing
The rest and warmth this night.
The rushes too be spreading
Upon the earthen floor,
To make it sweet and wholesome
Her blessed feet before.

Full oft I've heard the story
How once this night were known
To rest within a shieling
Three strangers meek and lone;
But dawn did yield no tidings
Of man, or maid, or child:
T'was Joseph's self was in it,
And Christ, and Mary mild.

So set the candles burning
Upon each window high,
And leave the door wide open
To guide their footsteps nigh:
Right warmly they'll be welcome
To share our hearth-fire bright-
For Mary's sake in heaven-
Who walk the wilds this night.

Liam P. Clancy
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden. New York: Macmillan, 1947.


A GAELIC CHRISTMAS

Their hearts are filled with Pity's mead,
And their souls are sorrow-laden,
When they hear of God's Handmaiden
Without housheen in her need.

Did Mary walk the bohreens green
From Shannon's shore to Galway's border,
The homes of Clare were set in order,
To shield her from the East winds keen.

My grief it is, and bitter woe,
That first to greet the Infant Treasure
Were men with love so mean of measure,
And not my kin by Shannon's flow,

Tho' Thomond heights be bleak and bare,
And Thomond folk but poor and lowly,
With a welcome warm and rapture holy
They'd share their store with the Strangers there.

If Mary went the winding road
From fair Aylroo to far Liscannor,
With matchless grace of mien and manner
Some banathee would ease her load:

She'd lilt a haunting "Husheen-ho,"
Or croon an olden Gaelic number,
To lull the Babe to smiling slumber
Before the turf-fire's fitful glow.

O, would that Mary's feet but trod,
That Christmas Eve, some Thomond valley,-
With a joy untold my kin would rally
To dower with gifts the Lamb of God.

Liam P.Clancy
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden.
New York: Macmillan, 1947.


A CHRISTMAS EVE CHORAL

Hallelujah!
What sound is this across the dark
While all the earth is sleeping? Hark!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why are thy tender eyes so bright,
Mary, Mary?
On the prophetic deep of night
Joseph, Joseph,
I see the borders of the light,
And in the day that is to be
An aureoled man-child I see,
Great love's son, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
He hears not, but she hears afar,
The Minstrel Angel of the star.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why is thy gentle smile so deep,
Mary, Mary ?
It is the secret I must keep,
Joseph, Joseph,-
The joy that will not let me sleep,
The glory of the coming days,
When all the world shall turn to praise
God's goodness, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
Clear as the bird that brings the morn
She hears the heavenly music borne.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why is thy radiant face so calm,
Mary, Mary?
His strength is like a royal palm,
Joseph, Joseph;
His beauty like the victor's psalm,
He moves like morning o'er the lands
And there is healing in his hands
For sorrow, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
Tender as dew-fall on the earth
She hears the choral of love's birth.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

What is the message come to thee,
Mary, Mary?
I hear like wind within the tree,
Joseph, Joseph,
Or like a far-off melody
His deathless voice proclaiming peace,
And bidding ruthless wrong to cease,
For love's sake, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
Moving as rain-wind in the spring
She hears the angel chorus ring.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why are thy patient hands so still,
Mary, Mary?
I see the shadow on the hill,
Joseph, Joseph,
And wonder if it is God's will
That courage, service, and glad youth
Shall perish in the cause of truth
Forever, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
Her heart in that celestial chime
Has heard the harmony of time.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Why is thy voice so strange and far,
Mary, Mary?
I see the glory of the star,
Joseph, Joseph,
And in its light all things that are
Made glad and wise beyond the sway
Of death and darkness and dismay,
In God's time, Joseph.

Hallelujah!
To every heart in love tis given
To hear the ecstasy of heaven.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Bliss Carman
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden. New York: Macmillan, 1947.


FIVE CAROLS FOR CHRISTMASTIDE

The Ox he openeth wide the Doore,
And from the Snowe he calls her inne,
And he hath seen her Smile therefor,
our Ladye without Sinne.
Now soone from Sleep
A Starre shall leap,
And soone arrive both King and Hinde:
Amen, Amen:
But O, the Place co'd I but finde!

The Ox hath hush'd his voyce and bent
Trewe eyes of Pitty ore the Mow,
And on his lovelie Neck, forspent,
The Blessed layes her Browe.
Around her feet
Full Warme and Sweete
His bowerie breath doth meeklie dwell:
Amen, Amen:
But sore I am with Vaine Travel!

The Ox is host in Judah stall
And host of more than onelie one,
For close she gathereth withal
Our Lorde her littel Sonne.
Glad Hinde and King
Their Gyfte may bring,
But wo'd to-night my Teares were there,
Amen, Amen:
Between her Bosom and His hayre!

II
Vines branching stilly
Shade the open door,
In the house of Zion's Lily,
Cleanly and poor.
Oh, brighter than wild laurel
The Babe bounds in her hand,
The King, who for apparel
Hath but a swaddling-band,
And sees her heavenlier smiling than stars in His command!

Soon, mystic changes
Part Him from her breast,
Yet there awhile He ranges
Gardens of rest:
Yea, she the first to ponder
Our ransom and recall,
Awhile may rock Him under
Her young curls' fall,
Against that only sinless love-loyal heart of all.

What shall inure Him
Unto the deadly dream,
When the Tetrarch shall abjure Him,
The thief blaspheme,
And scribe and soldier jostle
About the shameful tree,
And even an Apostle
Demand to touch and see?-
But she hath kissed her Flower where the
Wounds are to be.

III
Three without slumber ride from afar,
Fain of the roads where palaces are;
All by a shed as they ride in a row,
"Here!" is the cry of their vanishing Star.

First doth a greybeard, glittering fine,
Look on Messiah in slant moonshine:
"This have I sought for Thee!" Though it be rare,
Loathe little fingers are letting it fall.

Last doth a stripling, bare in his pride,
Kneel by the Lover as if to abide:
"This have I wrought for Thee!" Answer him there
Laugh of a Child, and His arms opened wide.

IV
Was a Soule from farre away
Stood wistful in the Hay,
And of the Babe a-sleeping hadde a sight:
Neither reck'd hee any more
Men behind him and before,
Nor a thousand busie Winges, flitting light:
But in middle of the night
This few-worded wight
(Yule! Yule!)
Bespake Our Lady bright:

"Fill mee, ere my corage faints,
With the lore of all the Saints:
Harte to harte against my Brother let mee be.
By the Fountaines that are His
I wo'd slumber where Hee is:
Prithee, Mother, give the other Brest to mee!"
The Soule that none co'd see
She hath taken on her knee:
(Yule! Yule!)
Sing praises to Our Ladye.

V
The Ox and the Ass,
Tell aloud of them:
Sing their pleasure as it was
In Bethlehem.

Still, as blowing rose, sudden as a sword,
Maidenly the Maiden bare Jesu Christ the Lord;
Yet for very lowlihood, such as a Guest to greet,
Goeth in a little swoon while kissing of His feet.

Mary, drifted snow on the earthen floor,
Joseph, fallen wondrous weak now he would adore,-
(Oh, the surging might of love! Oh, the drowning bliss!)
Both are rapt to Heaven and lose their human Heaven that is.

From the Newly Born trails a lonely cry.
With a mind to heed, the Ox turns a glowing eye;
In the empty byre the Ass thinks her heart to blame:
Up for comforting of God the beasts of burden came,

Softly to inquire, thrusting as for cheer
There between the tender hands, furry faces dear.
Blessing on the nonest coats! tawny coat and grey
Friended Our Delight so well when warmth had strayed away.

Crooks are on the still; sceptres sail the wave;
All the hopes of all the years are thronging to the Cave.
Mother slept not long, nor long Father's sense was dim,
But another twain the while stood parent-wise to Him.

The Ox and the Ass,
Be you glad for them
Such a moment came to pass
In Bethlehem!

Louise Imogen Guiney
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden. New York: Macmillan, 1947.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Lacking samite and sable,
Lacking silver and gold,
The Prince Jesus in the poor stable
Slept, and was three hours old.

As doves by the fair water,
Mary, not touched of sin,
Sat by Him,- the King's daughter,
All glorious within.

A lily without one stain, a
Star where no spot hath room-
Ave, gratia plena,
Virgo Virginum.

Clad not in pearl-sewn vesture,
Clad not in cramoisie,
She hath hushed, she hath cradled to rest, her
God the first time on her knee.

Where is one to adore Him?
The ox hath dumbly confessed,
With the ass, meek kneeling before Him,
Et homo factus est.

Not throned on ivory or cedar,
Not crowned with a Queen's crown,
At her breast it is Mary shall feed her
Maker, from Heaven come down.

The trees in Paradise blossom
Sudden, and its bells chime-
She giveth Him, held to her bosom,
Her immaculate milk the first time.

The night with wings of angels
Was alight, and its snow-packed ways
Sweet made (say the Evangels)
With the noise of their virelays.

Quem vidistis, pastores?
Why go ye feet unshod?
Wot ye within yon door is
Mary, the Mother of God?

No smoke of spice ascending
There - no roses are piled -
But, choicer than all balms blending,
There Mary hath kissed her Child.

May Probyn
Thérèse, M. I Sing of a Maiden. New York: Macmillan Company, 1947.


THE CHRISTMAS SILENCE

Here in the cloister they who seek discover
A wandered fragment of the Christmas silence
That hid itself from the disquieted earth:
The silence of the Virgin bending over
The little Uncreated Innocence
Upon the bed of a most hidden birth,
The silence that was Joseph's sacrament
Through years that were a threshold to this hour
And which was seed and stem to the white flower
That blossomed on his rod,
The speechlessness of the unlettered shepherds
Who stood amazed before the Lamb of God.
The angels sang at Christmas, but their music
Was like a stillness to the inner ear,
And soft as petals from a shaken bough.

They who go walking in the Christmas silence
Through any season of the changing year
Come to a Man with peace upon his brow
And see the Mother and the Infant near.
This house, as once the Saint of Alcantara
Said of Teresa's, is the little hospice
Of Bethlehem.
Cloister or cave- its solitudes shall be
The dwelling of a human trinity
And they who enter learn a wordless language
And the Divine Untold addresses them.

Jessica Powers
Fremantle, Anne. Christmas is Here: A Catholic Selection of Stories and Poems. New York: Stephen Daye Press, 1955.


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