« PreviousContinue »
From below the light-blue line
Of the hills in distance fine.
Dear for your own sake, whence are ye?
Dearer for the mystery
That is round you—on what skies
Gazing, saw you first arise
Thro' the darkness that clear star
Which has marshalld you so far,
Even unto this strawy tent,
Dancing up the Orient ?
Shall we name you kings indeed,
Or is this our idle creed?
Kings of Seba, with the gold
And the incense long foretold ?
Would the Gentile world by you
First-fruits pay of tribute due ;
Or have Israel's scatter'd race,
From their unknown hiding-place,
Sent to claim their part and right
In the Child new-born to-night?
But although we may not guess
Of your lineage, not the less
We the self-same gifts would bring
For a spiritual offering.
May the frankincense in air,
As it climbs, instruct our prayer,
That it ever upward tend,
Ever struggle to ascend,
Leaving earth, yet, ere you go,
Fragrance rich diffuse below.
As the myrrh is bitter sweet,
So in us may such things meet,
As unto the mortal taste
Bitter seeming, yet at last
Shall to them who try be known
To have sweetness of their own,-
Tears for sin which sweeter far
Than the world's mad laughters are ;
Desires, that in their dying give
Pain, but die that we may live.
And the Gold from Araby-
Fitter symbol who could see
Of the love which, thrice refined,
Love to God and to our kind,
Duty tender'd, He will call
Best pleasing sacrifice of all ?
Thus so soon as far apart
From the proud world, in our heart,
As in stable dark, defiled,
There is born th' Eternal Child,
May to Him the spirit's kings
Bear their choicest offerings;
May the affections, reason, will,
upon Him to fulfil
His behests, and early pay
Homage to His natal day. The Christmas and birthday cake, as made in Germany (of an oblong shape, bready in composition, but stuffed with sweetmeats), was originally moulded to the exact form of a child in swaddling-clothes, and intended as a type
the Infant Saviour—the Christ-kind, that is, Christ-child. Over the cake spreads the tree of fir, also typical, and richly decorated for birthdays with fruit and bonbons tied with gay coloured ribbons. Beneath the cake is the pure white cloth spread for the display of the birthday gifts.
But the most striking feature of the table is this. As many wax candles are set upon the long cake as
there have been years in the life of the person in whose honour they are to be lighted. The effect is at once beautiful and impressive, and harmonizes admirably with the tender yet serious choral songs that are sung around the birthday lights.
Hark! to that cheerful song by Martin Luther.
CHRISTMAS CAROL FOR CHILDREN.
From heaven high I wing my flight,
To bring you tidings of glad delight;
Of tidings good so much I bring,
Thereof I'll speak, and thereof I'll sing.
For unco you a child, this morn,
Is of a chosen virgin born;
A child so blest, and fair to see,
He shall your joy and your comfort be.
For He is Jesus Christ, our king,
Who succour to us all shall bring ;
To be our Saviour doth He deign,
Of all our sin to purge the stain.
Salvation 'mong you will He share,
Which God the Father did prepare,
That in the heavenly kingdom ye
Might dwell both now and eternally.
Then mark ye well the sign He chose,
The crib and lowly swaddling clothes ;
There shall ye find the infant lain,
That earth and all things doth sustain.
Let us rejoice, then, every one,
And with the shepherds wander on,
To see what gift the God of heaven
To us, e'en His dear Son, hath given.
Awake! my heart, and lift thine eyes !
Behold what in yon manger lies !
What is this beauteous babe so mild ?
It is the lovely Jesus child.
All hail! to Thee, Thou honoured Guest,
Who scorn'st not me, by sin opprest,
But helpest all my misery,
How shall I thank Thee worthily ?
O Thou that all things didst create,
How hast Thou ta'en such lowly state,
That there Thou liest on withered grass,
Whereof have eaten ox and ass?
And, though the world were twice as great,
Of jewels and of gold create,
and worthless were it all, To be for Thee a cradle small.
Thy costly silks and velvets gay
Are swaddling clothes and poorest hay,
Whereon, rich king, Thou dost appear,
As though Thy heavenly kingdom 'twere.
Thus hath it seemed good to Thee
That Thou this truth might'st teach to me,
That worldly honour, wealth, and gain,
To Thee are empty, poor, and vain.
O Jesus, whom my heart holds dear,
Make Thee a warm soft cradle here;
breast a dweller be, That I may ever remember Thee.
That evermore I
And leap and loudly tune my voice,
The true Hosanna hymn to raise
In sweetest notes of heartfelt praise.
Glory to God on highest throne,
Who sent to us His only Son ;
Therefore rejoice, ye angel throng,
Of this new year to sing the song.
Our Christmas is popularly said to come but once a year, but the spirit of it comes, or should come, to every birthday celebration. There are two leading characteristics of the day—it is a genuine holiday, as well as a holy-day, and it is surrounded with ineffably tender and hallowed associations. So should it be with our own proper birthday. And it is thus we would invite to the dear homefeast, whether graced by summer flowers or by the fir and
Ye who have scorned each other,
Or injured friend or brother,
In this fast-fading year;
Ye who by word or deed
Have made a kind heart bleed,
Come gather here.
Let sinned against and sinning
Forget their strife's beginning,
And join in friendship now.
Be links no longer broken,
Be sweet forgiveness spoken,
Under the holly-bough.