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Saturday, 30 December 2017

'A Christmas Gift' and other delights.


A Christmas Gift

A mother was watching, one Christmas night,

Nursing her babe by the candle-light.
And she lifted her eyes in the gathering gloom,
For the Christ-child stood in the lowly room.
"What shall I give to thy child?", He said,
softly caressing the sleeper's head.
"Nay", said the mother, "O Angel-guest 
Give her whatever Thou deemest best."

"But what shall I give her?" He spoke again,

"ask and thou shalt not ask in vain.
Shall I touch her brow that her eyes may shine
with beauty, that men will call divine?
Shall I touch her lips that they may flow
with songs of the best that the world may know?"
"Nay", said the mother, "these will not stay,
songs are forgotten, and hair turns grey".

"Then what shall I give her, O mother mild?

Ask what thou wilt for thy little child".
And the mother lifted her eyes above,
"Give her purity, truth and love".
And the Christ-Child turned to her, soft and mild,
"Thou has chosen the best for thy little child.
Be not afraid, though life be sore,
I will be with her for evermore".

                                Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry' (This England).


                                             **************


God Abides in Men

God abides in men.
There are some men who are simple,
they are fields of corn.
We see the soil and the stubble,
more than the green spears
and the yellow stalks.
Such men have minds
like wide grey skies,
they have the grandeur
that the fool calls emptiness.

God is clothed in homespun in such lives.
He goes with them to the field and the barn,
He comes home, when the birds,
in dark orderly flocks
cross the empty twilights of time.

God abides in men.
Some men are not simple,
they live in cities
among the teeming buildings,
wrestling with forces
as strong as the sun and the rain.
Often they must forgo dream upon dream.
The glare of the electric light
blinds their eyes to the stars.
On some nights,
the stir of life, and the lights,
is a soft fire, like wine
in their blood.

Christ walks in the wilderness
in such lives.
Wrestling with Lucifer,
the fallen angel of light,
who shows him the cities of the world,
and with brilliant and illimitable audacity,
offers to Christianity lordship of the cities
on the worlds terms.

God abides in men.
There are some men,
on whom the sins of the world are laid.
They are conscripted,
stripped, measured and weighed,
taken away from home,
and sent to the flood,
the fire, the darkness,
the loneliness of death.
In such men
Christ is stripped of His garments,
the reed is put in His hand,
the soldier’s cloak on His shoulders,
the Cross on His back.
In them He is crucified.
From the lives,
and the deaths
of those men,
cities rise from the dead.

God abides in men,
because Christ has put on
the nature of man, like a garment,
and worn it to His own shape.
He has put on everyone’s life.
He has fitted Himself to the little child’s dress,
to the shepherd’s coat of sheepskin,
to the workman’s coat,
to the King’s red robes,
to the snowy loveliness of the wedding garment,
and to the drab, simple battle dress.

Christ has put on Man’s nature,
and given him back his humanness,
worn to the shape
of limitless love,
and warm from the touch
of His life.

He has given man his crown,
the thorn that is jewelled
with drops of His blood.
He has given him
the seamless garment
of his truth.
He has bound him
in the swaddling bands
of his humility.
He has fastened his hands
to the tree of life.
He has latched his feet
in crimson sandals,
that they move not
from the path of love.

God abides in man.


Caryll Houselander (1901-1954)

                                                                 *****************

Although this is not a Christmas poem, it is about a child's love for her father, originally composed perhaps for the music-hall.   I cannot resist including it!

Give Me a Ticket to Heaven

Into a railway station crept a little child one night;
The last train was just leaving, and the bustle at its height.
The station-master standing there, looked down with wondering eyes
Upon this little maid - so frail in form, so small in size.
"Where is your father, little one? Are you alone? he cried.
With tearful eyes she look'd up in his and thus replied:

        CHORUS
        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born, sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."


"My Daddy worked upon the line, but when I went tonight
To take his tea, he lay there on a shutter - oh! so white.
Then to a great big building his mates carried him away;
'He's booked for Heaven, poor old Dick!" I heard one of them say.
A station this must be - I thought to find the train I'd wait;
But finding none I ran on here - I hope I'm not too late."

         
 CHORUS
        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."


The station-master said, "Come, little one I'll see you right.
A ticket to your father you shall have this very night."
He took her to the hospital; they let her see her Dad.
Though injured, he had not been killed, and oh! her heart was glad.
Then turning to that kind friend who had brought her all the way,
She said, "If I lose Dad again, I'll come to you and say -

         
 CHORUS
        "Give me a ticket to heaven,
         That's where Dad's gone, they say,
         He'll be so lonely without me,
         Travelling all that way.
         Mother died when I was born ,sir,
         And left Dad and me alone,
         So give me a ticket to heaven, please,
         Before the last train is gone."

                               Anon - from 'Parlour Poetry'(This England).

        ***********************************

"God, who is unchangeable, would appear now as a child in a stable, now as a boy in a workshop, now as a criminal on a scaffold, and now as bread upon the altar.  In these various guises Jesus chose to exhibit Himself to us;  but whatever character He assumed, it was always the character of a lover." 


ack. 'Thoughts from St Alphonsus' - compiled by Rev C McNeiry  C.SS.R

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