The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas Epithalamium

William Hervey Allen Jr. (1890 - 1949)
A.K.A. Hervey Allen


1. Now comes the ordered prime;
A maiden in her time
Has given birth,
Unto the holy babe
Within the oxen cave
To end the mercy-dearth.

2. The long pavilioned wings
Of heaven-burnished things
Have domed the town;
Beneath them and the star,
Where babe and mother are
The kings kneel down.

3. False Herod's heart of stone
Is heavy for his throne,
This is the child foretold
By seers and prophets old
To sit in David's Chair.

4. But on the lighted rocks,
Among the startled flocks,
The poor lambs bound,
Thinking it sweet to hear
By night and starlight clear
The shrill pipes sound.

5. And all the bend of Earth,
Assured by heavenly mirth,
Grows calm,
And to her Maker's ear
Antiphonal and clear
Returns the psalm.


1. Yet in the mind of God
There was a marriage odd
Of Death and Life;
That very night did see
The planting of a tree
To make them man-and-wife.

2. High on a mount it grew
As sturdy as a yew,
The Holy Rood,
The Christmas tree to be
Planted at Calvary
By soldiers rude.

3. Thus God could in a breath
A marriage make for Death
With Life,
That in the babe and tree
All faithful folk might see
The end of that long strife.

4. So let the earth resound
As to a marriage sound
Of minstrelsy,
While Mary on her bed
Lays the devoted head
That holds all mystery.

Note: Epithalamium is defined as a form of poem that is written for the bride, or, specifically, written for the bride on the way to her marital chamber. Source: Online Dictionary

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