The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Nativity

For Christmas

Words: Henry Vaughan

Source: E. K. Chambers, ed., Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. Vol. 2. (London: George Routledge & Sons, Limited, 1905), pp. 259-260. Originally published in Henry Vaughan, “Pious Thoughts and Ejaculations,” Thalia Redivina: The Pass-Times and Diversions of a Countrey-Muse (London: Robert Pawlet, 1678).

Peace? and to all the world? Sure One

And He the Prince of Peace, hath none!

He travels to be born, and then

Is born to travel more again.

Poor Galilee! thou canst not be

The place for His Nativity.

His restless mother's called away,

And not delivered till she pay.


    A tax? 'tis so still! we can see

The Church thrive in her misery,

And, like her Head at Bethlem, rise,

When she, oppressed with troubles, lies.

Rise? – should all fall, we cannot be

In more extremities than He.

Great Type of passions! Come what will,

Thy grief exceeds all copies still.

Thou cam'st from Heav'n to Earth, that we

Might go from Earth to Heav'n with Thee:

And though Thou found'st no welcome here,

Thou didst provide us mansions there.


    A stable was Thy Court, and when

Men turned to beasts, beasts would be men:

They were Thy courtiers; others none;

And their poor manger was Thy throne.

No swaddling silks Thy limbs did fold,

Though Thou couldst turn Thy rays to gold.

No rockers waited on Thy Birth,

No cradles stirr'd, nor songs of mirth;

But her chaste lap and sacred breast

Which lodged Thee first, did give Thee rest.


    But stay: what light is that doth stream,

And drop here in a gilded beam?

It is Thy star runs page, and brings

Thy tributary Eastern kings.

Lord! grant some light to us, that we

May with them find the way to Thee!

Behold what mists eclipse the day!

How dark it is! shed down one ray,

To guide us out of this dark night,

And say once more, "Let there be light!"

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