The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The True Christmas

For Christmas

Words: Henry Vaughan

Source: E. K. Chambers, ed., Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist. Vol. 2. (London: George Routledge & Sons, Limited, 1905), pp. 261-262. Originally published in Henry Vaughan, “Pious Thoughts and Ejaculations,” Thalia Redivina: The Pass-Times and Diversions of a Countrey-Muse (London: Robert Pawlet, 1678).

So stick up ivy and the bays,

And then restore the heathen ways.

Green will remind you of the spring,

Though this great day denies the thing;

And mortifies the earth, and all

But your wild revels, and loose hall.

Could you wear flow'rs, and roses strow

Blushing upon your breasts' warm snow,

That very dress your lightness will

Rebuke, and wither at the ill.

The brightness of this day we owe

Not unto music, masque, nor show,

Nor gallant furniture, nor plate,

But to the manger's mean estate.

His life while here, as well as birth,

Was but a check to pomp and mirth;

And all man's greatness you may see

Condemned by His humility.


     Then leave your open house and noise,

To welcome Him with holy joys,

And the poor shepherd's watchfulness,

Whom light and hymns from Heav'n did bless.

What you abound with, cast abroad

To those that want, and ease your load.

Who empties thus, will bring more in;

But riot is both loss and sin.

Dress finely what comes not in sight,

And then you keep your Christmas right.


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