The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Approach of Christmas

Words: John Gay
From "Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London"

Source: Henry Vizetelly, Christmas With The Poets (London: David Bogue, 1851).

When rosemary, and bays, the poets' crown,
Are bawled, in frequent cries, through all the town;
Then judge the festival of Christmas near,
Christmas, the joyous period of the year.
Now with bright holly all your temples strew,
With laurel green, and sacred mistletoe.1
Now, heaven-born Charity! thy blessings shed;
Bid meagre Want uproar her sickly head;
Bid shivering limbs be warm; let Plenty's bowl
In humble roofs make glad the needy soul!
See, see! the heaven-born maid her blessings shed;
Lo! meagre Want uprears her sickly head;
Clothed are the naked, and the needy glad,
While selfish Avarice alone is sad.

Note from Vizetelly:

1. In the Spectator, No. 282, 1711, is a pretended letter from a young lady on this subject. "Our Clerk, who was once a Gardener, has this Christmas so over-deckt the Church with Greens, that he has quite spoilt my Prospect, insomuch that I have scarce seen the young Baronet I dress at these three Weeks, though we have both been very constant at our Devotions, and don't sit above three Pews off. The Church, as it is now equipt, looks more like a Green-house than a Place of Worship: The middle Isle is a very pretty shady Walk, and the Pews look like so many Arbours of each Side of it. The Pulpit itself has such Clusters of Ivy, Holly, and Rosemary about it, that a light Fellow in our Pew took occasion to say, that the Congregation heard the Word out of a Bush, like Moses." Return

Editor's Note:

Addison's The Spectator is available in its entirety from Project Gutenberg.

Artwork by John A. Hows from Christmas In Art And Song. New York: The Arundel Printing and Publishing Company, 1879.

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