The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ballad of the Epiphany

Words: Charles Dalmon

Source: Anne Thaxter Eaton, ed., Welcome Christmas! A Garland Of Poems. New York: The Viking Press, 1955.

When Christ was born in Bethlehem,
Pan left his Sussex Downs,
To see three kings go riding by,
All in their robes and crowns;
And as they went in royal state,
Pan followed them, unseen,
Though tiny tufts of grass and flowers
Showed where his feet had been.

And when to Bethlehem they came,
Birds sang in every tree,
And Mary in the stable sat,
With Jesus on her knee;
And while the oxen munched their hay,
The kings with one accord
Placed gold and frankincense and myrrh
Before their infant Lord.

And when Pan peeped upon the scene,
The Christ Child clapped His hands,
And chuckled with delight to see
The god of pasture lands;
And Mary sang, "Magnificat"
Above the kneeling kings,
And angels circled overhead
On rainbow-coloured wings.

And many a little singing bird
Flew past the open door
To hop and chirrup in the straw
Above the stable floor;
Wrens, robins, linnets, goldfinches,
And many another one,
Flew in to show good fellowship
With Mary's newborn Son.

Then Pan stood up and played his pipes
Beside the manger-bed,
And every little bird went near
And raised its faithful head;
And one, most beautiful to see,
A fair and milk-white dove,
Arose and hovered in the air
To testify its love,

But when the kings looked up to find
Who made the piping sound,
They only saw white lilies shine,
Fresh-gathered, on the ground,
And through the doorway, and beyond,
A shaggy wild goat leap;
And in its gentle mother's arm,
The Baby fast asleep.

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