The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas Eve

Words: John Davidson

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

In holly hedges starving birds
    Silently mourn the setting year;
Upright like silver-plated swords
    The flags stand in the frozen mere.

The mistletoe we still adore
    Upon the twisted hawthorn grows:
In antique gardens hellebore
    Puts forth its blushing Christmas rose.

Shriveled and purple, cheek by jowl,
    The hips and haws hang drearily;
Roll'd in a ball the sulky owl
    Creeps far into his hollow tree.

In abbeys and cathedrals dim
    The birth of Christ is acted o'er:
The Kings of Cologne worship him,
    Balthazar, Jasper, Melchior.

The shepherds in the field at night
    Beheld an angel glory-clad,
And shrank away with sore affright,
    "Be not afraid," the angel bade.

"I bring good news to king and clown,
    To you here crouching on the sward;
For there is born in David's town
    A Saviour which is Christ the Lord.

"Behold the babe is swathed, and laid
    Within a manger." Straight there stood
Beside the angel all arrayed
    A heavenly multitude.

"Glory to God," they sang; "and peace,
    Good pleasure among men."
The wondrous message of release!
    Glory to God again!

Hark! Hark! the waits, far up the street!
    A distant, ghostly charm unfolds,
Of magic music wild and sweet,
    Anomes and clarigolds.

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