The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

New Heaven, New War

For Christmas

Words: Saint Robert Southwell, S.J., 1561-1595

Source: A. H. Bullen, A Christmas Garland (London: John C. Nimmo, 1885), pp. 259.

Come to your heaven, you heavenly quires!
Earth bath the heaven of your desires;
Remove your dwelling to your God,
A stall is now his best abode
Sith men their homage do deny,
Come, angels, all their fault supply.

His chilling cold doth heat require,
Come, seraphims, in lieu of fire;
This little ark no cover hath,
Let cherubs’ wings his body swathe
Come, Raphael, this babe must eat,
Provide our little Toby meat.

Let Gabriel be now his groom,
That first took up his earthly room;
Let Michael stand in his defence,
Whom love bath linked to feeble sense
Let Graces rock when he doth cry,
And angels sing his lullaby.

The same you saw in heavenly seat
Is he that now sucks Mary’s teat;
Agnize your King a mortal wight,
His borrowed weed lets not your sight
Come kiss the manger where lie lies,
That is your bliss above the skies.

This little Babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield
his battering shots are babish cries;
His arrows, looks of weeping eyes;
His martial ensigns, cold and need;
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, hay-stalks his stakes
Of shepherds he his muster makes
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound.

My soul, with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he bath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this Heavenly Boy.”

Editor's Note:

Concerning this song, Bullen wrote that this piece "is perhaps almost too quaint for modern readers; yet I venture to quote it in full."

Other Marion and Christmas-tide poems / carols by Robert Southwell, and the page numbers that those poems begin on, include:

All of these can be found in The Complete Poems of Robert Southwell (1872), available at both Google Books and, in multiple formats, the Internet Archive.

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