The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Holy Heavenly Chime

A Christmas Carol

Words: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), Circa 1887

See: Christmastide Poems of Christina Rossetti

Source: The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), pages 278-280.

A holy heavenly chime
Rings fulness in of time,
And on His Mother's breast
Our Lord God ever-Blest
Is laid a Babe at rest.

Stoop, Spirits unused to stoop,
Swoop, Angels, flying swoop,
Adoring as you gaze,
Uplifting hymns of praise:
'Grace to the Full of Grace!'

The cave is cold and strait
To hold the angelic state:
More strait it is, more cold,
To foster and infold
Its Maker one hour old.

Thrilled through with awestruck love,
Meek Angels poised above,
To see their God, look down:
'What, is there never a Crown
For Him in swaddled gown?

'How comes He soft and weak
With such a tender cheek,
With such a soft small hand?
The very Hand which spann'd
Heaven when its girth was plann'd.

'How comes He with a voice
Which is but baby-noise?
That Voice which spake with might
"Let there be light" and light
Sprang out before our sight.

'What need hath He of flesh
Made flawless now afresh?
What need of human heart?
Heart that must bleed and smart,
Choosing the better part.

'But see: His gracious smile
Dismisses us a while
To serve Him in His kin.
Haste we, make haste, begin
To fetch His brethren in.'

Like stars they flash and shoot,
The Shepherds they salute:
'Glory to God' they sing:
'Good news of peace we bring,
For Christ is born a King.'

Note from William Michael Rossetti: "It is reasonable to suppose that these three carols were written in different years. I am not aware of the correct dates. The first carol [Whoso Hears A Chiming] was published (in The Century-Guild Hobby-horse) in 1887, and so I give a general date, 'circa 1887.'" (pages 476-477)

The other carol referred to in this note is Lo! Newborn Jesus.

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