The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Of The Epiphany

Words: Sir John Beaumont

 

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

Fair eastern star, that art ordained to run
Before the sages, to the rising sun,
Here cease thy course, and wonder that the cloud
Of this poor stable can thy Maker shroud:

Ye heavenly bodies glory to be bright
And are esteemed as ye are rich in light;
But here on earth is taught a different way,
Since under this low roof the Highest lay.

Jerusalem erects her stately towers,
Displays her windows and adorns her bowers:
Yet there thou must not cast a trembling spark,
Let Herod's palace still continue dark;

Each school and syngogue thy force repels,
There Pride enthroned in misty error dwells;
The temple, where the priests maintain their quire,
Shall taste no beam of thy celestial fire,

While this weak cottage all thy splendour takes:
A joyful gate of every chink it makes
Here shines no golden roof, no ivory stair,
No king exalted in a stately chair,

Girt with attendants, or by heralds styled,
But straw and hay enwrap a speechless child.
Yet Sabae's lords before this babe unfold
Their treasures, offering incense, myrrh and gold.

The crib becomes an altar: therefore dies
No ox nor sheep; for in their fodder lies
The Prince of Peace, who, thankful for his bed,
Destroys those rites in which their blood was shed:

The quintessence of earth he takes, and fees,
And precious gums distilled from weeping trees;
Rich metals and sweet odours now declare
The glorious blessings which his laws prepare,

To clear us from the base and loathsome flood
Of sense and make us fit for angels' food,
Who life to God for us the holy smoke
Of fervent prayers with which we him invoke,

And try our actions in the searching fire
By which the seraphims our lips inspire:
No muddy dross pure minerals shall infect,
We shall exhale our vapours up direct:

No storm shall cross, nor glittering lights deface
Perpetual sighs which seek a happy place.

Note from Bullen:

"Sir John Beaumont was an elder brother of Francis Beaumont the dramatist. Drayton, in his Epistle to Henry Reynolds, couples the brothers together in terms of genial praise

Then the two Beaumonts and my Browne arose,
My dear companions whom I freely chose
My bosom friends; and in their several ways
Rightly born poets, and in these last days
Men of much note and no less nobler parts,
Such as have freely told to me their hearts,
As I have mine to them.”

"John Beaumont was created a baronet in 1626 and died in 1628, ætat. 44. He is the author of “Bosworth Field and other Poems” (posthumously printed in 1629), which have been praised by Wordsworth for their 'spirit, elegance, and harmony.'"

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