The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night

Words: Margaret Deland

Source: Christmas: Its Origin, Celebration and Significance as Related in Prose and Verse - Robert Haven Schauffler (1907)

Like small curled feathers, white and soft,
    The little clouds went by,
Across the moon, and past the stars,
    And down the western sky:
In upland pastures, where the grass
    With frosted dew was white,
Like snowy clouds the young sheep lay,
    That first, best Christmas night.

The shepherds slept; and, glimmering faint,
    With twist of thin, blue smoke,
Only their fire's crackling flames
    The tender silence broke—
Save when a young lamb raised his head,
    Or, when the night wind blew,
A nesting bird would softly stir,
    Where dusky olives grew—

With finger on her solemn lip,
    Night hushed the shadowy earth,
And only stars and angels saw
    The little Saviour's birth;
Then came such flash of silver light
    Across the bending skies,
The wondering shepherds woke, and hid
    Their frightened, dazzled eyes!

And all their gentle sleepy flock
    Looked up, then slept again,
Nor knew the light that dimmed the stars
    Brought endless Peace to men—
Nor even heard the gracious words
    That down the ages ring—
The Christ is born! the Lord has come,
    Good-will on earth to bring!

Then o'er the moonlit, misty fields,
    Dumb with the world's great joy,
The shepherds sought the white-walled town,
    Where lay the baby boy—
And oh, the gladness of the world,
    The glory of the skies,
Because the longed-for Christ looked up
    In Mary's happy eyes!

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

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