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III.

Say, heavenly Muse! shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?

Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,

To welcome him to this his new abode,

Now, while the Heaven, by the sun's team untrod,

Hath took no print of the approaching light,

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And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright ?

IV.

See, how from far, upon the eastern road

The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:

Oh, run! prevent them with thy humble ode,

And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;

Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,

From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.

THE HYMN.

I.

It was the winter wild,

While the Heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies: Nature in awe to him

Had doffed her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize:

It was no season then for her

To wanton with the Sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair

She woos the gentle air

II.

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow, And on her naked shame,

Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw, Confounded, that her Maker's eyes

Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

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III.

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;

She, crowned with olive green, came swiftly sliding Down through the turning sphere,

His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;

And, waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.

No war, or battle's sound,

IV.

Was heard the world around:

The idle spear and shield were high up hung, The hooked chariot stood,

Unstained with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye,

As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

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His reign of peace upon the earth began :

The winds, with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kissed,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.

The stars, with deep amaze,

Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,

VI.

Bending one way their precious influence;

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer that often warned them thence;

But in their glimmering orbs did glow,

Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

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VII.

And, though the shady gloom

Had given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,

And hid his head for shame,

As his inferior flame

The new enlightened world no more should need;

He saw a greater sun appear

Than his bright throne, or burning axle-tree could bear.

The shepherds on the lawn,

Or e'er the point of dawn,

VIII.

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;

Full little thought they then

That the mighty Pan

Was kindly come to live with them befow:

Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,

Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.

When such music sweet

IX.

Their hearts and ears did greet,

As never was by mortal finger strook,

Divinely-warbled voice

Answering the stringèd noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took:

The air, such pleasure loth to lose,

With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.

X.

Nature that heard such sound,

Beneath the hollow round

Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,

Now was almost won

To think her part was done,

And that her reign had here its last fulfilling:

She knew such harmony alone

Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union.

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XI.

At last surrounds their sight

A globe of circular light,

That with long beams the shame-faced night arrayed The helmed cherubim

And sworded seraphim,

Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed; Harping in loud and solemn quire,

With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.

Such music, as 'tis said,

Before was never made,

XII.

But when of old the sons of morning sung,

While the Creator great

His constellations set,

And the well-balanced world on hinges hung; And cast the dark foundations deep,

And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres!

Once bless our humble ears,

XIII.

If ye have power to touch our senses so; And let your silver chime

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Move in melodious time;

And let the base of Heaven s deep organ blow;

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And, with your ninefold harmony,

Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

For, if such holy song

Inwrap our fancy long,

XIV.

Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold; And speckled Vanity

Will sicken soon and die,

And leprous Sin will melt with earthly mould; And Hell itself will pass away,

And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

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XV.

Yea, Truth and Justice then

Will down return to men,

Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing, Mercy will sit between,

Throned in celestial sheen

With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering; And Heaven, as at some festival,

Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.

But wisest Fate says no;

This must not yet be so:

XVI.

The babe lies yet in smiling infancy, That on the bitter cross

Must redeem our loss;

So both himself and us to glorify:

Yet first, to those ychained in sleep,

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The wakeful trump of Doom must thunder through the deep,

With such a horrid clang

As on Mount Sinai rang,

XVII.

While the red fire and smouldering clouds out brake:

The agèd earth aghast,

With terror of that blast,

Shall from the surface to the centre shake;

When at the world's last session,

The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.

And then, at last, our bliss

Full and perfect is,

XVIII.

But now begins; for, from this happy day,

The old Dragon, under ground

In straiter limits bound;

Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway,

And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.

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