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HYMN OF THE NATIVITY.
Crashaw, the son of a clergyman of the Church of England, received his education at Cambridge; and, after taking his degree, became a fellow of Peterhouse College. Refusing, however, to subscribe to the parliamentary covenant, he was ejected from his fellowship, when he proceeded to France and embraced the Roman Catholic faith. His conversion probably arose from interested motives, as, having been recommended to Henrietta Maria by his friend Cowley the poet, a canonry in the Church of Loretto was conferred on him. This dignity he only lived to enjoy for a short time, as he died of a fever in 1650, soon after his induction.
HYMN OF THE NATIVITY,
SUNG BY THE SHEPHERDS.
COME we shepherds, whose blest sight
Hath met Love's noon in Nature's night;
And wake the sun that lies too long.
To all our world of well-stoll'n joy,
He slept, and dreamt of no such thing;
Tell him he rises now too late
To show us ought worth looking at.
Tell him we now can show him more
Than he e'er showed to mortal sight,
Than he himself e'er saw before,
Which to be seen needs not his light;
Tit. Gloomy night embraced the place
Where the noble infant lay;
The Babe looked up and shewed His face,
Thyrs. Winter chid aloud, and sent
And left perfumes instead of scars:
Both. We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
And chase the trembling shades away:
Tit. Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do
A cold, and not too cleanly, manger? Contend, ye powers of heaven and earth, To fit a bed for this huge birth.
Thyrs. Proud world, said I, cease your contest, And let the mighty Babe alone;
The phoenix build the phoenix' nest,
Love's architecture is all one:
The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.
HYMN TO THE NATIVITY.
Tit. I saw the curled drops, soft and slow,
Thyrs. I saw the obsequious seraphims
Tit. No, no, your King's not yet to seek
"Twixt mother's breasts is gone to bed.
Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
Both. We saw Thee in thy balmy nest,
And chase the trembling shades away.
The following poem is by Bishop Jeremy Taylor, whose eloquent prose writings cause him to be regarded as one of the ornaments of the English Church. He was a man of singular humility and piety, and irreproachable as regards all the duties of life. During the civil troubles he warmly attached himself to the cause of Charles I., one of whose
chaplains he had been, and suffered imprisonment in consequence. He lived to lend the lustre of his name to the era following the Restoration, when a depraved monarch, and a licentious court, had succeeded in banishing both religious and moral purity beyond the circle of their pernicious influence.
OF CHRIST'S BIRTH IN AN INN.
THE blessed Virgin travailed without pain,
A glorious star the sign
But of a greater guest than ever came that
For there He lay
That is the God of night and day,
And over all the pow'rs of heav'n doth reign.
It was the time of great Augustus' tax,
And then He comes
pays all sums,
Even the whole price of lost humanity;
And sets us free
From the ungodly emperie
Of Sin, of Satan, and of Death.
O make our hearts, blest God, Thy lodging-place,
Be pleased to rest,
For Thou lov'st temples better than an inn,
And cause that Sin
May not profane the Deity within,
And sully o'er the ornaments of grace.
(From "New Carols for this Merry Time of Christmas," 1661.)
ALL you that in this house be here,
And spend away with modest cheer
In loving sort this Christmas tide.
And, whereas plenty God hath sent,
Give frankly to your friends in love:
The bounteous mind is freely bent,
And never will a niggard prove.
Our table spread within the hall,
I know a banquet is at hand,
And friendly sort to welcome all
That will unto their tacklings stand.
The maids are bonny girls, I see,
Who have provided much good cheer,
For I have here two knives in store,
To lend to him that wanteth one;
Commend my wits, good lads, therefore,
For, if I should, no Christmas pie
Would fall, I doubt, unto my share;
To fight a battle if I dare.