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14

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.

(RICHARD CRASHAW.)

COME we shepherds, whose blest sight

Hath met Love's noon in Nature's night;
Come lift we up our loftier song,

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;
While we found out Heaven's fairer eye,
And kissed the cradle of our King;

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;
Tell him, Tityrus, where th' hast been ;
Tell him, Thyrsis, what th' hast seen.

Tit. Gloomy night embraced the place

Where the noble infant lay;

The Babe looked up and shewed His face,
In spite of darkness it was day—
It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise,
Not from the East, but from Thine eyes.

Thyrs. Winter chid aloud, and sent
The angry North to wage
his wars;
The North forgot his fierce intent,

And left perfumes instead of scars:
By those sweet eyes' persuasive powers,
Where he meant frost, he scattered flowers.

Both. We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
Bright dawn of our eternal day!
We saw Thine eyes break from their East,

And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee, and we blessed the sight,—
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

Tit. Poor world, said I, what wilt thou do
To entertain this starry Stranger?
Is this the best thou canst bestow,

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,
Come hovering o'er the place's head,
Offering their whitest sheets of snow,
To furnish the fair Infant's bed:
Forbear, said I, be not too bold,
Your fleece is white, but 't is too cold.

Thyrs. I saw the obsequious seraphims
Their rosy fleece of fire bestow,
For well they now can spare their wings,
Since Heaven itself lies here below:
Well done, said I; but are you sure
Your down so warm will pass for pure?

Tit. No, no, your King's not yet to seek
Where to repose His royal head;
See, see, how soon His new-bloomed cheek

"Twixt mother's breasts is gone to bed.
Sweet choice, said I, no way but so

Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.

Both. We saw Thee in thy balmy nest,
Bright dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from their cast,

And chase the trembling shades away.
We saw Thee, and we blessed the sight;
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

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.

(JEREMY TAYLOR.)

THE blessed Virgin travailed without pain,
And lodged in an inn,

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,

way,

And over all the pow'rs of heav'n doth reign.

It was the time of great Augustus' tax,

And then He comes

That

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,
And in our breast

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.

CAROL.

(From "New Carols for this Merry Time of Christmas," 1661.)

ALL you that in this house be here,
Remember Christ, that for us died;

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,
Which, at my dame's commandment be
To set it on the table here.

For I have here two knives in store,

To lend to him that wanteth one;

Commend my wits, good lads, therefore,
That comes now hither, having none.

For, if I should, no Christmas pie

Would fall, I doubt, unto my share;
Wherefore, I will my manhood try,

To fight a battle if I dare.

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