Sunday, December 25, 2011


By Thine Own Sweet Light

Richard Crashaw, In the Holy Nativity of Our Lord God, lines 15 ff.:
We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest,
        Young dawn of our eternal day;
We saw Thine eyes break from the East,
        And chase the trembling shades away:
We saw Thee, and we bless the sight,
We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light.

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, the powers of heaven and earth,
To fit a bed for this huge birth.

Proud world, said I, cease your contest,
        And let the mighty babe alone;
The phoenix builds the phoenix' nest,
        Love's architecture is His own.
The babe, whose birth embraves this morn,
Made His own bed ere He was born.

I saw the curl'd drops, soft and slow,
        Come hovering o'er the place's head,
Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow,
        To furnish the fair infant's bed.
Forbear, said I; be not too bold;
Your Fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
In 1921 Gwen Raverat designed a Christmas card (published by Lund, Humphries & Co., Ltd.) with the words "The Festival of Christmas" on the front, with the text as printed above inside (entitled Verses from the Shepherd's Hymn), and with the following engraving facing the text:

Thanks to the dear friend who sent me Raverat's Christmas card as a gift.

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