Home  »  Complete Poetical Works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  »  Part II. The Golden Legend. III. IV. The Nativity: A Miracle-Play. Introitus. I. Heaven

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Christus: A Mystery

Part II. The Golden Legend. III. IV. The Nativity: A Miracle-Play. Introitus. I. Heaven

COME, good people, all and each,

Come and listen to our speech!

In your presence here I stand,

With a trumpet in my hand,

To announce the Easter Play,

Which we represent to-day!

First of all we shall rehearse,

In our action and our verse,

The Nativity of our Lord,

As written in the old record

Of the Protevangelion,

So that he who reads may run!

Blows his trumpet.

I. Heaven.

MERCY, at the feet of God.
Have pity, Lord! be not afraid

To save mankind, whom thou hast made

Nor let the souls that were betrayed

Perish eternally!

It cannot be, it must not be!

When in the garden placed by thee,

The fruit of the forbidden tree

He ate, and he must die!

Have pity, Lord! let penitence

Atone for disobedience,

Nor let the fruit of man’s offence

Be endless misery!

What penitence proportionate

Can e’er be felt for sin so great?

Of the forbidden fruit he ate,

And damnèd must he be!

He shall be saved, if that within

The bounds of earth one free from sin

Be found, who for his kith and kin

Will suffer martyrdom.

Lord! we have searched the world around,

From centre to the utmost bound,

But no such mortal can be found;

Despairing, back we come.

No mortal, but a God made man,

Can ever carry out this plan,

Achieving what none other can,

Salvation unto all!

Go, then, O my beloved Son!

It can by thee alone be done;

By thee the victory shall be won

O’er Satan and the Fall!

Here the ANGEL GABRIEL shall leave Paradise and fly towards the earth; the jaws of Hell open below, and the Devils walk about, making a great noise.