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Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Richard Crashaw (1613?–1640)

A Hymn of the Nativity

Sung by the Shepherds
Chorus  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.
  We saw Thee in Thy balmy nest        5
  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 bless the sight,
  We saw Thee by Thine own sweet light!        10
Tityrus.  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        15
  To fit a bed for this huge birth.
Thyrsis.  Proud world, said I, cease your contest,
    And let the mighty babe alone,
  The phœnix builds the phœnix’ nest,
    Love’s architecture is His own.        20
  The Babe, whose birth embraves this morn,
    Made His own bed ere He was born.
Tityrus.  I saw the curl’d drops, soft and slow,
    Come hovering o’er the place’s head,
  Offering their whitest sheets of snow,        25
    To furnish the fair Infant’s bed;
  Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
  Your fleece is white, but ’tis too cold.
Thyrsis.  I saw the obsequious seraphims
    Their rosy fleece of fire bestow;        30
  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?
Tityrus.  No, no, your King’s not yet to seek        35
    Where to repose his royal head;
  See, see how soon his new-bloom’d 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.        40
Chorus  Welcome all wonders in one sight,
    Eternity shut in a span,
  Summer in winter, day in night,
    Heaven in earth, and God in man,
  Great little one, whose all-embracing birth        45
  Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.
  To Thee, meek Majesty! soft King
    Of simple graces and sweet loves,
  Each of us his lamb will bring,
    Each his pair of silver doves,        50
  Till burnt at last in fire of Thy fair eyes
  Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.