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


For Christmas

AND 1 art Thou come, blest Babe, and come to me?
Come down to teach me how to come to Thee?
Welcome, thrice welcome, to my panting soul,
Which, as it loves, doth grieve that ’tis so foul.
The less ’tis fit for Thee come from above,        5
The more it needs Thee, and the more I love.
But art Thou come, dear Saviour? hath Thy love
Thus made Thee stoop and leave Thy throne above,
Thy lofty heavens, and thus Thyself to dress
In dust to visit mortals? Could no less        10
A condescension serve, and after all
The mean reception of a cratch and stall?
Dear Lord, I’ll fetch Thee hence! I have a room—
’Tis poor, but ’tis my best—if Thou wilt come
Within so small a cell, where I would fain        15
Mine and the world’s Redeemer entertain.
I mean my heart; ’tis sluttish, I confess,
And will not mend Thy lodging, Lord, unless
Thou send before Thy harbinger, I mean
Thy pure and purging Grace, to make it clean,        20
And sweep its nasty corners; then I’ll try
To wash it also with a weeping eye.
And when ’tis swept and wash’d, I then will go
And with Thy leave I’ll fetch some flowers that grow
In thine own garden, Faith and Love, to Thee;        25
With these I’ll dress it up, and these shall be
My rosemary and bays. Yet when my best
Is done, the room’s not fit for such a guest:
But here’s the cure; Thy presence, Lord, alone
Will make a stall a Court, a cratch a Throne.        30
Note 1. The “Christmas Poem” and the “Litany” are from “The Moravian Hymn-Book”; a collection made in 1754, and including many well-known seventeenth-century poems, some curiously trimmed into shape for singing. [back]