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W. Garrett Horder, comp. The Poets’ Bible: New Testament. 1895.

Christmas Morn

Noel Thomas Carrington (1777–1830)

THE MIDNIGHT is as bright as day!

On earth flames wide a stranger ray!

And yet no meteor wanders nigh—

No moon floats through Judæa’s sky!

But there is in the face of night

A mellow, pure and holy light;

Each moment holier, purer, flowing,

But with a tender radiance glowing;

And on the shepherd’s startled view

Are forms of glory breaking through

Those floods of splendour;—throng on throng

Uplifting a triumphant song!

Ne’er flow’d such strains on earthly gale

O’er breezy hill or listening vale

Before; nor shall such sounds again

Break on the raptured ear of man,

Till rising to his native sky,

He put on immortality.

It came—that glorious embassy,

To hail the Incarnate Mystery!

For this awoke that glorious hymn

From glowing lips of Seraphim!

For this—adown the radiant sky,

From bowers of bliss—from worlds on high,

Appear’d, upborne on wings of fire,

That seraph host—that angel choir.

For this, too, flam’d o’er Bethlehem

The brightest in night’s diadem

That mystic star, whose pilot ray

Illum’d the Magi’s doubtful way;

Bright wanderer through the fields of air

Which led the inquiring sages, where,

Cradled within a worthless manger,

Slept on that morn the immortal Stranger.

He might have come in regal pomp,

With pealing of Archangel trump—

An angel blast as loud and dread

As that which shall awake the dead;

His lightning might have scar’d the night,

Streaming insufferable light;

His thunder deepening, peal on peal,

Have made earth to her centre reel,

Deep voices such as shook with fear,

At Sinai’s base, the favour’d seer;

The wing of whirlwind might have borne Him,

The trampling earthquake gone before Him:—

He might have come—that Holy One,

With millions round His awful throne,

Countless as are the sands that lie

On burning plains of Araby,

And arm’d for vengeance, who could stand

Before each conq’ring red right hand.

He came not thus; no earthquake shock

Shiver’d the everlasting rock;

No trumpet blast nor thunder peal,

Made earth through all her regions reel;

And but for the mysterious voicing

Of that unearthly choir rejoicing;

And but for that strange herald gem,

The star which burned o’er Bethlehem,

The shepherds, on his natal morn,

Had known not that the God was born.

There were no terrors, for the song

Of peace rose from the seraph throng;

On wings of love He came—to save,

To pluck pale terror from the grave,

And on the blood-stain’d Calvary

He won for man the victory.