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The Christian Year
by Blessed John Keble 


    And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, 
                                  praising God.            St. Luke ii. 13.

What sudden blaze of song 
Spreads o’er th’expanse of Heav’n? 
In wave of light it thrills along, 
Th’angelic signal given— 
"Glory to God!" from yonder central fire 
Flows out the echoing lay beyond the starry quire; 

Like circles widening round 
Upon a clear blue river, 
Orb after orb, the wondrous sound 
Is echoed on for ever: 
"Glory to God on high, on earth be peace, 
"And love towards men of love—salvation and release." 

Yet stay, before thou dare 
To join that festal throng; 
Listen and mark what gentle air 
First stirr’d the tide of song; 
‘Tis not, "the Saviour born in David’s home, 
"To whom for power and health obedient worlds should come:"— 

‘Tis not, "the Christ the Lord:"— 
With fix’d adoring look 
The choir of Angels caught the word, 
Nor yet their silence broke: 
But when they heard the sign, where Christ should be, 
In sudden light they shone and heavenly harmony. 

Wrapp’d in his swaddling bands, 
And in his manger laid, 
The hope and glory of all lands 
Is come to the world’s aid: 
No peaceful home upon his cradle smil’d, 
Guests rudely went and came, where slept the royal child. 

But where Thou dwellest, Lord, 
No other thought should be, 
Once duly welcom’d and ador’d, 
How should I part with Thee? 
Bethlehem must lose Thee soon, but Thou wilt grace 
The single heart to be thy sure abiding-place. 

Thee, on the bosom laid 
Of a pure virgin mind, 
In quiet ever, and in shade, 
Shepherd and sage may find; 
They, who have bow’d untaught to Nature’s sway 
And they, who follow Truth along her star-pav’d way. 

The pastoral spirits first 
Approach Thee, Babe divine, 
For they in lowly thoughts are nurs’d, 
Meet for thy lowly shrine: 
Sooner than they should miss where Thou dost dwell, 
Angels from heaven will stoop to guide them to thy cell. 

Still, as the day comes round 
For Thee to be reveal’d, 
By wakeful shepherds Thou art found, 
Abiding in the field. 
All through the wintry heaven and chill night air, 
In music and in light Thou dawnest on their prayer. 

O faint not ye for fear— 
What though your wandering sheep, 
Reckless of what they see and hear, 
Lie lost in wilful sleep? 
High Heaven in mercy to your sad annoy 
Still greets youwith glad tidings of immortal joy. 

Think on th’eternal home, 
The Saviour left for you; 
Think on the Lord most holy, come 
Two dwell with hearts untrue: 
So shall ye tread untir’d his pastoral ways, 
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise