In the Holy Nativity of our Lord

Richard Crashaw 1612 (London) – 1649 (Loreto, Marche)

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.

  To all our world of well-stol'n joy
  He slept, and dreamt of no such thing,
  While we found out heav'n's fairer eye,
  And kiss'd the cradle of our King.
  Tell him he rises now too late
  To show us aught worth looking at.

  Tell him we now can show him more
  Than he e'er show'd to mortal sight,
  Than he himself e'er saw before,
  Which to be seen needs not his light.
  Tell him, Tityrus, where th' hast been;
  Tell him, Thyrsis, what th' hast seen.
TITYRUS

  Gloomy night embrac'd the place
  Where the Noble Infant lay;
  The Babe look'd up and show'd his face,
  In spite of darkness, it was day.
  It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
  Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
CHORUS

  It was thy day, Sweet! and did rise
  Not from the east, but from thine eyes.
THYRSIS

  Winter chid aloud, and sent
  The angry North to wage his wars;
  The North forgot his fierce intent,
  And left perfumes instead of scars.
  By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
  Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
CHORUS

  By those sweet eyes' persuasive pow'rs,
  Where he meant frost, he scatter'd flow'rs.
BOTH

  We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
  Young 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'd the sight,
  We saw thee by thine own sweet light.
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 heav'n and earth,
  To fit a bed for this huge birth.
CHORUS

  Contend, ye powers of heav'n and earth,
  To fit a bed for this huge birth.
THYRSIS

  Proud World, said I, cease your contest,
  And let the Mighty Babe alone;
  The ph{oe}nix builds the ph{oe}nix' nest,
  Love's architecture is his own;
  The Babe whose birth embraves this morn,
  Made his own bed ere he was born.
CHORUS

  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,
  Off'ring their whitest sheets of snow
  To furnish the fair Infant's bed.
  Forbear, said I, be not too bold;
  Your fleece is white, but 'tis too cold.
CHORUS

  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;
  For well they now can spare their wings,
  Since Heav'n itself lies here below.
  Well done, said I, but are you sure
  Your down so warm will pass for pure?
CHORUS

  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
  Where to repose his royal head;
  See see, how soon his new-bloom'd cheek
  'Twixt's mother's breasts is gone to bed.
  Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
  Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
CHORUS

  Sweet choice, said we! no way but so,
  Not to lie cold, yet sleep in snow.
BOTH

  We saw thee in thy balmy nest,
  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'd the sight,
  We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
CHORUS

  We saw thee, and we bless'd the sight,
  We saw thee, by thine own sweet light.
FULL 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
  Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav'n to earth.

  Welcome; though nor to gold nor silk,
  To more than C{ae}sar's birthright is;
  Two sister seas of virgin-milk,
  With many a rarely temper'd kiss,
  That breathes at once both maid and mother,
  Warms in the one, cools in the other.

  Welcome, though not to those gay flies
  Gilded i' th' beams of earthly kings,
 Slippery souls in smiling eyes;
  But to poor shepherds, homespun things,
 Whose wealth's their flock, whose wit, to be
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Richard Crashaw

Richard Crashaw, was an English poet, styled "the divine," and known as one of the central figures associated with the Metaphysical poets in 17th Century English literature. The son of a prominent Puritan minister, Crashaw was educated at Charterhouse School and Pembroke College, Cambridge. After taking a degree, Crashaw began to publish religious poetry and to teach at Cambridge. During the English Civil War he was ejected from his college position and went into exile in Italy. While in exile he converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism. Crashaw's poetry is firmly within the Metaphysical tradition. Though his oeuvre is considered of uneven quality and among the weakest examples of the genre, his work is said to be marked by a focus toward "love with the smaller graces of life and the profounder truths of religion, while he seems forever preoccupied with the secret architecture of things." more…

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