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ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.

I.

THIS is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of heav'n's eternal king,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,

That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his father work us a perpetual peace.

II.

That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at heav'n's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,

He laid aside; and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,

And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

III.

Say, heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein 15 Afford a present to the Infant God?

Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode,

Now while the heav'n by the sun's team untrod, Hath took no print of the approaching light, 20 And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

IV.

See how from far upon the eastern road

The star-led wisards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,

25

And join thy voice unto the Angel quire, From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

19 sun's team] Henry IV. P. I. act iii. sc. 4. 'heavenlyharness'd team.' Todd.

28 star-led] The starre-led sages that would Christ behold.' Bancroft's Sec. B. of Epigrams, Ep. 228. Todd. Storer's Life of Wolsey, P. 21.

'When wise magicians wandered far awide
To find the place of our Messiah's birth.'

·

28 wisards] Spenser's F. Q. iv. xii. 2. antique wisards.' i. iv. 12. and strong advizement of six wizards old.' Warton. The Syracusan wizard did invent.' Storer's Life of Wolsey, p. 12. And Fitz-Geffrey's Holy Raptures, p.37.17

THE HYMN.

I.

It was the winter wild,

While the heav'n-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in awe to him

Had dofft her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize: It was no season then for her

To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

II.

Only with speeches fair

She woos the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw,
Confounded that her Maker's eyes

Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

III.

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35

40

But he her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;

[sliding

She, crown'd with olives green, came softly

Down through the turning sphere

His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 50

45

And waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

IV.

Nor war, or battle's sound

Was heard the world around:

The idle spear and shield were high up hung, The hooked chariot stood

Unstain'd with hostile blood,

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng, And kings sat still with awful eye,

As if they surely knew their sov'reign Lord was by.

V.

But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of light

His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds with wonder whist

Smoothly the waters kist,

Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean,

65

64 whist] Nash's Dido, 1594. The ayre is cleere, and southerne windes are whist.' Todd. Golding's Ovid, p. 63. 'The waters whist.' Winds whist.' Aylet's Divine Poems, p. 65. If the winde be whist.' Marlowe's Hero and Leander, p. 13. far from the toure, when all is whist and still.' And see S. Hardinge's Com. Verses to W. Browne, from MS. in Beloe's Anecd. vi. 68.

'The winds that erst were whist
Beginne to roare,

Each tree, your songes beinge mist,
Shreeks as before.

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

[wave.

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed

VI.

The stars with deep amaze

Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,

Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence; But in their glimmering orbs did glow, Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

VII.

And though the shady gloom

Had given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed, And hid his head for shame,

Each sproutinge pauncie in the meade
For griefe begins to hang a head.

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The weepinge brooke in grovelling tones glide umblinge doun, Dimples its own sleeke cheeks, and thanks you with a frowne.' And Quarles's Divine Poems, p. 23. The winds were whist.'

77 This stanza copied from Spenser's April.

I sawe Phoebus thrust out his golden hede
Upon her to gaze :

But when he saw how broade her beames did sprede,

It did him amaze.

Hee blush't to see another sunne belowe,

Ne durst againe his fierie face outshowe.' &c. Warton.

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