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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Detail of the Nativity from Giotto's
frescoes at the Scrovegni chapel in Padua.

Mary stood in the kitchen
Baking a loaf of bread.
An angel flew in the window
‘We’ve a job for you,’ he said.

‘God in his big gold heaven
Sitting in his big blue chair,
Wanted a mother for his little son.
Suddenly saw you there.’

from Charles Causley, "Ballad of the Breadman"

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

from Richard Wilbur, "A Christmas Hymn"


  1. Merry Christmas!

    Wilbur's Christmas Hymn has found its way into Gather, the folkier of a pair of hymnals commonly found in Catholic churches. I was a bit surprised to see him in the list of authors, and checked my copy of Collected Poems when I came home.

    1. I think it's in the Episcopal "red hymnal"--can't think of the name. Someone told me about being in Wilbur's church when it was first sung there.

      My church sings several of my poems (commissioned pieces.) One was a bicentennial piece, one for Christmas to fit a particular piece of music. I don't even have a copy of that one but it pops up now and then.

    2. By the way, the Schola Cantorum of the cathedral gave us a German and Latin piece by Praetorius on Christmas: the translation included "and every stone shall cry" as in Wilbur's hymn, though my ear wasn't quick enough to catch whether they sang this in German or Latin. Nor do I find it in the Praetorius Christmas music we have.

      Was your hymn for the bicentennial of your church or of the republic?

    3. Such a strong image. Sounds like you had good music!

      The hymn was for the church. They sing it every year now on the anniversary...

  2. Beautiful image and hymns, thank you! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Marly!

    1. Merry 12 Days to you, Marja-Leena! I need to come by--have been having a second detachment and not doing so much online. But I will.

  3. Not to worry - I've been pretty quiet myself.

  4. Happy Christmas Marly! (A little late, but Christmas is a season, not a day, I think.)


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.