26 November 2013

It's so cold and windy tonight

I decided to look up my favorite Advent/Christmas poem - by John Betjeman:


The bells of waiting Advent ring, 
The Tortoise stove is lit again 

And lamp-oil light across the night 
Has caught the streaks of winter rain 

In many a stained-glass window sheen 

From Crimson Lake to Hooker’s Green. 

The holly in the windy hedge 
And round the Manor House the yew 

Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge, 
The altar, font and arch and pew, 

So that the villagers can say 

“The church looks nice” on Christmas Day. 

Provincial public houses blaze 
And Corporation tramcars clang, 

On lighted tenements I gaze 
Where paper decorations hang, 

And bunting in the red Town Hall 

Says “Merry Christmas to you all.” 

And London shops on Christmas Eve 
Are strung with silver bells and flowers 

As hurrying clerks the City leave 
To pigeon-haunted classic towers, 

And marbled clouds go scudding by 

The many-steepled London sky. 

And girls in slacks remember Dad, 
And oafish louts remember Mum, 

And sleepless children’s’ hearts are glad, 
And Christmas-morning bells say “Come!” 

Even to shining ones who dwell 

Safe in the Dorchester Hotel. 

And is it true? And is it true, 
This most tremendous tale of all, 

Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue, 
A Baby in an ox’s stall? 

The Maker of the stars and sea 

Become a Child on earth for me? 

And is it true? For if it is, 
No loving fingers tying strings 

Around those tissued fripperies, 
The sweet and silly Christmas things, 

Bath salts and inexpensive scent 

And hideous tie so kindly meant, 

No love that in a family dwells, 
Nor carolling in frosty air, 

Nor all the steeple-shaking bells 
Can with this single Truth compare-- 

That God was Man in Palestine 

And lives to-day in Bread and Wine.


Pastor Harvey S. Mozolak said...

Will, you left a neat recast of the Christmas Proclamation on your LCMS site. It inspired this more contemporary one (contemporary not necessarily in words but in its rehearsal of time)...

Contemporary Christmas Proclamation

Harvey S. Mozolak

In the 2013th year,
less several as can be miscalculated under eternity,
in the roughly 1980th year after the certain death
and glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ
he still comes to those who worship and adore
at manger, cross and the altar of his resurrectioon
where the proclamation is not fearfully announced
through archangelic presence
but by the sinful ordained
who tell of mercy laid low
and magnificence hidden
though without angelic choirs
the Gloria is only sung by weak human voices
embraced by organ, trumpet, string and drum
and where often more modest than ought to be
gifts are bought in procession
as plates and cups for the faithful
to receive incarnate Body and Blood
and departing used to offer food and filling
peace for those in need
in the name of the frail Infant and mighty Savior
in this year, day, hour, now.

William Weedon said...

Brilliant and beautiful! Thanks, Harvey!

Pastor Harvey S. Mozolak said...

Oh, there was an earlier, more traditional rehearsal I wrote maybe two years ago... HSM

Christmas Proclamation

Harvey S. Mozolak

long many long years ago
generations multiplied by a multitude
ages before eons and epochs
God saw this evening and day
and it was good
as the child lay holy in the hay

before light opened its eyes
to see the sea and seething stone
mound and cool as hills cast in mountains
the fish flash and birds in flight
man astonished at woman
lifted from his side beneath his skin
here a child from no man
but of a virgin’s belly boldly born

waves and waves ago
deep through the tides of time
well after the last lashing splashes
of the flood deluged the world
he washed ashore our flesh
a band of blessing light
new covenanted bent and bowed below
the reign of God
divine dew on the cold rock of the fodder feeder

centuries beyond the centenarians
Sarah and Abraham
who seeded the stars and plowed the sands
with myriad grandchildren’s feet
he came a shock to David’s stock
young maiden Mary of his tribe
too young and pure to know her womb a home
but God comes there by holy promise
to live and grow within and do without

where overwhelmed
drowning in captivity to sin
faltering like Pharaoh’s chariots floundering in the sea
as Moses-child to Egypt from his mother’s arms
he goes out to free his people
to save like Boaz his starving ancient mother Ruth
and rescue like the Judges
Gideon Deborah Barak Sampson
and Samuel last and also priest
anointing David boy of little Bethlehem
king prophesied so small
unknown and insignificant
beside the royal Rome that Daniel saw
with richness and in fear
the power and peace

this the pax
at the right time
conceived by the Holy Spirit
thus after nine months of darkness
tabernacled by Mary’s ribs
fed by the flow of blood
near her consenting heart
born dropped down
like dawn from heaven
this we proclaim
God stakes out his fatherly kingdom
among us with his Son
now even in this year this day and hour
of our annual solemn joyous celebration
full-throated in gloria-alleluias