Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE CHRISTIAN FEAST
In the manger small his room,
Whom not heaven itself could hold.
•              •              •              •
Father—not more old than thou ?
Mother—younger, can it be ? Older, younger is the Son,
Younger, older, she than he."2?
Even in dour Scotland, with its hatred of religious festivals, some kind of carolling survived here and there among Highland folk, and a remarkable and very " Celtic" Christmas song has been translated from the Gaelic by Mr. J. A. Campbell. It begins:—
" Sing hey the Gift, sing ho the Gift, Sing hey the Gift of the Living, Son of the Dawn, Son of the Star, Son of the Planet, Son of the Far [twice], Sing hey the Gift, sing ho the Gift."28
Before I close this study with a survey of Christmas poetry in England after the Reformation, it may be interesting to follow the developments in Protestant Germany. The Reformation gave a great impetus to German religious song, and we owe to it some of the finest of Christmas hymns. It is no doubt largely due to Luther, that passionate lover of music and folk-poetry, that hymns have practically become the liturgy of German Protestantism ; yet he did but give typical expression to the natural instincts of his countrymen for song. Luther, though a rebel, was no Puritan ; we can hardly call him an iconoclast; he had a con­servative mind, which only gradually became loosened from its old attachments. His was an essentially artistic nature: "I would fain," he said, "see all arts, especially music, in the service of Him who has given and created them," and in the matter of hymnody he continued, in many respects, the mediaeval German tradition. Homely, kindly, a lover of children, he had a deep feeling for the festival of Christmas j and not only did he trans­late into German " A solis ortus cardine " and " Veni, redemptor
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