Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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THE CHRISTIAN FEAST
'Alas!' quoth He, 'but newly born,
In fiery heats I fry, Yet none approach to warm their hearts
Or feel my fire, but I ! My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuel, wounding thorns ; Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ashes, shame and scorns ; The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals, The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men's defiled souls, For which, as now on fire I am,
To work them to their good, So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in my blood.' With this he vanished out of sight,
And swiftly shrunk away : And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas Day."38
As for Crashaw,
" That the great angel-blinding light should shrink His blaze to shine in a poor shepherd's eye, That the unmeasured God so low should sink As Pris'ner in a few poor rags to lie, That from His mother's breast He milk should drink Who feeds with nectar heaven's fair family,
That a vile manger His low bed should prove Who in a throne of stars thunders above :
That He, whom the sun serves, should faintly peep Through clouds of infant flesh ; that He the old Eternal Word should be a Child and weep, That He who made the fire should fear the cold : That heaven's high majesty His court should keep In a clay cottage, by each blast controll'd :
That glory's self should serve our griefs and fears,
And free Eternity submit to years—" 39
such are the wondrous paradoxes celebrated in his glowing imagery. The contrast of the winter snow with the burning
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