Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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In tempest and fury,
Your angry noise hush ; Move gently, move gently,
Restrain your wild sweep ; Hold your branches at rest,
My babe is asleep.
My babe all divine,
With earth's sorrows oppressed, Seeks in slumber an instant
His grievings to rest ; He slumbers, he slumbers,
O, hush, then, and keep Your branches all still,
My babe is asleep ! " 43
Apart from such modern revivals of the Christmas drama as Mr. Laurence Housman's "Bethlehem," Miss Buckton's " Eager Heart," Mrs. Percy Dearmer's " The Soul of the World," and similar experiments in Germany and France, a genuine tradition has lingered on in some parts of Europe into modern times. We have already noticed some French and German instances ; to these may be added a few from other countries.
In Naples there is no Christmas without the "Cantata dei pastori" ; it is looked forward to no less than the Midnight Mass. Two or three theatres compete for the public favour in the performance of this play in rude verse. It begins with Adam and Eve and ends with the birth of Jesus and the adoration of the shepherds. Many devils are brought on the stage, their arms and legs laden with brass chains that rattle horribly. Awful are their names, Lucifero, Satanasso, Belfegor, Belzebu, Sec. They not only tempt Adam and Eve, but annoy the Virgin and St. Joseph, until an angel comes and frightens them away. Two non-Biblical figures are introduced, Razzullo and Sarchiapone, who are tempted by devils and aided by angels.44 In Sicily too the Christmas play still lingers under the name of PastoraleAS
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