BOOK OF CHRISTMAS - online book

The Customs, Ceremonies, Traditions, Superstitions, Fun, Feeling,
And Festivities Of The Christmas Season.

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84                              THE BOOK OF CHRISTMAS.
faces," and listen, in that restored companionship, to strains such as " once did sweet in Zion glide" (even as they listened long ago—and, it may be, with some who are gone from them for ever)—
" Hope springs, ' exulting on triumphant wing,' That thus they all shall meet in future days ; There ever bask in uncreated rays, No more to sigh or shed the bitter tear; Together hymning their Creator's praise, In such society yet still more dear ; While ceaseless time moves round in an eternal sphere."
To this tone of feeling the services of the church have, for some time previously, been gradually adapting the mind. During the whole period of the Advent, a course of moral and religious preparation has been going on ; and a state of expectation is, by degrees, excited, not unlike that with which the Jews were waiting for the Messiah of old. There is, as it were, a sort of watching for the great event—a questioning where Christ shall be born, and an earnest looking-out for his star in the east, that we may " come to worship him." The feeling awakened by the whole series of these services—unlike that suggested by some of those which commemorate other portions of the same sacred story—is entirely a joyous one. The lowly manner of the Saviour's coming, the exceeding humiliation of his appointments, the dangers which beset his infancy, and his instant rejection by those to whom he came, are all forgotten in the fact of his coming itself,—in the feeling of a mighty triumph, and the sense of a great deliver­ance ;—or only so far remembered as to temper the triumph, and give a character of tenderness to the joy.—" The services of the church, about this season," says Washington Irvijvj, " are ex­tremely tender and inspiring. They, dwell on the beautiful story of the origin of our faith, and the pastoral scenes that accom-panied its announcement. They gradually increase in fervor and pathos, during the season of Advent, until they breast forth in full jubilee, on the morning that brought ' peace and good-will to men/ "—" I do not know," he adds, " a grander effect of music on the moral feelings, than to hear the full choir, and the pealing organ, performing a Christmas Anthem, in a cathedral ; and filling
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