FEELINGS OF THE SEASON. 85
every part of the vast pile with triumphant harmony." We confess that, for ourselves, very sensible as we are to the grander and more complicated effects of harmony, we have, on the occasion in question, been more touched by the simple song of rejoicing, as it rang, in its unaided sweetness, through the aisles of some village church. We have felt ourselves more emphatically reminded, amid pastoral scenes and primitive choirs, of the music of congratulation, which was uttered through the clear air, to men, " abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night,"—
" The hallowed anthem sent to hail Bethlehem's shepherds in the lonely vale, When Jordan hushed his waves, and midnight still Watched on the holy towers of Zion's hill."
Nor is the religious feeling which belongs to this season suffered to subside with the great event of the Nativity itself. The incidents of striking interest which immediately followed the birth of the Messiah—the persecutions which were directed against his life—and the starry writing of God in the sky, which, amid the rejection of " his own," drew to him witnesses from afar—all contribute to keep alive the sense of a sacred celebration, to the end of the period usually devoted to social festivity; and send a wholesome current of religious feelings, through the entire season, to temper its extravagances and regulate its mirth. The worship of the shepherds—the lamentation in Rama, and the weeping of Rachael for the murder of the innocents—the miraculous escape from that massacre of the Saviour, and the flight of his parents into Egypt, with the rescued child—and the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles (which is indeed the day of his nativity to us),—are all commemorated in the Christian church; and illustrated by the series of services, distributed through that period of religious worship which bears the general title of Christmas.
There is, too, in the lengthened duration of this festival, a direct cause of that joyous and holiday spirit which, for the most part (after the first tenderness of meeting has passed away, and a few tears perhaps been given, as the muster-roll is perused, to those who answer to their names no more), pervades all whom that same duration has tempted to assemble.