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MILTON.

HYMN ON THE NATIVITY.

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heav'ns eternal King,
Of wedded Maid and Virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy Sages once did sing :

That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

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That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherwith he wont at Heav'ns high councel-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,

Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksom house of mortal clay.

III.

Say, heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God ?
Hast thou no vers, no hymn, or solemn strein,
To welcom him to this his new abode
Now while the Heav'n by the sun's team untrod

Hath took no print of the approching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

20 IV.

See how from far upon the eastern rode
The star-led Wisards haste with Odours sweet;
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,

And joyn thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out his secret altar toucht with hallow'd fire.

THE HYMN.

It was the winter wilde,
While the Heav'n-born childe

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in aw to him
Had doff't her gawdy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize ;
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun her lusty paramour.

II.

Onely with speeches fair
She woo's the gentle Air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinfull blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw :
Confounded, that her Makers eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

III.

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But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;

She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphear,
His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
And, waving wide her mirtle wand,
She strikes a universall peace through sea and land.

50 IV.

55

No war, or battails sound,
Was heard the world around;

The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sate still with awfull eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

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But peacefull was the night
Wherin the Prince of Light

His raign of peace upon the earth began;
The windes, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joyes to the milde ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

VI.

The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixt in sted fast gaze,

Bending one way their pretious influence,
And will not take their flight
For all the morning light

Or Lucifer that often warn’d them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Untill their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

VII.

And, though the shady Gloom
Had given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferiour flame

The new-enlightn'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater sun appear
Then his bright throne or burning axle-tree could bear.

VIII.

The shepherds on the lawn
Or ere the point of dawn

Sate simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they than
That the mighty Pan

Was kindly com to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busie keep,

90

IX.
When such musick sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortall finger strook,
Divinely warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,

As all their souls in blissfull rapture took;
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echo's still prolongs each heav'nly close.

100

X.
Nature, that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round

Of Cynthia's seat the airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was don,

And that her raign had here its last fulfilling;
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all Heav'n and Earth in happier union.

105

IIO

XI.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,

That with long beams the shame-fac't Night array'd;
The helmed Cherubim,
The sworded Seraphim

Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displaied,
Harping in loud and solemn quire
With unexpressive notes to Heav'n's new-born Heir.

115 XII.

I 20

Such musick (as 'tis said)
Before was never made

But when of old the sons of Morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,

And the well-balianc't world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.

XIII.

125

Ring out, ye crystall sphears ;
Once bless our humane ears

(If ye have power to touch our senses so),
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time,

And let the base of Heav'ns deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to th' angelike symphony.

130

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XIV.

135

For, if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,

Time will run back, and fetch the age of Gold; I
And speckl'd Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,

And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould ;
And Hell it self will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day. '

140

XV.

Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,

Orb’d in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will set between,
Thron'd in celestiall sheen,

With radiant feet the tissued clouds down stearing;
And Heav'n, as at som festivall,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.

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