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ON THE MORNING OF

CHRIST'S NATIVITY.

(Milton]
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heav'n's 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.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-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 darksome house of mortal clay. Say heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode, Now while the Heav'n by the sun's team untrod,

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

bright?
See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards 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 join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

THE HYMN.

It was the winter wild,
While the Heav'n-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to him
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathise;
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She woo's the gentle air

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

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw,
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But he her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;

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

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
No war, or battle's 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 sat still with awful eye,
. As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of light

His reign of peace upon the earth began :
The winds with wonder whist
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

The stars with deep amaze
Stand fix'd in stedfast gaze,

Bending one way their precious 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,
Until the Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,

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

The new enlighten'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axle-tree could

bear.

The sbepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then
That the mighty Pan

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

When such music sweet,
Their hearts and ears did greet,

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

As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air such pleasure loth to lose
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heav'nly

close.

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Nature that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round

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

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

For if suc Lowrap ou

Time x And spech Will sicke

And lep And Hell And leave

At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,

That with long beams the shame.fac'd night array'd,
The helmed cherubim
And sworded seraphim

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

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Such music (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-balanc'd world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the welt'ring waves their oozy channel keep.

This must not

'The Babe lie That on the bitte Must redeem ou

So both himse Yet first to those The wakeful try

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Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our humble ears,

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

And let the bass of heav'n's deep organ blow,
And with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full concert to th' angelic symphony.

For if such holy song
Inwrap our fancy long,

Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,

And leprous Sin will melt with earthly mould,
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

Yea Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,

Orb'd in a rainbow; and like glories wearing
Mercy will sit between,
Thron'd in celestial sheen,

With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering,
And Heav'n, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall,

But wisest Fate says no,
This must not yet be so,

The Babe lies yet in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;

So both himself and us to glorify :
Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep,
The wakeful trump of Doom must thunder through the

deep.

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