Today's poem is dedicated to my good friend Susan Phillips, who was killed last night in a single-car accident outside Waterford, where she and I attended church together since 1996. We both joined our church as part of the same Inquirer's class, and a few years later we were both ordained as Elders together. We served on the Session together for three years, and we both sang in the church choir. She was a marvelous person, and a good friend, and I'll really miss her.
A Hymn of the Nativity
Wellcome, all WONDERS in one sight!
Æternity shutt in a span.
Sommer in Winter. Day in Night.
Heaven in earth, & GOD in MAN.
Great little one! whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoopes heav'n to earth.
WELLCOME. Though nor to gold nor silk.
To more then Cæsar's birth right is;
Two sister-seas of Virgin-Milk,
With many a rarely-temper'd kisse
That breathes at once both MAID & MOTHER,
Warmes in the one, cooles in the other.
WELLCOME, though not to those gay flyes
Guilded ith' Beames of earthly kings;
Slippery soules in smiling eyes;
But to poor Shepherds, home-spun things:
Whose Wealth's their flock; whose witt, to be
Well read in their simplicity.
Yet when young April's husband showrs
Shall blesse the fruitfull Maia's bed,
We'l bring the First-born of her flowrs
To kisse thy FEET & crown thy HEAD.
To thee, dread Lamb! whose love must keep
The shepheards, more then they the sheep.
To THEE meek Majesty! soft KING
Of simple GRACES & sweet LOVES.
Each of us his lamb will bring
Each his pair of sylver Doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Our selves become our own best SACRIFICE.
Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)
Richard Dirksen wrote a fantastic anthem based on this poem, called Welcome All Wonders. His setting uses only the first four and last four lines, and it wasn't until I started working on this Christmas poetry project that I realized it wasn't just an eight-line poem. I've performed Welcome All Wonders with the Cathedral Choral Society twice, once in 2001 and again this year. We don't normally repeat music that quickly, but Dirksen passed away earlier this year, so we're doing it again to honor his service to Washington National Cathedral and the Cathedral Choral Society.