Merry Christmas, everyone! I'm posting early this morning so I don't forget to do it later.
A Child My Choice
Let folly praise that fancy loves,
I praise and love that Child
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word,
whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise him most, I love him best,
all praise and love is His;
While him I love, in Him I live,
and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme,
man's most desired light,
To love him, life, to leave him, death,
to live in him, delight.
He mine by gift, I his by debt,
thus to each other due.
First friend He was, best friend He is,
all time will try him true.
Though young, yet wise; though small, yet strong,
though man, yet God he is;
As wise he knows, as strong he can,
as God he loves to bliss.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends,
His love doth cherish all.
His birth our joy, His life our light,
His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants,
yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs,
doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms
can force all foes to fly;
Correct my faults, protect my life,
direct me when I die.
Robert Southwell (1561-1595)
I'm very fond of all the poems I've posted so far (and of those I have yet to post), but this one is my favorite. "A Child My Choice" was among the very first works I selected, and right from the beginning I knew I'd be posting it on Christmas Day. It's one of the most beautiful reflections on what it means to worship Christ I've ever read.
As with "A Hymn of the Nativity" and "Chanticleer", "A Child My Choice" was set to music by the late Richard Wayne Dirksen. The Cathedral Choral Society performed it for our 2002 Joy of Christmas concert, and we're going to record it for the Christmas album we're releasing next year. Not the whole chorus, mind you; it's a delicate piece, and being sung by 200 people might overwhelm it. So that piece and one other will be performed on the album by a 40-person chamber chorus. Modesty prevents me from naming any of the members of the chamber chorus, but suffice it to say, whee!