Today is, in a liturgical sense, both the start of the new year and the start of the Christmas season. Advent is a time for Christians to commemorate the coming of the Christ and to prepare for His second coming. It is also a time during which I celebrate the season by making a holiday-themed post every day between the first Sunday in Advent and the Feast of the Epiphany, which falls every year on January 6. The first year I did this was 2003, when I posted a seasonal poem every day. The following year, I posted seasonal works of arts from Washington-area museums. In 2005, I posted images of holiday cards, botrh antique and contemporary. I went back to poetry in 2006, and to art in 2007. Last year, I shared one or more seasonal MP3s every day. And this year? Well, if you've been paying attention you know that once again I've compiled a selection of Christmas poetry to share.
(I should note here that while the majority of the poems are Christmas or Advent poems, they are not exclusively so. You'll see poems celebrating Hanukkah, Solstice, St. Stephen's Day, and the Annunciation. Also, some of the poems are not poems. And you should not expect the poems to correspond to the liturgical calendar. Yes, the Advent poems will all be posted before Christmas, and those about the Magi will appear after Christmas. (Because the Biblical Magi arrived in Judea after Jesus was born, and their arrival is officially celebrated on the liturgical calendar on January 6.) But many of the Christmas poems will appear during Advent, which is not really appropriate in a liturgical sense. However, so what. As they say, "remenber, if you don't like it, you can lump it.")
Ayway, here is the first of this year's poems. It's one of my favorite hymns, written in the 1740s by the British hymnodist Charles Wesley. It is both the first and the second hymn in the Presbyterian hymnal; it's set first to the tune Stuttgart, second to Hyfrydol. My impression is that Hyfrydol is the more commonly sung tune, but I like it either way.
Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us for ever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone:
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne. Amen.
Charles Wesley (1707–1788)
Previous Advent posts: