Those of you who lived through my previous Advent projects may find this familiar. In 2003, I posted a poem by William Austin called "Chanticleer;" in 2008 (well, 2009 technically) I shared a choral setting of the same poem. And both times, I cited part of a certain passage from Hamlet—a speech by Marcellus to Horatio and Bernardo after seeing the Ghost—to explain what a rooster has to do with Christmas. I only ever quoted the first three lines of the speech because ... well, I don't know. Certainly the first three lines have more in common with the theme of the Austin poem than do the latter four, but somehow I think the most likely explanation is that those three lines were cited in the program notes from the concert where I performed the anthem in 2003. I can't prove it, because I can't find my copy of the program, but it seems like the kind of thing I would do.
From Hamlet, Act I, Scene 1:
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.
William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)
Previous Advent posts: