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Our great redemption from above did bring
For so the holy sages once did sing, B

That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

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II.

That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table 10
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.

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III.

Say, Heavenly 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 heaven, by the Sun's team untrod,

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

bright?

20

IV.

See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet !
Oh! 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 touched with hallowed fire.

THE HYMN.

I.

It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child

30

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All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ;

Nature, in awe to him,

Had doffed 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.

II.

Only with speeches fair

She woos the gentle airr
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,

And on her naked shame, i

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.

40

III.

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-eyed Peace : She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding

Down through the turning sphere,

His ready harbinger, With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 50 And, waving wide her myrtle wand, She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

IV.

No war, or battle's sound,

Was heard the world around ;
The idle spear and shield were high uphung ;

The hooked chariot stood,

Unstained with hostile blood ; The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng ; And kings sat still with awful eye, As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 60

V.

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 kissed, Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, Who now hath quite forgot to rave, While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed

wave.

VI.

The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,

70 Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light, Or Lucifer that often warned them thence ; But in their glimmering orbs did glow, Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

VII.

And, though the shady gloom

Had given day her room,
The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,

80
As his inferior flame
The new-enlightened world no more should need :
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne or burning axletree could .

bear.

VIII.

The shepherds on the lawn,

Or ere the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;

Full little thought they than

That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below:

90 Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.

IX.

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,

99 With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly

close.

X.

Nature, that heard such sound

Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat the Airy 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 Heaven and Earth in happier union.

XI.

110

At last surrounds their sight

A globe of circular light, That with long beams the shamefaced Night arrayed;

The helmed cherubim

And sworded seraphim Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed, Harping in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir

XII.

I 20

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-balanced World on hinges hung, And cast the dark foundations deep, And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

XIII.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres !

Once bless our human ears,
If

ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime

Move in melodious time;
And let the base of heaven's deep organ blow ; 130
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

XIV.

For, if such holy song

Enwrap 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 from earthly mould ;
And Hell itself will pass away,

139 And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

xv.

Yea, Truth and Justice then

Will down return to men,
Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,

Mercy will sit between,

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