Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
- Thomas Hardy
I always look for different versions of this, a song that would suit Easter as much as (or maybe more than) Christmas. One I posted in 2015; one in 2018; and there was another version I had put up, with Kathleen Ferrier singing, that has been removed from YouTube, sadly. Below, a singer and musicians from Ghana. This young woman, Francisca Kusi-Ababio, is sublime. What is bittersweet here is that there are people who would see this clip and be bothered that African musicians are performing work by a dead white male who enjoyed the fruits of imperialism and blah blah blah zzzzzzzzzzzz. (That people can fail to see this as glorious – this sharing of cultures – is beyond me.)
Enjoy. Merry Christmas.
The Sacred. Glorious:
The Silly. Fun and also kind of glorious:
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.
Look down and offer Him
The dim adoring light of your belief
Whose small Heart bleeds with infinite fire.
Shall not this Child
(When we shall hear the bells of His amazing voice)
Conquer the winter of our hateful century?
And when His Lady Mother leans upon the crib,
Lo, with what rapiers
Those two loves fence and flame their brilliancy!
Here in this straw lie planned the fires
That will melt all our sufferings:
He is our Lamb, our holocaust!
And one by one the shepherds, with their snowy feet,
Stamp and shake out their hats upon the stable dirt,
And one by one kneel down to look upon their Life.
A beautiful version of my favourite part of Handel’s Messiah. Perfect diction, powerful emotion. I only wish she had a larger audience.
If you’re looking for a good cause, a good charity to which you can donate, look no further than the Aleppo Cat Man. He is really doing the work of the angels. Of course, any charity that matters to you is also an excellent option, but I have so admired the work done by this sanctuary in an impossible situation.
Maybe the humourless, joyless wonders that I wrote about in the previous post will approve of this version: Betty Garrett and Red Skelton, with Betty totally empowered.