Tuesday, December 10, 2013

THE LION'S NOEL, II. The Lamb's Hymn to the Nativity

His stable is
a Prince’s courte,
 The cribbe His 
chaire of State;
The beastes 
are parcell of 
His pompe,
The wodden dishe, 
His plate.
Robert Southwell 

The Lion's Noël
A Book of Christmas Beasts

II.   The Lamb's Hymn to the Nativity

Adoration of the Shepherds by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

The Lamb

         Little Lamb who made thee;

        Dost thou know who made thee?

Gave thee life & bid thee feed, 

By the stream & o'er the mead;

Gave thee clothing of delight,

Softest clothing wooly bright;

Gave thee such a tender voice,

Making all the vales rejoice? 

         Little Lamb who made thee; 

         Dost thou know who made thee?

         Little Lamb I'll tell thee,

         Little Lamb I'll tell thee;

He is called by thy name,

For he calls himself a Lamb: 

He is meek & he is mild, 

He became a little child: 

I a child & thou a lamb, 

We are called by his name.

         Little Lamb, God bless thee 

         Little Lamb, God bless thee

              William Blake, 1757–1827

Hymn for Christmas Day

See, amid the winter's snow,

Born for us on earth below,

See, the tender Lamb appears,

Promised from eternal years.

     Hail, thou ever blessed morn,

     Hail redemption's happy dawn,

     Sing through all Jerusalem,

     Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies

He who built the starry skies;

He who, throned in height sublime,

Sits among the cherubim.

Say, ye holy shepherds, say,

What your joyful news today;

Wherefore have ye left your sheep

On the lonely mountain steep?

"As we watched at dead of night,

Lo, we saw a wondrous light:

Angels singing 'Peace On Earth'

Told us of the Saviour's birth."

Sacred Infant, all divine,

What a tender love was Thine,

Thus to come from highest bliss

Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, Holy Child,

By Thy face so meek and mild,

Teach us to resemble Thee,

In Thy sweet humility.

     Hail, thou ever blessed morn,

     Hail redemption's happy dawn,

     Sing through all Jerusalem,

     Christ is born in Bethlehem.

                 Edward Caswall, 1814-1878

Musical setting "See Amid the Winter's Snow" using the first two and the last two verses of the text above:
"See Amid the Winter's Snow"

from "The Shepherd Who Stayed"

My master bade me watch the flock by night;

My duty was to stay. I do not know

What thing my comrades saw in that great light,

I did not heed the words that bade them go,

I know not were they maddened or afraid;

I only know I stayed.

The hillside seemed on fire; I felt the sweep

Of wings above my head; I ran to see

If any danger threatened these my sheep.

What though I found them folded quietly,

What though my brother wept and plucked my sleeve --

They were not mine to leave.

Thieves in the wood and wolves upon the hill --

My duty was to stay. Strange though it be,

I had no thought to hold my mates, no will

To bid them wait and keep the watch with me.

I had not heard that summons they obeyed;

I only know I stayed.

Perchance they will return upon the dawn

With word of Bethlehem and why they went.

I only know that watching here alone,

I know a strange content.

I have not failed that trust upon me laid;

I ask no more -- I stayed.   

    Theodosia Garrison, 1874-1944

He Shall Feed His Flock

He shall feed his flock like a shepherd

He shall gather the lambs with his arm, 

and carry them in his bosom, 

and shall gently lead those that are with young.

           Isaiah 40:11, The Bible, King James Version

For What Shepherd Is There Among You

For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, 
that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? 
And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? 
Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; 

and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold.

           Alma 5: 59-60, The Book of Mormon

The Shepherds Sing, from "Christmas"

The shepherds sing; and shall I silent be?

      My God, no hymn for Thee?

My soul's a shepherd too; a flock it feeds

      Of thoughts, and words, and deeds.

The pasture is Thy word: the streams, Thy grace

      Enriching all the place.

Shepherd and flock shall sing, and all my powers

      Outsing the daylight hours.

Then will we chide the sun for letting night

      Take up his place and right:

We sing one common Lord; wherefore he should

      Himself the candle hold.

I will go searching, till I find a sun

      Shall stay, till we have done;

A willing shiner, that shall shine as gladly,

      As frost-nipped suns look sadly.

Then will we sing, and shine all our own day,

      And one another pay:

His beams shall cheer my breast, and both so twine,

Till ev'n His beams sing, and my music shine.

         George Herbert, 1593-1633

Winds Through the Olive Trees

Winds through the Olive Trees,

Softly did blow.

Round little Bethlehem,

Long, long ago. 

Sheep on the hillside lay

Whiter than snow,

Shepherds were watching them,

Long, long ago. 

Then from the happy skies

Angels bent low,

Singing their songs of joy;

Long, long ago. 

For in a manger bed

Cradled we know,

Christ came to Bethlehem

Long, long ago.

             Traditional Carol, 16th Century Gascony

See, amid the winter's snow,
     Born for us on earth below,
          See, the tender Lamb appears,
               Promised from eternal years.


Here ends
The Lamb’s Hymn to the Nativity


The verse from the title page in modern typeface:

His stable is a Prince's courte,
     The cribb His chaire of State;
The beastes are parcell of His pompe,
     The wodden dishe, His plate.

     Robert Southwell, from New Prince, New Pomp 

Painting: Adoration of the Shepherds by Giorgione

To listen to a vocal setting of "The Shepherds Sing" go to this link and fast forward in to the "Pastoral" from the Christmas Cantata, Hodie, by Ralph Vaughan Williams:
"The Oxen" "Narration" and "Pastoral" from Hodie by R. Vaughan Williams

1 comment:

  1. Inspiring, as always! You have the greatest repertoire of amazing art and verse!