Christmas Eve 1836

by Henry Alford

Henry Alford

The stars are clear and frosty, and the Earth
Is laid in her first sleep, secure and calm;
The glorious works of God, as at the first,
Are very good. It is the blessed night
When, if the say of ancient chronicles
Deceive not, no ill spirit walks abroad;
A night for holy prayers and fancies pure;
A night when solitude in bed and board
Might frame itself celestial company
Out of its peopled thoughts. But here with me
Are two, on whom toil and the quiet time
Have wrought sweet slumber; and by breathings soft
They testify their presence to my heart,
And waken kindly thoughts. My earliest loved,--
Thou who, in laughing childhood and ripe youth,
Wast ever mine; with whose advancing thought
I grew entwined,--and who, in time, didst yield
Thy maiden coyness, and in mystic band
Didst link thyself to me:--one heart, one life
Binds us together; in the inmost soul
Either is known to other; and we walk
The daily path of unrecorded life,
Blest with a double portion of God's love.

And thou, in thy warm nook beside our bed,
Peacefully wrapt in slumber infantine,
Thou treasure newly found of springing joy,
Thou jewel in the coronet of love,
Thou little flower, a choice plant's earliest gem,
Thou brightest morning--star by Love divine
Set on the forehead of the hopeful east,--
Thou reckest not of time; our human names
Mould not thy varying moods; if marking aught,
Measuring thy days by still--expected hours
Of soft appliance to thy mother's breast;
And yet methinks so hallowed is the time,
That even thy cushioned cheek hath trace of it,
Clothed in a deeper and peculiar calm.

The blessings of a kindly Providence
Light on ye both; the way of life, not dark
With gathering storms as yet, invites us on;
We must advance, in threefold union strong,
And strong in Him who bound our lives in God.

Last updated February 11, 2018