Christmas Poetry

from Saint Faith's


At the Turning of the Year

An anthology of poetry to mark the Christmas season

Mary of Nazareth

It was like music:
Hovering and floating there
With the sound of lutes and timbrels
In the night air.

It was like waves,
Beating upon the dhore:
Insistent with a rhythm, a pulsing
Unfelt before.

It was like wind:
Blowing from off the seas
Of other, far other
Lands than these.

It was like wings,
Like whirring wings that fly 
The song of an army of swans
On the dark sky.

It was like God:
A presence of blinding ligjt,
Ravishing body and soul
In the Spring night.

 Clive Sansom The Witnesses

The Ending of the Year

When trees did show no leaves
And grass no daisies had,
And fields had lost their sheaves,
And streams in ice were clad,
And day of light was shorn,
And wind had got a spear,
Jesus Christ was born
In the ending of the year.

Like green leaves when they grow,
He shall for comfort be;
Like life in streams shall fkow,
For running water He;
He shall raise hope like corn
For barren fields to bear,
And therefore He was born
In the ending of the year.

Like daisies to the grass,
His innocence He‘ll bring;
In keenest winds that pass
His flowering love shall spring;
The rising of the morn
At midnight shall apeear,
Whenever Christ is born
In the ending of the year.

 Eleanor Farjeon

Singing in the Streets

I had almost forgotten the singing in the streets,
Snow piled up by the houses, drifting
Underneath the door into the warm room,
Firelight, lamplight, the little lame cat
Dreaming in soft sleep on the hearth, mother dozing,
Waiting for Christmas to come, the boys and me
Trudging over blanket fields waving lanterns to the sky.
I had almost forgotten the smell, the feel of it all,
The coming back home, with girls laughing like stars,
Their cheeks, holly berries, me kissing one,
Silent-tongued, soberly, by the long church wall;
Then back to the kitchen table, supper on the white cloth,
Cheese, bread, the home-made wine:
Symbols of the Night`s joy, a holy feast.

 And I wonder now, years gone, mother gone,
The boys and girls scattered, drifted away with the snow-flakes,
Lamplight done, firelight over,
If the sounds of our singing in the streets are still there,
Those old tunes, still praising:
And now, a life-time of Decembers away from it all,
A branch of remembering holly spears my cheek,
And I think it may be so;
Yes, I believe it may be so.

Leonard Clark

With permission from the literary executor of Leonard Clark

Crosby Christmas

The turning year brings Christmastide to greet a waiting world,
And over men and nations see its message now unfurled,
As distant thoughts turn home again and wandering paths draw near
To hearth and home and fireside and memories held dear.
In countless homes now, harassed mums check lists and lay their plans,
And scurry home from Sainsbury`s weighed down with bags and cans.
They shop around for gift-wrapped soap and nuts and tangerines;
For cards with cosy messages and jolly Christmas scenes;
While fathers long for mighty meals, old films and fat cigars,
And children dream of talking dolls, computer games and cars.
Now office boys and secretaries, made bold by party cheer,
Think naughty thoughts and dream wild dreams to last another year.
And Merchant Taylors` comes to church, perched on wooden pews
To sing the well-worn Christmas hymns and hear the Christmas news.
Once more their blended voices ring, the fair sounds rise and fall,
As messages of love and peace waft gently over all.
The dying echoes wander out and steal beneath the door,
To lose themselves across the street in Crosby traffic`s roar.
One rising tide of happiness sweeps gloom and grief away,
Till far and wide the bells ring out to welcome Christmas Day.

 To other ears the Christmas bells toll out a different sound,
And melancholy is the song their echoes ring around.
They sound a world divided, by hatred torn apart,
Where fear and doubt and misery clutch at the human heart;
Where colour, race, or class or creed still sunder man from man,
With all the ancient agonies heaped up since time began.
Where greed and pride and selfishness rule in a world of fear,
And violence and racial strife bring down the dying year.
Those bells ring out in requiem for love and hope and trust,
And peace lies broken, trampled down in grey and lifeless dust.
Across the sea, yet close to home, the bombers‘ murderous blast
Reaps still the senseless harvest of a long and bitter past.
In Europe and in Africa the starving children plead
In ruined towns and barren fields for pity on their need.
All through the world, beneath their flags, the nations threaten war
On refugees, on outcasts and all the helpless poor
Who have no love at Christmastime and none to hear their cry,
As in the doorways of the world they watch our world go by.

 Yet still the ancient Truth is shown to those with eyes to see:
The Prince of Peace comes as a child in awe and majesty;
The angel`s song sounds clear above our world‘s discordant din,
As still to willing hearts and minds the Christ child enters in.
He comes between the drawn swords and the nations armed for war:
A helpless outcast innocent as once he came before.
In him alone is found our peace: the Life, the Truth, the Way;
He comes once more to rule our hearts - Christ born on Christmas Day. 

Chris Price

Welsh New Year Carol

Now the joyful bells a-ringing,
All ye mountains praise the Lord!
Lift our hearts, like birds a-winging,
All ye mountains praise the Lord!
Now our festal season, bringing
Kinsmen all to bide and board.
Sets our cheery voices singing:
All ye mountains praise the Lord!

 Dear our home as dear none other,
Where the mountains praise the Lord.
Gladly here our care we smother,
Where the mountains praise the Lord
Here we know that Christ our brother
Binds us all as by a cord:
He was born of Mary mother,
Where the mountains praise the Lord

 Cold the year, new whiteness wearing,
All ye mountains, praise the Lord!
Peace, goodwill to us a-bearing,
All ye mountains, praise the Lord!
Now we all God‘s goodness sharing
Break the bread and sheathe the sword:
Bright our hearths the signal flaring,
All ye mountains, praise the Lord!

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
`Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied: `Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.'

 from `The Desert ‘ by Minnie Louise Haskins.
Quoted by King George VI in his Christmas Day broadcast, 1939.

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Lent and Easter Poetry
Advent poetry
War and Remembrance poetry
Poems from Liverpool
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