Hymn of the Nativity by John Milton

On the Morning of Christ's Nativity.

It was the winter wild
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapped in the rude manger lies;
Nature in awe to him
Has doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize:
No war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around;
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hookèd 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.
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 charmèd wave.
The stars with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,
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.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering
And Heaven, as at some festival
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.

 

But wisest Fate says no;
This must not yet be so;
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorify;
Yet first, to those ychained in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep.
But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest;
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending;
Heaven's youngest-teemèd star
Hath fixed her polished car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending:
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.