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GUEST,Dale christmas poems (12) RE: christmas poems 04 Dec 06


I posted this just before Christmas last year, but got no response to it. It is a poem worth thinking about.

More than 90 years ago the Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Robert Bridges, was led to write a poem, NoŽl: Christmas Eve 1913. In 1979, Lee Holdridge adapted the words and set it to music for John Denver.

After last Christmas, I was looking for bargains on the Christmas cutout rack at Hastings and one of the CDs I came home with contained a version by the McCarter Sisters recorded in 1990.   It immediately became a treasured favorite for me. Perhaps some of you will find a place for it as well.

NoŽl: Christmas Eve 1913
Robert Bridges, Poet Laureate, United Kingdom (1913)

A frosty Christmas Eve when the stars were shining
Fared I forth alone where westward falls the hill,
And from many a village in the water'd valley
Distant music reach'd me peals of bells aringing:
The constellated sounds ran sprinkling on earth's floor
As the dark vault above with stars was spangled o'er.
Then sped my thoughts to keep that first Christmas of all
When the shepherds watching by their folds ere the dawn
Heard music in the fields and marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels or the bright stars singing.
Now blessed be the towers that crown England so fair
That stand up strong in prayer unto God for our souls
Blessed be their founders (said I) an' our country folk
Who are ringing for Christ in the belfries tonight
With arms lifted to clutch the rattling ropes that race
Into the dark above and the mad romping din.
But to me heard afar it was starry music
Angels' song, comforting as the comfort of Christ
When he spake tenderly to his sorrowful flock:
The old words came to me by the riches of time
Mellow'd and transfigured as I stood on the hill
Heark'ning in the aspect of th' eternal silence

NoŽl: Christmas Eve 1913
As adapted by Lee Holdridge and transcribed from the singing of The McCarter Sisters on 25th December: A Christmas Celebration Of Women, Madacy MLP 2-0451 , 1998. (Warner Brothers Special Products)

A frosty Christmas Eve, when the stars were shining                                       
I traveled forth alone, where westward falls the hill                                          
And for many, many a village, in the darkness of the valley
Distant music reached me, peels of bells were ringing.

Then sped my thoughts to olden times, to that first of Christmases                     
When shepherds who were watching, heard music in the fields
And they sat there and they marveled, and they knew they could not tell
Whether it were angels, or the bright stars singing                                             

The tune he heard afar, it was starry music                                                         
The singing of the angels, the comfort of our Lord
Words of old that come a traveling, by the riches of the times
And I softly listened, as I stood upon the hill
And I softly listened, as I stood upon the hill


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