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A Christmas Hymn by T. Buchanan Read

The air was still o'er Bethlehem's plain,

As if the great Night held its breath,

When Life Eternal came to reign

Over a world of Death.

The pagan at his midnight board

Let fall his brimming cup of gold:

He felt the presence of his Lord

Before His birth was told.

The temples trembled to their base,

The idols shuddered as in pain:

A priesthood in its power of place

Knelt to its gods in vain.

All Nature felt a thrill divine

When burst that meteor on the night,

Which, pointing to the Saviour's shrine,

Proclaimed the new-born light—

Light to the shepherds! and the star

Gilded their silent midnight fold—

Light to the Wise Men from afar,

Bearing their gifts of gold—

Light to a realm of Sin and Grief—

Light to a world in all its needs—

The Light of life—a new belief

Rising o'er fallen creeds—

Light on a tangled path of thorns,

Though leading to a martyr's throne—

Light to guide till Christ returns

In glory to His own.

There still it shines, while far abroad

The Christmas choir sings now, as then,

"Glory, glory unto God!

Peace and good-will to men!"

ROME, Christmas, 1871.