The air was still o'er Bethlehem's plain,
As if the great Night held its
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
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
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
Light to guide till Christ returns
In glory to His own.
There still it shines, while far abroad
The Christmas choir sings now, as
"Glory, glory unto God!
Peace and good-will to men!"
ROME, Christmas, 1871.