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God rest you, merry gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
Was born upon this day;
When we were gone astray.
Let not amazement blind
Your souls, said he, annoy;
My message bringeth joy.
A blessed Babe, an Infant full of power: After long night, up-risen is the
By prophets seen afar;
Which Winter cannot mar.
pear, Clouded in flesh, yet shepherds sit
BY GEORGE WITIIERB.
As on the night before this happy
morn, A blessed angel unto shepherds
told, Where (in a stable) He was poorly
born, Whom nor the earth, nor heaven
of heavens can hold : Through Bethlem rung This news at their re
turn; Yea, angels sung That God with us was
born; And they made mirth because we
should not mourn.
Their angel-carol sing we then,
To God on high all glory be,
"Now to the Lord sing praises."
From God, our heavenly Father,
A blessed angel came, And unto certain shepherds
Brought tidings of the same; How that in Bethlehem was born The Son of God by name.
O tidings, &c.
Fear not, then said the angel,
Let nothing you affright; This day is born a Saviour,
Of virtue, power, and might, So frequently to vanquish all The friends of Satan quite.
O tidings, &c.
The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoicèd much in mind,
In tempest, storm, and wind,
O tidings, &c.
But when to Bethlehem they came,
Where as this infant lay, They found him in a manger
Where oxen feed on hay, His mother Mary kneeling Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings, &c.
THE APPROACH OF CHRISTMAS.
BY JOHN GAY.
When rosemary, and bays, the poets' crown,
SUMMER TOIL, AND WINTER CHEER.
(From Poor Robin's Almanack.)
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place, And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace, This holy tide of Christmas All others doth deface.
O tidings, &c.
illustrated Christmas poems from Holy Mount, which once bore the Temple the elder poets; and add the above moon—that Mount Olivet which once overlight view of Bethlehem, the birth-place looked Jerusalem-we kn
that Mount of Christ, as a suitable counterpart to Gerizim still overhangs the Valley of them.
Shechem—that there is the hill where once We may not be able to determine the stood Samaria—that there is Nazareth, exact spot where Christ was crucified, within whose secluded vale our Lord so or point to the cave in which, for part of long awaited the time appointed for his three days, his body lay; nor is the lo- public ministry—the plain of Gennesareth, cality from which he ascended to heaven as- and the Sea of Galilee—the mountains to certainable. The Scriptures are silent, and which he retired—the plains in which he no other authority can supply the informa- wrought his miracles—the waters which tion. But we know that in the Holy Land | he trod, and the Jordan, still rolling its
consecrated waters to the bituminous lake the monastery erected over the supposed where the wicked cities stood ; and, of the Nativity ;” its walls and knowing all this, we can look upon Pales- battlements have the air of a large fortress. tine as something more than mere masses From this point the Dead Sea is seen beof ruins, invested with countless traditions low, on the left. The road winds round -as something, in fact, inseparably as- the top of a valley, which tradition has sociated with a literature which excels in fixed upon as the scene of the angelic sublimity all the ethics, and philosophy, vision which announced the birth of our and poetry, and eloquence of the remainder Lord to the shepherds; but different spots of the ancient world.
have been selected, the Romish authorities As the scene of the solemn events which not being agreed on the subject. The marked the dawn of Christianity, every number of inhabitants in Bethlehem is about foot of Palestine is hallowed ground ; and three hundred, the majority of whom gain when we come to reflect on the divine their livelihood by making beads, carving character of the religious system thus in- mother-of-pearl shells with sacred subjects, augurated-on its mission and immortal and manufacturing small tables and crucitendencies—all our surprise at the en- fixes. The monks claim the exclusive thusiasm-at some periods the absolute privilege of marking the limbs and bodies delirium—which prompted the pilgrimages of the devotees with crosses, stars, and of the middle ages, vanishes. Christianity monograms, by means of gunpowder-a had taken a firm hold of the public mind- practice borrowed from the customs of it had reached the heart, and in the first heathenism; for Virgil expressly mentions bursts of gladness, a loftier, purer feeling it in the fourth book of the “ Æneid.” than curiosity induced the furore which But at Bethlehem, as well as Jerusalem, led to those extraordinary invasions now the puerilities and mummeries of the known as the Crusades. They were na- priests sadly interfere with the harmony tural and incidental to an age of mental of the associations that are clustered in deprivation. We who live in an age of and about this interesting locality. The intellect and books, do not need such a monastery being built on a rock, the legend stimulus-we can bring distant places be- has been concocted, that the stable in fore our mind's eye without traveling to which Christ was born was a grotto cut them in person ; and we will undertake to in the rock. say, that those who read diligently know The ancient tombs and excavations are more of the world without their own occasionally used by the Arabs as places sphere, than those who travel leisurely, of shelter ; but the gospel narrative affords merely to write learnedly. The facilities no countenance to the notion that the Virafforded by modern literature have brought gin took refuge in any cave of this descripa knowledge of the most remote places to tion. On the contrary, it was evidently almost every fireside ; therefore this is not a manger belonging to the inn, or khan; an age of pilgrimages. If we want to be in other words, the upper rooms being introduced to the principal features of the wholly occupied, the holy family were Holy Land, our wish can be gratified compelled to take up their abode in the without taking a passage in a Levantine court allotted to the mules and horses, or steamer: the artist and the writer can other animals. To suppose that the inn, bring them before us with almost magical or the stable, whether attached to the inn celerity; and as Bethlehem—next to Jeru- or not, was a grotto, is to outrage common salem-is the most interesting place in the sense. But the New Testament was not Holy Land, we thought our readers would the guide which was followed by the gladly accept an illustration, accompanied mother of Constantine, to whom the origby some description, of that scene of the inal Church owed its foundation. The Saviour's nativity.
present edifice is represented by ChateauBethlehem is a village situated on a briand as of undoubtedly high antiquity; rising ground, about six miles from Jeru- yet Doubdan, an old traveler, says that salem. The first view is imposing. The the monastery was destroyed in the year village appears covering the ridge of a hill 1263 by the Moslems; and in its present on the southern side of a deep and exten- state, at all events, it cannot lay claim to sive valley, and reaching from east to a higher date. The convent is divided west. The most conspicuous object is among the Greek, Roman, and Armenian
oof that no longer posers.
Christians, to each of whom separate parts floor, and hollowed out in the form of a are assigned, as places of worship and manger. Before it is the altar of the habitations for the monks; but, on certain Magi. The chapel is illuminated by thirtydays, all may perform their devotions at two lamps, presented by different princes the altars erected over the consecrated of Christendom. Chateaubriand has despots. The church is built in the form scribed the scene in his usual florid and of a cross—the nave being adorned with imaginative style. forty-eight Corinthian columns in four
"Nothing can be more pleasing or better rows, each column being two feet six calculated to excite devotional sentiments, than inches in diameter, and eighteen feet high, this subterraneous church. It is adorned with including the base and the capital. As pictures of the Italian and Spanish schools,
which represent the mysteries of the place. the roof of the nave is wanting, the columns
The usual ornaments of the manger are of blue support nothing but a frieze of wood, which satin, embroidered with silver. Incense is conoccupies the place of the architrave and tinually burning before the cradle of our Saviour. the whole entablature. Open timber-work I have heard there an organ, touched by no orrests on the walls, and rises into the form dinary hand, play, during mass, the sweetest
and most tender tunes of the best Italian comof a dome, to support a
These concerts charm the Christian exists, or that perhaps was never finished. Arab, who, leaving his camels to feed, repairs, The remains of some paintings on wood like the shepherds of old, to Bethlehem, to adore and in mosaic are here and there to be
the King of kings in the manger. I have seen
this inhabitant of the desert communicate at seen, exhibiting figures in full face, up
the altar of the Magi, with a fervor, a piety, a right and stiff, but having a majestic ef- devotion, unknown among the Christians of the fect. The nave, which is in possession West. The continual arrival of caravans from
all the nations of Christendom—the public of the Armenians, is separated from the
prayers—the prostrations—nay, even the richthree other branches of the cross by a
ness of the presents sent here by the Christian wall-so that the unity of the edifice is princes—altogether produce feelings in the soul, destroyed. The top of the cross is occu which it is much easier to conceive than to de pied by the choir, which belongs to the scribe.” Greeks. Here is an altar dedicated to Such is Bethlehem, the humble village the Wise Men of the East," at the foot of rendered illustrious by the grandest cirwhich is a marble star, corresponding, as cumstance in the whole range of human exthe monks say, to the point of the heavens periences—a circumstance which brought where the miraculous meteor became sta- the despised and savagely-neglected poor tionary, and directly over the spot where nearer to their Maker, and, in the course the Saviour was born, in the subterranean of the development of its purposes, changed church below! A flight of fifteen steps, the aspect of the whole world, by impartand a long, narrow passage, conduct to ing to it that spirituality of sentiment of the sacred crypt or grotto of the nativity which before it had been wholly destitute. —which is thirty-s
7-seven feet six inches It was a revelation of which we have yet long, by eleven feet three inches in breadth, but the glimpses; but which, nevertheless, and nine feet high. It is lined and floored
we can distinctly perceive, is gradually with marble, and provided on each side producing conditions which will not only with five oratories, “ answering precisely ultimately make the inhabitants of the to the ten cribs or stalls for horses, that whole earth one family, but which now, in the stable in which our Saviour was born their cumulative action, are rendering mancontained.” The precise spot of the birth kind more industrious, more virtuous, is marked by a glory in the floor, composed more confident, more intellectual, and more of marble and jasper, encircled with silver, happy. around which are inscribed the words, “Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus If the tree do not bud and blossom, and est.” Over it is a marble table or altar, bring forth fruit in the spring, it is comwhich rests against the side of the rock, monly dead all the year after; if in the here cut into an arcade. The manger is spring and morning of your days, you do at the distance of seven paces from the not bring forth fruit to God, it is a hundred altar: it is in a low recess, hewn out of to one that ever you bring forth fruit to the rock, to which you descend by two him, when the evil days of old age
shall steps, and consists of a block of marble, overtake you, wherein you shall say, you raised about a foot and a half above the l have no pleasure.--Brooks.