by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837 - 1909)

Thou whose birth on earth
Language: English 
Thou whose birth on earth
   Angels sang to men,
While thy stars made mirth,
Saviour, at thy birth,
   This day born again;

As this night was bright
   With thy cradle-ray,
Very light of light,
Turn the wild world's night
   To thy perfect day.

God whose feet made sweet
   Those wild ways they trod,
From thy fragrant feet
Staining field and street
   With the blood of God;

God whose breast is rest
   In the time of strife,
In thy secret breast
Sheltering souls opprest
   From the heat of life;

God whose eyes are skies
   Love-lit as with spheres
By the lights that rise
To thy watching eyes,
   Orbed lights of tears;

God whose heart hath part
   In all grief that is,
Was not man's the dart
That went through thine heart,
   And the wound not his?

Where the pale souls wail,
   Held in bonds of death,
Where all spirits quail,
Came thy Godhead pale
   Still from human breath -

Pale from life and strife,
   Wan with manhood, came
Forth of mortal life,
Pierced as with a knife,
   Scarred as with a flame.

Thou the Word and Lord
   In all time and space
Heard, beheld, adored,
With all ages poured
   Forth before thy face,

Lord, what worth in earth
   Drew thee down to die?
What therein was worth,
Lord, thy death and birth?
   What beneath thy sky?

Light above all love
   By thy love was lit,
And brought down the Dove
Feathered from above
   With the wings of it.

From the height of night,
   Was not thine the star
That led forth with might
By no worldly light
   Wise men from afar?

Yet the wise men's eyes
   Saw thee not more clear
Than they saw thee rise
Who in shepherd's guise
   Drew as poor men near.

Yet thy poor endure,
   And are with us yet;
Be thy name a sure
Refuge for thy poor
   Whom men's eyes forget.

Thou whose ways we praised,
   Clear alike and dark,
Keep our works and ways
This and all thy days
   Safe inside thine ark.

Who shall keep thy sheep,
   Lord, and lose not one?
Who save one shall keep,
Lest the shepherds sleep?
   Who beside the Son?

From the grave-deep wave,
   From the sword and flame,
Thou, even thou, shalt save
Souls of king and slave
   Only by thy Name.

Light not born with morn
   Or her fires above,
Jesus virgin-born,
Held of men in scorn,
   Turn their scorn to love.

Thou whose face gives grace
   As the sun's doth heat,
Let thy sunbright face
Lighten time and space
   Here beneath thy feet.

Bid our peace increase,
   Thou that madest morn;
Bid oppressions cease;
Bid the night be peace;
   Bid the day be born.

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Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2009-01-27
Line count: 100
Word count: 449