• The Nativity of Christ
  • Behold the father is his daughter’s son,
  • The bird that built the nest is hatch’d therein,
  • The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
  • Eternal life to live doth now begin,
  • The word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
  • Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.
  • O dying souls! behold your living spring!
  • O dazzled eyes! behold your sun of grace!
  • Dull ears attend what word this word doth bring!
  • Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
  • From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
  • This life, this light, this word, this joy repairs.
  • Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
  • Gift better than his God no man can see;
  • This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
  • Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
  • God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
  • God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.
  • Man alter’d was by sin from man to beast;
  • Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh;
  • Now God is flesh, and lies in manger press’d,
  • As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
  • Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
  • Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!

Robert Southwell (c. 1561–1595) was an English poet and Jesuit priest during the English Revolt against the Catholic Church. After carrying on a secret mission in England during a time when Catholic priests were arrested and usually executed, Southwell was arrested, tortured, tried, and convicted of high treason for his links to the Holy See. On February 12, 1595, he was hanged and drawn and quartered at Tyburn — the usual punishment for traitors — and left to die. In 1970, he was canonized by the Catholic Church as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.


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