The Nativity

From "Mysteries of the Rosary" by Msgr. Edward I. Hession

“And it came to pass while they were there, that the days for her to be delivered were fulfilled. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” Lk. 2:6-7

1. Journey to Bethlehem

Lo, at this time it comes to pass

That there comes forth from pagan Rome

A bold decree, that all should go

Into the city of their sires

And be enrolled ‘neath Caesar’s sway.

To satisfy his haughty pride,

Augustus Caesar seeks to fin

How many subjects he commands.

And Joseph, humble carpenter,

Takes Mary, his espoused wife;

And sets out on the dusty road

From Nazareth to Bethlehem,

Because he is of David’s blood.

O ready, prompt obedience,

That seeks no reasons nor complains!

O wondrous providence of God,

That uses human foolishness

And turns it to His own design.

For lo, the prophecy proclaims

That there in Juda’s Bethlehem

That Captain will be born, to rule

The chosen people, Israel.

The holy pair accompany

The many pilgrims on their way.

And Joseph seeks as best he can

To make the trip less burdensome

Unto the Mother of his Lord.

Why did he ever doubt this maid

Or think for just a moment’s time

That she had shown disloyalty!

But now the two are stronger knit

Than any chain of brass or steel

FIRST ANGEL:

“Who comes here, riding on a beast,

Through sand of Palestine?”

SECOND ANGEL:

“This is the Maid of Nazareht,

Of David’s royal line.”

FIRST ANGEL:

“How fair, this Maid of Nazareth,

A light shines on her face.”

SECOND ANGEL:

“Because she soon will bear a Son,

The Author of all grace.”

FIRST ANGEL:

“This man, his staff within his hand,

He guides the Maid with care.”

SECOND ANGEL:

“‘Tis Joseph; him God chose to be

Spouse of His Mother fair.”

FIRST AND SECOND ANGELS:

“O humble man and humble maid;

Who would suspect that they

Have been so singled out by God

In this most special way.”

“Let foolish man choose princely homes,

But wiser men will see

That real worth is found within

This Holy Family.”

* * *

‘Tis dusk when Mary and her spouse

Perceive the lights of Bethlehem;

The city is in merry mood,

And crowds appear outside its gates.

The thoughts of Joseph turn at once

To Mary and her unborn Babe-

Where might he find a lodging place

And food and drink and fire’s warmth?

Be surely of his kith and kin

He will find one who will receive

And give them food and sheltering.

But little does he realize

The coldness and the bitter sneers

That wait for him where’er he goes.

Tonight their space will be reserved

For those of riches and prestige.

* * *

“I seek a place to spend the night,”

Speaks Joseph at the spacious inn.

“No room!” - Of course, no room -

For he is of the poorer class.

“I beg a room; my wife -.” “No room!”

Returns the keeper of the inn,

And slams the door in Joseph’s face.

But no disheartened at this thrust,

Together with his Virgin spouse

He seeks another lodging place.

But ‘tis in vain - there is no room.

2. Birth of Christ

A cold and tired holy pair

See refuge in a lonely cave

Nearby the gates of Bethlehem.

It is a place where shepherd folk

Are wont to take their flocks at night,

A place of shelter from the winds,

Of refuge from the driving rains,

A manager there - and straw and wood -

At least a place to spend the night.

A star above shines brilliantly;

Tonight it seems to light the sky -

And Joseph sees it, growing bright,

It does appear as if a flame

Of fire descends upon this place;

It glows and fills the countryside.

Ah, surely, this is not of earth!

* * *

An infant’s crying fills the cave -

The hour has come! The time is now!

A Child - A Child is born tonight,

Redeemer of the human race,

The holy Babe of Bethlehem.

Sing out, ye Angel Choir, sing out!

ANGEL CHOIR:

“Silent night, holy night,

All is calm, all is bright,

‘Round yon Virgin Mother and Child,

Holy Infant, so tender and mild.

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace.”

“Silent night, holy night,

Son of God, love’s pure light,

Radiant beams from Thy Holy Face,

With the dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,

Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.”

* * *

The Mother takes her new-born Babe

And wraps Him up in swaddling bands

And lays Him in a manger-bed.

The Virgin, silent, bows her head

And Joseph falls upon his knees;

Yes, this is Flesh of Mary’s flesh,

But no less It’s the Son of God.

And Angel Choirs, clad with light,

Sing praises to the new-born Child.

“All glory to our God on high,

And peace on earth unto all men.”

3. Adoration of the Shepherds

Within Judea’s spreading hills,

Outside the town of Bethlehem,

Are simple shepherds, minding sheep,

When lo! and Angel of the Lord

Appears to them in glowing light.

It shines far brighter than the sun

And melts the darkness into day.

A great fear falls upon the men

Until the Angel speaks to them:

“Fear not; behold I bring to you

Good tiding of exceeding joy

With shall be yours and all the world’s.

For on this day is born to you

A Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign to you:

The Infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Is lying in a manger-bed.”

And suddenly an Angel host

Accompanies the messenger

And sings the praises of the God

Who comes to earth this Christmas Day:

“To God on High all glory be,

And peace on earth unto all men.”

And as the Angels leave their sight,

The shepherds to each other say:

“Let us make haste to Bethlehem

And see this word that’s come to pass

And which the Lord hath showed to us.”

They come with speed and find the Babe

Asleep within the manger-bed.

Then they are made to understand

The word the Angel spoke to them.

They tell the tidings to a few

Of faithful souls drawn by the light;

And all who come are much amazed.

As Mary hears these wondrous words

She ponders them within her heart.

* * *

The simple guests prepare to leave;

But first they will present a gift

Unto the Babe on bed of straw.

And from their flocks they choose a lamb,

The best of all their animals,

And place it near the manger-bed.

The Lamb of God returns His thanks,

Bestowed grace a hundredfold.

And they return home, praising God

For all that they have seen and hear.

FIRST SHEPHERD:

“Great marvels we have seen this night -

The Angels with respendent light,

The Babe within the manger-bed

Exactly as the Angel said.”

SECOND SHEPHERD:

“We’ve seen His Mother beautiful,

As one who lives above this earth;

We’ve seen the Savior of the world

Choose out a stable for His birth.”

THIRD SHEPHERD:

“And wondrous things we’ve heard tonight -

The song of Angels in their flight,

And tiding of exceeding joy,

The coming of an Infant Boy.”

FOURTH SHEPHERD:

“We’ve heard His Mother as she spoke,

As one aflame with heaven’s grace.

Oh, truly holy night is this,

That we should see Christ face to face.”

4. Circumcision of Christ

The next day Joseph is enrolled

To show his prompt obedience,

Then seeks a lodging for his spouse

And for the Infant she has borne.

There in a home of Bethlehem

Owned by a poor but holy pair,

He finds a welcome dwelling place

For Mary and her tender Child.

* * *

Now on the eighth day after birth

The Infant Son is circumcised,

And sheds these first red drops of blood

According to Mosaic Law,

Enough to satisfy for all

The sins of all the human race.

And as the Angel had announced,

Before the Word had been conceived,

The name of “Jesus” is bestowed

Upon the Saviour of all men.

5. Visit of The Magi

Jerusalem is all aghast -

Three strangers from the East have come

With shocking news to Herod’s court,

For they have seen a brilliant star;

That star foretells a prophecy -

The coming of a Jewish King.

Its light they’ve followed from afar,

And only now have lost its beams.

They ask a question of the court,

“Where shall the Jewish King be born?”

The King is troubled at these words,

And calls the chief priest and the scribes;

And asks them what the prophecies

Proclaim about the birth of Christ.

These men, versed in the Scriptures, say:

“He shall be born in Bethlehem;

For so Micheas has foretold.”

The wise men are called secretly,

And Herod diligently seeks

The time at which the star appeared.

For this new threat unto his throne,

However distant it might be,

Must be erased immediately.

And plotting out this treachery,

He sends the magi on their way:

“Go ye; inquire for the child,

And when ye find him, bring me word,

That coming, I too may adore.”

ANGEL:

“Herod!

Why this secret treachery,

Why this awful jealousy,

Why this animosity

Toward Christ the Lord?

“Don’t portray the role of fool!

You are placed here as His tool -

You receive your pow’r to rule

From Christ, your Lord.

“Herod!

Will you make the devils sing,

Plotting this most fiendish thing!

Traitor unto heaven’s King,

Your Christ and Lord?

“Stop this scheme of deicide!

Open up your kingdom wide,

Bid this King to come inside -

It’s Christ the Lord.”

* * *

The wise men leave Jerusalem,

With promise to return when they

Have found the Object of their search.

And as they pass the city’s wall,

Balthasar to his comrades speaks:

“Lo, do you not see there ahead

A burning light within the sky,

Far brighter than all other stars?”

Says Gaspar: “Yes - it seems to grow

Like an unfolding lily bloom.

And see - the other start grow dim

And it is growing brighter still.”

In joyous tones cries Melchior:

“The star! It is our star,

Come back once more to guide our way!”

The magi spur their camels on;

Their long and weary search, it seems,

Is soon to find its just reward.

And with the start their beacon light,

The wise men soon reach Bethlehem.

And there the start is seen to shine

In all its splendor o’er the house

Wherein the Infant Jesus stays.

The wise men thank Almighty God

Who brought them safely to this place.

And entering within the house,

They find the Child of their quest.

And falling down upon their knees,

the Infant Saviour they adore.

BALTHASAR:

“Thou King, descended from above

To teach the world of truth and love,

We Thee adore.”

GASPAR:

“Thou King by right e’en from Thy birth,

Thy rule shall spread throughout the earth.

We Thee adore.”

MELCHIOR:

“Thy kingly reign shall never cease

To fill men’s hearts with lasting peace.

We Thee adore.”

The wise men ope their treasure chest

To offer gifts unto their King -

Of gold and frank-incense and myrrh.

The gold is for His kingly crown,

The incense for divinity,

The myrrh for His humanity.

Each one in turn presents his gift.

BALTHASAR:

“Accept this gift of gold, O King;

Thy wisdom shall exceed by far

Its luster and its brilliancy.”

GASPAR:

“Receive this gift of frank-incense;

Thy life shall be a steady prayer

That ever rises up to God

Like incense from a thurible.”

MELCHIOR:

“Accept this gift of myrrh, I pray;

Thy life shall be a sacrifice

To save Thy people from their sins.”

* * *

The Virgin-Mother and her spouse

Show forth their hospitality

As well befits their visitors.

They hear the story of the star,

The journey from their distant land,

The visit to Jerusalem.

How great the works of Providence!

* * *

As time forbids a longer stay,

The three wise men prepare to leave;

But being warned, while in their sleep,

Of Herod’s treacherous designs,

They start for home another way,

With joyful hearts, and praising God.

Reprinted for Council 13307 with the permission of Abbey Press, Inc.