The day the Christ-child's tender eyes
Unveiled their beauty on the earth,
God lit a new star in the skies
To flash the message of his birth;
And wise men read the glowing sign,
And came to greet the Child divine.
Low kneeling in the stable's gloom
Their precious treasures they unrolled;
The place was rich with sweet perfume;
Upon the floor lay gifts of gold.
And thus, adoring, they did bring
To Christ the earliest offering.
I think no nimbus wreathed the head
Of the young King so rudely throned;
The quilt of hay beneath him spread
The sleepy kind beside him owned;
And here and there in the torn thatch
The sky thrust in a starry patch.
Oh, when was newborn monarch shrined
Within such canopy as this?
The birds have cradles feather-lined;
And for their new babes princesses
Have sheets of lace without a flaw--
His pillow was a wisp of straw!
He chose this way, it may have been,
That those poor mothers, everywhere,
Whose babies in the world's great inn
Find scanty cradle-room and fare,
As did the babe of Bethlehem,
May find somewhat to comfort them.
Thus was he born. And since that time
We crown the day with wreath and song;
The bells laugh out in merry chime,
And he his royal Guest doth wrong
Who welcomes him with gloomy fears,
Or salts the birthday feast with tears.