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It was a gleaner in the fields--
The fields gleaned long ago:
The evening wind swept down from heights
Already brushed with snow.


The gleaner turned to right, to left,
With searching steps forlorn;
The stubble-blade beneath her feet
Was sharp as any thorn.


But as she stooped, and as she searched,
Half blind with gathering tears,
Beside her in the field stood One
Whose voice beguiled her fears:


"What seek ye here, this bitter eve,
The harvest long gone by?"
She lifted up her weary face,
She answered with a sigh:


"I seek but some few heads of wheat
To nail against the wall,
To feed at morn the blessed birds,
When with loud chirps they call.


"Poor ever have I been, God knows!
Yet ne'er so poor before,
But they might taste their glad Noël
Beside my cottage door."


Then answer made that Presence sweet,
"Go home, and trust right well
The birds besdie your cottage door
Shall find their glad Noël."


And so it was--from soundest sleep
The gleaner woke at morn,
To see, nailed up beside her door,
A sheaf of golden corn!


And thereupon the birds did feast--
The birds from far and wide:
All know it was Our Lord Himself
That goodly sheaf supplied!