On Christmas Eve; A Sonnet for Mary

The Theotokos of vladimirChristmas Eve seems a good time to remember the one who bore our saviour for us, who was full of grace.

Mary has been given many titles down the ages and some Christians have disagreed with one another bitterly about her. But equally, in every age and every church she has been, for many Christians, a sign of hope and an inspiration. In a strange way, which I will write about in another post, she was a sign of hope to me even before I was a Christian, and it was something numinous and beautiful in the paintings and poetry she has inspired that helped lead me to her Son.

Her earliest ‘title’, agreed throughout the church in the first centuries of our faifth, before the divisions of East and West, Catholic and Protestant, was Theotokos, which means God-Bearer. she is the prime God-Bearer, bearing for us in time the One who was begotten in eternity, and every Christian after her seeks to become in some small way a God-bearer, one whose ‘yes’ to God means that Christ is made alive and fruitful in the world through our flesh and our daily lives, is  born and given to another.

So here is my sonnet for her. I have taken a small liberty with one of Dante’s finest lines, when through the eyes of St. Bernard, he gives us a glimpse of her in heaven.

This poem is included in my new book Sounding the Seasons; Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year, Published by Canterbury Press and now also available in the USA and Canada via Westminster John Knox Press

As always you can hear the poem by clicking the ‘play’ button if it appears, or clicking on the title.

Theotokos

You bore for me the One who came to bless

And bear for all and make the broken whole.

You heard His call and in your open ‘yes’

You spoke aloud for every living soul.

Oh gracious Lady, child of your own child,

Whose mother-love still calls the child in me,

Call me again, for I am lost, and  wild

Waves suround me now. On this dark sea

Shine as a star and call me to the shore.

Open the door that all my sins would close

And hold me in your garden. Let me share

The prayer that folds the petals of the Rose.

Enfold me too in Love’s last mystery

And bring me to the One you bore for me.

10 Comments

Filed under christianity, Poems

10 responses to “On Christmas Eve; A Sonnet for Mary

  1. They read it at Great St Mary’s for yesterday’s Carol Service.

  2. Liz Hoare

    Dear Malcolm

    I want to thank you for all your posts this Advent. I have looked forward to each one and they have been such an encouragement in what has been a bleak time of late. Thank you. Liz

  3. Tom D'Evelyn

    Love how the block-like sonnet structure becomes a trellis for winding tendrils of perception and feeling, interlace always expressive of Christ in the world!

  4. Many wonderful and magnificent things expressed here. Appreciate you and your gifts – the one to you that enables you to express, and the one from you that enables us to enter in.

  5. Maggie Rose

    I heard these beautiful words for the first time last night at a Carol. service in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. I was so moved and I will recite it daily.
    Thank you .

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