The Holy Innocents (Refugee)

The poem from my Anthology Waiting on the Word reflects on the fact that today, the fourth day of Christmas, is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. It is the day the Church remembers the story, told in Matthew’s Gospel of the appalling cruelty and wickedness of Herod in ordering the massacre of innocent children, in a bid to protect his own power-base. Appalling, but only too familiar. What Herod did then, is still being done by so many present day Herods. This scarred and wounded world is the world into which Jesus was born, the world he came to save, and amongst those brought by his blood through the grave and gate of death and into the bliss of Heaven are those children of Bethlehem who died for his name without ever knowing him. But he knows them, as he knows and loves every child in Syria, and he says of them, to every Herod, ‘Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.’

You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above was created by Lancia Smith. you can see this and more on her  excellent Website Cultivating the True the Good and the Beautiful.. You can find you can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle

This sonnet has been adapted and set powerfully to Music by Steve Bell on his Album Keening For The Dawn. It was also quoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Christmas Sermon this year.

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


We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,

Or cosy in a crib beside the font,

But he is with a million displaced people

On the long road of weariness and want.

For even as we sing our final carol

His family is up and on that road,

Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,

Glancing behind and shouldering their load.

Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower

Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,

The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,

And death squads spread their curse across the world.

But every Herod dies, and comes alone

To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.



Filed under christianity, imagination

8 responses to “The Holy Innocents (Refugee)

  1. pilgrimpace

    Reblogged this on Pilgrimpace's Blog and commented:
    Malcolm Guite’s Advent Book ‘Waiting on the Word’ is a fantastic companion through Advent and Easter. This poem and reflection, for Holy Innocents Day, speak so much to the journey we have been making together recently

  2. Julie

    Powerful. A succinct word in time.

  3. Katharine Langille

    Seems particularly poignant this year. Thanks for this, and all your gifts to us, Malcolm. The symphony with Steve was excellent! Hope your shoulder is much improved. Blessings for a healthy 2016 to you and your family. Hope to see you on this side of the Atlantic soon!

  4. Reblogged this on Michael Moore's Blog and commented:
    Powerful words from my brother, Malcolm Guite!

  5. Beautiful Malcolm. Makes me think of all the other middle eastern refugees fleeing Herods. I’m so proud of Canada and other countries that are welcoming these families. ❤

  6. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas |

  7. Thank you for this beautiful poem which is so poignant this year.

  8. Pingback: But every Herod dies… – Garner Goings On

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