Descent: A Poem and Song for Christmas Day

mangerMerry Christmas!

Milton wrote an Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, which no one can hope to emulate,and which I have also posted in a blog post this morning with a beautiful illustration by Linda Richardson, however I thought I would also offer you something of my own. In this poem I have followed Milton’s lead in drawing a contrast between the various gods of the Classical world and the full and astonishing revelation of God’s love in the manger at Bethlehem. This was originally a short three verse poem, but at the behest of Steve Bell I have re-written it so that it is now also a song, with a tune of his composing on his award-winning Album Keening for the Dawn. I have written about our collaboration here.

The poem is published in my book The Singing Bowl. I have also recorded the song myself, on Steve Bell’s amazing new retrospective four cd set ‘Pilgrimage’ As always you can hear me reading of this poem which you can hear by clicking on the ‘play’ button below or the title


They sought to soar into the skies

Those classic gods of high renown

For lofty pride aspires to rise

But you came down.


You dropped down from the mountains sheer

Forsook the eagle for the dove

The other Gods demanded fear

But you gave love




Where chiselled marble seemed to freeze

Their abstract and perfected form

Compassion brought you to your knees

Your blood was warm


They called for blood in sacrifice

Their victims on an altar bled

When no one else could pay the price

You died instead



They towered above our mortal plain,

Dismissed this restless flesh with scorn,

Aloof from birth and death and pain,

But you were born.


Born to these burdens, borne by all

Born with us all ‘astride the grave’

Weak, to be with us when we fall,

And strong to save.



Filed under christianity, imagination, Poems

8 responses to “Descent: A Poem and Song for Christmas Day

  1. Helen Glover

    Brilliant! Thank you

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Blanche

    Wonderful, touches the hear on this Christmas morning. Thankful for Emmanuel

  3. wwzbiz

    One of the BEST poems and songs, especially for Christmas or Easter.  I am ALWAYS moved by the words, and the song.  Thanks Malcolm and Steve for your God honoring artistry. 

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  4. Beautiful; the contrast to all of man’s way of thought. Philippians 2:5: “For let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus … “

  5. Pingback: Seven Words from the Cross – Part V | Quest for Whirled Peas

  6. Hi Malcolm. I am writing a series of poems for the Lent season this year (2019) based on the Seven Words that Christ spoke from the cross. I thought of your poem “Descent” while writing a poem about “I thirst”. If you have time to read it, I would love to hear your thoughts!

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