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


Descent

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.

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6 Comments

Filed under christianity

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

  1. scotiabear

    Thank you. Merry Christmas. Jack Haney+

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. David C Brown

    For let this mind be in you which [was] also in Christ Jesus; who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself, taking a bondman’s form, taking his place in [the] likeness of men …

  3. Lori Morrison

    Oh Malcolm! How I love this!!! It goes along with another beautiful poem that always takes my breath away:
    The other gods were strong, but thou wast weak.
    They rode, but thou
    Didst stumble to a throne.
    But to our wounds
    only God’s wounds
    can speak,
    And not a God hast wounds,
    but thou alone.

  4. I believe Lori Morrison is quoting ‘Jesus of the Scars’ by Edward Shillito.
    — But I mostly wanted to comment that this poem is another favorite of mine.

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