Sunday, December 8, 2013

“Christmas at Old St. Paul’s” by Walter M. Crandall (1917)

Christmas at Old St. Paul’s.


To many passers-by at Christmas tide

This gray old church brings back the years long fled,

Turns for the moment other thoughts aside—

Transforming living days to days since dead.

        On many in the throng it casts a spell—

Stirring their hearts to look upon its walls,

And looking, hear the clangor of its bell,

        The bell of old St. Paul’s.

Remembrances of Christmas days lang syne

Arise like mists and hide the common street;

In mind, one sees again, at Christmas time,

The church decked out, in greenwood fragrance sweet,

The pale old priest, the waxen tapers’ glow,

The pulpit high, the reverential throng,

Great ropes of evergreen and mistletoe—

        And then one hears—a song!


        “We three Kings of Orient are,

        Bearing gifts we traverse afar,

                Field and fountain,

                Moor and mountain,

        Following yonder star.”

Grandly the organ plays, clear voices sing,

And now in tones profound chants the first king.

Gaspard—“Born a King on bethlehem plain,

        Gold I bring to crown him again.

                King forever,

                Ceasing never

        Over us all to reign.”

The vaulted reaches echo back the song,

And then we hear the second king ere long.

Melchior—“Frankincense to offer have I,

        Incense owns a Deity nigh,

                Prayer and praising,

                All men raising,

        Worship Him, God on High.”

Deep, solemn chords from the great organ bring

A mournful prelude forth for the last great king.

Balthasar—“Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume

        Breathes a life of gathering gloom,

                Sorrowing, sighing,

                Bleeding, dying,

        Sealed in the stone cold tomb.”

        “Glorious now behold Him arise!

        King and God and sacrifice!”

        *        *        *        *        *

Ended the song—but now at Christmas tide,

It swells again in hearts no longer young.

Tho’ singers die, song, church and faith abide—

Stirring remembrances too deep for tongue,

And so at Christmas time is cast a spell

On many passers-by who see the walls,

Or chance to hear the ringing of the bell,

        The bell of old St. Paul’s.

Troy Times. December 12, 1917

By including verses from "We Three" Kings" by Rev. John Henry Hopkins, Jr., the poem might constitute a kind of cento.

                                                                                                Christopher K. Philippo

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