Friday, December 23, 2011

The Nativity: "Let There Be LIGHT!"

Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst 1622
Attempting to leave politics aside for a few days to celebrate Christmas with my family, I will leave you with a Christmas poem.

It's one of my favorites as it comes from a distant relative of mine, Henry Vaughan (1621-1695). He is not a direct ancestor that I have determined, but we share the same surname. We are related in convoluted ways through the generations arising in the valleys of the Black Mountains of Wales.

I was first introduced to the Silurist as I performed church duties in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was trying to find some of our unkown members that appeared on our records. One of them was a wonderful lady who ran a classy video rental and book store sepecializing in esotoric cultural themes. As we visited and became friends, she made the name connection for me to this Cavalier Poet and presented me with a book of his poetry. He's not only a great guy for being related to me, but a fascinating character in a challenging stage of history--the English Civil War. While a Cavalier of Catholic sympathies, he had a deep and sincere Christian faith no less valid, maybe more so, than that of the Puritans. And his personal thoughts and philosophy struck a chord with me across the ages and the family connections.

The Nativity

Peace? and to all the world? sure, One
And He the Prince of Peace, hath none.
He travels to be born, and then
Is born to travel more again.
Poor Galilee! thou canst not be
The place for His nativity.
His restless mother's called away,
And not delivered till she pay.
     A tax? 'tis so still! we can see
The church thrive in her misery;
And like her Head at Bethlem, rise
When she, oppressed with troubles, lies.
Rise? should all fall, we cannot be
In more extremities than He.
Great Type of passions! come what will,
Thy grief exceeds all copies still.
Thou cam'st from heaven to earth, that we
Might go from earth to heaven with Thee.
Men turned to beasts, beasts would be men.
They were Thy courtiers, others none;
And their poor manger was Thy throne.
No swaddling silks Thy limbs did fold,
Though Thou couldst turn Thy rays to gold.
No rockers waited on Thy birth,
No cradles stirred, nor songs of mirth;
But her chaste lap and sacred breast
Which lodged Thee first did give Thee rest.
     But stay: what light is that doth stream,
And drop here in a gilded beam?
It is Thy star runs page, and brings
Thy tributary Eastern kings.
Lord! grant some light to us, that we
May with them find the way to Thee.
Behold what mists eclipse the day:
How dark it is! shed down one ray
To guide us out of this sad night,
And say once more, "Let there be light."

Henry Vaughan

May 2, 2012
Found an article from 1982 on the Poetry of Henry Vaughan as a precursor to the Restoration (of the Gospel, not the monarchy) in BYU Studies here.

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