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THE HYMN.

I.

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It was the winter wild,

While the Heaven-born child
All meanly wrapped in the rude manger lies;

Nature, in awe to Him,

Had doffed her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize :
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

II.

Only with speeches fair

She woos the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow,

And on her naked shame,

Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

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III.

But He, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-eyed Peace:
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding

Down through the turning sphere,

His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

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IV.

No war, or battle's sound,

Was heard the world around;
The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;

The hooked chariot stood,

Unstained with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng ;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.

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V.

But peaceful was the night

Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began.

The winds, with wonder whist,

Smoothly the waters kissed,
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

VI.

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The stars, with deep amaze,

Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warned them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.

VII.

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And, though the shady gloom

Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,

And hid his head for shame,

As his inferior flame
The new-enlightened world no more should need :
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne or burning axletree could bear.

VIII.

The shepherds on the lawn,
Or ere the point of dawn,

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