Archive for 2015

“The Huron Carol” was originally composed by Jean de Brébeuf (1596-1649), the Jesuit missionary to the Huron Indians in French Canada.  Brébeuf, who was a skilled linguist, wrote the lyrics in the Huron language.  The original Huron title was “Jesous Ahatonhia” (“Jesus, he is born“).  It is an excellent example of missionary contextualization in which the gospel story is told in terms familiar and relevant to the receiving culture.  Much like tradition European carols like “The First Noel” and “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which place Christ’s nativity in a cold and snowy winter scene, “The Huron Carol,” uses images that would resonate with the Hurons. Read the rest of this entry »

There is not an abundance of information on our next poet’s life.  Rowland Watkyns (c. 1614-1664) was a Welshman and the Anglican vicar of Llanfrynach.  His one known published work was a collection of poems Flamma sine Fumo (Poems without Fictions) published in 1662.

“Upon Christ’s Nativity” is taken from that collection. Read the rest of this entry »

In our previous post we discussed how the poets Harry Morris and Sister M. Madeleva drew a line connecting the wood of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with the wood of Christ’s crib and cross.  In doing this they followed an ancient Christian tradition dating back to Irenaeus of Lyon in the second century.  This tradition expressed the Christian teaching that in his work of salvation God would utilize even the instruments of sin and man’s fallenness; thus nothing is left without meaning and purpose.

Our next poem is “New Heaven, New Warre”[1] by Robert Southwell (1561-1595).  In it he extends back to the Nativity the related classical Christian theme of Christ the victor.  However, he begins with a call to the angels to descend to the new heaven, where God has chosen to dwell in a stall. Read the rest of this entry »

As far back as Irenaeus of Lyon (AD 120-202) and probably earlier, Christians have drawn parallels between the sin of man having come by means of eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and salvation being accomplished on the cross of Christ.[1]  Our two American Christmas poets tie in the tree of Genesis and the cross of Christ with the crib of the baby Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »

I actually have had some correspondence with our next Christmas poet, Luci Shaw (b. 1928).  Several years ago I hopefully sent her some doggerel that I hoped she would praise ecstatically.  In an act of kindness she wrote back to me that my poems neither sang nor danced and that I would benefit from a course on writing.  Thanks to her, except for intermittent delusional fits of grandeur, I have refrained from wasting my time and others with my poetry.  Besides exemplifying why all of us should read poetry and few write it, Luci Shaw’s beautiful poem, “Mary’s Song” expresses the magnificent paradoxes of Christmas and the Christian faith. Read the rest of this entry »