CHRISTMAS EVE carol (The Lord at first did Adam make)
The Lord at first did Adam make
Out of the dust and clay,
And in his nostrils breathed life,
E'en as the Scriptures day.
And then in Eden's Paradise
He placed him to dwell,
That he within it should remain
To dress and keep it well.
Now let good Christians all begin
An holy life to live,
And to rejoice and merry be,
For this is Christmas Eve.
And then within the garden he
Commanded was to stay,
And unto him in commandment
These words the Lord did say:
The fruit which in the garden grows
To thee shall be for meet,
Except the tree in the midst thereof,
Of which thou shalt not eat.
For in the day that thou shalt eat,
Or do it them come nigh;
For it that thou doth eat thereof
Then surely thou shalt die.
But Adam he did take no heed
Unto that only thing,
But did transgress God's holy law,
And so was wrapt in sin.
Now mark the goodness of the Lord
Which he for mankind bore,
His mercy soon he did extend,
Lost man for to restore;
And then for to redeem our souls
From death and hellish thrall,
He said his own dear son should be
The Saviour of us all.
Which promise now is brought to pass,
Christians, believe it well;
And by the coming of God's dear Son
We are redeemed from thrall.
Then if we truly do believe,
And do the thing aright;
Then by his merits we at last
Shall live in Heaven bright.
Now for the blessings we enjoy,
Which are from Heaven above,
Let us renounce all wickedness
And live in perfect love.
Then shall we do Christ's own command,
Ev'n his own written word,
And when we die in Heaven shall
Enjoy our living Lord.
And now the tide is nigh at hand,
Int' which our Saviour came;
Let us rejoice, and merry be,
In keeping of the same.
Let's feed the poor and hungry souls,
And such as do it crave;
Then when we die, in Heaven sure,
Our reward we shall have.
The people, half asleep, sat up and looked; then they became wide-awake, though wonder-struck. And the stir spread to the court below, and into the lewens; soon the entire tenantry of the house and court and enclosure were out gazing at the sky.
And this was what they saw. A ray of light, beginning at a height immeasurably beyond the nearest stars, and dropping obliquely to the earth; at its top, a diminishing point; at its base, many furlongs in width; its sides blending softly with the darkness of the night, its core a roseate electrical splendour. The apparition seemed to rest on the nearest mountain southeast of the town, making a pale corona along the line of the summit. The khan was touched luminously, so that those upon the roof saw each other's faces, all filled with wonder.
Steadily, through minutes, the ray lingered, and then the wonder changed to awe and fear; the timid trembled; the boldest spoke in whispers.
"Saw you ever the like?" asked one.
"It seems just over the mountain there. I cannot tell what it is, nor did I ever see anything like it," was the answer.
"Can it be that a star has burst and fallen?" asked another, his tongue faltering.
"When a star falls, its light goes out."
"I have it!" cried one, confidently. "The shepherds have seen a lion, and made fires to keep him from the flocks."
The men next the speaker drew a breath of relief, and said, "Yes, that is it! The flocks were grazing in the valley over there to-day."
A bystander dispelled the comfort.
"No, no! Though all the wood in all the valleys of Judah was brought together in one pile and fired, the blaze would not throw a light so strong and high."
After that there was silence on the house-top, broken but once again while the mystery continued.
"Brethren!" exclaimed a Jew of venerable mien, "what we see is the ladder our father Jacob saw in his dream. Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers!"
~ from Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace