Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Poem, Robert Southwell

As Christmas draws near, I wanted to share a favorite Christmas poem. This is actually only a portion of the poem, but it is the most relevant and best part. I appreciate how the poet moves appropriately from the “baby” imagery to the purpose of the incarnation- “to rifle Satan’s fold” (“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil,” 1 John 3:8).

New Heaven, New War

This little Babe so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan's fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold do shake;
For in this weak, unarmed wise,
The gates of hell he will surprise.

With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows made of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior's steed.

His camp is pitched in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, hay stalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
The Angels' trumps alarum sound.

My soul with Christ join thou in fight,
Stick to the tents that he hath dight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little Babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from the heavenly boy.

By Robert Southwell


bigdana said...

Thank you, Dr. Van Neste, for this poem. We also have a favorite, John Piper's The Innkeeper. I read it for a family Christmas performance last year (music and the poem) for the seniors group at our church, and now this year they will use it for Christmas Eve! I began following your blog a bit from Justin Taylor's site, mostly because my daughter is now a student at Union. In fact, you will have her for class next semester, and she also attends your church there. I am happy that she will study God's word with a Christ-centered, gospel-centered professor such as yourself. Warm regards, in grace, Dana Olson

Ausifer said...

I like this poem a lot, Dr. Van Neste! It captures a "realness" that should be realized in the Christmas story (even if the real event may have happened at a different time of year :)).