A Couple of Christmas Goodies
I found this at Mysterium Tremendum. It was too good, too appropriate, not to borrow:
by Mary Coleridge
I saw a stable, low and very bare,
A little child in a manger.
The oxen knew him, had Him in their care,
To men He was a stranger.
The safety of the world was lying there,
And the world's danger.
And then there's this from the incomparable Dr. George Grant, who is considering the familiar lyrics of The 12 Days of Christmas:
Who woulda thunk?
What is clear is that festive song praised the feasting and good will of the Yuletide season by detailing the gifts of Gospel. So for instance, instead of referring to a suitor, the "true love" mentioned in the song refers to the wooing suitor of Heaven: God Himself. The "me" receiving the gifts is symbolic of every covenant believer. The partridge in the pear tree is Jesus Christ, and in the song, He is symbolically presented as a mother partridge who feigns injury to decoy predators from her helpless nestlings. The pear tree itself is often portrayed in Medieval literature (as is the apple tree) of the means of grace by which the gifts of God are bestowed upon men and nations.
And so it goes throughout the whole song: the two turtle doves represent the Old and New Testaments; the three French hens are faith, hope and charity; the four calling birds are the four Gospels; the five gold rings are the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses in the Old Testament; the six geese a-laying are the six days of creation; the seven swans a-swimming are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; the eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount; the nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit; the ten lords a-leaping are the freedoms of the Ten Commandments; the eleven pipers piping are the eleven faithful disciples; the twelve drummers drumming are the twelve cardinal doctrines of the Apostles' Creed.
All in all, the song is a joyous reminder of all we celebrate this Christmas—from the crèche to the cross.