Hush,mo croidhe, hush, The birds are asleep in the brush; The stars are crowding the sky wi’ their light As they did long ago on Nativity Night. Hush,mo croidhe, hush.
Sleep,mo croidhe, sleep. Each hill holds it full o’ white sheep. Three Kings on their camels wi’ treasure I see, But love is the birth-gift my heart brings to ye. Sleep,mo croidhe, sleep.
Rest,mo croidhe, rest. Each mother that beareth is blest. Hark, Mother Mary, look down as I pray, And bless ye all childher at this ring o’ day. Rest,mo croidhe, rest.
Sing lustily of Christmas Folly, Sing of Ivy, Bay, and Holly, Banish each his Melancholy, And ever more be merry!
Turn the spit and boil the pudding, Give to all who come a-gooding, Loose the falcons from their hooding, And ever more be merry!
Give Sir Yule Log doughty hewing, Give Sir Mutton tasty stewing, Give Sir Wassail goodly brewing, And ever more be merry!
Now flows each cask and casket’s treasure, Time the lutes to dancing measure, Heigh and ho for Christmas pleasure, And ever more be merry!
The Great Astonishment
Whosoever on the night of the nativity of the young Lord Jesus, in the great snows, shall fare forth bearing a succulent bone for the lost and lamenting hound, a wisp of hay for the shivering horse, a cloak of warm raiment for the stranded wayfarer, a bundle of faggots for the twittering crane, a flagon of red wine for him whose marrow withers, a garland of bright berries for one who has worn chains, gay arias of lute and harp for all huddled birds who thought that song was dead, and divers sweetmeats for such babies’ faces as peer from lonely windows -
To him shall be proffered and returned gifts of such an astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and the harmonies of heaven, so that though he live to the great age when man goes stooping and querulous because of the nothing that is left in him, yet shall he walk upright and remembering, as one whose heart shines like a great star in his breast.
One day Cain became weary and lay down under a tree to sleep.As he slept, he dreamt that a strange angel came to him.The angel had a body of green, but its head was beautiful gold, with short yellow hair entwined with gold-brown seeds.The angel said, “Cain, bring me to life, and I will become a great friend to all hmankind.”Immediately, before Cain’s eyes, the angel grew withered and old.The green of his body faded to yellow and brown, and he became smaller and smaller until he appeared as nothing more than a small seed lying on the ground.
Cain knew what to do.He dug a furrow in the ground, placed the seed into it, covered it over with earth, and watered the soil.Then he waited.
Almost immediately a small green shoot sprang up through the earth, and grew and grew.It grew straight and tall, unfolding leaf after slender leaf.The light green of the first shoot darkened slightly, and finally a head appeared with golden seeds entwined in the short hair.Cain recognised in the beautiful head and the graceful green body:the angel.
When the plant had reached its full height, it turned golden all over.
“Now you must cut me free,” said the angel.So Cain took a knife and cut the plant from the ground.
“And now, to win my gift, you must wrestle with me!”Rising to the challenge, Cain wrestled with all his might.He twisted and turned, held and hurled, failed and gained.At last, with his last ounce of strength, he overcame the angel and forced him to the ground.On the instant he did so, the seeds sprang from the angel’s hair and fell in a shower of goldto the earth.
“You have done well!” said the angel.“Now gather the grain and I will show you the treasure you have gained.”Cain stooped and collected the seeds from the ground.The angel pointed to two stones, one flat like a large plate, and the other long and round.The angel showed Cain how to put grain on the flat stone, and grind it to meal.
“And now you have what you need to make bread.” said the angel.“Know that I am the Being of Wheat, and I will serve you well if you guard and care for my body.Search for me on the hillside, a grass among grasses.”
With that the angel disappeared and Cain woke with a start.He rose and went to the hills.There were many grasses there, long, short, tufty and slender.Then, among the grasses, he saw one he recognised.It was the wheat, with long slender body, and golden head full of seeds.
Cain called the people together, and told them of his dream.He showed them how to gather the wild wheat, and to dig furrows for planting.As it grew he showed them how to care for the crop.He taught them how to pray for rain, and to the sun to shed its life-giving light.When the wheat was ripe and golden, Cain showed the people how to cut it and bind it into sheaves.
But the seeds were attached firmly to the ears of corn, each encased in a tight husk, and no-one knew how to separate them.Then Cain remembered his battle with the angel.“You must beat the wheat!” he said, “Thresh it till it yields the grain.”So the people took sticks and threshed the wheat.The grain sprang from the ears and fell to the ground.The people took forked sticks and lifted all the stalks and straw from the grain.But there on the ground the good grain and the husks and chaff were all mixed up together.
“Ask the wind for help,” said Cain.As the people prayed, the wind heard them and blew to a good breeze.Using a wide flat basket, Cain showed the people how to toss the grain and the chaff into the air.The wind caught the light chaff and blew it away, but the good grain was heavier and fell to the ground ready to be collected.
As the people gathered the grain, they put some aside for re-planting.The rest they ground to flour between stones.From the flour, using water and fire, they baked the first bread, thanking God for the wheat, the sun, rain and earth.
Long ago, beyond the stars in heaven, there was a human soul.It lived among the radiant colours of the angels, heard their heavenly music and listened to their wonderful song.
But the soul grew restless.
“How can I become closer to God?” it said.“How can I learn to be worthier of him?”
The angels replied, “There is only one place in the whole universe where you can learn that lesson.You must go again to the earth.”
So the human soul prepared for the great journey to earth, and one of the angels guided him/her.
Their path took them down through the kingdoms of seven great stars.
The Spirit of the first star-kingdom wore a mantle of deep, deep blue.This spirit had a memory greater than any you can imagine.He could remember everything that had ever happened in the universe.As the human soul passed through his kingdom he said, “I will give you the gift of memory, so that when you are very old on earth, you will be able to remember your whole life - all the things that have happened and all the people you have met.”This and other things was the gift of the first star spirit.
The Spirit of the second star-kingdom wore a garment of rich, royal orange.This spirit had wisdom greater than any you can imagine.When the soul passed through his kingdom he said, “My gift to you is the gift of wisdom and thinking, so that on earth you may think clearly and judge wisely.”This and other things was the gift of the second star spirit.
The Spirit of the third star-kingdom word a garment of strong, radiant red. This spirit had courage and energy greater than any you can imagine, and strong truth in his words.As the soul passed through his kingdom he said, “My gift to you is courage of the heart to face your lessons on earth, and the gift of speech so that you can share your thoughts and feelings with your fellow human beings.”This and other things was the gift of the third star spirit.
When the guiding angel led the soul into the fourth, the middle star kingdom, they met a wondrous Spirit greater than all the others, clad in a raiment of shining white.This spirit was filled with peace and all-encompassing love greater than any you can imagine, for this was the Spirit of the Sun.“My gift to you,” said the Sun Spirit, “Is the gift of goodness, so that you may fill your deeds with love and make yourself worthy of God.”This and other things was the gift of the Sun Spirit.
The spirit of the fifth kingdom wore a garment of a delicate and beautiful green.This spirit had beauty and gentleness greater than any you can imagine.As the soul passed through her kingdom she said, “My gift to you is the gift of beauty, so that in all you do, in all you create on earth, you can make the earth more beautiful.”This and other things was the gift of the fifth star spirit.
The Spirit of the sixth kingdom wore a garment of sparkling, radiant yellow.This spirit was full of movement and joyful quickness greater than any you can imagine.When the soul passed through his kingdom he said, “My gift to you is the gift of movement so that on earth you can run and dance with your feet, work skillfully with your hands, and move quickly and easily in your thoughts.”This and other things was the gift of the sixth star spirit.
The Spirit of the seventh star-kingdom wore a garment of deep purple.This spirit had imagination greater than any you can imagine.When the soul passed through her kingdom she said, “My gift to you is the gift of imagination, so that on earth you can see things in your mind when your eyes are closed, and can use your imagination to create pictures and paintings and many new things.”This and other things was the gift of the seventh star spirit.
Now the soul and his [her] guardian angel drew near the earth, and the angel opened his hands and showed the soul a huge picture of his life to come - all the places he would see, all the people he would meet, the challenges he would have to face, and the life lessons he would have to learn to become worthier of God.“But remember,” said the Guardian Angel, “I will always be at your side.”
And the angel caused a sleep to fall over the human soul. The soul fell deeper and deeper asleep and grew smaller … and smaller … and smaller, and began to forget heaven and the star-kingdoms.
When he woke up, he was a tiny baby!And the baby’s parents called him [child’s name].And [.........] learnt to sit, and then to crawl, and then to walk, and then to talk, and then to think.And when he started to get his second teeth, he was ready for school and came to us!
Out of heaven bright, And the seven kingdoms of light, Came our [child’s name] With gifts from the stars.
Down s/he came to Mother Earth, And found a place and house of birth. Time has passed, and now can be told: Today s/he sits here 7 years old.
There was once a boy named Jonathan.He lived in a small house on the edge of a village surrounded by fields and meadows, hills and forests.He was a strong boy, always ready with a friendly smile, a kind word and a helping hand.Everyone in the village - but especially the other children - loved him.
Now there were two very special things about Jonathan.The first was that, although no-one else could see it, Jonathan could feel a light all around him, like a cloak or a cocoon surrounding him.The other thing was that Jonathan knew his angel.You see, every night when he went to sleep, Jonathan would dream the same dream.He dreamt that his soul rose up into a land of light, where all the mountains and valleys, the woods and rivers were shimmering light.And there, on the edge of that land stood his angel, waiting for him.His angel too seemed to be made of light;he had wise warm eyes, and large upward-streaming wings that shimmered with many colours.The angel would always ask the same question:“What have you brought from the day to-day?”And Jonathan would hold up his hand.In it would be a beautiful flower, a patterned feather, a crystal, or perhaps a jewel.Always there was something beautiful.And then the angel would smile and hold Jonathan close to his heart, as though listening to everything that Jonathan had done and said that day.And in the morning Jonathan would wake up and feel his light renewed and fresh.
Jonathan loved to roam the fields and woods around the village.Although he was unaware of it, his angel often guided him.He would be walking along the side of the hedge, and the angel would tell Jonathan to look in.Jonathan would suddenly get the idea to part the twigs at a certain place, and there was a thrush’s nest, with three flecked eggs as blue as the sky, cupped in its grassy weavework.Because he was so gentle, and because his angel was close by, the creatures were not afraid of him.And the mother thrush, alighting from a short flight, would look at Jonathan as if to say, please be quick, for I must sit on my eggs again soon.
The angel would also help Jonathan to see the fairies.The boy would often sit in the fields with the meadow flowers all around him, watching the elegant little beings weaving sunlight into the plants to make them grow strong and well.
The angel guided Jonathan into the woods, and brought him to a very hidden place where a vixen was watching her cubs tumbling and frolicking near the den.She sat calmly as Jonathan approached, and he was allowed to play and romp with the cubs, laughing at their antics.
When he went into the village all the children grew happy.He was kind and so full of fun that all the children wanted to play with him.He played with them all, but there was one small boy called Angus whom he was particularly fond of.Angus would rush up to him with glee, “Carry me on you back, Jonathan!” and Jonathan lifted Angus onto his strong shoulders and trotted around like a pony, with the small boy squealing with delight.
But the thing Jonathan loved most of all he kept a secret.Whenever he was able, at full moon, Jonathan would creep from his house deep at night, and follow a moonlit path through the woods to the side of a hill.In a hidden dell there was a waterfall which tumbled over mossy rocks into a pool.Here Jonathan sat very quietly and watched, until gradually in the sparkling moonlit water, the water-sprites would appear to play and dance in the silvery light.They would sing too, and as he watched their carefree capering and listened to their lovely otherworldly music, Jonathan felt such happiness and peace.And when, after returning home, he fell asleep at last, he would hold out his hand to the angel, and there, hovering over his open palm, was the arch of a pale rainbow woven of moonbeams and mist.
But alas, not everything in the world is good and beautiful.
In a dark lonely part of the forest there lived a wicked goblin.He had long lank arms that dangled to his ankles, and green skin with warts like a toad.His small piggy eyes glowed eerily with a greenish light, and his long pointed ears were covered with coarse hair.Two tusk-like teeth jutted up from his jaw, his lip was twisted down in a sneer, and his long hooked nose was always sniffing about for mischief.The goblin hated beauty and kindness, he loathed the good, and shunned the light.
The goblin did not always stay in his gloomy part of the forest, and one day when he was roaming abroad, he noticed Jonathan, and saw how all the creatures loved him, and how kind he was to everyone.The goblin hated what he saw and made up his mind to ruin this horribly shining boy.So the goblin began following him.
Soon after this Jonathan went into the village and as usual the children ran up to him to play.The goblin seeing his chance, sidled up to Jonathan and began whispering in his ear.
“Why don’t you show these scruffy urchins who’s boss?You’re stronger than any of them.Tell them to do what you say, and kick them if they don’t”
Jonathan was amazed and horrified by the strange idea that had suddenly popped into his head.He’d never had a thought like this before.
Then his angel spoke to him.“Jonathan, don’t listen to the goblin.You have a good heart. Be strong and listen to your heart.”
Jonathan was made uneasy by the strange thoughts he was having, and so he quickly told the children he had to go, and ran off to the fields.His friends were puzzled by his unusual behaviour, but they soon went back to their games.
The next day Jonathan came to a blossoming tree. On a twig he noticed a little caterpillar.It had beautiful black and white stripes and was arching and stretching itself along in its funny fashion.Jonathan watched the comic little creature with enjoyment.Then the goblin was there.“Kill it!” he said,“See how powerful you are, think how strong you’ll feelif you kill it!”
“Don’t listen,” urged the angel again, “Be strong.Listen to your heart.”
Jonathan was again puzzled by these unusual thoughts.For a moment though, he hesitated.All he would have to do is knock the branch and stamp, and that would be the end of the caterpillar.How easy it would be.But then suddenly he was horrified that he could even think such a thing, and ran from the spot.
On the third day he was walking over the meadow.He watched the little fairies busily flitting around to weavelight into a flower.How beautiful it was.The goblin saw this and was revolted.He hissed loudly at Jonathan:“Trample the thing!Think how powerful you are to destroy something these creatures have worked so hard to make. Trample, trample, trample!”
“Don’t listen, Jonathan,” said the angel quietly.“Be strong.”
“Think of the power!” hissed the goblin urgently, “Crush it into the ground!”
What a strange thought.But perhaps it would be interesting to try.It would, after all, be such an easy thing to do.Suddenly, Jonathan raised his foot and crushed the flower.Stamp, stamp, stamp went his foot, and the flower was a crumpled mess in the mud.The goblin howled with delight and danced with glee.Butthe fairies flurried away in alarm, and Jonathan could see them no longer.His light, too, felt slightly dimmer.
That night as usual, in the land of light, the angel asked, “What have you brought from the day today?”When Jonathan held out his hand, there was the dead flower.Such sadness came over the angel’s face, but he held Jonathan to his heart as he always did.
But from then onwards things got worse and worse.Jonathan saw the caterpillar again and stamped it dead.When he went to the foxes, the Goblin whispered “Hit them and beat them,” and when Jonathan came rushing at the cubs waving a stick and yelling at the top of his voice, the mother fox only just had time to bark a quick urgent warning, and the cubs fled.
That night, all Jonathan could give the angel was a piece of torn out fur.The angel’s sadness grew deeper.
Jonathan got the idea to crush the thrush’s eggs - we know where that idea came from!And he would have, except that the angel didn’t show him things any more and Jonathan couldn’t find the nest.Angry, he went into the village.The children ran up to him to play.
“Make them do what you want,” said the goblin, “and hurt them if they don’t.You are stronger than they are, kick and punch them.”
“Jonathan, listen to your heart,” whispered his angel.
But Jonathan seemed to have lost his heart.He began shouting at his friends, “You do what I tell you, you hear - or else!”They stared at him in amazement.What on earth was wrong with Jonathan?These harsh words could surely not be coming from the friend they liked so much.
Then Angus ran up.“Give me a ride, Jonathan,” he said excitedly.Suddenly, with a sharp kick and a punch, Jonathan knocked the little boy to the ground.At first Angus was so shocked he didn’t move.Then large tears welled up in his eyes.“Jonathan!” he said in hurt amazement.“Clear off!” shouted Jonathan, “Or I’ll punch you again.Do you think I’m your servant?”Angus looked at him again for a moment as if to see whether he should believe his ears, and then he ran away sobbing with sadness.The goblin pranced with vicious delight, clapping his hands and rolling his eyes.
Soon Jonathan found himself quite alone.He could no longer see the fairies; the birds fell silent when he came near; the animals hid themselves for fear of him; and the children kept away from him.Everyone feared him.No one wished to be with him any more.And his light had grown so dull.Despite the cruel things he did, Jonathan didn’t feel any stronger.In fact he felt smaller and smaller, more and more worthless.He grew lonely and sad.
In his loneliness Jonathan began to long for the thing that had always given him joy - he began to long for the moon.He wanted to visit the waterfall, for that would surely give him happiness again.
When full moon came at last, he crept from the house and made his way along the path.His own light had now all but gone, and his tread was heavy and dull.He could hear the beautiful singing from a distance.Ah, soon he would be happy.But as he approached, the singing suddenly stopped, and when he came to the pool the water-sprites vanished.They did not like the presence of someone who hurt others.They did not feel secure with someone whose light had gone.
Jonathan was dismayed.He had counted the days till full-moon, and now the sprites wouldn’t stay near him.Would he never hear their beautiful music again?Could he ever be happy without it?
At that moment a cloud passed over the moon, and it grew pitch black.The darkness around seemed to intensify the darkness within him.He felt so worthless that it became almost unbearable.The animals, the fairies, his friends, the water-sprites all feared and avoided him, and now it felt to Jonathan as though even the moon no longer wished to shine on him.His misery was complete, and Jonathan suddenly put his head on his knees and sobbed.He wept for a long time, and he wept alone.
At last, desolate and exhausted, he went home and slept.When he came into the land of light, he said to the angel, “I have nothing to give you, and I am so unhappy.Please help me.”
The angel looked as though he had been waiting a long time for this.He held the boy to him and said, “It is simple, Jonathan.You have a good heart.Be strong and listen to it.Next time the goblin tells you to do something, say NO, and order the goblin to go away.I will be there to help you.”The light around Jonathan already began to grow a little brighter.
The next day Jonathan found a bird with a broken wing.“Kill it!” said the goblin.Jonathan was about to, and then he remembered his dream. He planted his feet firmly on the ground, stood very straight and said, “NO!And I orderyouto go away!”His light suddenly flashed around him like lightening.The goblin screeched with horror.He couldn’t bare the horrible brightness.He jumped back covering his eyes, jabbering to himself in alarm.He attempted to turn to Jonathan once more, but the light was too bright and "Go away and don't come back!" ordered Jonathan again.The goblin had no more power here - that was clear. Muttering and cursing he scuttled away back to his gloomy corner of the forest, where all was dank and comfortless.
Meanwhile Jonathan carefully picked up the bird and bandaged its broken wing.He would look after it till it could fly again.But now he had something very important and urgent to do.
He went to the village and looked for Angus.He called and called for him, but Angus was hiding, afraid of being kicked again.It is very painful to be kicked by someone you love.But Jonathan kept on calling, and his voice sounded so much like the kind and gentle Jonathan he had known, that at last Angus came hesitantly out.Jonathan sighed with relief to have found him, and looked him straight in the eye, although this is a very difficult thing to do when you know you are in the wrong.
“I’m very sorry for what I did, Angus,” said Jonathan (and he meant it with all his heart), “Please forgive me.”
Angus had looked worried and cautious.But with these words the worry vanished from his face and he beamed from ear to ear, his eyes shining with happiness.It was clear he had forgiven Jonathan at once.
Jonathan sighed again with relief.“Come,” he said, “piggy-back time!”And he lifted the smaller boy onto his shoulders and ran and cantered and trotted and hopped, till the little fellow was laughing and squealing fit to burst.Jonathan’s light grew brighter.
It took longer to win back the confidence of the foxes and the thrush, but with patience and care, they too forgave Jonathan.But he never saw the fairies again; they remained hidden although they were still there.
Anxiously Jonathan waited for full moon.When at last the time came, and midnight approached, he walked quietly towards the waterfall.Would the water-sprites know that he was listening to his own voice again and not to the wicked goblin?Would they still shy away from him like the fairies?Well perhaps his angel helped, for when Jonathan came to the waterfall he was again allowed to see the sprites in their moonlight dance and hear their beautiful music.And happiness that spread through him was complete, like warmth melting ice.
And later, when he fell asleep and rose into the land of light, he opened his hand to bring a gift from the day to his angel, and there, arching over his palm, was a wonderful rainbow woven of moonbeams and mist.
(From time to time the goblin tries to influence Jonathan again.But Jonathan is now truly strong.He says very firmly, “NO, Goblin, and I order you togo away!”And the goblin obeys, for Jonathan is speaking from his heart, and I suppose no goblin is stronger than that.)