Henry Vaughan – Christ’s Nativity – Lectionary Poem for Advent 4A

With the dawn of a new church year, The Englewood Review of Books is curating a weekly series of classic and contemporary poems that resonate with the themes of the lectionary readings. Here is one of the poems for this coming Sunday (Advent week 4– More poems for this Sunday can be found here)


Christ’s Nativity
(to accompany the lectionary reading: Matt. 1:18-25)

Henry Vaughan


AWAKE, glad heart ! Get up, and sing !

It is the birthday of thy King.

        Awake ! awake !

        The sun doth shake

Light from his locks, and all the way

Breathing perfumes, doth spice the day.


Awake, awake !  hark how th’ wood rings,

Winds whisper, and the busy springs

        A consort make ;

        Awake ! awake !

Man is their high-priest, and should rise

To offer up the sacrifice.


I would I were some bird, or star,

Flutt’ring in woods, or lifted far

        Above this inn

        And road of sin !

Then either star, or bird, should be

Shining, or singing still, to Thee.


I would I had in my best part

Fit rooms for Thee !  or that my heart

        Were so clean as

        Thy manger was !

But I am all filth, and obscene ;

Yet if Thou wilt, Thou canst make clean.


Sweet Jesu !  will then ; let no more

This leper haunt, and soil Thy door !

        Cure him, ease him,

        O release him !

And let once more, by mystic birth,

The Lord of life be borne in Earth.


Henry Vaughan (1621 – 1695) was a Welsh metaphysical poet, author, translator and physician, who wrote in English. 

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