Veni Redemptor Gentium (Come Thou Redeemer of the Nations), written by St. Ambrose in the 4th century
Come, thou Redeemer of the earth,
Come manifest thy virgin birth:
All lands admire, all times applaud:
Such is the birth that fits our God.
Forth from his chamber goeth he,
That royal home of purity,
A giant in twofold substance one,
Rejoicing now his course to run.
The Virgin’s womb that glory gained,
Its virgin honor is still unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.
From God the Father he proceeds,
To God the Father back he speeds;
Runs out his course to death and hell,
Returns on God’s high throne to dwell.
O Equal to thy Father, thou!
Gird on thy fleshly mantle now;
The weakness of our mortal state
With deathless might invigorate.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
And darkness breathe a newer light,
Where endless faith shall shine serene,
And twilight never intervene.
All laud, eternal Son, to thee
Whose advent sets thy people free,
Whom with the Father we adore,
And Holy Ghost, for evermore.
THE ROAD TO BETHLEHEM – by WATSON KIRKCONNELL
Above the road to Bethlehem
When I was very young,
A twilight sky of tender blue
With golden stars was hung;
And kneeling at the stable-door
I happily confessed
My humble worship of the Child
Who slept at Mary’s breast.
But now the road to Bethlehem
Seems cold and steep and far;
It wanders through a wilderness
Unlit by any star.
The earth I tread is frozen hard;
The winter chills my breath;
On either hand rise evil shapes
From valleys dark with death.
The air is tense with moans of pain,
Mingled with cries of hate,
Where bloodstained hills and shattered stones
Lie black and desolate.
How can the sacred heart of God
Heal all this guilt and grief?
Lord, I believe. And yet, this night,
Help Thou mine unbelief !
Purge Thou mine eyes, that they may see
Thy Star across the gloom!
Touch Thou my heart, that I may lose
These agonies of doom!
Now in the darkness guide my feet,
Give holy strength to them
To walk with childlike faith once more
The road to Bethlehem !