The Christmas Story in verse
In Nazareth, to a young girl there came
A holy angel. Gabriel was his name.
“You’ve found great favour with the Lord,” he said,
“So I am asking you to go ahead
And bear a child. You really mustn’t fear.
All will be well, of this I do declare.
He will be great, born of King David’s line,
Of which, I warrant, this will be the sign
He will be great, as great as David was,
And you must name his Jesus. That’s because
His name has got the meaning ‘He who saves’.
He’ll reign o’er Jacob’s line throughout the age.”
Mary replied, “I don’t see how I can
Bear child for you. I’ve never known a man.
Virgin was born and am I till this day.”
The angel heard, and in reply did say,
“This is the way conception will be made:
God’s Holy Spirit will your womb invade,
The child you’ll bear the Son of God will be,
The holiest child in all of history.”
And then the angel added, “By the way,
I’ve further news to tell you. Let me say
Elizabeth your cousin, Zechariah’s wife,
Though she is in the later years of life,
Is now with child, and she’s five months along,
For naught with God can possibly go wrong.”
Then Mary said, “God’s servant let me be.
Let all occur as you have told to me.”
Now Joseph was the man she’d pledged her troth.
So Mary told him that they’d better both
Be clear that in her womb the blessèd child
Had not through carnal effort her defiled.
No, ’twas not due to any earthly merit
Her unborn child came from the Holy Spirit.
And so the pair together lived as brother
And sister, one as also to the other,
Till, nine months later, Mary’s time drew near,
With baby almost ready to appear.
In those days, there went out a strict decree
From Roman Caesar. Ev’ryone must be
Accounted in a census at the town
Of their ancestral line. So they went down
From Nazareth to Bethl’em. Joseph knew
That was where great King David lived – and, too,
’Twas his ancestral home, and thus the sign
Messiah would be born of David’s line.
But when they came to town they were not able
To find a room to stay, only a stable
Behind the inn, where ass and oxen dwelt
On beds of straw. And it was dark and smelt
Of barnyard beasts. Most verily it was
Unsuited to give birth. But yet, because
There was no option; Mary’s birthing time
Was now at hand. In stable cold with rime
Of frost, and lit by feeble lantern light
She bore her child right there at dead of night.
In order to protect the child from danger
Of oxen hooves, she laid him in a manger.
She swaddled him with cloths all warm to keep
And watched him there until he fell asleep.
Now at a distance, on a lonely hill
A flock of sheep lay huddled ’gainst the chill
Of nightly desert air, their shepherds
Protecting them from wolves and lions and leopards.
Then suddenly, the heavens were ablazed
With holy light. The shepherds were amazed
And terrified to see an angel there,
With holy light behind his golden hair.
He told them, “Do not be afraid, because
I bring most wondrous news.” And thus, it was
There had this night been born a holy boy
Who to the world would be a source of joy.
The glory of the Lord shone on them all,
The angel spoke, as like a trumpet call:
“In Bethlehem, the town of David’s line
You’ll find Messiah, this will be the sign:
A newborn babe, in manger for a bed
And wrapped in bands of cloth,” was what he said.
Then suddenly from heaven came the sound
Of hosts of heaven singing all around,
“Glory to God and peace to all on earth,”
As heavenly choirs announced the Saviour’s birth.
Now when the angels left and all was still,
The shepherds to each other said, “We will
Go down to Bethlehem ourselves to see
Exactly what this mighty thing could be.”
When they arrived, breaths steaming in the cold,
They found that all was just what they’d been told:
Joseph and Mary and their little sire
Asleep on bed of straw in cattle byre.
And everyone who heard it was amazed.
The shepherds left, affirming, “God be praised.”
But Jesus’ mother Mary, for her part
Lay quiet, treas’ring all this in her heart.