Many years ago, my father Phillip Prever wrote a melody for Chesterton's poem, "A Christmas Carol." There was harmony and a descant, too, but who knows where they are now -- in an attic, tucked into a book, or just gone. Here is the poem:
The Christ-child lay on Mary's lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)
The Christ-child lay on Mary's heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world's desire.)
The Christ-child stood on Mary's knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down.
And here is the music my father wrote:
The contrast between light and dark, weariness and desire, brings to mind the apocalyptic imagination of William Blake, and I was sure that I'd find the perfect illustration for this poem among his works -- but instead, I think this one will do:
"The New Born Baby" by Georges de la Tour (1593 – 1652)
See how, rather than shielding the baby's eye's from the candle light, it almost looks as if the figure on the left is receiving light from him -- maybe warming her hands by his light.
Some of us have had a holy and fruitful Advent; some of us have almost been overwhelmed with the darkness and the weariness. Maybe we won't be overwhelmed by a world-shaking flood of light and glory when the child is born. Maybe we can just draw a little nearer to that light.