The slideshow, compiled and edited by Jenni Frankenberg Veal, features a condensed version of Robert Bridges' classic poem "Noël: Christmas Eve 1913." Read the full poem text below.
Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis
[Translated: Peace to men of good will]
- A frosty Christmas Eve when the stars were shining
- Fared I forth alone where westward falls the hill,
- And from many a village in the water'd valley
- Distant music reach'd me peals of bells aringing:
- The constellated sounds ran sprinkling on earth's floor
- As the dark vault above with stars was spangled o'er.
- Then sped my thoughts to keep that first Christmas of all
- When the shepherds watching by their folds ere the dawn
- Heard music in the fields and marveling could not tell
- Whether it were angels or the bright stars singing.
- Now blessed be the tow'rs that crown England so fair
- That stand up strong in prayer unto God for our souls
- Blessed be their founders (said I) an' our country folk
- Who are ringing for Christ in the belfries to-night
- With arms lifted to clutch the rattling ropes that race
- Into the dark above and the mad romping din.
- But to me heard afar it was starry music
- Angels' song, comforting as the comfort of Christ
- When he spake tenderly to his sorrowful flock:
- The old words came to me by the riches of time
- Mellow'd and transfigured as I stood on the hill
- Heark'ning in the aspect of th' eternal silence.