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]

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  • A frosty Christmas Evewhen the stars were shining
  • Fared I forth alonewhere westward falls the hill,
  • And from many a villagein the water’d valley
  • Distant music reach’d mepeals of bells aringing:
  • The constellated soundsran sprinkling on earth’s floor
  • As the dark vault abovewith stars was spangled o’er.
  • Then sped my thoughts to keepthat first Christmas of all
  • When the shepherds watchingby their folds ere the dawn
  • Heard music in the fieldsand marveling could not tell
  • Whether it were angelsor the bright stars singing.
  • Now blessed be the tow’rsthat crown England so fair
  • That stand up strong in prayerunto God for our souls
  • Blessed be their founders(said I) an’ our country folk
  • Who are ringing for Christin the belfries to-night
  • With arms lifted to clutchthe rattling ropes that race
  • Into the dark aboveand the mad romping din.
  • But to me heard afarit was starry music
  • Angels’ song, comfortingas the comfort of Christ
  • When he spake tenderlyto his sorrowful flock:
  • The old words came to meby the riches of time
  • Mellow’d and transfiguredas I stood on the hill
  • Heark’ning in the aspectof th’ eternal silence.
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