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 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.