Sleep, dearest One,
Oh! sleep awhile
Securely on Thy mother’s breast!
To-night no evil shall Thy peace molest:
Brave angels guard Thee, faithful shepherds run
To kneel in quiet watch. Ah! my own Son,
My helpless Babe, let slumbers deep beguile
Thy sense into forgetfulness! My Jesu, sleep!
How still the night!
The virgin snow
Hushes to silence every sound.
The awestruck cattle even, that surround
Thy cradle, scarcely stir. The soft moon’s light
Lies quiet o’er the world, enrobed in white
For its Redeemer’s birthday. Clear and low
Thy lullaby, my Jesu, all creation breathes!
Sleep, Dearest, sleep!
Thy mother’s arm
Is round Thee, and Thy mother’s eyes
Watch o’er Thy yielding to the new surprise
Of that strange spell Thy love itself doth keep
For Thy beloved. All Thy being steep
This Thy first mortal night in slumber’s calm!
Refuse not, O my Jesu, Thine own anodyne!
See, His eyes close,
He yields at length,
As any infant! Warm and flushed,
My Darling nestles closer! All is hushed:
With one faint sigh He sinks into repose
Complete! But, ah! no mortal prescience knows
What presences of beauty and of strength
Encompass Thy pure soul, my Jesu, in its home!
And must it be
Foretold upon the awful morn,
When Gabriel spake, and on my soul was borne
God’s grace unutterable, o’ershadowing me?
Oh! is there naught can save the agony,
The shame, that here my spotless Babe await?
Is there no price save this, my Jesu, may prevail?
Nay, but, O Lord,
I yield my being
Obedient to Thy purpose. Shake
My soul in very fragments, only take
My uttermost oblation! Be Thy word
Wholly accomplished, though the bitter sword
Drive through my quivering heart its anguish, seeing
My Child, my Love, my God, my Jesus, crucified!
Thus in her soul
Our Lady prayed
On that first Christmas night:
Whereon the Eternal sped from realms of light
To us, that sat beneath the dire control
Of hell and darkness. O great God, Thy whole
Creation cried to Thee, and Love delayed
No longer, nor withheld its priceless sacrifice!
Image, Selwyn. “Ancilla Domini.” The Pageant, 1897, pp. 196-197. Pageant Digital Edition, edited by Frederick King and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2019-2021. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/pag2-image-domini/