Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Richard Wilbur

I have mentioned in a previous post how much I dislike the animated version of Wilbur the Pig. Here is a Wilbur I like very much, the wonderful poet Richard Wilbur. A couple of stanzas of his hymn/poem printed below will be printed on our service bulletin at Christ Church on January 4th. Wilbur does a good job, as Rembrandt does in his Adoration of the Shepherds (National Gallery, London) using with the light and the beams in the stable, showing how the shadow of the Cross is over the manger. To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord!

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbor heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

Yet He shall be forsaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry
For stony hearts of men:
God's blood upon the spearhead,
God's love refused again.

Richard Wilbur (1921-), A Stable-lamp Is Lighted, stanzas 1&3

Merry Christmas to all!

(click on the title of this post to hear Sufjan Stevens singing "O Come O Come Emmanuel")

Believe! And Yoda.

On Fifth Avenue this past week or two, I have seen many examples of the "Holiday" shopping bags from Macy's department store. My first reaction was that this was the typical consumerism of Christmas -- that humans just needed to believe in anything and so be better people by "having faith", no matter what the content of that faith.

But that's not what the campaign is all about, actually. It is a revival of the story of an eight year old girl named Virginia who wrote to the editor of the New York Sun asking if there was a Santa Claus (her friends said there was not). The editor's letter (available by clicking on the title link of this post) was to say that Santa does exist, along with various warmhearted statements relating to Christmas.

This reminded me of the conversation that the Authoress or I have periodically about the topic of Santa. We tell our children this: "Yes, Santa is real. He is another name for a wonderful Christian man named Nicholas who lived hundreds of years ago, and who looked after the needs of some young girls by giving them presents secretly. Today we remember him and have fun by pretending he gives us presents on Christmas." And we've found our kids register that and then get pumped up for Santa at Christmas, including the television specials...

What follows in the reaction is some form or another of condemnation, but there you have it!

Click on the title of this post to see Donald Trump and Martha Stewart, among others, reassuring us of the goodness of the season in Macy's rather admirable and touching campaign promising to raise funds for charity as long as we believe in Santa (and shop at Macy's...)

On the continuing thread of Christmas carols, I have long thought this line from Hark the Herald Angels Sing reflects Yoda's syntax. Try saying it in a Yoda voice and see if you agree....

Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings.