Each year cometh with all his days,
Some are shadowed and some are bright;
He beckons us on until he stays
Kneeling with us 'neath Christmas night.
Kneeling under the stars that gem
The holy sky, o'er the humble place,
When the world's sweet Child of Bethlehem
Rested on Mary, full of grace.
Not only the Bethlehem in the East,
But altar Bethlehem everywhere,
When the ~Gloria~ of the first great feast
Rings forth its gladness on the air.
Each year seemeth loath to go,
And leave the joys of Christmas day;
In lands of sun and in lands of snow,
The year still longs awhile to stay.
A little while, 'tis hard to part
From this Christ blessed here below,
Old year! and in thy aged heart
I hear thee sing so sweet and low.
A song like this, but sweeter far,
And yet as if with a human tone,
Under the blessed Christmas star,
And thou descendest from thy throne.
"A few more days and I am gone,
The hours move swift and sure along;
Yet still I fain would linger on
In hearing of the Christmas song.
"I bow to Him who rules all years;
Thrice blessed is His high behest;
Nor will He blame me if, with tears,
I pass to my eternal rest.
"Ah, me! to altars every day
I brought the sun and the holy Mass;
The people came by my light to pray,
While countless priests did onward pass.
"The words of the Holy Thursday night
To one another from east to west;
And the holy Host on the altar white
Would take its little half-hour's rest.
"And every minute of every hour
The Mass bell rang with its sound so sweet,
While from shrine to shrine, with tireless power,
And heaven's love, walked the nailed feet.
"I brought the hours for ~Angelus~ bells,
And from a thousand temple towers
They wound their sweet and blessed spell
Around the hearts of all the hours.
"Every day has a day of grace
For those who fain would make them so;
I saw o'er the world in every place
The wings of guardian angels glow.
"Men! could you hear the song I sing --
But no, alas! it cannot be so!
My heir that comes would only bring
Blessings to bless you here below."
* * * * *
Seven days passed; the gray, old year
Calls to his throne the coming heir;
Falls from his eyes the last, sad tear,
And lo! there is gladness everywhere.
Singing, I hear the whole world sing,
Afar, anear, aloud, alow:
"What to us will the New Year bring!"
Ah! would that each of us might know!
Is it not truth? as old as true?
List ye, singers, the while ye sing!
Each year bringeth to each of you
What each of you will have him bring.
The year that cometh is a king,
With better gifts than the old year gave;
If you place on his fingers the holy ring
Of prayer, the king becomes your slave.