'Twas drawing near the holiday,
When piety and pity met
In whisp'ring council, and agreed
That Christmas time, in homes of need,
Should be remembered in a way
They never could forget.
Then noble generosity
Took youth and goodness by the hand,
And planned a thousand charming ways
To celebrate this best of days,
While hearts were held in sympathy
By love's encircling band.
So multitudes together came,
Like wandering magi from the East
With precious gifts unto the King,
With every good and perfect thing
To satisfy a shivering frame
Or amplify a feast.
The angels had looked long and far
The happy scene to parallel,
When through the sanctuary door
Were carried gifts from shop and store,
The treasures of the rich bazaar,
To give - but not to sell.
As once the apostolic twelve
Of goods allotment made,
So equity dealt out with care
The widow's and the orphan's share,
And of the aged forced to delve
At drudging task or trade.
Oh, could the joy which tears express
That out of gladness come
Be mirrored in its tender glow,
Before the beautiful tableau
Ingratitude and selfishness
Would shrink abashed and dumb!
If every year and everywhere
Could kindness thus expand
In bounteous gratuity,
To all her children earth would be
A flowery vale like Eden fair,
A milk-and-honey land.