Love Came Down at Christmas
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine,
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.
Did you ever get excited when your favorite pop star had two records in the hit parade at the same time? Which one would go up? Which one would go down? Would the new one be more or less successful than the older one. Did you prefer one over the other, or like them both equally. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive.
I can’t say that I ever felt the same about hymns in church, but I did notice some authorial names recurring in the small print of the hymn book. This is the first repetition in my Advent Calendar of popular Christmas carols and the honour goes to Christina Rossetti. A few days ago I featured her carol In The Bleak Midwinter which was published as a carol in 1875; Love Came Down At Christmas followed it a few years later in 1885.
Christina Rossetti was a poet and writer in the first instance and the carols derived from others setting her verses to music. She wrote several poems that might be considered classics and maybe I should have celebrated one of them in the Third Thursday series of posts by now, but have been remiss. (Note to self: next year!) A major work of hers is Goblin Market, a long narrative poem of mysterious meaning. Rossetti always claimed it was a simple children’s story but it does seem to be a darker morality tale of sorts, and some read into it the dangers of opium addiction or child prostitution. It’s worth hunting down. Not the most festive note to conclude upon, evidence of the broad range of subjects that her poetry embraced.
Header image: Margaret Tarrant (1888-1959) Christmas card design
Christina Rossetti portrait by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Footer image: Westminster Bridge Christmas card by Tracks Publishing Ltd