Thursday, December 23, 2004

Love's sweetest mark

Caught up with Alvin and Huey Fern who are back from Vancouver for Christmas and the new year. Had a great lunch at Sri Melaka and naturally, among other things, our conversation turned to food. Malaysians abroad miss local food most, so everyone agrees. Alvin’s currently into patristic writings and counts his visits to monasteries to be among his most memorable this year. I hope we’ll have time to talk some more before they head back to Canada.

Christmas is almost upon us as I write. As a kind of resolution early this year I told myself not to use the word ‘busy’, ever, so while there’s been a lot to do, God has been faithful (my occasional bad mood notwithstanding) . There’s a pleasant kind of stimulation, a sort of buzz, sweet and tingly. I love Christmas and I don’t mind at all the many things that tend to converge during the season. The family meets tomorrow evening and there’ll be much to rejoice and thank God for when we all come together – brothers, sisters, our children, Mom and Dad – all twenty-one of us.

Here’s a poem by Robert Southwell (1561 ~ 1595) that I first came across in the Lion Book of Christian Poetry. Bought the book in 1985, and Southwell's poem is easily one of my favourites (this compilation did not feature the full poem though but I’ve got the complete version below).

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Let folly praise that fancy loves, I praise and love that Child,
Whose heart no thought, whose tongue no word, whose hand no deed defiled.
I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love are His;
While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss.
Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired light,
To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight.
He mine by gift, I His by debt, thus each to other due.
First friend He was, best friend He is, all times will try Him true.

Though young yet wise, though small yet strong; though man yet God He is;
As wise He knows, as strong He can, as God He loves to bless.
His knowledge rules, His strength defends, His love doth cherish all;
His birth our joy, His life our light, His death our end of thrall.
Alas! He weeps, He sighs, He pants, yet do His angels sing;
Out of His tears, His sighs and throbs, doth bud a joyful spring.
Almighty Babe, whose tender arms can force all foes to fly,
Correct my faults, protect my life, direct me when I die!

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