As 'Peace on earth!' the glad world sings one glorious Christmas morn,
'Peace, peace on earth! Good-will to men! Peace, peace! the Christ is born!'
As through the courts, the wondrous courts, of heaven hosannas ring,
As harpers strike their harps of gold and 'Glory! Glory!' sing,
Upon the City's threshold fair
A woman steps, and lingers there.
The eyes she turns on Peter's face with unshed tears are dim,
'Tell Christ,' she says, 'a mother waits who fain would speak with Him.'
Through all the music, far above the highest, grandest note
Of triumph, and of joy and praise, her soft voice seems to float;
And hearing it, straight from His throne
Comes down to her the Kingly One
With shining face and eyes that hold
Such wealth of love and peace,
She feels her trembling heart grow bold,
Her doubt and grieving cease.
'Dear Lord!' she cries, and lowly kneels, 'I have a prayer to make;
O do Thou hear and answer it for Thine own mercy's sake,
Since heaven will not seem fair to me
If one dear face I may not see.
'Dear Christ, a mother's love is great
To shield, to guide, to watch, to wait.
The last kiss that I gave on earth was to my wayward son,
Whose soul, though deeply stainèd by sin, may yet by love be won
To penitence, to higher walk, to purer, holier way;
O wilt Thou let me to go to him and guard him night and day?
'Thou wert a babe in Bethlehem, a mother guarded Thee.
I pray Thee now, for her dear sake, to hearken unto me!
Remember how she held Thee close, and crooned Thee, sweet and low,
The lullabies that mothers sang long centuries ago,
And bared her snowy breast to Thee,
And stroked Thy forehead tenderly.
'And kissed Thee oft, and told herself, again and yet again,
To hold Thee thus one hour outweighed the travail and the pain!
Dear Christ, this city is most fair; its glories thrill and move;
O doth it grieve Thee that my heart cleaves to an earthly love?
That on mine eyes heaven's beauties dim
Because my heart is back with him?
'With him-the wandering son of mine, the wayward one-whose need
Of patient love and guiding hand is very great indeed!
Think not I love Thee not, dear Lord, nor long for heaven's rest;
'Tis only that the mother-heart throbs fiercely in my breast.
On this glad morning of Thy birth,
O grant me leave to visit earth!'
Lo! on her head she feels the touch of tender wounded hand,
'Fear not,' she hears, 'a love like thine the Christ can understand.
No mother prays in vain to Me on this day of the year,
For when the faltering words she speaks fall on My waiting ear,
I do remember that My cheek
Lay on a bosom warm,
I do remember Bethlehem,
And Mary's cradling arm.'