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THE ANNUNCIATION, OR LADY-DAY.

UNTO the music of the spheres Let men, and Angels, join in concert theirs.

So great a messenger

From heaven to earth

Is seldom seen,
Attired in so much glory;
A message welcomer,

Fraught with more mirth,

Hath never been

Subject of any story: This by a double right, if any, may

Be truly styled the world's birth-day.

The making of the world ne'er cost So dear, by much, as to redeem it lost.

God said but, Let it be,

And every thing

Was made straightway,
So as he saw it good :
But ere that he could see

A course to bring

Man gone astray.

To the place where he stood, His wisdom with his mercy, for man's sake;

Against his justice part did take.

And the result was this day's news Able the messenger himself t'amuse,

As well as her, to whom

By him 'twas told,
That though she were

A Virgin pure, and knew
No man, yet in her womb

A son she should

Conceive and bear,

As sure as God was true.
Such high place in his favour she possess'de

Being among all women bless'd.

But bless'd especially in this,
That she believed, and for eternal bliss

Relied on him, whom she

Herself should bear,

And her own son
Took for her Saviour.
And if there any be,

That when they hear,

As she had done,

Suit their behaviour,
They may be blessèd, as she was, and say,

'Tis their Annunciation-day.

THE NATIVITY, OR CHRISTMAS-DAY.

UNFOLD thy face, unmask thy ray,
Shine forth bright sun, double the day.
Let no malignant misty fume,
Nor foggy vapour, once presume
To interpose thy perfect sight
This day, which makes us love thy light
For ever better, that we could
That blessed object once behold,
Which is both the circumference,
And centre of all excellence :

Or rather neither, but a treasure
Unconfined without measure,
Whose centre, and circumference,
Including all pre-eminence,
Excluding nothing but defect,
And infinite in each respect,
Is equally both here and there,
And now, and then, and every where,
And always, one, himself, the same.
A being far above a name.
Draw nearer then, and freely pour
Forth all thy light into that hour,
Which was crowned with his birth,
And made heaven envy earth.

Let not his birth-day clouded be,
By whom thou shinest, and we see.

THE CIRCUMCISION, OR NEW-YEAR'S DAY.

SORROW betide my sins! Must smart so soon
Seize on my Saviour's tender flesh scarce grown

Unto an eighth day's age ?

Can nothing else assuage
The wrath of heaven, but his infant-blood ?
Innocent Infant, infinitely good!

Is this thy welcome to the world, great God !
No sooner born, but subject to the rod

Of sin-incensèd wrath?

Alas! what pleasure hath
Thy Father's justice to begin thy passion,
Almost together with thine incarnation ?

Is it to antedate thy death ? to indite
Thy condemnation himself, and write

The copy with thy blood,

Since nothing is so good ? Or, is 't by this experiment to try, Whether thou beest born mortal, and canst die?

If man must needs draw blood of God, yet why Stays he not till thy time be come to die?

Didst thou thus early bleed

For us to show what need We have to hasten unto thee as fast; And learn that all the time is lost that's pass'd ?

"Tis true, we should do so : Yet in this blood "There's something else, that must be understood;

It seals thy covenant,

That so we may not want Witness enough against thee, that thou art Made subject to the Law, to act our part.

The sacrament of thy regeneration
It cannot be; it gives no intimation

Of what thou wert, but we :

Native impurity;
Original corruption, was not thine,
But only as thy righteousness is mine.

In holy Baptism this is brought to me,
As that in Circumcision was to thee :

So that thy loss and pain

Do prove my joy and gain.
Thy Circumcision writ thy death in blood :
Baptism in water seals my livelihood.

O blessed change! Yet, rightly understood,
That blood was water, and this water 's blood.

What shall I give again,
To

recompense thy pain?
Lord, take revenge upon me for this smart :
To quit thy fore-skin, circumcise my heart.

THE EPIPHANY, OR TWELFTH-DAY,

GREAT, without controversy great,

They that do know it will confess

The mystery of godliness ; Whereof the Gospel doth intreat.

God in the flesh is manifest,

And that which hath for ever been

Invisible, may now be seen, Th' eternal Deity new drest.

Angels to shepherds brought the news :

And Wise men, guided by a Star,

To seek the Sun, are come from far: Gentiles have got the start of Jews.

The stable and the manger hide

His glory from his own ; but these

Though strangers, his resplendent rays Of Majesty divine have spied.

Gold, frankincense, and myrrh, they give;

And worshipping him plainly show,

That unto him they all things owe, By whose free gift it is they live.

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