Poesie: Ben Johnson’s Carol

A Martyr born in our defence, /
Can man forget the story?


I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light;
The angels so did sound it,
And, like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light, and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.

The Son of God, the eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed our soul from danger,
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Word, which heaven and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.

The Father’s wisdom willed it so,
The Son’s obedience knew no No;
Both wills were in one stature,
And, as that wisdom had decreed,
The Word was now made flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.

What comfort by Him do we win,
Who made Himself the price of sin,
To make us heirs of glory!
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A Martyr born in our defence,
Can man forget the story?

~ Ben Jonson (1573-1637)

nativity scene.jpeg

Featured a detail from the Nativity scene on the side facing the apse of the so-called “Sarcofago di Stilicone” (“Stilicho’s sarcophagus”), an Ancient Roman Christian sarcophagus dating from the 4th century.  It can be admired in Milan, Italy, beneath the pulpit of Sant’Ambrogio basilica.

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