An unmarried mother gave birth in a stable

 
  1 An unmarried mother gave birth in a stable, 
 some saw a fulfilment of all they had heard, 
 to others this story, the birth of the Godhead,
 was more than amazing, was frankly absurd.
 
 2 Some delved into scripture and said that a virgin, 
 was destined to carry a child who would grow 
 to be a Messiah, salvation for nations, 
 and others would question how history could know.
 
 3 So back to the story, now Bethlehem beckons, 
 a carpenter-pawn come to sign for the state, 
 the bureaucrats needing a list for taxation 
 and everyone hurries before it's too late.
 
 4 A legend would grow up of shepherds and magi, 
 no snow at this Christmas beneath a night's sky. 
 A man who would die as a crucified preacher 
 was born with sparse shelter as people passed by. 
 
 5 And so came the story of birth in a stable, 
 of Bethlehem's journey, a virgin and child. 
 And lost is the essence, the mystery and wonder, 
 of God born among us abused and reviled.
 
 6 Much later a soldier saw God in this prophet
 a man  who would love to his very last breath 
 the dying, the hopeless, those outside religion,
 and all those beside who had shared in his death.
 
 Andrew E Pratt (born 1948)
 © 2018 Stainer and Bell Ltd.
 12 11 12 11
 Tune: STREETS OF LAREDO; ST CATHERINES COURT

Human child of human mother – Christmas hymn 2019

Human child of human mother,
see the Christ has come to birth,
demonstrating now in living
every person’s human worth.
God has chosen, in this moment,
such a messy, mucky start,
choosing risky, earthly living,
God immersed in human art.

Mary holds the God of heaven,
Joseph marvels at his child,
then imagination wonders,
fears are running free and wild.
Certainly a new beginning,
for these youngsters, for the world,
all, as yet, is veiled, in waiting
for God’s grace to be unfurled.

So we wait, we know the story,
lose the sense of shock and awe,
heard each year the well-worn carols,
that we sang in years before.
But for now a new song beckons,
asks that we might join the scene
watch the couple hold the Godhead,
guessing what this gift might mean.
Andrew Pratt 17/12/2019
Words © 2019 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd. (Hope Publishing in the USA)
Tune: SCARLET RIBBONS

Simply love in all its glory – new hymn for Christmas

Simply love in all its glory,
simply love with all its pain,
we retell the age-old story
masked in myth to take the strain:
strain of human understanding,
God with us, Immanuel named,
cosmic Christ with angels standing
round a crib: creation tamed.

Look with eyes not masked by history,
not constrained by things we’ve heard,
not obscured by fact or mystery,
so remote to seem absurd:
Jesus born a human being,
living love and hope and grace,
no more veiled, but clearly seeing,
meeting us in every face.

Andrew Pratt 10/12/2018

Tune: CALON LAN

Words © 2018 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England,
http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.

Christmas – The God of cosmic question – quasars, quarks, pulsars

The God of cosmic question
Surprises by a birth,
Not in some new dimension
But on this ravaged earth!

In quasars, quarks and pulsars
We seek the cosmic truth:
The ground of our existence
That set creation loose,

And human senses lead us,
Through all they analyse,
From arrogance to wonder,
To spiritual surprise.

But senses have their limits:
Unanswered still there lies
The single, deepest question
Our intellect supplies.

Yet history proffers insight:
The Christ of time and space
Speaks of a God incarnate
Born in a squalid place.

Alive within our compass,
Upon this ravaged earth,
The God of cosmic question
Surprises us in birth!

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) (amended 2019 by author)
© 1991 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England, http://www.stainer.co.uk.
Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.