Saturday, 31 December 2011

December turned to May.

For the end of the Christmas Octave:

                               Quentin Massys-The Virgin and Child (1529)
                                                         Musée du Louvre

What sweeter music can we bring

Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honour to this day
That sees December turned to May.

Why does the chilling winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly shorn
Thus on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:

'Tis he is born. whose quickening birth
Gives life and lustre, public mirth,
To heaven and the under-earth.

We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.

The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him, to welcome him.

The nobler part of all the house here, is the heart.
Which we will give him: and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath.
To do him honour. who's our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.

Robert Herrick

"This day that sees December turned to May" - an appropriate sentiment perhaps for the end of the Christmas Octave; May is, after all, Mary's month.
Meteorologically, rather than metaphorically or theologically, it may not seem like May, but the weather outside is doing a fair impersonation of early spring; in the garden daffodil bulbs are shooting, we have  roses still in bloom, feverfew and snapdragons in flower and even, in a sheltered spot, a tobacco plant (nicotiana) producing highly scented flowers. It's very strange, if not unwelcome, weather for New Year's Eve, but tomorrow we will enjoy its upside down nature even more as in our liturgies we honour the Holy Mother of God, whose role in the mystery of our salvation turns the world on its head.
Another new year, who knows what it will bring?

Happy New Year!

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