The church is quaint, and carved, and olden;
The sunlight streams in wavelets golden,
This Christmas morn,
Through stained glass scenes from Bible stories,
On ancient knights whose sculptured glories
The aisle adorn.
The rays are shed in chastened splendour
On many a dead and gone defender
Of Church and Crown;
On Lancelot, the brave Crusader,
And Guy, who slew the French invader,
And saved a town.
The manor lords in line unbroken
Rest here begirt with sign and token
Of ages past;
And dames and maidens, proud and stately,
Lie here with folded hands sedately,
And eyes shut fast.
Among their tombs the sunlight lingers
Then halts between the anthem singers,
And warriors grim.
For there, ’midst many a warlike relic,
Fair children sing the song angelic,
Christ’s birthday hymn.
In rev’rie wrapt, I pause and listen,
I watch the darting sunbeams glisten
On floor and wall;
Then pass from dead to living graces,
And on the children’s happy faces
In splendour fall.
This song of peace—these gentle voices,
These glad young hearts that life rejoices,
My fancy thought,
Are dearer homage to the Master
Then all the Church’s foes’ disaster
These dead knights wrought.
Gone are the days of gloom and error,
Love’s sceptre breaks the rod of terror
In our fair isle.
And as the children sing His message
Of Peace on Earth the joyful presage,
They win God’s smile.
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was published in The Lifeboat and Other Poems (John P. Fuller, 1883). This poem is in the public domain.