O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.
(cf Isaiah 11.10, 45.14, 52.15; Romans 15.12)
Arvo Pärt (1935): Sieben Magnificat-Antiphonen (1988). III – O Spross aus Isais Wurzel. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, cond. Toni Kaljuste.
A poem for Christmas
From Nativity Poems by Joseph Brodsky
(translated from Russian by Seamus Heaney).
Imagine striking a match that night in the cave:
use the cracks in the floor to feel the cold.
Use crockery in order to feel the hunger.
And to feel the desert—but the desert is everywhere.
Imagine striking a match in that midnight cave,
the fire, the farm beasts in outline, the farm tools and stuff;
and imagine, as you towel your face in the towel's folds,
the bundled up Infant. And Mary and Joseph.
Imagine the kings, the caravans' stilted procession
as they make for the cave, or rather three beams closing in
and in on the star; the creaking of loads, the clink of a cowbell;
(but in the cerulean thickening over the Infant
no bell and no echo of bell: He hasn't earned it yet.)
Imagine the Lord, for the first time, from darkness, and stranded
immensely in distance, recognising Himself in the Son,
of Man: homeless, going out to Himself in a homeless one.
as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,
so we wait for his coming in glory;
bring us through the birth pangs of this present age
to see, with her, our great salvation
in Jesus Christ our Lord.