Our American Holidays - Christmas/While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night

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"WHILE SHEPHERDS WATCHED
THEIR FLOCKS BY NIGHT"

Like small curled feathers, white and soft,
   The little clouds went by,
Across the moon, and past the stars,
   And down the western sky:
In upland pastures, where the grass
   With frosted dew was white,
Like snowy clouds the young sheep lay.
   That first, best Christmas night.

The shepherds slept; and, glimmering faint,
   With twist of thin, blue smoke,
Only their fire's crackling flames
   The tender silence broke—
Save when a young lamb raised his head,
   Or, when the night wind blew,
A nesting bird would softly stir,
   Where dusky olives grew—

With finger on her solemn lip,
   Night hushed the shadowy earth,
And only stars and angels saw
   The little Saviour's birth;
Then came such flash of silver light
   Across the bending skies,
The wondering shepherds woke, and hid
   Their frightened, dazzled eyes !


And all their gentle sleepy flock
   Looked up, then slept again,
Nor knew the light that dimmed the stars
   Brought endless Peace to men—
Nor even heard the gracious words
   That down the ages ring—
The Christ is born! the Lord has come,
   Good-will on earth to bring!"

Then o'er the moonlit, misty fields,
   Dumb with the world's great joy,
The shepherds sought the white-walled town,
   Where lay the baby boy—
And oh, the gladness of the world,
   The glory of the skies,
Because the longed-for Christ looked up
   In Mary's happy eyes!