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A CHRISTMAS HYMN (OLD STYLE: 1837), by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: It was the calm and silent night!
Last Line: Centuries ago!
Variant Title(s): The Nativity;a Christmas Chant
Subject(s): Christmas; Religion; Nativity, The; Theology

IT was the calm and silent night!
Seven hundred years and fifty-three
Had Rome been growing up to might,
And now was queen of land and sea.
No sound was heard of clashing wars;
Peace brooded o'er the hushed domain:
Apollo, Pallas, Jove, and Mars
Held undisturbed their ancient reign,
In the solemn midnight,
Centuries ago.

'T was in the calm and silent night!
The senator of haughty Rome,
Impatient, urged his chariot's flight,
From lordly revel rolling home;
Triumphal arches, gleaming, swell
His breast with thoughts of boundness sway;
What recked the Roman what befell
A paltry province far away,
In the solemn midnight,
Centuries ago?

Within that province far away
Went plodding home a weary boor;
A streak of light before him by,
Fallen through a half-shut stable-door
Across his path. He Passed -- far naught
Told what was going on within;
How keen the stars, his only thought;
The air how calm and cold and thin,
In the solemn midnight,
Centuries ago!

Oh, strange indifference! low and high
Drowsed over common joys and cares;
The earth was still -- but knew not why;
The world was listening, unawares.
How calm a moment may precede
One that shall thrill the world forever!
To that still moment none would heed,
Man's doom was linked no more to sever --
In the solemn midnight,
Centuries ago!

It is the calm and solemn night!
A thousand bells ring out, and throw
Their joyous peals abroad, and smite
The darkness -- charmed and holy now!
The night that erst no name had worn,
To it a happy name is given;
For in that stable lay new-born,
The peaceful prince of Earth and Heaven,
In the solemn midnight,
Centuries ago!

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