How far is it to Bethlehem Town?
Just over Jerusalem’s hills adown…
Sunned white and sweet on olived slopes
Gold lighted still with Judah’s hopes.
And so we find the Shepherd’s field,
And plain that give rich Boaz yield,
And look where Herod’s villa stood.
We thrill that earthly parenthood
Could foster Christ who was all-good…
–How Far to Bethlehem?, Madeleine Sweeny Miller
…He haunts the lowly highways
Where human hopes have trod
The Via Dolorosa
Up to the heart of God.
He looms a lonely figure
Along the fringe of night,
As lonely as a cedar
Against the lonely light.
Judean hills are holy
Judean fields are fair,
For one can find the footprints
Of Jesus everywhere.
–Judean Hills Are Holy, William L. Stidger
Let not our hearts be busy inns,
That have no room for Thee,
But cradles for the living Christ
And his nativity.
Still driven by a thousand cares
The pilgrims come and go;
The hurried caravans press on;
The inns are crowded so!
Here are the rich and busy ones,
With things that must be sold,
No room for simple things within
This hostelry of gold.
Yet hunger dwells within these walls,
These shining walls and bright,
And blindness groping here and there
Without a ray of light.
Oh, lest we starve, and lest we die,
In our stupidity,
Come, Holy Child, within and share
–Christmas Prayer, Ralph Spaulding Cushman
Above the road to Bethlehem
When I was very young,
A twilight sky of tender blue
With golden stars was hung…
But now the road to Bethlehem
Seems cold and steep and far;
It wanders through a wilderness
Unlit by any star.
The earth I tread is frozen hard;
The winter chills my breath;
On either hand rise evil shapes
From valleys dark with death.
The air is tense with moans of pain
A cries of bitter hate,
Where bloodstained hills and
Lie black and desolate.
How can the sacred heart of God
Heal all this guilt and grief?
Lord, I believe. And yet this night,
Help Thou mine unbelief!
Purge thou mine eyes that they may see
Thy star across the gloom!
Touch Thou my heart, that I may lose
These agonies of doom!
Now in the darkness guide my feet,
Give holy strength to them
To walk with childlike faith once more
The road to Bethlehem!
–The Road to Bethlehem, Watson Kirkconnell
The angel song still trembles
In Bethle’em’s holy air;
The little hills lie sleeping,
The bright stars still shine fair.
Gone is the rustle of the wings
Heard in the watch serene;
The Golden Hour of God is past,
His glory has been seen.
But, oh, the hearts that since have waked,
The souls that have found rest
Because small Bethlehem one Day
Took heaven to its breast!
–After Christmas, Consuelo Valencia