The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,

“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Thomas Hardy

Alma Redemptoris Mater

Loving Mother of the Redeemer, who remains the accessible Gateway of Heaven, and Star of the Sea, give aid to a falling people that strives to rise; O Thou who begot thy holy Creator, while all nature marvelled, Virgin before and after receiving that “Ave” from the mouth of Gabriel, have mercy on sinners.