Harassed, haunted child of Mary – hymn/poem for Epiphany/Holy Innocents

1	Harassed, haunted child of Mary          
       [Haunted, harassed child of Mary]*
	ran before he learned to crawl,
	filled with horror, those who loved him,
	those who gave to him their all,
	tore him from his bed and birth place,
	blown before the sudden squall.

2	Doubt and danger dogged each footfall,
	normal sounds now raised their fear;
	noises in a cobbled courtyard:
	Herod's minions drawing near?
	Or the waking sounds of morning?
	Nothing now is safe or clear.

3	Out of this endangered childhood,
	rootless, no asylum found,
	grew the strength of God to greatness,
	yet with thorns his brow was crowned:
	clothes divided, scourged, derided,
	suffering without a sound.

4	Dare we beautify the image
	when Christ's heirs still walk this earth,
	when our children, harassed, hounded,
	suffer death before their birth,
	while their parents' haunted hunger
	speaks of their discarded worth?

Andrew E Pratt (born 1948) 
*Alternative first line suggested by Alan Gasser via Facebook to enable the rhythm to be better caught. Thanks Andrew. 
Words © 2000 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd.
Metre: 8 7 8 7 8 7 Trochaic
Tune: PICARDY





Preparing for Christmas…a hymn…Christmas is real…

Today (Monday 20th of December) as I prepared to post this hymn it seemed especially pertinent. Though written over twelve years ago I still need the help of the revelation of Christmas to erase my selfishness. Then I heard the news of rising COVID being interrupted by reports of dead children, the  reminder of killings in Myanmar and a typhoon having caused many deaths in the Philippines some days ago. News I’d rather not hear, but in all my celebration, ought not to ignore.

Christmas is real when the cost that we measure
reaches the manger and touches the skies,
shop fronts give way to divine revelation,
God is among us and selfishness dies.
	
Christmas is real when the gifts that are given
mirror the love of this God upon earth,
God who is known in self-giving and loving 
crowning our poverty, coming to birth.
	
Christmas still echoed when screams of the children, 
slaughtered by Herod inflamed people's fear.
Christmas remains when the trees and the tinsel 
make way for news that we'd rather not hear.
	
Christmas is real when we enter the squalor
mirrored in Bethlehem so long ago; 
off'ring the love that was seen in the God-head, 
total self-giving not baubles and show.

Andrew E. Pratt
Words © 2008 Stainer & Bell Ltd, London, England copyright@stainer.co.uk . Please include any reproduction for local church use on your CCL Licence returns. All wider and any commercial use requires prior application to Stainer & Bell Ltd
Metre:11 10 11 10
Tune: EPIPHANY HYMN

As we celebrate Christmas may we be open to the need around about us, and let us continue our journey through Holy Innocents, Epiphany and Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple.