Christmas Eve and Twelve O’Clock

In what turns out to be grand Christmas tradition, the heating failed this evening at Midnight Mass, so we’re drinking a late cup of tea with just cause. It’s a black tea laced with candy cane and peppermint, and aptly called Santa’s Secret -and it’s exactly what we need. Our hands are still cold. Also, we’ve sung almost continuously for two hours and our voice gave out somewhere after the last top G in ‘Hark the Herald.’ We’ll do it all again tomorrow and gladly, but in the meantime, tea is welcome, especially when it tastes so nice as this one does.

Strictly speaking, we’re now into Christmas day, but as somewhere it’s bound to be evening still, here’s a poem by Thomas Hardy that has it’s roots in an old belief that at midnight on Christmas eve the oxen kneel to observe the Christ. Enjoy it -and Happy Christmas from Scotland!

The Oxen

Thomas Hardy

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.


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