Scripture Verse

Did not our heart burn within us? Luke 24:32


Words: Adapted from Ro­bert South­well (cir­ca 1561–1595). Ap­peared in Old Christ­mas Carols, by Ri­chard R. Ter­ry (Lon­don: Burns, Oates & Wash­bourne, 1923).

Music: High­land Park, tra­di­tion­al Ir­ish. Me­lo­dy from Old Ir­ish Folk Mu­sic and Songs, by Pat­rick Wes­ton Joyce (Lon­don & Dub­lin: Long­mans & Green and Hodg­es & Fig­gis, 1909) (🔊 pdf nwc).

Robert Southwell
ca. 1561–1595
National Portrait Gallery



As I in hoa­ry win­ter’s night
Stood shi­ver­ing in the snow,
Surprised I was with sud­den heat,
Which made my heart to glow;
And lift­ing up a fear­ful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pret­ty babe, all burn­ing bright,
Did in the air ap­pear.

Who scorch­èd with ex­cess­ive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though His floods should quench His flames,
Which with His tears were fed.
Alas! quoth He, but new­ly born,
“In fie­ry heats I fry,
Yet none ap­proach to warm their hearts,
Or feel My fire but I.

“My fault­less breast the fur­nace is,
The fu­èl wound­ing thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ash­es shame and scorn.
The fu­èl Jus­tice lay­eth on,
And Mer­cy blows the coals,
The me­tals in this fur­nace wrought
Are men’s de­fil­èd souls.

For which, as now on fire I am,
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in My blood
With this He van­ished out of sight,
And swift­ly shrunk away,
And straight I call­èd un­to mind
That it was Christ­mas Day!