Ancilla Domini

Sleep, dearest One,1
Oh ! sleep awhile2
Securely on Thy mother’s breast !3
To-night no evil shall Thy peace molest :4
Brave angels guard Thee, faithful shepherds run5
To kneel in quiet watch. Ah ! my own Son,6
My helpless Babe, let slumbers deep beguile7
Thy sense into forgetfulness ! My Jesu, sleep !8
How still the night !9
The virgin snow10
Hushes to silence every sound.11
The awestruck cattle even, that surround12
Thy cradle, scarcely stir. The soft moon’s light13
Lies quiet o’er the world, enrobed in white14
For its Redeemer’s birthday. Clear and low15
Thy lullaby, my Jesu, all creation breathes !16
Sleep, Dearest, sleep !17
Thy mother’s arm18
Is round Thee, and Thy mother’s eyes19
Watch o’er Thy yielding to the new surprise20
Of that strange spell Thy love itself doth keep21
For Thy beloved. All Thy being steep22
This Thy first mortal night in slumber’s calm !23
Refuse not, O my Jesu, Thine own anodyne !24
See, His eyes close,25
He yields at length,26
As any infant !  Warm and flushed,27
My Darling nestles closer !  All is hushed :28
With one faint sigh He sinks into repose29
Complete !  But, ah ! no mortal prescience knows30
What presences of beauty and of strength31
Encompass Thy pure soul, my Jesu, in its home !32
And must it be33
Indeed—that fate,34
Foretold upon the awful morn,35
When Gabriel spake, and on my soul was borne36
God’s grace unutterable, o’ershadowing me ?37
Oh ! is there naught can save the agony,38
The shame, that here my spotless Babe await ?39
Is there no price save this, my Jesu, may prevail ?40
Nay, but, O Lord,41
I yield my being42
Obedient to Thy purpose. Shake43
My soul in very fragments, only take44
My uttermost oblation !  Be Thy word45
Wholly accomplished, though the bitter sword46
Drive through my quivering heart its anguish, seeing47
My Child, my Love, my God, my Jesus, crucified !48
Thus in her soul49
Our Lady prayed50
On that first Christmas night :51
Whereon the Eternal sped from realms of light52
To us, that sat beneath the dire control53
Of hell and darkness. O great God, Thy whole54
Creation cried to Thee, and Love delayed55
No longer, nor withheld its priceless sacrifice !56