So crowded was the little town
On the first Christmas day,
Tired Mary Mother laid her down
To rest upon the hay.
(Ah, would my door might have been thrown
Wide open on her way!)
But when the Holy Babe was born
In the deep hush of night,
It seemed as if a Sabbath morn
Had come with sacred light.
Child Jesus made the place forlorn
With his own beauty bright.
The manger rough was all his rest;
The cattle, having fed,
Stood silent by, or closer pressed,
And gravely wonderèd.
(Ah, Lord, if only that my breast
Had cradled Thee instead!)