The First Christmas Tree
by Eugene Field
Once upon a time the Forest was in a great commotion. Early in the evening the
wise old Cedars had shaken their heads and told of strange things that were to
happen. They had lived in the Forest many, many years; but never had they seen
such marvelous sights as were to be seen now in the sky, and upon the hills,
and in the distant village.
"Pray tell us what you see," pleaded a little Vine; "we who are not so tall as
you can behold none of these wonderful things."
"The whole sky seems to be aflame," said one of the Cedars, "and the Stars
appear to be dancing among the clouds; angels walk down from heaven to the
earth and talk with the shepherds upon the hills."
The Vine trembled with excitement. Its nearest neighbor was a tiny tree, so
small it was scarcely ever noticed; yet it was a very beautiful little tree,
and the Vines and Ferns and Mosses loved it very dearly.
"How I should like to see the Angels!" sighed the little Tree; "and how I
should like to see the Stars dancing among the clouds! It must be very beautiful. Oh, listen to the music! I wonder whence it comes."
"The Angels are singing," said a Cedar; "for none but angels could make such
"And the Stars are singing, too," said another Cedar; "yes, and the shepherds
on the hills join in the song."
The trees listened to the singing. It was a strange song about a Child that had
been born. But further than this they did not understand. The strange and
glorious song continued all the night.
In the early morning the Angels came to the Forest singing the same song about
the Child, and the Stars sang in chorus with them, until every part of the
woods rang with echoes of that wondrous song. They were clad all in white, and
there were crowns upon their fair heads, and golden harps in their hands. Love,
hope, joy and compassion beamed from their beautiful faces. The Angels came
through the Forest to where the little Tree stood, and gathering around it,
they touched it with their hands, kissed its little branches, and sang even
more sweetly than before. And their song was about the Child, the Child, the
Child, that had been born. Then the Stars came down from the skies and danced
and hung upon the branches of the little Tree, and they, too, sang the song of
When they left the Forest, one Angel remained to guard the little Tree. Night
and day he watched so that no harm should come to it. Day by day it grew in
strength and beauty. The sun sent it his choicest rays, heaven dropped its
sweetest dew upon it, and the winds sang to it their prettiest songs.
So the years passed, and the little Tree grew until it became the pride and
glory of the Forest.
One day the Tree heard some one coming through the Forest. "Have no fear," said
the Angel, "for He who comes is the Master."
And the Master came to the Tree and placed His Hands upon its smooth trunk and
branches. He stooped and kissed the Tree, and then turned and went away.
Many times after that the Master came to the Forest, rested beneath the Tree and enjoyed the shade of its foliage. Many times He slept there and the Tree
watched over Him. Many times men came with the Master to the Forest, sat with
Him in the shade of the Tree, and talked with Him of things which the Tree
never could understand. It heard them tell how the Master healed the sick and
raised the dead and bestowed blessings wherever He walked.
But one night the Master came alone into the Forest. His Face was pale and wet
with tears. He fell upon His knees and prayed. The Tree heard Him, and all the
Forest was still. In the morning there was a sound of rude voices and a
clashing of swords.
Strange men plied their axes with cruel vigor, and the Tree was hewn to the
ground. Its beautiful branches were cut away, and its soft, thick foliage was
strewn to the winds. The Trees of the Forest wept.
The cruel men dragged the hewn Tree away, and the Forest saw it no more.
But the Night Wind that swept down from the City of the Great King stayed that
night in the Forest awhile to say that it had seen that day a Cross raised on
Calvary - he Tree on which was nailed the Body of the dying Master.