How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
No ear my hear His coming, But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls shall receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
What human being could know all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Christ and concealed under the poverty of his humanity? What are those divine riches unless they be that which satisfies our longing? And what is that multitude of sweetness unless it be what fills us?
—Saint Augustine of Hippo
See how far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with they humble ode,
And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;
Have thou the honour first the Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angle quire,
From out his secret alter touched with hallowed fire.
Low in the east, against a white, cold dawn,
The black-lined silhouette of the woods was drawn,
And on a wintry waste
Of frosted streams and hillsides bare and brown,
Through thin cloud-films, a pallid ghost looked down,
The waning moon half-faced!
In that pale sky and sere, snow-waiting earth,
What sign was there of the immortal birth?
What herald of the One?
Lo! swift as thought the heavenly radiance came,
A rose-red splendor swept the sky like flame,
Up rolled the round, bright sun!
And all was changed. From a transfigured world
The moon's ghost fled, the smoke of home-hearths curled
Up the still air unblown.
In Orient warmth and brightness, did that morn
O'er Nain and Nazareth, when the Christ was born,
Break fairer than our own?
——John Greenleaf Whittier
I've collected Christmas books for years, and must have at least a couple hundred. Their contents range from anthologies of seasonal poetry, short stories, and novels, to histories of the holiday and its customs and traditions, sketches and narratives of remembered Christmases by various writers, cookbooks, even a craft book or two, though Myladylove collects the latter two categories and probably has upwards of a hundred Christmas volumes of her own.
This year, starting on the first day of December, I thought it might be fun to dip into a few of these works and share a quote or two from their pages—a few lines of poetry, a bit of prose, maybe even a recipe—on a daily basis, a sort of "Christmas Quotedown," which I'll put up in addition to my regular posts. I'll also include a photo of the book's cover, from which the day's quotes are taken—though a few, lacking a dust jacket or any sort of fancy cover design, might be decidedly non-photogenic. On the other hand, several of my favorite Christmas works are quotably rich troves, indeed, and thus might end up furnishing more than a day's worth of quotes—though I'm starting out with the notion of a different book each day.
Along the way, I hope I select some things you enjoy.