Sunday, December 24, 2017

Love Came Down at Christmas for Christina Rossetti

photo © Mark Butkus 2016
Love shall be our token.

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine;
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.


— Christina Rossetti


Is it surprising that a child of December, named after Christ, would have a canon of beloved Christmas poems?

Born on December 5, 1830 Christina Rossetti was considered the natural successor to Elizabeth Barrett Browning following Browning's death in 1861. Born into one of the most creative families of 19th century England, Rossetti's enduring legacy is owed in part to her Christmas poems which have been set to music by Holst among others.

Love Came Down at Christmas was first published without a title in Time Flies: A Reading Diary in 1885. It was later included in the collection Verses in 1893 under the title Christmastide. It has also been widely arranged as a carol.