This place where angels can’t contain their joy
Is not the habitation of the great
No priest proclaims this wonder, and no king
Welcomes God’s messengers in high estate.
Outside the city, on the lonely hills
Where Israel’s outcasts watch the temple flock,
In the deep dark, the sleepy, half-dazed hour:
It is bored shepherds whom the angels shock.
To them, and them alone, the news is given.
Unto the least is shared the wonder-song
Of highest heaven: God has come to earth
And he is worshipped by the angel-throng.
Not by our pious platitudes will we
Posture ourselves to stand where angels hymn.
Not by the merits which we seek to earn
Do we gain favour with the seraphim.
Christ did not sit on a religious throne
But, torn and bruised, went out the city gate,
And on a bitter hill salvation wrought,
Bearing our sin, our death, our hell, our hate
And in the darkened silence of the tomb
Death was reversed, and glory, glory came.
These are the places where men meet with God,
These are the places where we learn his name.
And like the shepherds, we must rise and go
First to behold him, and then to proclaim.
Speaking with wonder of the Christ we know
Who met us in our silence and our shame.