The other night as my husband Tom and I were watching the “Cri de Comer” episode of The Crown season 3, we heard British Poet Laureate John Betjeman reading his “Jubilee Hymn” which was written to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, commemorating the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne in June 1977. The above attached YouTube lets you hear him read it himself.
Listening, I immediately thought of my favorite poem of Betjeman’s: his “Christmas.” I love the last three stanzas, and most especially the last two lines.
And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?
And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,
No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.
Those questions that start the 4th and 5th stanza hit home as I saw the numerous weekend church services that included Communion . I realized anew how appropriate it is that we consider not just the birth and the death of Christ at this season, but also the important third act of this Salvation Trilogy: His resurrection. Is it true that He became a Child and lived and died and lived again . . . for me? It is. He came for me. And you.