The hope of a heavenly boy.
The ensuing lines come from a poem entitled, “New Heaven, New War” by Robert Southwell, a Jesuit priest, missionary, and poet in post-Reformation England.1 It is my estimation that these are some of the most fervent, worshipful lines that could be reflected upon this Christmas. They exhibit for us an honest look at the Savior who came to this putrid world as a mere babe, a “heavenly boy,” in whom resided the hope of the nations. This babe in a manger that secular musicians sing of is none other than the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6) He is both Jehovah and Emmanuel, the Savior who has come for you. He is both infant and infinite, lad and Lord. In him is contained all the promise of grace that would soon come from the blood that coursed through his veins. As you read about the baby boy in the manger, don’t forget that it was he was that carried your cross for you up the hill to Golgotha. This is God’s glad tidings of great joy. (Lk 2:10–14) This is the hope of a heavenly boy.
The same you saw in heavenly seat,
Is he that now sucks Mary’s teat;
Agonize your King a mortal wight,
His borrowed weed let’s not your sight;
Come, kiss the manger where he lies;
That is your bliss above the skies.
This little babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake,
Though he himself for cold doth shake;
For in this weak unarmed wise
The gates of hell he will surprise.
With tears he fights and wins the field,
His naked breast stands for a shield;
His battering shot are babish cries,
His arrows looks of weeping eyes,
His martial ensigns cold and need,
And feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.
His camp is builded in a stall,
His bulwark but a broken wall,
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes,
Of shepherds he his muster makes;
And thus, as sure his foe to wound,
The angels’ trumps alarum sound!
My soul with Christ join thou in fight;
Stick to the tents that he hath pight;
Within his crib is surest ward,
This little babe will be thy guard;
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
Then flit not from this heav’nly boy!
Robert Southwell, The Complete Poems of Robert Southwell, edited by Alexander Grosart (London: Robson & Sons, 1872), 111–12.