The Work of Christmas

The poem When the song of the angels is stilled has long been a favourite of mine for this time of year. It was written by Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981) who was an influential African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. It’s from The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations published in 1985.  Looking back on this year, these words have never been more apt, never been so needed.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

The verses have been set to music by the American composer Elizabeth Alexander and you can find many recordings of it on YouTube