Census in Bethlehem

JOSEPH

My older cousins got here first

and even filled the shed,

but uncle says he’s got a cave

where we can lay our heads.

 

He cleaned it out, but had no other

place to put his ewe,

but that’s okay, we’ll be alright;

we’ll leave ‘fore Mary’s due.

 

JUDEAN

Aha! The gods have smiled on me;

The gov’ner’s called the mouths to me

and I will feed them for a fee!

Oh, bring the hungry men to me.

 

They’ll pay for nuts at twice the price

and sleep behind my stall.

Ah, David, it’s a providence

that softer beds are full.

 

It’s money time, salvation’s here,

the night is swelling loud.

I hear that some are even

letting stables to this crowd.

 

SHEPHERD

I’m glad we’re on the suburb hills

beyond the city’s walls,

For, though the thrum and music drifts,

it’s quieter, all-in-all.

 

And here of course we see more stars –

their gentle, painted light –

Yes, this we have, and richer sleep –

not so the urbanite.

 

But now! What terror, growing star

is falling to the ground!

An angel and a heav’nly host!

So bright and closing round!

 

And so at last God’s wrath has come

to splay us on these rocks.

As payment for our daily sins

He’ll feast upon our flocks.

 

ANGEL

No, no, dear man, be calm and still:

Fear not, for you dear men,

are first to hear our news of joy

that lands in Bethlehem.

 

Within that town, that bustling place,

there comes a treasure true;

“The heel that crushes and is bit”

is given now to you.

 

Look down into the yellow streets

beyond the loud bazaar,

and find a babe in cloth and trough

beneath the newest star.

 

Then rising in the skies they sang:

All glory be to God

and peace to all with whom he’s pleased

upon this earthen sod.

 

Now running through the town they found

that blessed stable ward

with newborn child, Emmanuel,

Jesus Christ the Lord.

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