Christmas Carol 2021

Metre: 76 76 676Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen

A simple truth lies near us
As Jesus Christ is born –
He lies in cattle manger
To bring salvation’s dawn.
God’s love in Jesus’ birth
Brings hope to every people:
Renews our fragile earth!

The poor and meek and lowly
Are blessed and raised in power
By that same love who made us,
The Word who fills each hour.

The world is changed for ever
By gentle rule of love:
To live for one another
And seek the truth above.

This baby boy must change us
Today and every day;
Each life, our world, is holy –
For Jesu’s grace we pray.

So let us sing our praises
To God for Christmas joy –
Who loves us as the Father,
Who meets us as a boy.
God’s love in Jesus’ birth
Brings hope to every people:
Renews our fragile earth!

© Neil Thompson 2021

Human Weather

Bethlehem is cut off
angels shepherds and
wise men
may get there
but can the
rest of us

Bethlehem is cut off
being born isn’t enough
being reached
believed
is so hard when
the climate is
so harsh

Bethlehem is cut off
the snow drifts
formed by
habit familiarity
and prejudice
banked high by the
winds of fear insecurity
and rivalry

Bethlehem is cut off
what can we do
about the weather
our climate is
formed by our choices
choose love
let in the light
of faith
be formed
by hope

Bethlehem was cut off
the clouds of self
blew away
to reveal God’s world
in which we have
our place
and who embraces us in
the infant arms that
will span the cross
and bring us home
God’s son shines

© Neil Thompson 2021

It won't add up

our sums don’t add up
when it comes to mystery
so when infinity leaps
into human years
the material world
uninformed by the spiritual
can’t cope

yet the Bethlehem birth
contracts everything
into the love and promise
of a baby
and expands our horizons
and possibilities
beyond all reckoning
and imagining

but it doesn’t stop there

it subverts all power
and every human choice
and value

seeing the same world
changing and growing
by love and purpose
means yielding and
dying
to belong to the realm
of which we are
neither creator nor controller
only inheritor

the Bethlehem gift
just doesn’t figure
for the powerful and mighty
for if we receive it
we find our world
invaded, taxed and
displaced from home
there is nowhere to stay
and we will have to flee
and innocents will die

you can’t make this up
when love is a brother
and dies before you
and for you
to take us all where
nothing figures
but truth and peace
and justice
and joy and love
his hand reaches out:
take it

© Neil Thompson 2021

Christmas Carol 2020

Metre: 446 446 + RefrainCoventry Carol

Jesus is born in stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!
In stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!

Love’s simple birth
Brings God to earth
In distant time and place.
He lives today,
Raised mortal clay:
God saves our human race!

Can I believe?
This gift receive:
Incarnate love and grace.
Mystery deep
Lies there asleep:
God saves our human race!

There is no fear,
No pain or tear
Alone we have to face.
A future clear
In Christ draws near:
God saves our human race!

Jesus is born in stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!
In stable dark and bare:
God saves our human race!

© Neil Thompson 2020

Beyond comprehension

Below the lights and tinsel
lies another world
which we are keen to deny
and smother in any way we can.
Snow does it, our hearts and minds
long to…
Forget – as much as you can –
pretend, cover up and escape –
if only for a day or two.

The manger is rough and splintered,
the stable cold and bare,
the parents displaced
and far away from home.

The Christ comes to our dis–ease,
our pain and insecurity;
he is born amongst strangers
in a land invaded by a distant power.

Our hearts and minds are no different.

Yet love fills the vacuum of the interim
barrenness of meaninglessness, despair
and abandonment.

Fear is the fuel of our needy coldness
and there in its terrifying grip –
God is born
– to journey to your grave and mine.
Hope reaches out from tomorrow
and eternity.

This story is not to be understood
but to overcome every other
thought and certainty.
A distant birth is a present friend
– there is no moment or place but this one
which takes us beyond all that is
to all that shall be.

There is but one change, one response:
believe and trust – risk
that life is more than this
because love is born in the darkness.

And the darkness comprehends it not.

© Neil Thompson 2020

A Carol of the Night

Metre: 10 10 11 11

Wise men from the East look up to the sky:
See promise and hope in God drawing nigh.
The heavens reveal that love’s mystery is born
To the west – for the world a new light will dawn.

Our strengths and our world are formed by the day:
The road can be seen as we trust in our way.
To follow the star, we must travel by night –
God’s sign of his birth leads from darkness to light!

The journey is long, the road far from clear –
The light of the star is stronger than fear;
Dark doubts and all hardships are met in hope’s trust
That God in his truth shares our pain and frail dust.

In Zion they stop and seek for the king
New–born as the one to rule everything.
But he will be born in small Bethlehem town
And poverty’s thorns form the gold of his crown.

The prophet foretold the one who will reign
As shepherd to Israel: everyone’s gain!
So onward they go to the place of the birth:
Where Mary brings Jesus, our Saviour, to earth.

They enter and kneel, adoring God’s Son –
The babe in the straw is love’s holy One!
The gifts that they offer in bare stable room
Reveal God’s great glory in power, prayer and tomb.

© Neil Thompson 2020

A Christmas lullaby for the soul

Metre: 88 88 88Stella

This baby born in distant years
Is yet a brother to us all;
God’s love and joy – and pain and tears –
Begin in time in form so small.
Sing, sing all people of the earth –
For endless joy in Bethlem’s birth!

A helpless babe; th’Eternal Word:
This holy birth confounds all sense.
The angels sing – their music heard
By those whose love has no pretence.
Sing, sing all people of the earth –
For endless joy in Bethlem’s birth!

The keenest mind and simplest heart
Are taken to the stable bare
Where humble love eclipses art
And reason’s need to challenge prayer.
Sing, sing all people of the earth –
For endless joy in Bethlem’s birth!

The peace of every age lies here:
A child to grow and save each soul.
For we belong: God’s love so near –
Our broken selves made one and whole.
Sing, sing all people of the earth –
For endless joy in Bethlem’s birth!

© Neil Thompson 2019

Breath, beasts and straw

Another breath –
but this one is God’s
– his first
as a brother and saviour,
Jesus.

He comes to us on our own terms
but many say he can’t.
This birth is a fact of history
and also much more:
the refutation of human glory,
self seeking and personal triumph
whilst at the same time each and
every soul’s hope and the
promise of the unimaginable.

Without Him our lives
are but as straw;
without love we
are nothing but
brute beasts.
In our midst God is born.
Emmanuel.

Both then and now
and till the end of time,
our cold and poverty,
the beast and the straw
are filled and inhabited
by a glory we cannot see
– yet.

© Neil Thompson 2018

Beyond Bethlehem

Bethlehem

Barely a breath has filled your lungs

You know nothing
and without another you cannot live

Absent from our human past
and promised death in the future

Is this hope? Is this wisdom?

Yes, for love is so simple
and truth so fragile

This is Jesus in time
Love unending in our midst

Beyond – the gift from afar

Beyond all knowledge and self
Here in this birth

© Neil Thompson 2017

The kiss of God

Hush.

Stop. Be still.

What is it to be kissed?
Yes, think
...and then stop thinking.

The Christmas birth is the kiss of God.
God takes our humanity – and our lips
– he kisses and is kissed.
Is this real?
Is God in love with you and me?
Is he so close as to touch and kiss?

So many questions but a kiss is a kiss.
It is love and flesh combined.
It lasts yet is gone:
touched, blessed, ravished and set free.

God’s heartbeat is born:
a baby to be loved
and hidden until strong enough
to be kissed in the Garden
and abandoned to the Cross.

What is it to be kissed?
It is surrender – in the moment
and for eternity.

Did shepherds and kings kiss you
O little one of Bethlehem?
Can I?

If I can’t, can we ever be one?

You kiss me till my dying breath,
O love eternal –
use my lips to bring that truth
to life today.

© Neil Thompson 2015

Metrical Nunc Dimittis

Metre: 65 65Pastor Pastorum

Now Lord, let your servant
Leave this life in peace:
For your word has taught us –
Love will never cease.

Eyes with wonder seeing
In this moment’s rite,
Israel’s promised glory,
Every nation’s light.

Holy people waiting
For Christ’s light to shine:
Temple prayers now answered –
Jesus is God’s sign.

Sign and Son and saviour
Held in Mary’s arms:
Promise for all peoples
Sung in Israel’s psalms.

© Neil Thompson 2012

A cry in the night

Metre: 11 11 11 11 + Refrain (10 10)A new setting by Dan Soper

A cry in the night from the barn of an inn
Brings hope to a world gripped by fear and by sin:
God’s form here so tiny and laid in the hay
Is the Word which has made us – Jesus the Way!
Night turns to day – for now Jesus is born:
God shares our flesh bringing salvation’s dawn!

A song in the night resounds clear on a hill
As shepherds keep watch o’er their sheep in the chill;
Bright angels surround them announcing great news:
God’s love born amongst us – true King of the Jews!
Night turns to day – for now Jesus is born:
God shares our flesh bringing salvation’s dawn!

A star in the night is the sign of the birth
As God’s holy love shares our life on the earth;
Wise men from the east read the skies in their quest –
Then journey with gifts to find Jesus the blessed.
Night turns to day – for now Jesus is born:
God shares our flesh bringing salvation’s dawn!

A cry from the cross reaches out to the world:
This babe, soon a man, receives all that is hurled
By anger and failure to share in his love –
Which reaches to all from the mystery above.
Night turns to day – for now Jesus is born:
God shares our flesh bringing salvation’s dawn!

A joy beyond time is the gift of this night;
All pain and all darkness are pierced by the light
That shines in the life of this newly born boy –
Who brings death’s dark sorrows to unending joy!
Night turns to day – for now Jesus is born:
God shares our flesh bringing salvation’s dawn!

© Neil Thompson 2011

Christmas Carol 2009 ("Christmas starts with Christ")

Metre: 12 11 12 11 and refrain"Christmas with Christ" ~ Dan Soper

At the heart of our lives there’s a hunger that’s deep
To be free of the pain that makes the world weep –
And it’s met in the birth of the Christchild whose love
Shines into our darkness with light from above.
Christmas with Christ brings a hope like no other
For God in his love makes us sister and brother.

In a stable Christ’s birth shares our days and our end –
Our parties and pains now have God as a friend
Who lives with his people till the end of the age:
Eternity’s meaning in history’s page.
Christmas with Christ brings a hope like no other
For God in his love makes us sister and brother.

So today sees a start that began in the past
When Jesus was born – he’s the love that will last
And which blesses and changes our minds and our hearts –
With joy and with peace that God only imparts.
Christmas with Christ brings a hope like no other
For God in his love makes us sister and brother.

© Neil Thompson 2009

Christmas Carol 2008

Metre: 44 6 D and refrainTune: Coventry Carol

Starlight and hay –
our saviour Christ is born
for us on Christmas Day

Truth breaks the door
of reason’s law;
God shares our human form:
a new born son,
love’s chosen One –
subject to pain and storm.

From heaven’s light
to Bethlem’s night,
the angel hosts did sing:
that peace on earth
through Jesus’ birth
to every age would bring.

Our world is lost
without the cost
of God incarnate’s grace;
the stable bare,
the cold night air,
reveals th’eternal’s face.

Beyond my power
in history’s hour,
a new truth changes all;
God’s life shines bright
with inner light
in simple cattle stall.

© Neil Thompson 2008

Christmas Carol 2007

Metre: 10 9 8 8 10Tune: O Jesulein Süss

A baby is born – God laid in the hay:
He gives himself on Christmas Day.
All power, all life, takes human breath,
He shares our path that leads to death.
The Saviour has come – Christ lies in the hay.

A baby is born – God laid in the hay:
The speechless Word calls us to pray:
His tiny form reveals God’s face
And meets our fears with saving grace.
Salvation is here – Christ lies in the hay.

A baby is born – God laid in the hay:
The rich must learn that love holds sway,
The poor and meek are sought and found
By God in pain’s poor arid ground;
True peace touches earth – Christ lies in the hay.

A baby is born – God laid in the hay,
Truth takes our hand in Jesus the Way;
Help us, O Lord to share this love –
Uncreate light sent from above,
The gift of all gifts – Christ lies in the hay.

© Neil Thompson 2007

Christmas Carol 2006

Metre: 76 76 676Tune: Es ist ein, ros’ entsprungen

God’s love was born so simple
We’ll miss its gift today
Unless we own the frailty
That lies within the hay
O come true Light we pray
And flood our fears and darkness
With Christ’s eternal Day!

We know so much – and little;
We look – but fail to see
Th’eternal’s hand now offered
In Jesus’ infancy.

All words and thoughts are nothing
Save for this newborn child:
In him all life is focused,
All living reconciled.

The poor and pained and mortal
Are blessed in Mary’s son;
Our only home is heaven
Which Christ through death has won.

True peace lies in a manger –
All human powers take heed:
Our wealth and pride bring ruin
In war and want and greed.

God meets us as a brother –
Lost, hunted as a prey;
In politics and power –
The victim and the Way.

All praise to God be given
By loving hearts on earth
For bringing us redemption
In Jesus’ lowly birth.

© Neil Thompson 2006

Christmas Carol 2005

Metre: 66 77 55Tune: Stille Nacht

Deep in our night God touches earth;
Mary’s child shares our birth.
Grace and peace bring us a new start
Beating in this little one’s heart:
Mystery shines in the dark,
Mystery shines in the dark.

Powerless and small, God’s human form
Meets us all in life’s storm;
Here the hope of every age
Risks his life in history’s page:
Dust to glory is born,
Dust to glory is born.

When we feel lost, God in his Word
Speaks in Christ – suffering’s heard.
Holy child revealing God’s might
In the dark of human night.
Jesus – Light of the World!
Jesus – Light of the World!

© Neil Thompson 2005

Christmas Carol 2005

Metre: IrregularTune: The First Nowell

When the Lord from his throne leapt from heaven to earth
He chose holy Mary to bring him to birth.
Her heart and her mind said yes to this call;
Hail Mary! Our Lady – most blessed of all!
Make room, make room for the God whose birth
Brings grace and peace to all on earth!

The power of Roman might summoned all to enrol
In the towns of their birth to pay Caesar’s toll.
But Joseph and his wife found nowhere to stay
Save the back of an inn with beasts in the hay.
Make room, make room for the God whose birth
Brings grace and peace to all on earth!

Today Bethlem’s throng is replaced by our wealth:
No room for the Lord in our comfort and health.
Let us pray for God’s love to warm each cold soul
And free us from greed – that we may be whole.
Make room, make room for the God whose birth
Brings grace and peace to all on earth!

In Jesus, God’s love comes to share human breath:
He’s a brother and saviour in life and in death.
Our strength and our pride can turn Christ away
In the cries of the needy on Christmas Day.
Make room, make room for the God whose birth
Brings grace and peace to all on earth!

© Neil Thompson 2005

Midst our noise of daily living

Metre: 87 87 + refrainTune: Iris (Angels from the realms of glory)

Midst our noise of daily living,
Angels sing in purest light
Of God’s birth to all, now giving
Hope and love to human night.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

In the sky a star appearing
Telling of our Saviour’s birth:
Leave all else! – its light now steering
Humankind to Jesus’ birth.

All we have will change and perish;
Without God our lives will drift.
Yield your powers, true love now cherish:
Give your heart – the costliest gift!

 

© Neil Thompson 2004

Christmas Carol 2004

Metre: 76 76 676Tune: Es ist ein, ros’ entsprungen

The earth receives its maker –
A newborn cry is heard
As God’s first breath in Jesus
Reveals th’incarnate Word.
This birth in darkest night
Brings God as King and brother,
Jesus, the world’s true light.

The Virgin Mother watches
The infant born this day.
Their bond of love brings mercy
As for the world we pray.

God’s heart now beats so closely
No fear need chill our soul.
His life he spends, all–giving,
And through death makes us whole.

So Jesus lights the darkness
Of every age’s pains;
Such love our wounds now sharing
As from a cross he reigns.

In time th’eternal story
Is born for all to hear:
That God is love and lowly –
Our neighbour, lost or near.

Each heart and mind must open
To know this truth today:
God comes as friend and stranger –
In those we turn away.

Poor shepherds saw the glory
Of God’s life laid in hay.
Here is our greatest treasure:
The love that lives for aye!

© Neil Thompson 2004

The earthly and the heavenly meet

Metre: 86 86 + 88 86 Tune: The Seven Joys of Mary

Tune: The seven joys of Mary

– a carol inspired by Neil’s bubble machine!!!

The earthly and the heavenly meet
As Jesus Christ is born;
Eternal love becomes our friend
Because of Christmas morn.
The smelly beast with hooves of clay
Is met by floating spheres so light:
OR: Is met by angels’ songs in light
God’s love now fills our night with day –
All fear is put to flight!

The stable poor contains the King
Whose rule sets all folk free.
The commonplace is holy ground:
Time meets eternity!

So look for shafts of love each day
That shine from Christ the Lord!
May Jesus live in every heart –
By all the world adored!

© Neil Thompson 2003

Christmas Carol 2003

Metre: Double Common MetreTune: Noel

Beneath the joys of Christmastide
Christ’s birth brings truth alive.
Our feasts shine bright when days are dark –
For more than this we strive.
We need the peace that comes from love
That made us out of naught;
Our aching world for healing cries:
In flesh and soul and thought.

There is no end to war and pain
Without the grace of God.
We sing with joy that Christ is born
And walks where all have trod.
Our lives are lit and shared by love,
Born poor in stable bare.
Each human breath has meaning true,
As in God’s light we share.

What must we do who know this truth –
The mystery of Christ’s birth?
It touches every day we live
To change all life on earth.
We each must care for Jesus’ life,
Now lived in lost and poor;
The angels’ song must warm our hearts
To bring compassion sure.

The truest joy of Christmastide
Lies hid within our lives,
And we are called to urge the world
To put down guns and knives.
All weapons must the darkness fight:
Lust, poverty and greed –
To let the Christchild bring that peace
Which is our truest need.

© Neil Thompson 2003

Christmas Carol 2002

Metre: 77 77 and refrainTune: Humility

Sun in winter, Dayspring bright –
Love’s birth pierces darkest night!
Christmas changes all we see:
Shows us God’s humility.

Give this infant Jesus praise:
God now shares our human days!
Word eternal draws our breath –
Leads us into life from death!

Distant birth is ever fresh –
God is here in human flesh.
Bethlem’s story makes us one:
Spirit fills a mortal son.

Hopes of ages now are found
Clear in history’s annals bound;
Thoughts and visions, new and old,
In God’s human life unfold.

God incarnate, newly born,
Gives to every soul hope’s dawn;
Bringing in the power of grace:
Saviour of our human race.

Here in poverty’s deep night
Mary holds the world’s true light.
All that we have held as worth
Is now changed by Jesus’ birth.

We whose breath is bound to cease,
Find our hope in Christmas peace:
Now our mortal lives are blest
By the babe on Mary’s breast!

© Neil Thompson 2002

Christmas Carol 2001

Metre: 98 98 98Tune: Fragrance

Lord hear your world both blest and bleeding,
Living with fear, gripped in self’s vice.
Deep in our hearts the Christ is pleading
For love’s true peace beyond all price.
Lord hear your world both blest and bleeding,
Living with fear, gripped in self’s vice.

Here at the crib we yield our powers
To Jesus Christ, the new–born King.
Ancient of Days contained in hours:
God’s heart now beats to still death’s sting.
Here at the crib we yield our powers
To Jesus Christ, the new–born King.

We seek your ways in place of fighting;
Turn us from darkness to your light.
Oppressors’ wrong the world is blighting:
Injustice cries to be put right.
We seek your ways in place of fighting;
Turn us from darkness to your light.

Give us your joy beyond all telling
Which comes from Christ, the servant Lord:
Bethlehem’s child now with us dwelling
In every act of love outpoured.
Give us your joy beyond all telling
Which comes from Christ, the servant Lord.

© Neil Thompson 2001

Christmas Carol 2000

Metre: 87 87 77Tune: Irby

In a world which we have ordered
By the powers of strength and thought,
Love is born, the child of Mary,
In time’s hands th’eternal’s caught.
Human days are shared by God –
Jesus Christ our path has trod.

Heaven’s power is clothed in weakness;
Mortal strength must bear all fears –
As the Word, a child and Saviour,
Lives our life, our joys and tears.
Angels tell the world around:
Inns and fields are holy ground.

Jesus’ birth restores our purpose:
Every life and every age
Now can live with God for ever
Freed from fate, our mortal cage.
Love reclaims our human days:
Dust and angels – one in praise.

Doubt besets successive ages;
Christ is born to die for all.
Mind and heart must beat together
For the soul to hear God’s call.
Love eclipses all our power
By the gift, new born this hour.

Can we see this loving Jesus
In our world of here and now?
Christ was born to live for ever.
Do we show it? If so, how?
Christmas asks this of us all;
God among us makes this call.

© Neil Thompson 2000

Millennium Carol

Metre: Long MetreTune: Puer Nobis Nascitur

Before the pulse and tick of time,
God’s love, the pre–existent Word,
Was one with God and was that God
From which creation’s life has stirred.

God spoke the Word and life leapt forth:
– the dance that turns all life and forms.
Then in the child of Bethlehem
God shared the risk of freedom’s storms.

A manger throne in stable poor
Receives th’eternal born in time.
No royal pomp for Mary’s child:
The dust of glory laid in grime.

This infant life brings hope and pow’r
To break the hold of Adam’s Fall.
The hand of God takes human form:
A brother to redeem us all.

The line of time brings hope and grace,
As Christ is born, our Saviour King.
Two thousand years since Christmas Day
Our world can with the angels sing:

Glory and praise to God most high
Whose saving love on earth is heard,
In Jesus’ voice and gracious life,
A newborn babe – th’eternal Word.

© Neil Thompson 1999