Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.Thomas Hardy, “The Oxen,” 1915
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
A song to go with the poem – one we listened to every year
Image: The Nativity from The Golden Staircase: Poems and Verses for Children, 1907, Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons