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Christmas sunrise – and sunset

The original version of  Michelangelo’s “Risen Christ” or “Christ Carrying the Cross” (1519-20, marble) in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.    The original version of  Michelangelo’s “Risen Christ” or “Christ Carrying the Cross” (1519-20, marble) in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

The original version of  Michelangelo’s “Risen Christ” or “Christ Carrying the Cross” (1519-20, marble) in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.    The original version of  Michelangelo’s “Risen Christ” or “Christ Carrying the Cross” (1519-20, marble) in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

For years on Christmas when my beloved Aunt Mary was alive, I would read aloud a portion of John Milton’s “Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” from “Greece in Poetry,” edited by Simoni Zafiropoulos (Harry N. Abrams Inc.). It was my tradition, and since her death in 2011, I’ve shared it at Christmastide on whatever blog I’ve written.

I share it with you now as a reminder that everyone’s sunrise is someone else’s sunset and that Jesus came into the world as the new Apollo – not a mercurial god of the sun but a compassionate God of light.

Merry Christmas.


From Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity
by John Milton

The Apollo Belvedere, a Roman marble copy (120-140) of the original bronze by the Greek Leochares (circa 350-325 B.C.), Vatican Museums, Vatican City.

The Apollo Belvedere, a Roman marble copy (120-140) of the original bronze by the Greek Leochares (circa 350-325 B.C.), Vatican Museums, Vatican City.

The Oracles are dumm,
No voice or hideous humm
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance or breathed spell,
Inspire’s the pale-ey’d priest from the prophetic cell.

The lonely mountains o’er.
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edg’d with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent,
With flowre-inwov’n tresses torn
The Nimphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.