God’s weeping, humanity’s joy

I was reading this poem, by St John of the Cross (translated by E. Allison Peers), after taking communion this morning. The first two lines of the final stanza poleaxed me:

Of the Birth of Christ.

 
When the ancient dispensation
Its predestin’d course had run,
Straight from out His bridal chamber
Came the Bridegroom, God the Son.

Once on earth, with arms extended
He embrac’d His heavenly Bride,
And His blessèd Mother laid Him
In the manger, at her side.

All around that helpless baby
Animals were standing by;
Men sang songs of glad rejoicing;
Angels join’d their songs on high,

Celebrating the betrothal
’Twixt the Bridegroom and the Bride,
While the Almighty, in the manger,
As an infant, wept and cried.

Gems those tears which human nature
Brought to the betrothal rite,
And the Maid was lost in wonder
As she witness’d such a sight.

Man was full of joy and gladness;
God was weeping, weak and lone.
Ne’er before throughout the ages
Had so strange a thing been known.

From the section of devotional poems in Morning and Evening Prayer (from the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours), p.1165.

More poetry from St John of the Cross here.

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