On this 800th year celebration of the first Christmas Crib by St. Francis of Assisi and Lord John and the faithful of Greccio, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy shares Twas the Week Before Christmas based on the well-loved, classic, rhymical poem by Clement Clarke Moore. This poem was presented at the Diocese of Madison’s San Lucia Dinner for young women discerning Consecrated Life. Sister Kathleen, Sister Theresa Feldkamp and Sister Julie Ann performed the choral reading sharing our charism rooted in Gospel life. A copy of the text was included in a crafted Christmas card that was distributed to those present. Sister Mariella Erdmann is the artist.
Twas the week before Christmas when deep in his heart
St. Francis returned from his prayer place set apart.
His soul was on fire, his eyes danced so bright,
A dream he envisioned for this Christmas night.
So down to the village of Greccio he sped,
While visions of worshippers danced in his head.
But the church was all empty, the streets, oh so gloomy
No singing, no lights, no wreaths, a place very doomy.
So Francis went to ringing that church bell with zest,
Come out here, he shouted, and you will be blest.
With grumbles and mumbles and hesitant feet
The villagers bunched up right out in the street.
Then Francis addressed them with voice loud and clear
How is it that one finds no Christmas ’round here?
The people all shuffled their feet and looked down
No matter, said Francis, let’s agree to do better,
Who has a donkey? Go loosen her fetters!
And not just a donkey but a cow or an ox?
One unafraid to climb up these rocks!
Sheep! We’ll need plenty and maybe a goat,
Perhaps you could tie merry bells round their throats!
Wait now, don’t go as I’m not yet nearly done,
There must be some hay and fresh straw by the ton!
A manger, we’ll need. One built of fresh pine wood,
And all of this quickly and with cheer if you could!
The people all looked at each other with shock,
And cast eyes straight up at the mountain of rock.
Where are you my friend, Lord John, always true?
Greccians ran from me, but they’ll listen to you!
Lord John then stepped forward and bowed ‘fore the Saint
Holy Francis, we’ll do it and with not complaint.
Now Greccians be off to your barns and your homes,
Get all Francis asks for, be quick with no moans!
So all rushed away to the east and the west
To north and to south to bring forth their best.
By Christmas at midnight, they climbed to the cave
The old ones all telling the young to behave.
The air was all frosty, the stars twinkling bright
All wrapped in the silence of this winter night.
To wonder or protest, what was this about?
But then Father Francis spoke with voice devout.
Brothers and Sisters this night oh so holy
Began in a stable far off and quite lowly.
Have you forgotten, neglected, ignored,
The miracle which on this night Mary bore?
Twas Love that came into our world as a child,
Twas Love on which carpenter Joseph had smiled.
And did our Child-Savior just come long ago?
And just in that stable distress undergo?
Greccio people, this night, please awake!
From all that is frenzied, please make a clean break!
Open your hearts and make ready each soul,
A baby, He makes no demands but consoles.
Here we gather in this cave at the altar,
Let no minds turn to doubt and no voices to falter
But here in the manger, no less in the bread.
Messiah has come as the Scriptures have said.
The God who is Love made us in His likeness,
Now sends His Son as a Babe filled with brightness.
So never forget, keep a faith most sincere,
In Bread or in Baby, his presence is clear.