The Night He Came

The stench of damp straw mixed with mold,
The low moan of the night wind cold,
The murky shadows draping all
Within a drafty cattle stall—
These were the first things that He sensed
The night His pilgrimage commenced.

There was no incense for His creche
To make it smell more clean and fresh,
No way to hide with fragrance pure
The smell of wet fur, mud, manure.
His Person was the one rare Bloom
That filled the air with sweet perfume.

His mother wrapped him up in strips
And placed a kiss with loving lips
Upon his tender, holy brow,
Still free from sore distress for now—
That brow on which men would push down
With cruel hands a thorny crown.

She held Him to her virgin breast
To warm His frame and give Him rest,
Secure and safe from all alarms,
At peace within His mother’s arms;
A sheltering refuge there He found
Before He faced life’s battleground.

The lowing cattle, bleating sheep
Beheld Him as He lay asleep
Upon a makeshift bed of hay
Where in the evening chill He lay.
They gazed on Him with brutish stare,
Not knowing that their Lord was there!

And so, wrapped up in dark and cold
And barnyard stench, as God foretold,
There came beneath the veil of night,
Man’s only hope, the world’s true Light;
Yet oh! how dismal did appear
His world, the night love brought Him here!

As softly as a falling flake
Of snow descends, for our soul’s sake,
He drifted down and settled here
To make our dark stains disappear
And turn the landscape of our soul
All spotless, pristine, white, and whole.

As brightly as a falling star
Falls to the earth from realms afar
He came to light our gloomy world,
Into our dreary darkness hurled,
To cheer our lives with His bright beams,
Whose face with God’s own glory streams.

So He, whom heaven can’t contain,
Came down, forever to remain
With us, enfleshed. of His own will,
Then deigned to plummet further still
To hellish depths, that we might be
Raised up with Him, from death set free.

Thus, let all Christian folk rejoice
And lift to God a thankful voice
That for our good, He sent His Son
That Satan’s deeds might be undone,
And men redeemed from their great foe
By Him who chose to bear our woe.



Martin Rizley grew up in Oklahoma and in Texas, and has served in pastoral ministry both in the United States and in Europe. He is currently serving as the pastor of a small evangelical church in the city of Málaga on the southern coast of Spain, where he lives with his wife and daughter. Martin has enjoyed writing and reading poetry as a hobby since his early youth.

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12 Responses

  1. Tonia Kalouria

    Your descriptions are so wonderfully vivid! Loved the scene from the
    many points of view of the various participants. Magnífico!

  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Martin, this is a beautiful poetic lesson in just what Christmas is about and I thank you wholeheartedly for your superb poem. You manage to capture the sweet miracle amid the bitter stench of a harsh world. I will return to this poem with gratitude for the clarity you have afforded this glorious time of year. A very Merry Christmas to you!

  3. Mike Bryant

    Martin, I really love this poem, this truth, this Christmas Eve.
    I read it twice, but not aloud. When I listened to Susan read it aloud, it all came together for me. This poem would really benefit from a reading by someone who is wonderful at reading poetry… we have more than a few here at SCP.

  4. Peter Hartley

    Martin – I can only concur whole-heartedly with what has been said above, and this poem does indeed benefit from being read aloud. A very happy Christmas to you and thank you for this reminder, among all the tinsel and baubles, of what it is all about.

  5. Margaret Coats

    Smoothly crafted story–which is not entirely easy to do when many listeners know what it should say! And there are touching lines that ring true, regarding the unknown details. One of my relatives keeps sheep, and they are rather brutish, compared to the donkeys he keeps to defend the sheep from coyotes. Thus it is easy to believe that sheep might not have recognized their Lord, though the ox and ass did, according to Isaiah. Nice work, Martin; have a blessed Christmas!

  6. Jeff Eardley

    Martin, I agree with all the above. A reminder of the true message of Christmas. Thank you so much.


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