Andrew Roycroft is a pastor and poet from Northern Ireland. New Irish Arts commissioned this poem this year, and artist Ross Wilson contributed a new painting for it. Merry Christmas from the Rabbit Room. God is with us.
Darkness, unspeakable and unspeaking
Darkness. Silence, not of contemplation,
Nor of craning, halt-breathed expectation,
But silence of the now non-verbal God,
Void quiet, out-of-form condemnation.
This is all, for generation after
Generation, ten times over, silence,
Darkness, a people un-peopled, distant.
Now, over the deep of barren gloom, over
The depths of a barren womb, life breathes again.
An angel breaking rank speaks, “Zechariah!
Your wife will bear a son, even now when
Tears of youth have dried in age, acceptance
Must now give way, for the Messiah will
Have one to speak his name – like the gathering
Of light in glowering clouds before the sun
Casts off the shroud of night, and breaks a Day
Whose only end will be consummation
On the Final Day. John must speak these things.”
This child, unexpected, now new-expected
Leaps to greet the One in Mary’s womb to
Whom he will witness among darkened minds;
Leaps at the sheer presence of this Other,
The incarnate God, who now is woven,
Worked into human form within his mother’s form.
But still, darkness. The keen-eyed Simeon
Who will not see death til he sees the Son,
Waits in faith amidst the oblivion
Of broken law, and these stricken lives
Who know no mercy, only sacrifice.
And Anna, rising every day, shuffles
Through the Temple bounds, praying, that the Lord
Would ground these redemption words, long left off.
Light, unspoken and unspeakable light
Breaks now. The Word at last made flesh, he comes,
He comes, the Son of God eternal comes!
Into the broken yards of drought-dry bones
Into the blasphemy of our godless scraping by,
Into our hearts he comes, transcendent God,
The Son, the majestic uncompounded Lord,
He comes, the timeless One unbounded,
The world-by-his-word forming King
Can now be found at an address, in the mess
Of our neighbourhood, in the flesh of our
Personhood, he comes the one who is wholly,
Holy Other, he comes to be our Saviour
Our Messiah, our Lamb and Lion
Lord and light, our deliverer
Who will carry our shame though not ashamed
To call us brothers. He comes, and all our
Words though wide as worlds, and all our songs
Though voiced in grandest composition
Can never carry the incomparable weight
Of this one who comes, whose incarnation
Is our hope, our joy, heaven’s confirmation
That though light from us was long withheld
God has shattered the sin that was our hell
He comes, he has come, Immanuel.
Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.