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WHAT then of this talent, while here we remain,
But study to yield it to God with a gain ;
And that shall we do, if by us ’t is not hid,
But we use and bestow it, as Christ doth us bid.

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What good to get riches by breaking of sleep,
But (having the same) a good house to keep ;
Not only to bring a good fame to thy door,
But also the prayer to win of the poor.


Of all other doings, house-keeping is chief,
For daily it helpeth the poor with relief;
The neighbour, the stranger, and all that have need,
Which causeth thy doings the better to speed.

Though, hearken to this, we should ever among,
Yet chiefly at Christmas of all the year long.
Good cause of that use, may appear by the name,
Though niggardly niggards do kick at the same.



LET such (so fantastical) liking not this,
Nor anything honest that ancient is,
Give place to the time, that so meet we do sce,
Appointed of God, as it seemeth to be.

At Christmas good husbands have corn in the ground,
In barn, and in cellar, worth many a pound.
Things plenty in house (beside cattle and sheep),
All sent them (no doubt on) good houses to keep.

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At Christmas the hardness of winter doth rage,
A griper of all things, especially age ;
Then lightly poor people, the young with the old,
Be sorest oppressed with hunger and cold.

At Christmas, by labour is little to get,
That wanting, the poorest in danger are set.
What season then better of all the whole

Thy needy poor neighbour to comfort and cheer.



Good husband and housewife, now chiefly be glad
Things handsome to have, as they ought to be had,
They both do provide against Christmas do come,
To welcome their neighbour, good cheer to have some ;
Good bread and good drink, a good fire in the hall,
Brawn pudding and souse, and good mustard withal.

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Beef, mutton, and pork, shred pies of the best,
Pig, veal, goose, and capon, and turkey well dressed ;
Cheese, apples, and nuts, jolly carols to hear,
As then in the country is counted good cheer.

What cost to good husband is any of this,
Good household provision only it is;
Of other the like I do leave out a many,
That costeth the husbandman never a penny.

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Which wondrously is brought to pass,

And in our sight already done,
By sending, as His promise was

(To comfort us), His only son,
Even Christ, I mean, that virgin's child

In Bethlehem born:
That lamb of God, that prophet mild,

With crowned thorn.

Such was His love to save us all,

From dangers of the curse of God,
That we stood in by Adam's fall,

And by our own deserved rod.
That through his blood and holy name,

All that believe,
And fly from sin, and abhor the same,

Shall grace receive.
For this glad news, this feast doth bring,

To God, the Son, and Holy Ghost,
Let man give thanks rejoice and sing,

From world to world, from coast to coast,
For other gifts in many ways,

That God deth send :
Let us in Christ give God the praise,

Till life shall end.

Robert Southwell, the writer of the following poem, is chiefly remembered on account of his unfortunate fate. He was educated and trained for the Catholic priesthood, and when but a mere youth, became a member of the Society of Jesus, at Rome. In 1581, at the age of twenty-four, he was sent as a missionary to England. This was at a time when religious persecution was at its height, and Elizabeth seemed bent on rivalling her sister Mary's cruel decrees. Southwell, however, enjoyed an eight years' security, but at the expiration of that time he was arrested, and underwent a long imprisonment, suffered the torture of the rack ten times, and was at length executed at Tyburn, on February 21, 1595.

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