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VIII. KL. JAN.

DECEMBER XXV.

SERMO DE NATALE DOMINI.

SERMON ON THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD.

We wyllað to trymminge eowres geleafan eow gereccan þæs Hælendes acennednysse be ðære godspellican endebyrdnysse: hú he on ðysum dægðerlicum dæge on soðre menniscnysse acenned wæs on godcundnysse. We will, for the confirmation of your faith, relate to you the nativity of our Saviour, according to the order of the gospel: how he on this present day was born in true humanity in divine nature.
Lucas se Godspellere awrát on Cristes béc, þæt on ðam timan se Romanisca casere Octauianus sette gebánn, þæt wære on gewritum asett eall ymbhwyrft. Þeos towritennys wearð aræred fram ðam ealdormen Cyrino, of Sirian lande, þæt ælc man ofer-heafod sceolde cennan his gebyrde, and his áre on ðære byrig þe hé to gehyrde. Þa ferde Ioseph, Cristes foster-fæder, fram Galileiscum earde, of ðære byrig Nazareð, to Iudeiscre byrig, seo wæs Dauides, and wæs geciged Bethleém, forðan ðe hé wæs of Dauides mægðe, and wolde andettan mid Marían hire gebyrde, þe wæs þa gýt bearn-eaca. Ða gelámp hit, þaða hí on þære byrig Bethleém wícodon, þæt hire tima wæs gefylled þæt heo cennan sceolde, and acende ða hyre frumcennedan sunu, and mid cild-claðum bewánd, and aléde þæt cild on heora assena binne, forþan þe ðær næs nán rymet on þam gesthuse. Þa wæron hyrdas on þam earde waciende ofer heora eowede; and efne ða Godes engel stód on emn hí, and Godes beorhtnys hí bescean, and hí wurdon micclum afyrhte. Ða cwæð se Godes engel to ðam hyrdum, "Ne ondredað eow; efne ic eow bodige micelne gefean, þe becymð eallum folce; forðan þe nu to-dæg is eow acenned Hælend Crist on Dauides ceastre. Ge geseoð þis tácen, ge gemétað þæt cild mid cild-claðum bewunden, and on binne geléd." Þa færlice, æfter þæs engles spræce, wearð gesewen micel menigu heofenlices werodes God herigendra and singendra, "Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bone uoluntatis," þæt is on urum gereorde, "Sy wuldor Gode on heannyssum, and on eorðan sibb mannum, þam ðe beoð godes willan." And ða englas ða gewiton of heora gesihðe to heofonum. Hwæt ða hyrdas þa him betweonan spræcon, "Uton faran to Bethleem, and geseon þæt word þe us God æteowde." Hí comon ða hrædlice, and gemetton Marían, and Ioseph, and þæt cild geled on anre binne, swa swa him se engel cydde. Þa hyrdas soðlice oncneowon be þam worde þe him gesæd wæs be ðam cilde, and ealle wundrodon þe þæt gehyrdon, and eac be ðam ðe þa hyrdas him sǽdon. María soðlice heold ealle þas wórd arǽfniende on hire heortan. Ða gecyrdon þa hyrdas ongean wuldrigende and herigende God on eallum ðam ðingum þe hí gehyrdon and gesawon, swa swa him fram þam engle gesǽd wæs. Luke the Evangelist wrote in the book of Christ, that at that time the Roman emperor Octavianus made proclamation that all the world should be set down in writing. This enrolment was set forth from Cyrenius, the governor of Syria—that every man in general should declare his birth and his possession in the city to which he belonged. Then Joseph, the foster-father of Christ, went from the land of Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to the Jewish city, which was of David, and was called Bethlehem, because he was of the tribe of David, and would acknowledge with Mary her birth, who was then great with child. Then it came to pass, while they were sojourning in the city of Bethlehem, that her time was fulfilled that she should bring forth, and she brought forth then her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid the child in their asses' bin, because there was no room in the inn. And there were shepherds in the country watching over their flock; and lo, the angel of God stood before them, and God's brightness shone on them, and they were much afraid. Then said the angel of God to the shepherds, "Fear not, lo, I announce to you great joy, which shall come to all people; for now to-day is born to you a Saviour, Christ, in the city of David. Ye shall see this token, ye shall find the child wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a bin." Then suddenly, after the angel's speech, there was seen a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and singing, "Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis," that is in our tongue, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men who are of good will." And the angels then withdrew from their sight to heaven. The shepherds then spake among themselves, "Let us go to Bethlehem, and see the word that God hath manifested unto us." They came then quickly, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the child laid in a bin, as the angel had announced to them. But the shepherds understood the word that had been said to them concerning the child, and all wondered that heard it, and also at that which the shepherds said unto them. But Mary held all these words, pondering them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things which they had heard and seen, as had been said to them by the angel.
Mine gebroðra þa leofostan, ure Hælend, Godes Sunu, euen-ece and gelic his Fæder, seðe mid him wæs æfre buton anginne, gemedemode hine sylfne þæt he wolde on ðisum dægðerlicum dæge, for middangeardes alysednysse beon lichamlice acenned of þam mædene Marían. He is Ealdor and Scyppend ealra gódnyssa and sibbe, and he foresende his acennednysse ungewunelice sibbe, forðan ðe næfre næs swilc sibb ær þam fyrste on middangearde, swilc swa wæs on his gebyrde-tide, swa þæt eall middangeard wæs anes mannes rice underðeod, and eal mennisc him anum cynelic gafol ageaf. Witodlice on swa micelre sibbe wæs Crist acenned, seðe is ure sib, forþan ðe hé geþeodde englas and men to ánum hirede, þurh his menniscnysse. Hé wæs acenned on þæs caseres dagum þe wæs Octauianus geháten, se gerymde Romana rice to ðan swiðe þæt him eal middangeard to beah, and he wæs forði Augustus geciged, þæt is geýcende his rice. Se nama gedafenað þam heofonlican Cyninge Criste, þe on his timan acenned wæs, seðe his heofonlice rice geyhte, and ðone hryre, þe se feallenda deofol on engla werode gewanode, mid menniscum gecynde eft gefylde. Na þæt án þæt he ðone lyre anfealdlice gefylde, ac eac swylce micclum geihte. Soðlice swa micel getel mancynnes becymð þurh Cristes menniscnysse to engla werodum, swa micel swa on heofonum beláf haligra engla æfter ðæs deofles hryre. Þæs caseres gebann, þe het ealne middangeard awritan, getacnode swutellice þæs heofonlican Cyninges dæde, þe to ði com on middangeard þæt he of eallum ðeodum his gecorenan gegaderode, and heora naman on ecere eadignysse awrite. Þeos towritennys asprang fram ðam ealdormen Cyrino: Cyrinus is gereht Yrfenuma, and he getacnode Crist, seðe is soð yrfenuma þæs ecan Fæder; and he us forgifð þæt we mid him beon yrfenuman and efenhlyttan his wuldres. Ealle ðeoda þa ferdon þæt ælc synderlice be him sylfum cennan sceolde, on ðære byrig þe he to hyrde. Swa swa on ðam timan be ðæs caseres gebanne gehwilce ænlipige on heora burgum be him sylfum cendon, swa eac nu us cyðað láreowas Cristes gebann, þæt we ús gegadrian to his halgan gelaðunge, and on ðære ures geleafan gafol mid estfullum mode him agifan, þæt ure naman beon awritene on lifes bec mid his gecorenum. My dearest brethren, our Saviour, the Son of God, co-eternal with, and equal to his Father, who was ever with him without beginning, vouchsafed that he would on this present day, for the redemption of the world, be corporally born of the Virgin Mary. He is Prince and Author of all things good and of peace, and he sent before his birth unwonted peace, for never was there such peace before that period in the world, as there was at the time of his birth; so that all the world was subjected to the empire of one man, and all mankind paid royal tribute to him alone. Verily in such great peace was Christ born, who is our peace, because he united angels and men to one family through his incarnation. He was born in the days of the emperor who was called Octavianus, who extended the Roman empire to that degree that all the world bowed to him, and he was, therefore, named Augustus, that is, Increasing his empire. The name befits the heavenly King Christ, who was born in his time, who increased his heavenly empire, and replenished with mankind the loss which the falling devil had caused in the host of angels. Not only did he simply supply its loss, but also greatly increased it. Verily as great a number of mankind cometh, through Christ's incarnation, to the hosts of angels, as there remained of holy angels in heaven after the devil's fall. The emperor's decree, which commanded all the world to be inscribed, betokened manifestly the deed of the heavenly King, who came into the world that he might gather his chosen from all nations, and write their names in everlasting bliss. This decree sprang from the governor Cyrenius—Cyrenius is interpreted Heir, and he betokened Christ, who is the true heir of the eternal Father; and he granteth us to be heirs with him, and partakers of his glory. All nations then went that each separately might declare concerning himself, in the city to which he belonged. As at that time, according to the emperor's proclamation, each one singly, in their cities, declared concerning himself, so also now do our teachers make known to us Christ's proclamation, that we gather us to his holy congregation, and therein, with devout mind, pay to him the tribute of our faith, that our names may be written in the book of life with his chosen.
Drihten wæs acenned on þære byrig ðe is gehaten Bethleem; forðan ðe hit wæs swa ǽr gewitegod þisum wordum, "Þu Bethleem, Iudeisc land, ne eart ðu wacost burga on Iudeiscum ealdrum: soðlice of ðe cymð se latteow þe gewylt Israhela ðeoda." Crist wolde on ytinge beon acenned, to ði þæt he wurde his ehterum bedigelod. Bethleem is gereht 'Hlaf-hús,' and on hire wæs Crist, se soða hlaf, acenned, þe be him sylfum cwæð, "Ic eom se liflica hláf, þe of heofenum astáh, and seðe of ðam hlafe geett ne swylt hé on ecnysse." Þæs hlafes we onbyriað þonne we mid geleafan to husle gað; forðan þe þæt halige husel is gastlice Cristes lichama; and þurh ðone we beoð alysede fram ðam ecan deaðe. María acende ða hire frumcennedan sunu on ðisum andweardan dæge, and hine mid cild-claðum bewánd, and for rymetleaste on anre binne geléde. Næs þæt cild forði gecweden hire frumcennede cild swilce heo oðer siððan acende, ac forði þe Crist is frumcenned of manegum gastlicum gebroðrum. Ealle cristene men sind his gastlican gebroðra, and hé is se frumcenneda, on gife and on godcundnysse ancenned of ðam Ælmihtigan Fæder. Hé wæs mid wacum cild-claðum bewæfed, þæt he ús forgeafe ða undeadlican tunecan, þe we forluron on ðæs frumsceapenan mannes forgægednysse. Se Ælmihtiga Godes Sunu, ðe heofenas befon ne mihton, wæs geled on nearuwre binne, to ði þæt he ús fram hellicum nyrwette alysde. María wæs ða cuma ðær, swa swa þæt godspel ús segð; and for ðæs folces geðryle wæs þæt gesthus ðearle genyrwed. The Lord was born in the city which is named Bethlehem, because it was so before prophesied in these words, "Thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, thou art not meanest of cities among the Jewish princes, for of thee shall come the guide that shall govern the people of Israel." Christ would be born on journey, that he might be concealed from his persecutors. Bethlehem is interpreted Bread house, and in it was Christ, the true bread, brought forth, who saith of himself, "I am the vital bread, which descended from heaven, and he who eateth of this bread shall not die to eternity." This holy bread we taste when we with faith go to housel; because the holy housel is spiritually Christ's body; and through that we are redeemed from eternal death. Mary brought forth her firstborn son on this present day, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and, for want of room, laid him in a bin. That child is not called her firstborn child because she afterwards brought forth another, but because Christ is the firstborn of many spiritual brothers. All christian men are his spiritual brothers, and he is the firstborn, in grace and in godliness only-begotten of the Almighty Father. He was wrapped in mean swaddling clothes, that he might give us the immortal garment which we lost by the first created man's transgression. The Almighty Son of God, whom the heavens could not contain, was laid in a narrow bin, that he might redeem us from the narrowness of hell. Mary was there a stranger, as the gospel tells us; and through the concourse of people the inn was greatly crowded.
Se Godes Sunu wæs on his gesthuse genyrwed, þæt he us rume wununge on heofonan rice forgife, gif we his willan gehyrsumiað. Ne bitt hé us nánes ðinges to edleane his geswinces, buton ure sawle hælo, þæt we ús sylfe clæne and ungewemmede him gegearcian, to blisse and to ecere myrhðe. Þa hyrdas ðe wacodon ofer heora eowode on Cristes acennednysse, getacnodon ða halgan lareowas on Godes gelaðunge, þe sind gastlice hyrdas geleaffulra sawla: and se engel cydde Cristes acennednysse hyrdemannum, forðam ðe ðan gastlicum hyrdum, þæt sind lareowas, is swiðost geopenod embe Cristes menniscnysse, þurh boclice lare; and hí sceolon gecneordlice heora underþeoddum bodian, þæt þæt him geswutelod is, swa swa ða hyrdas þa heofenlican gesihðe gewídmærsodan. Þam lareowe gedafenað þæt hé symle wacol sy ofer Godes eowode, þæt se ungesewenlica wulf Godes scep ne tostence. The Son of God was crowded in his inn, that he might give us a spacious dwelling in the kingdom of heaven, if we obey his will. He asks nothing of us as reward for his toil, except our soul's health, that we may prepare ourselves for him pure and uncorrupted in bliss and everlasting joy. The shepherds that watched over their flock at Christ's birth, betokened the holy teachers in God's church, who are the spiritual shepherds of faithful souls: and the angel announced Christ's birth to the herdsmen, because to the spiritual shepherds, that is, teachers, is chiefly revealed concerning Christ's humanity, through book-learning: and they shall sedulously preach to those placed under them, that which is manifested to them, as the shepherds proclaimed the heavenly vision. It beseemeth the teacher to be ever watchful over God's flock, that the invisible wolf scatter not the sheep.
Gelóme wurdon englas mannum æteowode on ðære ealdan ǽ, ac hit nis awriten þæt hí mid leohte comon, ac se wurðmynt wæs þises dæges mærðe gehealden, þæt hí mid heofenlicum leohte hí geswutelodon, ðaða þæt soðe leoht aspráng on ðeostrum riht geþancodum, se mildheorta and se rihtwisa Drihten. Se engel cwæð to þam hyrdum, "Ne beo ge afyrhte; efne ic bodige eow micelne gefean, ðe eallum folce becymð, forðan þe nu to-dæg is acenned Hælend Crist on Dauides ceastre." Soðlice hé bodade micelne gefean, seðe næfre ne geendað; forðan þe Cristes acennednys gegladode heofenwara, and eorðwara, and helwara. Se engel cwæð, "Nu to-dæg is eow acenned Hælend Crist on Dauides ceastre:" Rihtlice hé cwæð on dæge, and ná on nihte, forðan ðe Crist is se soða dæg, seðe todræfde mid his to-cyme ealle nytennysse þære ealdan nihte, and ealne middangeard mid his gife onlihte. Þæt tácen þe se engel ðam hyrdum sæde we sceolon symle on urum gemynde healdan, and þancian ðam Hælende þæt he gemedemode hine sylfne to ðan þæt hé dælnimend wære ure deadlicnysse, mid menniscum flæsce befangen, and mid wáclicum cild-claðum bewunden. Þa fǽrlice, æfter þæs engles spræce, wearð gesewen micel menigu heofenlices werodes God herigendra and singendra, "Sy wuldor Gode on heannyssum, and on eorðan sibb þam mannum þe beoð godes willan." An engel bodade þam hyrdum þæs heofonlican Cyninges acennednysse, and ða færlice wurdon æteowode fela ðusend engla, þy læs ðe wǽre geþuht anes engles ealdordom to hwonlic to swa micelre bodunge: and hí ealle samod mid gedremum sange Godes wuldor hleoðrodon, and godum mannum sibbe bodedon, swutellice æteowiende þæt þurh his acennednysse men beoð gebigede to anes geleafan sibbe, and to wuldre godcundlicere herunge. Hí sungon, "Sy wuldor Gode on heannyssum, and on eorðan sibb mannum, ðam ðe beoð godes willan." Ðas word geswuteliað þæt ðær wunað Godes sibb þær se goda willa bið. Eornostlice mancynn hæfde ungeþwærnysse to englum ær Drihtnes acennednysse; forðan ðe we wæron þurh synna ælfremede fram Gode; þa wurde we eac ælfremede fram his englum getealde: ac siððan se heofenlica Cyning urne eorðlican lichaman underfeng, siððan gecyrdon his englas to ure sibbe; and ða ðe hí ærðan untrume forsawon, þa hi wurðiað nu him to geferum. Witodlice on ðære ealdan ǽ, Loð, and Iosue, and gehwilce oðre þe englas gesawon, hí luton wið heora, and to him gebædon, and ða englas þæt geðafodon: ac Iohannes se Godspellere, on ðære Niwan Gecyðnysse, wolde hine gebiddan to þam engle þe him to spræc, þa forwyrnde se engel him ðæs, and cwæð, "Beheald þæt ðu ðas dæde ne dó; ic eom ðin efen-ðeowa, and ðinra gebroðra; gebide ðe to Gode anum." Englas geþafodon ær Drihtnes to-cyme þæt mennisce men him to feollon, and æfter his to-cyme þæs forwyrndon; forðan þe hí gesáwon þæt heora Scyppend þæt gecynd underfeng þe hí ær ðan wáclic tealdon, and ne dorston hit forseon on ús, þonne hí hit wurðiað bufon him sylfum on ðam heofonlican Cyninge. Ne hí manna geferrædene ne forhógiað, þonne hí feallende hí to þam menniscum Gode gebiddað. Nu we sind getealde Godes ceaster-gewaran, and englum gelíce; uton forði hógian þæt leahtras us ne totwæmon fram ðisum micclum wurðmynte. Soðlice men syndon godas gecigede; heald forði, ðu mann, þinne godes wurðscipe wið leahtras; forðan þe God is geworden mann for ðe. Oftentimes, in the ancient law, angels appeared to men, but it is not written that they came with light, for that honour was reserved for the greatness of this day, that they should manifest themselves with heavenly light, when that true light sprang up in darkness to the right thinkers, the merciful and righteous Lord. The angel said to the shepherds, "Be ye not afraid, lo, I announce to you great joy, which shall come to all people, for to-day is born a Saviour Christ in the city of David." Verily he announced great joy, which shall never end; for Christ's nativity gladdened the inhabitants of heaven, and of earth, and of hell. The angel said, "Now to-day is born to you a Saviour Christ, in the city of David:" rightly he said to-day, and not to-night, for Christ is the true day who scattered with his advent all the ignorance of the ancient night, and illumined all the world with his grace. The sign which the angel said to the shepherds we ought ever to hold in our remembrance, and to thank the Saviour that he so humbled himself that he was the partaker of our mortality, with human flesh invested, and wrapt in mean swaddling clothes. Then suddenly, after the angel's speech, was seen a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and singing, "Be glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men who are of good will." An angel announced to the shepherds the heavenly King's nativity, and suddenly appeared many thousand angels, lest the preeminence of one angel should seem too inadequate for so great an announcement: and they all together, with melodious song, God's glory celebrated, and to good men announced peace, manifestly showing that through his birth men shall be inclined to the peace of one faith, and to the glory of divine praise. They sung, "Be glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men, to those who are of good will." These words manifest that where the peace of God dwelleth, there is good will. But mankind had discord with angels before the Lord's nativity; because we were through sins estranged from God; then were we accounted estranged also from his angels: but after that the heavenly King assumed our earthly body, his angels turned to peace with us; and those whom they had before despised as mean they now honour as their companions. But in the ancient law, Lot, and Joshua, and certain others who saw angels, bowed before them, and prayed to them, and the angels allowed it: but when John the Evangelist, in the New Testament, would pray to the angel who spake to him, the angel forbade him, and said, "See that thou do not this deed; I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren: pray to God only." Angels permitted, before the advent of the Lord, mortal men to fall down before them, and after his advent forbade it; because they saw that their Creator had assumed that nature which they had before accounted mean, and durst not despise it in us, when they honour it above themselves in the heavenly King. Nor despise they the fellowship of men, when falling down they pray to the human God. Now we are accounted citizens of God, and like to angels; let us, therefore, take care that sins do not separate us from this great dignity. Verily men are called gods; preserve, therefore, thou man, thy dignity of a god against sins, since God became man for thee.
Þa hyrdas ða spræcon him betweonan, æfter ðæra engla fram-færelde, "Uton gefaran to Bethleém, and geseon þæt word þe geworden is, and God us geswutelode." Eala hú rihtlice hí andetton þone halgan geleafan mid þisum wordum, "On frymðe wæs wórd, and þæt word wæs mid Gode, and þæt wórd wæs God"! Word bið wisdomes geswutelung, and þæt Word, þæt is se Wisdom, is acenned of ðam Ælmihtigum Fæder, butan anginne; forðan ðe hé wæs æfre God of Gode, Wisdom of ðam wisan Fæder. Nis hé na geworht, forðan ðe he is God, and na gesceaft; ac se Ælmihtiga Fæder gesceop þurh ðone Wisdom ealle gesceafta, and hi ealle ðurh þone Halgan Gast gelíffæste. Ne mihte ure mennisce gecynd Crist on ðære godcundlican acennednysse geseon; ac þæt ylce Word wæs geworden flæsc, and wunode on ús, þæt we hine geseon mihton. Næs þæt Word to flæsce awend, ac hit wæs mid menniscum flæsce befangen. Swa swa anra gehwilc manna wunað on sawle and on lichaman án mann, swa eac Crist wunað on godcundnysse and menniscnysse, on ánum hade án Crist. Hí cwædon, "Uton geseon þæt word þe geworden is," forðan ðe hí ne mihton hit geseon ær ðan ðe hit geflæschamod wæs, and to menn geworden. Nis þeahhwæðre seo godcundnys gemenged to ðære menniscnysse, ne ðær nan twæming nys. We mihton eow secgan ane lytle bysne, gif hit to wáclic nære; Sceawa nú on anum æge, hú þæt hwite ne bið gemenged to ðam geolcan, and bið hwæðere án æg. Nis eac Cristes godcundnys gerunnen to ðære menniscnysse, ac he þurhwunað þeah á on ecnysse on anum hade untotwæmed. The shepherds then spake among themselves, after the departure of the angels, "Let us go to Bethlehem, and see the word which is come to pass, and that God hath revealed unto us." O how rightly they acknowledged the holy faith with these words, "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and that word was God"! A word is the manifestation of wisdom, and the Word, that is Wisdom, is begotten of the Almighty Father, without beginning; for he was ever God of God, Wisdom of the wise Father. He is not made, for he is God, and not a creature; for the Almighty Father created all creatures through that Wisdom, and endowed them all with life through the Holy Ghost. Our human nature could not see Christ in that divine nativity; but that same Word became flesh and dwelt in us, that we might see him. The Word was not turned to flesh, but it was invested with human flesh. As every man existeth in soul and in body one man, so also Christ existeth in divine nature and human nature, in one person one Christ. They said, "Let us see the word that is come to pass," because they could not see it before it was incarnate, and become man. Nevertheless, the divine nature is not mingled with the human nature, nor is there any separation. We might tell unto you a little simile, if it were not too mean; Look now on an egg, how the white is not mingled with the yolk, and yet it is one egg. Nor also is Christ's divinity confounded with human nature, but he continueth to all eternity in one person undivided.
Hrædlice ða comon þa hyrdas and gemetton Marian and Ioseph, and þæt cild geléd on ðære binne. Maria wæs be Godes dihte þam rihtwisan Iosepe beweddod, for micclum gebeorge; forðan ðe hit wæs swa gewunelic on Iudeiscre ðeode, æfter Moyses ǽ, þæt gif ænig wimman cild hæfde butan be rihtre æwe, þæt hí man sceolde mid stanum oftorfian. Ac God asende his engel to Iosepe, ða María eacnigende wæs, and bead þæt he hire gymene hæfde, and þæs cildes foster-fæder wære. Þa wæs geðuht ðam Iudeiscum swilce Ioseph þæs cildes fæder wære, ac hé næs; forðan þe hit næs nan neod þam Ælmihtigum Scyppende þæt hé of wífe acenned wære; ac hé genam ða menniscnysse of Marían innoðe, and forlet hí mæden na gewemmed, ac gehalgod þurh his acennednysse. Ne oncneow heo weres gemanan, and heo acende butan sare, and þurhwunað on mægðhade. Þa hyrdas gesawon, and oncneowon be ðam cilde, swa swa him gesǽd wæs. Nis nan eadignys butan Godes oncnawennesse, swa swa Crist sylf cwæð ðaða he us his Fæder betæhte, "Þæt is ece líf, þæt hi ðe oncnawon soðne God, and ðone ðe þu asendest Hælend Crist." Hwæt ða ealle ða ðe þæt gehyrdon micclum ðæs wundrodon, and be ðam ðe ða hyrdas sædon. María soðlice heold ealle ðas wórd aræfniende on hire heortan. Heo nolde widmærsian Cristes digelnesse, ac anbidode oð þæt he sylf þaða he wolde hí geopenode. Heo cuðe Godes ǽ, and on ðæra witegena gesetnysse rædde, þæt mæden sceolde God acennan. Þa blissode heo micclum þæt heo hit beon moste. Hit wæs gewitegod þæt hé on ðære byrig Bethleem acenned wurde, and heo ðearle wundrode þæt heo æfter ðære witegunge ðær acende. Heo gemunde hwæt sum witega cwæð, "Se oxa oncneow his hlaford, and se assa his hlafordes binne." Þa geseah heo þæt cild licgan on binne, ðær se oxa and se assa gewunelice fodan secað. Godes heah-engel Gabrihel bodode Marían ðæs Hælendes to-cyme on hire innoðe, and heo geseah ða þæt his bodung unleaslice gefylled wæs. Ðyllice word María heold aræfnigende on hire heortan. And þa hyrdas gecyrdon ongean wuldrigende and herigende God, on eallum ðam ðingum ðe hí gehyrdon and gesáwon, swa swa him gesæd wæs. Then came the shepherds quickly, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the child laid in the bin. Mary was, by God's direction, betrothed to the righteous Joseph, for the greater security; because it was thus customary among the Jewish people, according to the law of Moses, that if any woman had a child, save in lawful wedlock, she should be slain with stones. But God sent his angel to Joseph, when Mary was pregnant, and commanded that he should have care of her, and be the child's foster-father. Then it seemed to the Jews that Joseph was father of the child, but he was not; because the Almighty Creator had no need to be born of woman; but he took human nature from the womb of Mary, and left her a virgin undefiled, but hallowed through his birth. She knew no society of man, and she brought forth without pain, and continued in maidenhood. The shepherds saw and recognized the child, as had to them been told. (There is no happiness without knowledge of God, as Christ himself said, when he committed us to his Father, "That is eternal life that they acknowledge Thee, the true God, and him whom thou hast sent, the Saviour Christ.") Now all who heard that wondered greatly thereat, and at what the shepherds said. But Mary held all these words, pondering them in her heart. She would not publish Christ's mystery, but waited until he himself, when it pleased him, should divulge it. She knew God's law, and in the book of the prophets had read, that a virgin should give birth to God. Then she greatly rejoiced that she might be it. It was prophesied that he should be born in the city of Bethlehem, and she greatly wondered that, according to that prophecy, she was there delivered. She remembered that a prophet had said, "The ox knows his master, and the ass his master's bin." Then saw she the child lying in the bin, where the ox and the ass usually seek food. God's archangel Gabriel had announced to Mary the Saviour's coming into her womb, and she then saw that his announcement was truly fulfilled. Such words Mary held, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all those things which they had heard and seen, as had been told unto them.
Þyssera ðreora hyrda gemynd is gehæfd be eastan Bethleem áne mile, on Godes cyrcan geswutelod, þam ðe ða stowe geneosiað. We sceolon geefenlæcan þysum hyrdum, and wuldrian and hérian urne Drihten on eallum ðam ðingum þe he for ure lufe gefremode, ús to alysednysse and to ecere blisse, ðam sy wuldor and lof mid ðam Ælmihtigum Fæder, on annysse þæs Halgan Gastes, on ealra worulda woruld. Amen. The memory of these three shepherds is preserved one mile to the east of Bethlehem, and manifested in God's church to those who visit the place. We should imitate these shepherds, and glorify and praise our Lord for all those things which he hath done for love of us, for our redemption and eternal bliss, to whom be glory and praise with the Almighty Father, in unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.