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Many of those here only know a verse
of any given carol, sometimes less—
sometimes an isolated phrase or terse
refrain like “Gloria.” Most still confess
the apostolic faith, though as naïve
in its theology as those days when
as children they would sing on Christmas Eve
in church. Now with the season come again,
and in this antique place, they try to find
a renaissance of meaning in such words,
and build significance from what they’ve mined
in scraps and shards of songs heard and reheard:
a reconstruction of that first Noel
the angel said on Christmas night, how God
gave rest to gentlemen, or why go tell
of Christ’s birth everywhere. Still, these seem odd
ideas to but a few, quaint like remains
of stoneware bottles or ceramic ware—
not ancient verities belief sustains,
but artifacts dug from some basement here.