December 2, 2020

Rob Grayson: The night before Christmas revisited

Nativity, Costa

Nativity, Costa

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land
The people were stooped under Rome’s mighty hand;
They clung to the hope their oppression would end
As they looked for a king they believed God would send.

They read in their books what the prophets foretold:
A Messiah would save them, as promised of old;
This coming Redeemer would save them from sin
And a glorious new kingdom of God usher in.

But how could it be they had waited so long
For a Saviour to come who would right every wrong?
Where were the signs of his glorious reign
When their day-to-day lot was all suffering and pain?

Would God send a champion, a warrior bold
To make their oppressors relinquish their hold?
And if not a warrior, in what other way
Could their freedom be won and their night turned to day?

So through darkness and sorrow, through struggle and fear
They watched for the One who would wipe every tear;
They prayed and they waited for God to reveal
His long-prepared plan to bring evil to heel.

And into the midst of this night of despair
So heavy with questions and unanswered prayer
The Word that God spoke was not power or might
But a baby whose life would turn darkness to light.

There in the manger, with oxen around
As shepherds looked on amid angelic sound,
While men sought for champions and heroes of war
The hope of the world lay asleep in the straw.

He came not to triumph through battle or sword
Or to lead a great army that hailed him as lord;
Yet under his reign all oppression would cease,
For he carried the God-given name “Prince of Peace”.

And even today in this world full of strife,
He still shows the way out of death into life;
To those who believe him and seek to obey,
His spirit gives power to live a new way.

So as we remember his marvellous birth
And join with the angels to sing peace on earth,
The message today is just as it was then:
“Happy Christmas to all, and goodwill toward men!”

Copyright © 2013 Rob Grayson


  1. Wow! That’s amazing and heartwarming.

  2. Kenneth Nichols says


  3. “The hope of the world lay asleep in the straw.”
    What a beautiful picture!
    And what hope permeates this poem.

  4. Eat yer heart out, Clement Clark Moore!

  5. That was awesome !!! I will be reading this around the table tonight

  6. Well done Rob – thank you for such a fitting rewrite of a classic – you maintained the rhythm and rhyme perfectly!

    • Thanks, Alan, and a very merry Christmas to you!

    • “…you maintained the rhythm and rhyme perfectly!”

      Indeed, and thank you for doing so. One of my pet peeves — actually it’s a completely feral wild animal by now — is the mistaken belief that as long as the relevant lines of a poem rhyme as expected, you can throw in as many syllables as you want, e.g.

      ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house,
      Not a creature anywhere at all that you could see was stirring, not even maybe a little mouse.

      This sort of disaster occurs absolutely all the time on TV commercials (Luminosity comes to mind), especially around the holidays. Thank you again for maintaining discipline.

  7. A beautiful reminder of God’s “weak strength” that conquers through love. Thank you.

  8. Rob, this poem is so awesome and moving! I was very blessed by it!

  9. Beautiful; inspired! Thank you!

  10. Tony Corsaro says

    There yuh go… Rob. Merry Christmas to all in the UK. And peace on earth.

  11. Rob, this is lovely.

    At this moment, I am wishing for another hour or two of sleep and stressing over all the little “to do’s” that come with being the grandmother and host of our family’s Christmas. Even my daily readings didn’t help much, but your words are nudging me out of fretting over food and wrapping to remembering the brilliance and wonder of Him Who we celebrate.

    Blessings to you and yours and all I-Monks as we recollect the arrival of Him who would save us from our sins, going from the wood of a feed trough for cattle to the wood of a cross and the gift of Himself as food for all.

  12. David Cornwell says

    Rob, very beautiful poetry. I think we often forget the innate poetic power found in the gospel. David, up above, says he will read this around the table tonight. If I have the opportunity I may do the same. And if not this year, then next. Thank you for this thougtful gift to all of us.

  13. Michelle C. says

    I am reading this tonight to my family.

  14. WOW! Surely a new Classic has been born. Outstanding!!

  15. If I get the chance at the table for sure and thank you

  16. Raewyn Allen says

    Yes! Thank you for this new rendition of a familiar Christmas poem.
    This is worth sharing with others this Christmas. (-:

  17. Thank you for the beautiful poem, Rob. And merry Christmas to you and all your loved ones.

  18. Hi ROB,
    thanks for the special poem,

    have a blessed and peaceful Christmas 🙂

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I just read that headline as “The Night Before Christmas Evolved”.

    I really need to get some sleep.

  20. Thank you for this great poem. I always address my family on Christmas day and I have Ben trying hard to find something to share. Now I have something to share. God’s greatest blessing on you and yours on Christmas day!

  21. Maybe this isn’t the place to ask the question — it’s Christmas Eve and all — but since the idea is common enough around Christmas, and also present in this poem, I’ll offer it up. My question is this:

    In waiting for a Messiah, were the Jews actually looking for anyone to save them from their sins?

    That they were looking for a righteous ruler, etc., yes. But is it more accurate to say that the soteriological dimension of Christ’s coming is part of the (necessary) reverse-engineering of the very notion of Messiahship that we Christians immediately conducted following the Ascension?

    Just a thought. Merry Christmas!

    • Good morning, Trevis – Christ is born!

      The best discussion of this that I have found is that in N.T. Wright’s books, probably most fully in “The New Testament and the People of God.” In it he gives a very thorough overview of the whole ball of wax that the Jews (in general – different groups of them gathered around different aspects) were expecting. The upshot is that when God acted in the big way they expected him to act, that would mean their “sins had been forgiven.” He would get the Romans out, see to it that the Jews had their land back, establish his presence in the Temple, etc. etc. All of that together was the sign of their “sins being forgiven.” That book alone, aside from most of W’s other work on St Paul, helped me make sense of the NT in a way I had not experienced before.

      Merry Christmas!

      • Dana,

        While I’m a big fan of NTW’s, I haven’t yet read his NTPG. It’s on my iPad ready to read. Maybe some time in 2015.

        Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  22. Wow! Awesome message. Beautifully written. Thanks.

  23. I couldn’t read this without weeping.

  24. Thank you, Rob.

  25. Thanks, Rob. Well done. Merry Christmas!


  26. Wow, just wow. I wish I had read this earlier. It would have pleased me greatly to share this around the table at Christmas dinner.

  27. Rob – Thank you. I liked it enough that last night we added it to our family Christmas tradition. I read the original and then your version to my family. Tonight, going over to friends from church for Christmas dinner, my son told me that he liked the new poem I’d found.