Some say, that ever ‘gainst
that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth
The bird of dawning singeth
all night long:
And then, they say, no
spirit dare stir abroad,
The nights are wholesome;
then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch
hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious
is that time.
(Hamlet, Scene 1)
‘So hallowed and
so gracious is that time’ says Marcellus describing the birth of Jesus.
Horatio replies ‘So have I heard and do in part believe it’.
He’s speaking perhaps for Shakespeare himself, but very likely for most of
us too. In part we believe it! Which part would that be? Peace on earth and
goodwill? The innocence and mystery of being a child? The possibility of
Maybe this year it
isn’t possible for us to believe with any more of our hearts than we did
last year. In fact we might search our hearts in vain to find any belief at
all. And yet we will still, in some way or other, enter again into those
magical moments that lie at the heart of this special season. Sacred,
secular or just plain sentimental, we will be touched by a Truth beyond
ourselves, and, who knows, for however long that moment lasts, we will
believe it. A Truth that can never be told, but only come upon, that can
never be proved but only lived and loved.