Peter Leithart suggests we all learn Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of ‘This Little Babe’ during Advent this year. It’s a good suggestion:
This little babe so few days old,
is come to rifle Satan’s fold.
All hell doth at his presence quake,
though he himself for cold doth shake;
For in this weak unarmored wise
the gates of hell he will surprise.
With tears he fights and wins the field,
his naked breast stands for a shield.
His battering shot are babish cries,
his arrows looks of weeping eyes.
His martial ensigns Cold and Need,
and feeble flesh his warrior’s steed.
His camp is pitched in a stall,
his bulwark but a broken wall;
The crib his trench, haystalks his stakes,
of shepherds he his muster makes.
And thus as sure his foe to wound,
the angels’ trumps alarum sound.
My soul with Christ join thou in fight;
stick to the tents that he hath pight.
Within his crib is surest ward;
this little Babe will by thy guard.
If thou wilt foil thy foes with joy,
then flit not from this heavenly boy!
Or, if you’ve got the time, find ‘This Little Babe’ in Britten’s full ‘Ceremony of Carols’ here: