3. The Oxen
Our yoke hangs upon the stable wall,
And winter’s cold has laid our burden down.
We slumber, eat, ignored by all;
Hidden here, the world goes by in sound.
Into our haven at this darkest time,
A young girl with an old man found their way:
Upon the straw the girl in trust lay down;
The old man for the Lord’s mercy prayed.
The stillness shattered in her shouts and moans,
The night wore on, we watched, still, standing by.
The man with patient kindness nursed alone.
We were the first to hear the New Born Baby’s cry.
Tenderly on our sweet hay she laid Him,
The man hung high the lantern on our yoke.
We dare not pull the hay, afraid to wake Him;
All was still until the maiden spoke:
“Dear Oxen, with your brown and shining eyes,
So quiet, calm, so strong and yet so kind,
Before all creatures you are the first to see
The One who will bear our yoke eternally!”