Yet if his majesty, our sovereign lord
Should of his own accord
Friendly himself invite,
And say "I'll be your guest to-morrow night."
How should we stir ourselves, call and command
All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand.
Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
See they be fitted all;
Let there be room to eat,
And order taken that there want no meat.
See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
That without tapers they may give a light.
Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
The dazie o'er the head,
The cushions in the chairs,
And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
Perfume the chambers, and in any case
Let each man give attendance in his place."
Thus if the king were coming would we do,
And 'twere good reason too;
For 'tis a duteous thing
To show all honour to an earthly king,
And after all our travail and our cost,
So he be pleas'd, to think no labour lost.
But at the coming of the King of Heaven
All's set at six and seven:
We wallow in our sin,
Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
We entertain him always like a stranger,
And as at first still lodge him in the manger.
This poem gives a wonderful picture of how a well-run wealthy household would look in Jacobean England, and the time spent preparing for an honoured guest.
I don’t know whether to be cheered or despondent about the fact that idea of waiting and preparing for our honoured guest in Advent hasn’t really changed and the general feeling is that we are still not really ready!
We watch and wait
We try and prepare,
Help us to prioritise
Ensure we have the focus we need
So that if you came to us tomorrow
We would be ready
We would know you and praise you