A Carol for 2020

When all our breath is gone what have we left?

When weakness after weakness drags us down

When deaths are heaped in numbers on our screens 

And our ‘leaders’ wrangle each other for the crown.

When a virus born of greed stalks in the night

and Christmas revives the pain of all we’ve lost

When the anguished left behind now have to fight 

to keep on breathing midst the aching loss.      

When the ugly underbelly of fear and hate 

rises to the surface, knee on throat

And deaths dealt heavy-handed by the State

Drag all our humanity through the dirt.

Was there ever a time when angels sang? 

Was there a time when joy would brim and spill?

When Peace on Earth was actually a thing?

Whispering life and truth and all is well?


When fires scorch the surface of the earth 

lighting a world teetering on the brink

While human greed in endless global reach 

primes to outlive the planet on which we spin.

As species disappear and climates writhe

And island homes are sinking in the sea

We pretend its all okay, it’s all alright  

Entranced by ‘tweets’ and texts on tinselled screens.

This Christmas we don’t count the Advent days

We don’t count the species dying off

We don’t count the suicide of souls

Instead we count our ‘likes’ on selfie shots.

Was there ever a time when angels sang? 

Was there a time when joy would brim and spill?

When Peace on Earth was actually a thing?

Whispering life and truth and all is well?


Come Christmas, crawl with me into my cave

Keep me warm in this winter-life we’ve built

Social distancing from sadness, loss and pain

Clawing for the hope your carols spelled. 

How have we missed the meaning in the songs?

The truth behind the merry Christmas tunes?

Distracted by the trimmings and the throngs

Of merry making emptied of the true.

Our carols in the past hid the whole truth

Avoiding the sharp edge and welting blow

Our tinsel and our gifts tiding fake news

Hiding the Christmas truth in golden glow.

The ugly underbelly carols hid

of human domination on the earth

The emptiness of no room at the inn

The poverty of a child born into want.

This was the time when angels sang.

This, the time when joy did brim and spill.

When Peace on Earth was actually a thing.

Whispering life and truth and all is well.


Christmas came into a manger cave

shivering in this winter life we’d built

Arriving in our sadness, loss and pain

bringing the hope our carols still misspell.

God came, wrapped in rags and filth and rot

Receiving the dregs of all the earth He owns

With the refugees He threw His lot   

Fleeing the reach of power, forced from home.

Political tremors felt on that dark night

Grasped the throats of infants as they slept

Herod dealing vengeance for the crime

Of God coming to earth, as angels wept. 

This was the time when angels sang!

This, the time when joy did brim and spill!

When Peace on Earth was actually a thing!

Whispering life and truth and all is well!


We don’t know Him in the tinselled wreaths

And we won’t hear Him in the jolly songs

He’s in the darkest valleys of our lives

Where we discover He’s been with us all along.

All our darkness is not news to Him

He who bore our burdens to the end

We, so bound and battered in the din

He, still intent on reaching out His hand.

The joy of tinsel wrappings can’t contain

The gift that Christmas was in all the dark

And how in deepening pitch we see the blaze  

of the light that came for us, into our night.

In all the shredded threads of our humanity 

And all our fruit of emptiness unleashed 

In this night of sickness, loneliness and greed

the real Christmas story is still the song we need. 

So sing this carol bravely in the night

Until the dawning blaze of rising sun

The Light comes deep into the pitchest dark

And by all our darkness isn’t overcome.

There truly was a time when angels sang.

And there will be a time when joy will brim and spill.

Peace on Earth is actually a thing.

Whispering Life and truth. All will be well.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice! I like the photos.


  2. Stacy says:

    Love this, Liz. So well written and thoughts so richly expressed.


    1. Liz Campbell says:

      Thanks so much Stacy.


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