The Great Advent Poetry Smackdown

Several years ago, a friend of mine named Jani, who happens to be an English Lit major, threw down the poetic gauntlet and declared a poetry smackdown for the season of Advent. It all started with the Christmas carol “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and this brief exchange:

King of Kings whom we adore
Lowly crib and swaddle poor
Fit for royal robes most fair
Clothes himself in our despair

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

I replied with:
Crown of thorns upon his head
Majesty was pierced and bled
Stripped and cloaked with sin’s dark night
Covers us with robes of light!

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!

Jani, being a somewhat competitive sort when it comes to poetry, took this as a challenge and threw down the poetic gauntlet with “Savior Of The Nations, Come!,” a already rather lengthy theological ballad. Jani opened with:

From a barren winter long
Springs a branch from prophet’s song
Infant seedling crimson bloom
Opens hope redeems our gloom.

That was nice. Poetic, theologically dense, good Advent imagery. I replied:

Virgin’s Child, unstained by sin
Word enfleshed, our world to win;
Begotten from eternity,
Fullness of the Deity.

Not to be outdone, Jani responed:

Bethlehem the “house of bread”
Place of newborn infant’s bed
Manger, feeding trough, his cradle
Living bread at our Lord’s table.

I wasn’t terribly thrilled by the double syllables and the sketchy rhyme at the end of lines 3 and 4, but I had to admit, Jani had been paying attention to those Advent and Christmas Eve sermons. So I added:

Infant God – Creator, Lord
Image lost but now restored;
Son of God in Adam’s clay
With His Blood the debt to pay.

You might have thought this would have ended it right there. But no, there was more.

Creator, Lord, Omniscience vast
He the first, came infant last
Knowing all, yet veiled his sight
All to save the blind from night.

Holy Wisdom from above
Light-Creator, wondrous Love
Song of gracious harmony
Overcome sin’s entropy.

Age-old tree from whence sin came
Rent the heavens from earthly shame
Savior, Infant’s destiny
Mends the world on Calvary.

Healing Word who sets aright
Put the devils all to flight
Crush the head of serpent Foe
Save us from our human woe.

Ancient star alights the night
Radiant promise spreads the light
Ray eternal, faith to spark
Light of lights dispels the dark.

Israel’s King long-prophesied
Sets His royal robes aside
Comes a world to sanctify
Out of death to vivify.

Stories old foretold His birth
Words sustained true faith on Earth
Prophecy at last made known
Word of God our flesh and bone.