The Ballad of Bethlehum

I tell the tale of Dai and Mair,
who live not far from here;
they keep their sheep, sing in the choir,
greet every day with cheer.

An angel called on them one day,
a clipboard in her hand:
“Please take parts in our Christmas play;
it’s great, but not too grand.”

“Shall I be Joe?” asked Dai, all keen.
Said Mair, “Be Mary, I?”
“Sort of”, the angel said: “I mean,
we’ll need you by and by.”

She led them from the bryn, along
the afon in the cwm,
and, as she went, taught them a song
she wanted them to hum.

Said Dai to Mair, and Mair to Dai,
and they did both agree,
“We’re extras in this play. But why
choose you? And why choose me?”

At length they came to Bethlehem,
where there was quite a throng
all standing round, waiting, like them,
to hum the simple song.

“Action!” the angel called at last;
they thought, “Now here we go”.
“Not you,” said she: “the creatures first.
Cocks: crow! and cattle: low!”

There in the stable, ass ee-awed,
hens clucked, and pony neighed.
The baby woke, cried loud; the Lord
mewled while the donkey brayed.

Mair looked at Dai, and Dai at Mair,
wonder was in their eyes,
for they were hearing a holy choir;
it made them humble, wise.

Then someone whispered, “Glory be”;
the word went round, “Now hum”;
the extras all pressed forward to see;
they heard, “You’re all well come.”

The hum of glory swelled sky high,
and filled the stable there;
it spilled into the street, to fly
away and everywhere.

“Job done.” The angel re-appeared,
said, “Thank you. You’ve done well.
You’ve all got credit slips; you’re paid
with love divine, to swell

the ranks of God’s elected saints,
who worship night and day,
with whom the Holy Spirit paints
the living truth and way.”

Stood open-mouthed both Mair and Dan,
not knowing what to say,
but, strangely, understanding why
they took parts in that play.

“Did not our hearts burn as – ahem –
the glory swirled around?
In heaven we were, in Bethlehum,
heads high, feet on the ground.

“Makes all the difference,” they agreed
“that, in the manger crude,
the baby – one of us indeed! –
is – dare we say it? – GOD.”

Now that they’ve gone back to their sheep,
and pipe up in the choir –
he as Bryn Terfel, she Bo-peep –
Dai Joseff, Mary Mair

they stride the bryn, and sing of love
that meets them where they are
and lifts them to the heights above
where every saint’s a star.

My tale is done of Mair and Dai
(they’re really you and me).
When angels call you, say “Aye aye”,
then hum your ‘Glory be’.

17 Rhagfyr / December 2015