Christmas in Legend and Story by  Elva S. Smith

The Little Mud-Sparrows

Jewish Legend

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps

I like that old, kind legend

Not found in Holy Writ,

And wish that John or Matthew

Had made Bible out of it.

But though it is not Gospel,

There is no law to hold

The heart from growing better

That hears the story told:—

How the little Jewish children

Upon a summer day,

Went down across the meadows

With the Child Christ to play.

And in the gold-green valley,

Where low the reed-grass lay,

They made them mock mud-sparrows

Out of the meadow clay.

So, when these all were fashioned,

And ranged in rows about,

"Now," said the little Jesus,

"We'll let the birds fly out."

Then all the happy children

Did call, and coax, and cry—

Each to his own mud-sparrow:

"Fly, as I bid you! Fly!"

But earthen were the sparrows,

And earth they did remain,

Though loud the Jewish children

Cried out, and cried again.

Except the one bird only

The little Lord Christ made;

The earth that owned Him Master,

—His earth heard and obeyed.

Softly He leaned and whispered:

"Fly up to Heaven! Fly!"

And swift, His little sparrow

Went soaring to the sky,

And silent, all the children

Stood, awestruck, looking on,

Till, deep into the heavens,

The bird of earth had gone.

I like to think, for playmate

We have the Lord Christ still,

And that still above our weakness

He works His mighty will,

That all our little playthings

Of earthen hopes and joys

Shall be, by His commandment,

Changed into heavenly toys.

Our souls are like the sparrows

Imprisoned in the clay,

Bless Him who came to give them wings

Upon a Christmas Day!

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