On December 28, the church remembers The Holy Innocents--the young boys whom Herod and his soldiers murdered in their attempt to kill the Christ Child (Matthew 2:16-18). This poem is a reflection upon their martyrdom.
O bloody town of Bethlehem,
How shrill we hear thee cry.
Your mothers shriek while fathers weep
The graveyard lullaby.
For butchers clad as soldiers
At Herod’s mad behest
Aborted weal with blades of steel
They thrust in tender chests.
O Bethlehem, thou House of Tears,
What balm can heal thy woe?
When darkness looms, can flowers bloom,
From seeds of grief you sow?
Dear Heaven, share thy secret:
These sons died not in vain.
Young martyrs bold, in death foretold,
A Death that Life would gain.
Ye martyred boys of Bethlehem,
From ‘neath the altar, pray
To Christ your Lord, whom Herod’s sword
Slew not that awful day.
Rachel, Rachel, weep no more,
Your sons shall dry your tears.
For flowers bloom where darkness loomed,
Since Christ our Light appears.