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I Saw Three Ships on Christmas Day

Musings about life by the sea.

It is a New England Christmas.

All is calm. All is bright.

The Sakonnet is tranquil stretching in a blanket of blue to Middletown, Newport and beyond.

An old English Christmas carol comes to mind.

“I saw three ships come sailing in / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; I saw three ships come sailing in / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

There is not a boat in sight, but I imagine three.

“The Virgin Mary and Christ were there, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / The Virgin Mary and Christ were there, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

The Gospel according to Luke tells us:

“And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed… every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem – because he was of the house and lineage of David – To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

“O they sailed into Bethlehem, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / O they sailed into Bethlehem, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

The lyrics mention the ships sailing into Bethlehem, but the nearest body of water is the Dead Sea about 20 miles away.

“And all the bells on earth shall ring, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / And all the bells on earth shall ring, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

I hear the ships’ bells ringing four times. The strikes indicate the hour aboard a ship and regulate the sailors’ watches. The strikes do not match the number of the hour. Instead, there are eight bells, one for each half-hour of a four-hour watch. Do you hear what I hear?

“And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / And all the Angels in Heaven shall sing, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord… And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

“And all the souls on earth shall sing, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / And all the souls on earth shall sing, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

Whether we arrive by donkey, camel, ship, sleigh or jumbo jet in Bethlehem, the North Pole or Tiverton, we find Him. Christ comes to us today.

“Then let us all rejoice again, / On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day; / Then let us all rejoice again, / On Christmas Day in the morning.”

ABOUT SEA, SKY & SPIRIT: Drawing from the many seasonal faces of Fogland, Linda Andrade Rodrigues paints vignettes about nature and spirituality.

Joe Sousa. December 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM
Today we pray for peace on earth As we celebrate a child's birth So think of others with good intent. As we observe this blessed event,

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