The Sparrows

IN the far-off land of Norway,

Where the winter lingers late, 

And longing for the birds and flowers, 

The little children wait,

Through all the land the children

In the golden fields remain, 

Till their busy little hands have gleaned

A generous sheaf of grain.

All the stalks the reaper passeth

They glean to the very least, 

To save till the cold December,

For the sparrow's Christmas feast.

And then through the frost-locked country 

There happens a wonderful thing:

The sparrows flock north, south, east, west, 

For the children's offering.

Of a sudden, the day before Christmas,

The twittering crowds arrive; 

And the bitter, wintry air at once

With their chirping is all alive.

They perch upon roof and gable,

On porch, and fence, and tree; 

They flutter about the windows

And peer in curiously;

And meet the eyes of the children,

Who eagerly look out, 

With cheeks that bloom like roses red,

And greet them with welcoming shout.

On the joyous Christmas morning,

In front of every door, 

A tall pole, crowned with clustering grain,

Is set the birds before.

And which are the happiest, truly

It would be hard to tell; 

The sparrows who share in the Christmas cheer,

Or the children who loved them well 

How sweet that they should remember,

With faith so full and sure, 

That the children's bounty awaiteth them

The whole wide country o'er!

When this pretty story was told me,

By one who had helped to rear 

The rustling grain for the merry birds

In Norway, many a year,

I thought that our little children

Would like to know it, too, 

It seems to me so beautiful,

So blessed a thing to do.

To make God's innocent creatures see

In every child a friend, 

And on our faithful kindness

So fearlessly depend.