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Down In Yon Forest

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Down In Yon Forest

“Down In Yon Forest” (Repos de Jesus) Illustration, 1987
When Joan Baez put out her Christmas album “Noel”
in 1966, I heard the song “Down In Yon Forest.” There is
also a most solemn version of the song on Bruce Cockburn’s album,
“Christmas” released in 1993. But “Noel” had a hauntingly lovely
refrain “...and I love my Lord Jesus above anything.” This line runs
through the song creating a beautiful, prayerful mantra.
When I moved to Brooklyn in 1980 to attend Pratt Institute for Art,
I saw this joyful Infant Crib in the Metropolitan Museum
of Art in Manhattan. I used to visit it all the time and I knew
A Most Holy, Hopeful and Blessed Christmas
I had the perfect image for a Christmas card I illustrated and printed in 1987. The Little Bed of the Infant Jesus, entitled “Repos de Jesus”
is from Brabant, in the South of the Netherlands. It was carved and painted, so obviously out of love, in the 15th century around
the same time they think the song was first written.
.
Fr William Hart McNichols
Down In Yon Forest
Down in yon forest there stands a hall
The bells of paradise I hear them ring,
It’s covered all over with purple and pall,
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
In that hall there stands a bed
The bells of paradise I hear them ring,
It’s covered all over with scarlet so red,
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything
At the bedside there lies a stone
The bells of paradise I hear them ring,
Which sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon,
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
At the bed’s foot there grows a thorn
The bells of paradise I hear them ring,
Which ever blows blossom since He was born,
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
Over the bed the moon shines bright
The bells of paradise I hear them ring,
Denoting Our Saviour was born this night,
And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.
Traditional English carol c. 1500