Christmas Poem by Betsy Keith


Many parishioners will remember Elizabeth C. Keith “Betsy” (1911-2011), a member of the Keith family that has been a part of Hamilton Parish for nearly 300 years.  Betsy’s career as a teacher at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina was marked by high standards of excellence.  She was Head of the English Department and Director of Dramatics.  On retirement, Betsy immersed herself in the life of Saint James’ Church.  She left a legacy of giving of all sorts, including her poetry, one of which is particularly meaningful at this Christmas time.

Only in Silence

The wind that shook the rafters night and day,

And lashed the woods, and drove the clouds along

At sunset now has died and passed away.

Low in the rosy light of the western sky

The golden crescent of the moon descends:

The nights are very long: the year is old.

The evening star shines forth, the short day ends,

The moon slips down behind the purple hills,

And darkness settles over all the earth.

But the moon will shine in splendor on the night

We celebrate our blessed Savior’s birth. …

Sometimes at Christmas only stars are seen,

Glittering and brilliant with a frosty light,

And once I came from church on Christmas Eve

When snow was falling, soft and feathery white.

One needs to get away from city lights and noise

To know the beauty of a Christmas night

In moonlight, starlight, or the hush of snow.

God grant to you such beauty and such silences to know:

Only in silence do inner angels sing,

“Glory to God on high, glory to Christ the King.”


ECK, 1988