THE LITTLEST SPIDER
A Christmas Legend
When Christ was born in Bethlehem
The angels sang for joy,
But when King Herod heard the news
He vowed to kill the boy.
Then Joseph, dreaming, heard a voice,
“To Egypt swift take flight”.
So he and Mary with the Child
Fled through the freezing night.
No place for them to hide,
But failed to find the Holy Child
Though they sought far and wide.
A biting wind blew cold and chill,
The hoar frost glistened white,
And Joseph sought some sheltered spot
Where they could pass the night.
A cave he found within the hills
To hide them all from view
As closer to her anxious breast
The Child sweet Mary drew.
And Mary breathed a prayer
That He Who was the Lord of life
Might find protection there.
Now legend tells an old folk tale
Of how that need was met
While Herod’s men tramped o’er the hills
And tighter drew the net.
Inside the cave a spider sat
Who watched the sleeping Child
And longed to save him from the cold
And temperature so wild.
“I am”, thought he, “so small myself
There’s little I can do,
But right across the cavern’s mouth
I’ll weave a curtain true”.
That’s what the Littlest Spider did
Till he could spin no more,
So that the cave was sealed at last
By hoar clad silken door.
The family heard approaching feet
Of soldiers prowling near
And trembled as a coarse voice cried,
“I think they may be here”.
Their captain came and saw the web,
But knew not what it meant.
“No one”, said he, “has been through here.
The web has not been rent”.
“See how it glistens in the frost,
Unbroken and intact.
No need to waste our time in there,
And that, lads, is a fact.
The Infant still no crying made.
The soldiers went their way.
The family, thankful for relief,
Slept safely till the day.
The Littlest Spider also slept,
Worn out by all he’d done,
And curled contentedly inside
The robe of God’s dear Son.
With tinsel is bedecked,
For it recalls the Spider’s web
With shining hoar frost flecked.
Copyright © 2000 [Rev. C. Champneys Burnham]. All rights reserved.