Another favourite author of mine is the poetess Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). She was born into a remarkably gifted family in London, December 5, 1830. Her parents, Gabriele and Frances Rossetti, were emigrés from Italy. Her father was actually a political refugee. Christina was taken by them to be baptized at All Souls, Langham Place, which was not far from where the family lived. Though the family was gifted artistically, they had little money and seem to have struggled financially, despite the fact that her father was a Professor of Italian at King’s College, London. It was from her mother that she imbibed her Christian faith.
I love her poem that echoes that watch-cry of the Reformation, “Christ alone.”
None other Lamb, none other Name, None other Hope in heaven or earth or sea, None other Hiding-place from guilt and shame, None beside Thee.
My faith burns low, my hope burns low, Only my heart’s desire cries out in me By the deep thunder of its want and woe, Cries out to Thee.
Lord, Thou art Life tho I be dead, Love’s Fire Thou art however cold I be: Nor heaven have I, nor place to lay my head, Nor home, but Thee.
What a possession to have going into this new year. Christ: life and fire, heaven and home, hiding-place from guilt and shame. It was having Christ that enabled Christina to live from day to day, for he was the only secure Hiding-place from guilt and shame.
She knew what a weight she bore—a weight all of us bear, though not all of us know it.
God strengthen me to bear myself; That heaviest weight of all to bear, Inalienable weight of care. [cited Kris Lundgard, The enemy within (P&R Publishing, 1998), 21].
Where did that strength come from? From none but Christ—Christ alone!
Reader, do you know him? Is he to you what he was to Christina Rossetti? May He be yours as you enter this new year—and he will be Light and Life for all that this new year brings.