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How can we reach the inner meaning of the Nativity feast, its significance for the faithful? Better, perhaps, by the way of 28poetry than by the way of ritual, for it is poetry that reveals the emotions at the back of the outward observances, and we shall understand these better when the singers of Christmas have laid bare to us their hearts. We may therefore first give attention to the Christmas poetry of sundry ages and peoples, and then go on to consider the liturgical and popular ritual in which the Church has striven to express her joy at the Redeemer's birth. Ceremonial, of course, has always mimetic tendencies, and in a further chapter we shall see how these issued in genuine drama; how, in the miracle plays, the Christmas story was represented by the forms and voices of living men.

from "Christmas in Ritual and Tradition" by Clement A Miles