Now the Work of Christmas Begins

The feast of Epiphany today brings the Christmas season to an end. To mark the day, here’s a litany called “The Work of Christmas” composed by Howard Thurman, an African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

The poem “The Work of Christmas” is from Howard Thurman’s The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations and is used by permission of Friends United Press. All rights reserved.


  1. As an “alum” of Morehouse College – Rev.Dr. Howard Thurman’s labor in the LORDz vineyard are legendary; that his spiritual & theological work has stood the test of time is emblematic of the grace of almighty GOD…!!!!!

  2. The Work of Christmas – title of my sermon on Dec.28th. It was great to see the original poem was composed by Howard Thurman. I’m going to say that the work of Christmas is more than Thurman’s list of good Christian / civic minded things to do, as important as they are. I believe the Work of Christmas is the Work of LOVE and that work is as much the little ways we care for self, each other and creation. As we learn to love self, we learn to love others and creation. The source of Love is our Creator as taught us by Jesus the Christ.

    • The poem is about love and is very ” other Centric” to “heal the broken, feed the hungry, find the lost” is for sure the love of neighbor. It’s also easy to say these things but to actually do them with fervor is another story. I visited a prisoner in Huntsville prison more than once. It was an eye-opener. I volunteer at a medical clinic for very poor uninsured people, another eye-opener. The doing is still only a small part of conversion. In the end do we repent and ask for mercy for all of us including thy “self”


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