By San Antonio Rose
Third Age 3018
I wonder as I wander out under the sky…
Frodo sighed wistfully and shifted his pack. He half wished he were back in the Shire, celebrating the end of the year with friends and family in peace, or in Rivendell with Bilbo, learning how the Elves celebrated Yuletide. To be honest, any place seemed preferable to his current position—heading toward Mordor to destroy the Enemy’s ultimate weapon. His nostalgic mood was further fueled by his cousins, who took turns singing songs about Yuletide subjects like food, family, holly, and evergreen trees. Niggling doubts preyed on his mind, too. Would the Quest succeed? Would he ever see another Yuletide? Or would they fail, and the Dark Lord put an end not only to him but to Yule—and any other free celebration—forever?
Sighing again, Frodo wondered if the Quest were even worth the risk.
His reverie was broken when he almost walked into Gandalf, who had stopped suddenly. Legolas, who had been walking slightly ahead of the Fellowship as a scout, stood at the crown of the hill they had been climbing, staring into the distance as if perplexed.
“Legolas?” Aragorn finally asked. “What is wrong, mellon-nin? What do you see?”
“The land has changed,” Legolas replied blankly.
The rest of the travelers gathered around to see what he meant. Sure enough, the landscape in front of them bore no resemblance to the forests on the western edge of the Misty Mountains. The mountains to their left were much lower, and there were few trees; instead, the foothills on which they stood were open grassland.
Aragorn looked at the sky and blinked. “Odd… I have not seen some of these stars since I was in Harad. But how came we so far south?”
“Aye, we are far from where we were,” Gimli observed, looking around as if analyzing the hills. “The bedrock here is basalt, not granite.”
“Perhaps we should turn b—” Boromir’s suggestion was cut short as he turned around and saw that the forest behind them had vanished. There would be no turning back.
“A wrinkle in time…” Gandalf murmured cryptically with a puzzled frown.
The Hobbits shared a worried look. They were suddenly stranded in a strange land with no cover. How would this jeopardize their quest—and their own lives?
Of all the company, Bill alone seemed undaunted. He nickered softly and lowered his head to sample the grass.
Legolas finally found his voice again. “I see sheep in the hills ahead; their shepherds stand guard around a small fire. I can make out a town to the west, but I do not recognize it.”
Gandalf suddenly seemed to make up his mind. “Let us proceed carefully toward the shepherds. Perhaps they can help us learn where we are and whether or not the town can give us shelter.”
“Merry,” Pippin whispered as they began to move again, “something strange is happening.”
Merry shot him a no-kidding look.
“Beggin’ your pardon, Master Merry, but he’s right,” Sam interjected. “And not just our not being where we were. There’s something in the air… like waiting for something to happen.”
“Not sure I like the sound of that, Sam,” Frodo replied with an involuntary shudder.
“I don’t know, sir… it feels like a good thing, somehow,” Sam shrugged.
The Fellowship was silent for the next two hours as they neared the lone campfire. The shepherds leapt to their feet as the travelers came within earshot, prepared to fight if necessary. Aragorn hailed them first in Westron, then in Haradric, but the shepherds did not seem to understand either tongue; instead, as the group came into the firelight, they murmured something to each other that Merry took to mean, “Who are these crazy foreigners and what are they doing here?”
Aragorn looked helplessly at Gandalf. Gandalf thought for a moment, then came up with a greeting none of the Fellowship had heard before: “Shalom.”
The shepherds blinked, then returned the greeting.
Choosing his words carefully, Gandalf asked a series of questions in the strange language, then turned back to his companions when the shepherds had answered. His eyes sparkled as he reported, “They say we are in Israel, near Bethlehem in Judea. They doubt that we could find shelter in the town; the emperor has ordered a census, and all the inns are full.”
“Emperor?” “What emperor?” “Where’s Israel?” “What’s a census?” Bewildered questions poured from the hobbits and men. Gimli and Legolas simply looked at each other and shrugged.
“Peace,” Gandalf laughed, holding up a hand to stem the tide of questions. “We have gone far forward in time, my friends. We are now in the Fifth Age; many things exist now that are unfamiliar to us. We are in what we know as Harad, many leagues to the east of Gondor.”
“Gandalf,” Aragorn demanded, “what is going on here? And why do you look so pleased?”
“I can only guess,” Gandalf replied, “but if I am right, we may be witnesses to a most historic event.”
The eldest shepherd suddenly said something to Gandalf, who nodded his head in assent. “This good man wishes to know if we would care to rest here and share their fire. I think it would be wise to do so; we are weary, and since there is no place in town where we might lodge, this is as good a place to stay as any.”
The rest of the Fellowship exchanged skeptical looks and agreed. Sam and Gimli found a place to hobble Bill while the others arranged themselves for the night. As Legolas settled down to sleep, the shepherds seemed to take notice of him for the first time, whispered among themselves, then asked Gandalf a question. Frodo guessed from the wizard’s bemused expression that he was trying to figure out how to explain not only what sort of creature Legolas was, but why he slept with his eyes open.
Frodo didn’t notice that he’d fallen asleep until a bright light suddenly startled him awake. The moment he opened his eyes, though, he had to shield them in order to discern the light’s source without being blinded. Sparing a glance around, he noticed that he wasn’t the only one shading his eyes or shrinking back in shock; indeed, only Gandalf seemed undaunted, and even he was staring into the sky in amazement.
“Erunero?!” Gandalf finally gasped. “Here?”
Frodo was finally able to follow Gandalf’s gaze up into the sky and saw that the light emanated from a white-clad, winged, human-like figure—a mighty Ainu, he quickly realized—standing in midair. The sight, combined with the brilliance of the light and the aura of holiness, as if this Ainu had come directly from the presence of the One, suddenly struck fear into Frodo’s heart, and the Ring suddenly felt more heavy and loathsome than it had ever felt before. He scurried behind Gandalf for shelter. The other members of the Fellowship seemed to have the same thought, for soon they were all gathered around the Istar.
Erunero called out suddenly in the shepherds’ language, and Gandalf recovered enough to translate for his fellow travelers:
“Fear not! For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
What happened next took Frodo’s breath away. The sky suddenly blazed with light as a vast choir of Ainur appeared behind Erunero and began to sing. Even though he couldn’t understand the words, the sheer beauty of the sound made Frodo weep for joy.
“Gandalf,” Sam finally choked out, “what are they saying?”
Gandalf’s own voice was thick with tears as he translated, “Glory to Eru in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward Men.”
The Nine Walkers sat, silently weeping as they listened, until the Ainur finished their jubilant song and vanished. As the brightness faded and the travelers’ eyes readjusted to the darkness, Legolas spotted something else unusual overhead and let out a startled cry.
“Aiya Eärendil Gil-Estel!” the Elf shouted, pointing. “What can it mean? The Silmaril shines on Bethlehem!”
The Fellowship turned and saw exactly what Legolas had discovered: Eärendil hovered over the nearby town, shining more brightly than any of them had ever seen him.
“What can it mean?” Boromir echoed quietly, stunned.
The shepherds paid no attention; they were whistling and calling for one of their sheep. As soon as they found the spotless lamb they sought, one of them scooped it up and draped it over his shoulders, and the men took off running toward Bethlehem.
“Come, let us see this thing that has happened, which the One has made known to us,” Gandalf grinned, and picking up his staff, he headed after the shepherds.
Sharing a look and a shrug, the rest of the Fellowship followed him.
“Gandalf,” Pippin asked after a mile or two, “aren’t you going to explain what’s going on?”
“Not until I know the full explanation myself,” Gandalf answered, “which will probably be about the time we find the Child. There are a few bits I’m still puzzling over. Now keep quiet and keep up!”
The shepherds went directly to an inn at which they apparently knew an expectant couple had arrived earlier in the evening. The eldest made his way inside, inadvertently rousing the entire sleeping crowd in his excited attempt to find the innkeeper and get access to the stables. The Fellowship arrived just as the innkeeper, shaking his head and giving the shepherds some very odd looks, came outside to lead the men to a cavern that served as the inn’s stables. The nine travelers also earned some strange looks, but they were allowed to follow the shepherds in to find the Child.
Frodo was surprised by the scene in the stable. It was dark but not damp, lighted only by a small fire and a couple of oil lamps, and though certainly not as comfortable as a smial, it was decent enough shelter by Hobbit standards despite the livestock smell, yet hardly suitable for the birth of a Child whose coming was announced by Ainur who dwelled in the Timeless Halls. The parents were sitting on the ground next to the feed trough in which the Baby lay; the mother, whom Frodo judged to be hardly more than a teen, was still pale from labor and leaned heavily against her husband’s shoulder. The couple’s dark hair and skin contrasted with the pale complexions of the Fellowship, but there was a slight Elvish air about them that reminded Frodo of Aragorn. He wondered if they might be related somehow. Yet they seemed shorter than most of the Big Folk and had curlier hair than he had ever seen on a Man, and that made him wonder if these people were also of Hobbit stock or descended from the same ancestors as the Stoors, Fallowhides, and Harfoots. What amazed Frodo most, though, was the peaceful, holy air in the room. The animals gazed reverently at the Child, who slept contentedly while His mother gently rubbed her finger along His jaw.
The shepherds approached first. The Baby awoke at His mother’s quiet greeting, but rather than crying, He squeaked happily when He saw the visitors and smiled when they spoke to Him. The shepherds knelt before the manger and presented the lamb.
“Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” Gandalf finally whispered. As the Fellowship looked at him curiously, he continued, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Eruyomo, which means God With Us. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
“You understand it all now?” Aragorn asked quietly.
“Perhaps not all,” Gandalf answered. “But enough to explain. Do you recall what Andreth told Finrod about the Old Hope?”
Aragorn thought for a moment. “‘They say that the One Himself shall enter into Arda and heal Men and all the Marring from beginning to end,’” he finally quoted.
“Wait,” Boromir broke in before Gandalf could respond. “Are you saying that that Child is the One Himself?!”
“Yes,” Gandalf replied simply.
Eight mouths fell open in shock.
“I’m fuzzy on the details,” the Maia continued. “If this was in the Song, no one understood it; it was not in the vision Ilúvatar gave us, at least not that I can remember. The first hints we had and understood were from Finrod’s report to Mandos of Andreth’s explanation, so apparently it was a special revelation given only to Men. We worked out a pretty good idea of what Eru had planned, but I don’t think even the Vanyar heard our deductions. Still, unless I’m very much mistaken, the Old Hope has come.”
“But if that’s the One,” Pippin asked, “who’s in the Timeless Halls?”
“Ah,” Gandalf twinkled. “That’s one of the explanations I’ve puzzled over, and one thing even I don’t fully understand. You see, Eru is really one God in three Persons, like a shamrock is one plant with three leaves—although that’s not really the best explanation, but it’s the best I can do on short notice. Ilúvatar is still in the Timeless Halls; this is His only begotten Son, whom the Elves would likely call Erubar Laivino, the Savior and Anointed One.”
“Who is the third?” Aragorn asked, bewildered.
“The Imperishable Flame,” Gandalf replied. At his companions’ looks of utter confusion, he shrugged. “We finite beings can never truly grasp this; it seems to be a characteristic of the infinite. I know it’s true only because I know the One Who Is Three.”
“There’s one thing that troubles me, though,” Gimli frowned. “So far all the talk is of Men, and it looks like the One has come as a Man. But what of the rest of us? Are we to gain nothing from this?”
Gandalf placed a hand on Gimli’s shoulder. “Fear not, my good Dwarf. Elves and Men—yes, and Hobbits—are alike the Children of Eru, and the Children of Aulë have been adopted into His grace. All Eä will be blessed by this birth, Gimli son of Glóin, and none, certainly not the Dwarves, will be forgotten.”
At about this point, the shepherds took their leave, and the innkeeper left with them. Gandalf led the Fellowship forward and greeted the Child’s parents before kneeling beside the manger. Erubar smiled delightedly as Gandalf bent forward to make eye contact with his Creator, and He giggled when the Istar tickled Him with his beard.
“We have no gifts, Lord,” Gandalf whispered. “But we have come all the same.”
Erubar simply smiled.
Legolas approached next, saluting with his fist over his heart and his head bowed as he knelt. “Elen síla lummen’ omentielvo, Eruyomo! My people never dreamed of this, that the One would take flesh and become mortal! My heart could break for joy… but also for sorrow, for a mortal life means a mortal’s death, and though I am yet young in the eyes of the Eldar, I know how tragic that is in our esteem. For we still mourn Lúthien, who was lost.”
Overcome, Legolas stopped and bowed his head even lower. Erubar looked sadly into the Elf’s eyes.
Aragorn began to make the Númenórean salute as he knelt by touching his forehead, but rather than completing it by touching his lips, his hand traveled down to touch his heart, then to his left and right shoulders in turn. “I do not know the meaning of that sign,” he quietly confessed to the Child. “But it feels complete… as does meeting you this night. You have dealt harshly with my people because they turned from You and defied the Valar, and I know that in Middle-earth our worship of You has fallen far from its origins on the Meneltarma, which is no more. But the coming of a Savior means restoration, does it not? Ah, truly, You deserve the name Estel as much as I, for You bring hope to all the world.”
Erubar beamed appreciatively.
A tear trickled down Boromir’s cheek as he approached the manger, at a loss for anything appropriate to say. After a moment’s hesitation, he drew his sword and presented it on bended knee. “I know not if I can serve You as I ought,” he whispered, “but my sword is Yours.”
Erubar looked solemnly at Boromir as he raised his head. Their gazes locked for a moment, and fresh tears streamed down Boromir’s face. Then Erubar blinked, releasing Boromir from His scrutiny, and gave him a bittersweet smile.
Erubar’s smile broadened as Gimli strode forward and knelt beside him. The Dwarf startled when he thought the Child made a noise that sounded like “Aoo-wee!”
Tears filled Gimli’s eyes, and he gently placed a hand on Erubar’s chest and whispered a Dwarvish blessing.
The taller members of the Fellowship then moved back to leave room for the Hobbits. Pippin came forward first. “I’m sorry I’ve naught to give you,” he smiled apologetically. “I… wanted to give you an apple, but I haven’t got one, and my pack’s back at the campfire, and I doubt you could eat it anyway….”
Erubar chuckled, cutting off Pippin’s flustered rambling.
Pippin gazed at Erubar for a moment, then collected himself and continued, “Thank You for coming. Welcome to Arda.”
Merry joined his cousin quietly, searching for the words to say. “Back home in the Shire,” he finally began, “it’s customary for the person having a birthday to give the presents, rather than receiving them. A lot of times we give away mathoms—just worthless junk that no one needs. But this day… I think there’s something different going on. It seems Your Father is giving a gift to the whole world, and He’s not just handing out mathoms.”
Erubar twinkled, as if He were pleased to hear that Merry had hit upon a very important point.
Sam approached next. “This is better than seein’ Elves,” he began.
“I’d no idea,” Sam continued, shaking his head. “Back ’ome we don’t even talk much about the Powers, and I’d ’ardly ’eard of You before we went to Rivendell. To think that You would care enough to come as a baby and be born in back of an inn when You deserve a better palace than the king….” He trailed off, lost in wonder.
Erubar smiled gently.
Gandalf turned and saw Frodo hanging back in the shadows, clutching at the Ring and wide-eyed with fear. “Frodo?” the wizard called quietly.
Frodo looked up at his friend. “Gandalf… if I fail…” he whispered.
Gandalf frowned briefly, confused, before grasping the root of Frodo’s concern. “Yes, the future is uncertain. I cannot foresee what effect our Quest may have upon this event. But come, lay your fears at His feet; He came to carry them.”
Slowly, Frodo made his way over to the manger. Tears streamed down his face as he looked into Erubar’s eyes and wordlessly bared his soul to the Child. Erubar simply returned his gaze with a look of compassion, and slowly Frodo began to feel at peace.
And then something astonishing happened. Frodo suddenly had a vision of himself, filthy and worn, inching his way up a barren, rocky slope in a dark, gloomy land. Then the scene shifted to a clear, bright day where a Man, badly beaten and wearing a wreath of sharp thorns for a crown, stumbled up a greener slope toward a large piece of wood that Frodo was unable to see clearly. The view shifted, and he saw that the wood was one long, broad plank across which a second, shorter plank, about the length of a Man’s armspan, had been attached a few feet from one end; a board with writing on it was nailed near the top end of the long plank. The soldiers who surrounded this structure forced the beaten Man, now stripped, to lie down on the wooden beams. As they did so, Frodo caught a closer glimpse of the Man’s face.
It was Erubar.
Frodo watched in horror as soldiers arranged Erubar on the beams, with His arms outstretched and His knees bent, and drove nails through His hands and feet to keep Him in place. They then raised the structure so that the long beam was upright and left Erubar hanging there. Two other such structures were erected on either side of Erubar, and Frodo realized that a crowd had gathered around the hill to gawk and to mourn.
The vision seemed to shift into fast forward; people came and went, the sky grew dark, and Erubar’s face contorted in pain as He struggled to breathe in His awkward position. Then time slowed down again, and Erubar, plainly exhausted, gathered the last of His strength, gave a loud cry, and went limp. He was clearly dead.
A brief series of images followed: a soldier piercing Erubar’s side with a spear and expressing surprise when a large amount of water and blood spurted out of the wound; Erubar’s mother holding His dead body and weeping; two men hurriedly wrapping the body in what looked like linen and carrying it to a cave-like tomb cut out of a hillside; a large stone being rolled in front of the tomb’s entrance; a soldier placing a seal on the entrance and stone as other soldiers posted a guard around it.
Everything went black for a moment; then a blinding flash of light broke the darkness, accompanied by the grinding noise of stone against stone. As the light faded, Frodo saw Erubar, scarred but healthy, radiant, and very definitely alive, walk out of the tomb, past the unconscious guards, and into the nearby gardens.
As the vision faded, Frodo realized that his mouth was hanging open and tears were falling unbidden, and both Aragorn and Gandalf were looking at him with concern.
“Frodo?” Aragorn asked. “What is it? What did you see?”
Frodo’s mouth worked soundlessly as he looked from Man to Maia to Child and back, trying to say something. Finally, as he looked back at Gandalf, he whispered, “Dear Eru… what Child is this?”
Erubar just smiled. So did Gandalf.
As Frodo turned back to gaze at the Child’s radiant face in amazement, it seemed as if he could hear the choirs of all the ages in every tongue begin to sing:
Veni, veni, Emmanuel…
What Child is this, who laid to rest
On Mary’s lap is sleeping,
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping?
… Rejoice, rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, o Israel…
Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As Men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night…
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own Him;
The King of Kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary…
In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh…
The angels sang, the shepherds sang,
The grateful earth rejoiced,
And at His blessed birth, the stars
Their exultation voiced…
Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo…
Ding dong, merrily on high,
In Heav’n the bells are ringing!
Ding dong, verily the sky
Is riv’n with angels singing!
Gloria, hosanna in excelsis!
Gloria, hosanna in excelsis!
Frodo’s head swam; the whole world seemed to dissolve in music and light. He felt his eyes close, and a split second later Aragorn’s hand gently shook his shoulder.
“Frodo? Frodo?” he heard Aragorn say softly.
Frodo shook his head and drew a deep breath as he awoke. He blinked hard as he opened his eyes. The Fellowship was asleep in a clearing in the shadow of the Misty Mountains, and the sun was shining brightly; he himself was leaning against the stump of a fallen tree.
“Good afternoon,” said Aragorn. “It’s time for your watch.”
“Gloria in excelsis Deo,” Frodo sang quietly to himself as he cinched the drawstring of his pack. He had been puzzling over the previous night’s events all afternoon. What had really happened? Aragorn had shown no signs of anything unusual having happened when he woke Frodo for his watch, so he suspected that the adventure in Bethlehem had been only a dream; but he had no memory of reaching their current location, which confused him.
“Pardon?” Sam said, looking up sharply from preparing supper-breakfast.
“What? Oh, nothing,” Frodo replied.
“Sorry, sir… just sounded like you said something I needed for a bit of rhyme I was working on.”
Frodo frowned slightly. “A rhyme, Sam?”
“Aye… I had the most marvelous dream last night—today, rather, and it made me want to write a poem or a song or something. Not that I’m as good at it as you or Mr. Bilbo, sir.”
Frodo blinked. “Well, if it’ll help… what I said was, ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo.’”
Sam’s eyes lit up. “That’s it! I’m not quite sure what it means, but some of the other words I came up with didn’t quite make sense, either.”
“Tell it to me, Sam.”
This time Sam blinked. “What?”
“Please… I think I had a dream, but I’m not sure it was a dream, and your bit of rhyme might help me figure out what happened.”
Sam shrugged and recited:
Candlelight, angel light, firelight and starglow,
Shine on His cradle till breaking of dawn.
Gloria, gloria in excelsis Deo!
Angels are singing; the Christ Child is born.
Frodo gaped. “Oh, Sam…” he breathed.
Before either Hobbit could say more, Pippin’s puzzled voice across the clearing caught their attention:
“Gandalf? What does Shalom mean?”
Master and gardener stared at each other in amazement.
I wonder as I wander out under the sky
That Jesus our Savior did come for to die.
Frodo sat dozing in Rivendell’s gardens, enjoying the crisp autumn air. The memory of his Yuletide adventure had almost completely faded during his arduous journey across Middle-earth and near death on Mt. Doom. Still, once in a while a snatch of song or a fleeting image from that night in a faraway land briefly passed through his mind, and he wondered what Erubar would say now that the Quest was complete.
Suddenly Frodo heard a flute playing one of the dream-tunes that he had somehow associated with the title “Gesu Bambino.” He awoke with a start and saw an Elf walking toward him, piping merrily. Frodo blinked and frowned, trying to figure out whether or not this Elf were familiar to him.
The Elf finished and put down his flute. “Good afternoon, Frodo Baggins,” he said cheerfully.
“Good afternoon,” Frodo replied.
“May I sit with you? You look as if you could do with a bit of cheering up.”
Frodo blinked again. “Ah… yes, certainly.”
“I know you’re glad to be back here,” the Elf continued, sounding suspiciously informal for an Elf, “and being with Bilbo is almost as healing for you as being in the company of Elves in the house of Elrond. But it wasn’t easy, what you did, physically or spiritually. I can tell you’re still hurting deep inside.”
Frodo’s face fell. “Yes….”
“And not just from the horror of it all, am I right?”
Frodo sighed deeply. “I… I couldn’t do it. If Gollum hadn’t been there, the Ring would never have been destroyed. I failed.”
“Your will may have failed.” The Elf gently put a hand under Frodo’s chin and raised it until Frodo’s eyes met his own. “Ours did not.”
Frodo frowned slightly, puzzled.
“‘If Gollum hadn’t been there,’ you said. By whose will was he there? By whose will did Sam never give up trying when it seemed that hope was lost? By whose will did you, Frodo Baggins, come into possession of the Ring?”
Frodo’s eyes suddenly widened in recognition as memory came flooding back. “Erubar?!” he gasped.
The Elf Who was not an Elf smiled. “My Father’s will was done, Frodo. The Ring was destroyed, and by Our grace you survived. You did your best, and you will receive a reward in keeping with your deeds. You have also repented of your failure, and though I have not yet provided the means for your complete atonement, We will not forget your repentance.”
“Not yet… then the stable and the hill and the tomb… that wasn’t just a dream?”
Erubar simply smiled and vanished.
“Mr. Frodo?” Sam called, coming up behind him.
Frodo didn’t reply. He was still lost in astonishment.
“Mr. Frodo?” Sam repeated, concerned this time.
Frodo stirred. “What?”
“Mr. Frodo, sir? What is it?”
Frodo took a deep breath and smiled, picking up the flute that lay beside him on the stone seat. “Nothing, Sam. Just dreaming.”
Credits and Notes
Songs used in this story (in order of appearance) are:
“Candlelight Carol” by John Rutter
“I Wonder as I Wander”
“Veni, Veni, Emmanuel”—“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
“What Child Is This?”
“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
“In Dulci Jubilo”—“Good Christian Men, Rejoice”
“Angels We Have Heard on High”
“Ding Dong, Merrily on High”
Names (thanks to Quenya Lapseparma and the Quenya wordlists on Ardalambion) translate as:
Erunero – Gabriel
Erubar Laivino – Jesus Christ
Eruyomo – Emmanuel
The quote from Andreth is from “The Debate of Finrod and Andreth,” found in Morgoth’s Ring (The History of Middle-earth, Volume X). The shepherd scenes come from Luke 2, although I had to adapt them slightly, and Gandalf’s quotes are from Matthew 1, John 1, and Isaiah 9; the Scriptural dialog is from the King James Version, the New International Version, or the New American Standard Bible. (I don’t know for sure that the angel who made the announcement was Gabriel, but since he was the angel who visited Mary, I think it’s a reasonable guess.) And I’m sure there are influences from many other Christmas stories I’ve read over the years, most recently He That Should Come by Dorothy L. Sayers, as well as “Bringing Gifts” by Deborah Judge and “The Old Hope” by Novus (and some of “While the Ring Went South” by Thundera Tiger, including the term “supper-breakfast”). The idea for Jesus’ lineage comes partly from “Bringing Gifts” and partly from The Gospel According to Tolkien by Ralph C. Wood.
There really isn’t a good way to concisely explain the Trinity because, as C. S. Lewis puts it, it involves a concept that goes beyond personality and boggles the finite mind. And the better the analogy, the more technical and harder to comprehend it gets; my personal favorites are a vector and the various components of the electromagnetic spectrum, both of which sail clean over the heads of people who haven’t had at least high school physics. So I stuck with a condensed version of St. Patrick’s shamrock analogy.
I chose the date in part to “split the difference” between the Eastern and Western dates for Christmas and in part because of the Primary World association between Yuletide and Christmas. As for the geography: If I understand correctly, Minas Tirith is supposed to correspond to Rome and Harad to the Middle East. But of course, the landscape depicted on Tolkien’s maps is nothing like modern-day Eurasia. So I’ve had to guesstimate. (Yet another reason to call this an AU….) And I’d appreciate it if anyone familiar with the Bethlehem area could give me corrections on my descriptions, even if it’s just a nitpick on cave vs. cavern for the stable (I’ve only seen pictures of the Church of the Nativity, so I don’t know how big it is).
Thanks for giving this fic a chance. I understand that some people won’t agree with the premise, but the Nuzgul bit, and it wasn’t one I could readily give up for adoption. All I ask is that you keep any criticism to technique rather than the idea itself.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!