“Christmas-Eve” is an account of a vision in which the narrator is taken to a Nonconformist church, to St. Peter’s in Rome, to a Göttingen lecture theatre where a practitioner of the Higher criticism is discoursing on the Christian myth, and back to the Nonconformist church.
Out of the little chapel I burst Into the fresh night–air again. Five minutes full, I waited first In the doorway, to escape the rain That drove in gusts down the common’s centre At the edge of which the chapel stands, Before I plucked up heart to enter. Heaven knows how many sorts of hands Reached past me, groping for the latch Of the inner door that hung on catch More obstinate the more they fumbled, Till, giving way at last with a scold Of the crazy hinge, in squeezed or tumbled One sheep more to the rest in fold, And left me irresolute, standing sentry In the sheepfold’s lath–and–plaster entry, Six feet long by three feet wide, Partitioned off from the vast inside— I blocked up half of it at least. No remedy; the rain kept driving.