Cradle Cross 🎄

by Ryanne McLaren Molinari

Empty, the sanctuary waits
Beneath a tree, beneath a cross—
The branches of a burden and a trough
Which bear the body of the newborn King.

White wailing of a storm without
Are vespers whispered warm within. 
They echo the infant, age-old cry
Of the beginning and of the end. 

In this lonely silence, all seems dead
Yet I wait with bated, living breath
For the fearful and wonderful
Marriage of birth and of death. 

Soon the tree below will glow
While carols are sung, bells are rung, 
But above, they light the coming night
Of the ghastly, cursed promise hung
Above glad trees, upon the beam—
O! Lift your eyes, lift them to see!

In the fulness of both cheer and fear,
I sit in darkness and seek Him here
Beneath the cross, the truest tree,
Topped by the Morning’s darkened gleam.

Born to die and yet in His death,
I take my first, all-blessed breath.
As that storied star lit Christmas skies,
From cradle and cross, He shall arise. 

Ryanne McLaren graduated from Biola University in 2019 with her Bachelor of Music in piano and organ performance. During her time at Biola, she was named the Biola Conservatory’s “Presser Undergraduate Music Scholar” for her devotion to music, service, and academics. Ryanne also studied literature in the Torrey Honors College and was appointed to “The Order of Peter and Paul” in recognition of her interdisciplinary achievements. In December 2020, Ryanne received her Master of Letters with distinction in “Theology and the Arts” from the University of St. Andrew’s, Scotland. While at St. Andrew’s, Ryanne served as organ scholar at the beautiful St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and was employed as a pianist by the Laidlaw Music Centre.

Ryanne was recently married to Billy Molinari, who shares her love of theology, distance running, and British mysteries. The two now live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and represent the classic “pastor and pianist” duo as they seek to promote biblical teaching and beautiful worship. Ryanne currently works as a collaborative pianist and continues to publish both academic and creative writing through various online journals, including her personal site, She loves working with fellow Christian creatives and plans to further her studies in music, literature, and theology.

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