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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

We will begin by telling them that in the early ages of the Church every great Feast was prepared for by long Vigils; during which the people deprived themselves of their usual rest, and spent the hours in the Church, fervently joining in the Psalms and Lessons which made up the Office which we now call Matins. The Night was divided into three parts called Nocturns. At dawn of day they resumed their chants in an Office which was even more solemn than Matins: it was one of praise, and from this its characteristic, was called by the name of Lauds. This Service, which occupied a very considerable portion of the night, is still kept up, though at a time less trying to nature; Matins and Lauds are publicly recited every day in Cathedral and Monastic Churches, and privately by everyone in Holy Orders. They are by far the longest portion of the Divine Office. The want of the old spirit of devoted appreciation of the Liturgy has made the Laity indifferent to being present at the celebration of Matins, and this even in countries where Protestantism has not rendered their presence almost an impossibility. Thus, there are very few places where the people assist at Matins, excepting four times in the year; namely, on the three last days of Holy Week, and on Christmas Night. It is only on the last named that the Office is said at the same hour as anciently; for with regard to Tenebræ, they are recited on the afternoons respectively preceding each of the three days.

The Office of Christmas Night has always been said or sung with extraordinary solemnity. Firstly, it was so just, that the moments immediately preceding the Hour when the Holy Mother gave birth to her Jesus, should be spent in the most fervent prayers and watchings! But, secondly, the Church is not satisfied tonight with saying her Matins—she does so every night, and the faithful may come and assist at them as often as they wish:—she follows them by the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that so she may the better solemnize the Divine Birth; and she begins her Mass at Midnight, for it was at that silent hour that the VirginMother gave us the Blessed Fruit of her Womb. We cannot be surprised that the faithful, in many parts of Christendom, used to spend the whole Night in the Church.

In Rome, for many centuries—at least from the seventh to the eleventh—two Matins were sung, the first in the Basilica of St Mary Major. They commenced immediately after sunset. There was no Invitatory. As soon as they were ended, the Pope celebrated the first or midnight Mass. No sooner was it finished, than the people accompanied him to the Church of St Anastasia, and there he sang the second Mass, or, as it was called, of the Aurora. Again the Pontiff and people formed a procession—this time it was to St Peter’s—and having entered the Basilica, the second Matins were begun. They had an Invitatory, and were followed by Lauds. The other Hours having been sung, the Pope said the third and last Mass, at the hour of Terce, which is our 9 o’clock. We are indebted for these details to Amalarius, and to the ancient Liturgist of the thirteenth century published under the name of Alcuin. We also find them clearly indicated by the text of the old Antiphonaries of the Roman Church, which were published by the Blessed Joseph Maria Tommasi, and by Gallicioli.

How lively was the faith of those olden times! To people who lived unceasingly amidst the Mysteries of Religion, Prayer was a tie which knit them closely together, and made them pass hours in the Church without weariness. They understood the value of the Prayers of the Church; and the Ceremonies of the Liturgy, which complete the tribute of man’s inward worship of his Creator, were not looked upon as, unfortunately, they now so often are, as a dumb show, or at best an unmeaning poetry introduced for effect. What, in our days, are found only in individuals, were then in the mass of the people—faith, and a keen sense of the supernatural.

Thanks be to God! this strong practical faith is not dead among us, and is each year spreading in the land. How often have not we ourselves been charmed at seeing the traditions of the old Catholic customs still kept up in some families, especially in those favoured parts of the country where heresy has not been able to corrupt the simplicity of the people. We have seen, and it is one of the most pleasing recollections of our childhood, one of these families seated together, after the frugal evening collation, round a blazing fireside, waiting for the hour to come when the whole house was to go to the midnight Mass. A plain but savoury supper, which was to be eaten on their return home, and so add to the joy of holy Christmas Night, was prepared beforehand. A huge piece of wood, called the Yule-Log, was burning cheerfully on the hearth; it would last till the Mass was over, and warm the old men and the little children, as they came in chilled by the sharp frost.

Meanwhile, till it was time for Mass, their conversation was upon the Mystery of this much-loved Night. They compassionated the Blessed Mother and the sweet Babe, exposed to the inclemency of wintry weather, and with no other shelter than that of a wretched stable. Then, too, there were the Christmas Carols, in the practise of which they had spent many a pleasant evening of Advent. The whole soul was evidently in these dear old melodies, and many a tear would fall as the song went on to tell how the Angel Gabriel visited Mary, and declared to her that she was to be Mother of the Most High God; how Mary and Joseph were worn with fatigue, going from street to street in Bethlehem, trying to find a lodging, and no one would take them in; how they were obliged to shelter in a stable, and how the Divine Child was born in it; how the loveliness of the Babe in his little crib was above all the beauty of the Angels; how the Shepherds went to see him, and took their humble gifts, and played their rude music, and adored him in the faith of their simple hearts. And thus they spent the happy Eve, passing from conversation to song, and from one song to another, and all was on Mary or Jesus, Joseph or Bethlehem. Cares of life were forgotten, troubles were gone, melancholy was a sin; but it was time to leave; the village clock had just gone eleven; and of the happy group, there was a little one who had been too young the other years, and this was his first Midnight Mass. There was no brighter face in the procession than his. Would he ever forget that beautiful Night!

In many of our readers, these reminiscences will excite a feeling of regret that the miseries of the world around us make such Catholic customs as these unrealities: at all events, they will show how the holiest feelings of religion may blend with the best joys of family and home. The lesson is worth learning, though the examples that teach it are too Catholic for these rough times. Let us, therefore, leave them and turn again to objects, which are realities, made holy by to-night’s Mystery, they will assist us to enter still further into the spirit of the Church.

There are three places on this earth of ours which we should visit to-night. For two of them, it can only be in spirit. The first is Bethlehem, and the Cave of the Nativity, which is Bethlehem’s glory. Let us approach it with respectful awe, and contemplate the humble dwelling which the Son of the Eternal God chose for his first home. It is a Stable in the hollow of a rock, just outside the city walls. It is about forty feet long by twelve in width. The ox and the ass, as spoken by the Prophet, are there, standing near the Manger, mute witnesses of the Divine Mystery to which man refused to lend his own dwelling.

Joseph and Mary enter into the Stable-Cave. It is night, and all nature is buried in silence; but these two Hearts are sending up their praise and adoration to God, who thus deigns to atone for man's pride. The Virgin-Mother prepares the Clothes which are to swathe the limbs of the Divine Infant, and longs, though with a most tranquil patience, for the blissful moment when she shall have the first sight of the Blessed Fruit of her womb, kiss him, caress him and feed him—the Eternal God—at her Breast.

Our Jesus, on his part, now that he is about to leave the sanctuary of his Mother’s womb, and make his visible entrance into this world of sin, adores his Heavenly Father, and, according to the revelation of the Psalmist, which is commented by St Paul in his Epistle to the Hebrews, thus speaks: Sacrifice and oblation thou willedst not; but a Body thou hast fitted unto me. Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said /, behold I come. In the head of the Book it is written of me that I should do thy will, O God![1]

All this was happening in the Stable at Bethlehem, about this very hour of the Night. The Angels of God were singing their anthems of praise to this his incomprehensible mercy towards his rebel creatures. They looked down with admiration upon the Mother of their God, the Mystical Rose, whose hidden beauty was soon to bloom and fill the world with its fragrance.

O happy cave of Bethlehem! scene of these stupendous Mysteries! who is there that can forget it to-night? Who is there that does not love it above the richest palaces of Kings? From the very commencement of Christianity it was the object of men's deepest veneration. When, later on, God sent the great St Helen to resuscitate in his Church the knowledge and love of the Holy Places of Palestine, one of the works of the holy Empress was to build a magnificent Basilica over the spot, where stands this trophy of God's love for his creatures.

Let us go in spirit to this venerable Basilica; we shall find there groups of infidels and schismatics, but we shall also find the Religious who have the care of it, preparing to sing the same Matins, and in the same Latin tongue, which we are to have. These Religious are the Children of St Francis, heroic followers of the poverty of their Divine Master, the Infant of Bethlehem. Because they are poor and humble therefore they have had, for upwards of four hundred years, the honour of being the sole guardians of these Holy Places, which the Crusaders grew tired of defending. Let us pray in union with them to-night; and go with them, and kiss that sacred spot of the Cave, where is written in letters of gold: Here was Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary. (Hic de Virgine Maria Jesus Christus natus est.)

In vain, however, should we seek at Bethlehem for the holy Crib in which the Infant Jesus lay. The curse of God has struck that unhappy country, and deprived it of this precious relic, which now, for upwards of twelve hundred years, has been venerated in the centre of Catholicity, Rome, the favoured Spouse of Christ.

Rome, then, is the second place we must visit on this blessed Night. And in the Holy City itself there is one special Sanctuary which claims all our veneration and love. It is the Basilica of the Crib, the splendid Church of Saint Mary Major. Of all the Churches which the people of Rome have erected in honour of the Mother of God, this is the grandest. It stands on the Esquilme,rich in its marble and gold, but richer still in its possessing, together with the Portrait of our Lady painted by St Luke, the humble yet glorious Crib of Jesus, of which the inscrutable designs of God have deprived Bethlehem. An immense concourse of people is to-night assembled in the Basilica, awaiting the happy moment when this monument of the love and the humiliation of a God will be brought in, carried on the shoulders of the Priests, as an Ark of the New Covenant, whose welcome sight gives the sinner confidence, and makes the just man thrill with joy. Thus has God willed that Rome, which was to be the new Jerusalem, should be also the new Bethlehem; and that the children of the Church should find, in this the unchangeable centre of their Faith, the varied and exhaustless nourishment of their Love.

But the Basilica of the Crib is not the only sanctuary in Rome which has an attraction for us to-night. An imposing ceremony, which embodies a profound mystery, is taking place, at this very hour, in the palace of the Vatican, near the Tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.

The Divine Infant, who is to be born amongst us, is the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, whose government is upon his shoulders,[2] as we shall sing to-morrow, with the Church. We have already seen how the God of Hosts has honoured this power of Emmanuel, by leading powerful Nations to acknowledge him who lay in the Crib of Bethlehem as the Lord to whom they owed their adoring fealty. The same recognition of that Babe as the Mighty God is made by the ceremony to which we allude. The Sovereign Pontiff, the Vicar of our Emmanuel, blesses, in his name, a Sword and Helmet, which are to be sent to some Catholic warrior who has deserved well of the Christian world. In a letter addressed to Queen Mary of England and to Philip, her husband, Cardinal Pole gives an explanation of this solemn rite. The sword is sent to some Prince, whom the Vicar of Christ wishes to honour in the name of Jesus, who is King: for the Angel said to Mary: The Lord will give unto him the Throne of David his father.[3] It is from him alone that the power of the sword comes;[4] for God said to Cyrus: I have girded thee (with the sword[5]); and the Psalmist thus speaks to the Christ of God: Gird thy Sword upon thy thigh, O thou most Mighty![6] And because the Sword should not be drawn save in the cause of justice, it is for that reason that a Sword is blessed on this Night, in the midst of which rises, born unto us, the divine Sun of Justice. On the Helmet, which is both the ornament and protection of the head, there is worked, in pearls, the Dove, which is the emblem of the Holy Ghost; and this to teach him who wears it that it is not from passion or ambition that he must use his sword, but solely under the guidance of the divine Spirit, and from a motive of spreading the Kingdom of Christ.

How beautiful is this union of energy and meekness under the one symbol and ceremony! This power of blending and harmonizing the varied beauty of distinct classes of truth is not to be found save in that Christian Rome, which is our Mother and where God has established the centre of Light and Love. The ceremony we have been describing is still observed. What a grand list it would be, had we the names of all those glorious Christian Warriors, who were thus created Knights of the Church, at this solemn hour, when we celebrate the Birth of him who came to vanquish our enemy! We are going to adore this Babe in his Crib; let us think of our Mother's teaching, and pay homage to him as our Prince and King, and beseech him to humble the enemies of his Church, and vanquish those who are leagued against both our perfection and our salvation.

And now to the third of the sanctuaries, wherein is to be effected, this Night, the mystery of the Birth of Jesus. This third Sanctuary is near us; it is in us; it is our own heart. Our heart is the Bethlehem that Jesus desires to visit, and in which he would be born, there to live and grow unto a perfect man, as St Paul expresses it.[7] Why, after all, was he born in the stable of the city of David, but that he might make sure of our heart, which he loved with an everlasting love, and so ardently that he came down from heaven to dwell in it? Mary's virginal womb held him but for nine months; he wishes us to keep him for ever in our dwelling!

O heart of man, thou living Bethlehem, hold thyself in readiness, and keep a glad feast! Already, thou hast prepared thyself for this union with thy Jesus by the confession of thy misdeeds, by the contrition of thy sins, and by the satisfaction thou hast made for them. Now, therefore, be all attention: he is coming in the Midnight. Let him find everything ready, ready as were the Stable, the Crib and the Swaddling-clothes. True, thou hast nothing to offer him like what Mary and Joseph had—she, a Mother's caresses; and he, the most solicitous and tender care; but thou hast an adoration and a love like those of the poor Shepherds, and these thou must offer. Like the Bethlehem yonder in the far east, thou art living in the midst of heresy, of infidelity, and of men who ignore the divine mystery of divine love: secret then, but hearty, must be thy prayers, like those which are ascending this night to heaven from the few faithful ones who are assembled in the Holy Cave with the Sons of St Francis; for in that unfortunate Palestine, which has been a slave to the most degrading errors for this last thousand years, there are still a few who know and love God. On this glad Midnight, let thy soul become like that splendid Basilica of Rome, which possesses the two treasures, the Holy Crib and the venerable Portrait of the Virgin Mother. Let thy affections and thoughts be pure as the white marble of its pillars; thy charity bright as the gold which glitters on its ceiling; thy deeds shining as the countless tapers which light up its beauty, and turn this night into the glare of a summer noon. Thou must learn, too, O soldier of Christ! to use a Christian's weapons; thou must fight thy way to the Crib of thy Jesus; thou must fight for thy position there, and maintain it by the unbroken loyalty of thy love; thou must fight for the happy consummation of thy victory: union eternal with him. Treasure up these holy sentiments, and let them console and sanctify thee during these moments which precede the coming of Emmanuel into thee. O living Bethlehem! there is a word which heaven gave thee for these moments; take it up, and let it be thy ceaseless prayer; ComeLord Jesus! come.[8]

It is time for us to depart, and go into the House of God. The Bells are not being rung for us, it is true—still, their melody wakens up Bethlehem in our hearts. How strange this joyous pealing at this midnight hour! But is not everything strange in this mysterious night of the Birth of God? He is going to show himself to us—but it is to be in a Crib, and as a little Child. When he came on Sinai, it 

was surrounded with thick clouds of smoke, and amidst thunder and lightning: now, there is nothing but humility, stillness and loveliness beyond measure. The Moon, emblem of the brightness reflected from Jesus upon Mary, is shedding its soft light on our path. The stars are twinkling in the firmament, and make us think of the Star which is so soon to rise and guide the Magi to our Saviour's Crib.

And whilst thus thinking over all these strange mysteries, we have reached the porch of the Church. The Sanctuary sends its light down even to the threshold of the holy place. Beautiful sight, indeed! What wonder that King Clovis, as he entered the Church of Rheims on his first Christmas Night, stood dazzled with the blaze of light, and trembling with emotion said to St Remigius, who had just baptized him: ‘Father! is this the Kingdom thou didst promise me?’ ‘No, my Son,’ replied the Bishop, ‘it is but the way that will lead thee to it.’

MATINS

After the PaterAve and Credo have been said secretly, the Church commences the Office by her usual prayer:

℣. Domine, labia mea aperies.
℟. Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam.

℣. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.
℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℣. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto:
℟. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
℣. O Lord! thou wilt open my lips.
℟. And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

℣. Incline unto mine aid, O God.
℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

Then comes, with its glad burden—Christ is born unto us—the Invitatory, whereby the Church invites her children every morning to come and adore the Lord. To-night the invitation is made by the Angels, who call us to the Crib of our Redeemer: they speak to us in the words of the Church and the Royal Prophet

Invitatory

Christus natus est nobis, * venite, adoremus.
Christ is born unto us, * come, let us adore.

PSALM 94

Venite, exsultemus Domino, jubilemus Deo Salutari nostro; præoccupemus faciem ejus in confessione, et in psalmis jubilemus ei.

Christus natus est nobis, * venite, adoremus.

Quoniam Deus magnus Dominus, et Rex magnus super omnes deos: quoniam non repellet Dominus plebem suam, quia in manu ejus sunt omnes fines terræ, et altitudines montium ipse conspicit.

Venite, adoremus.

Quoniam ipsius est mare, et ipse fecit illud, et aridam fundaverunt manus ejus: Venite, adoremus, et procidamus ante Deum: ploremus coram Domino qui fecit nos; quia ipse est Dominus Deus noster: nos autem populus ejus, et oves pascuæ ejus.

Christus natus est nobis, * venite, adoremus.

Hodie si vocem ejus audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra, sicut in exacerbatione secundum diem tentationis in deserto: ubi tentaverunt me patres vestri, probaverunt et viderunt opera mea.

Venite, adoremus.

Quadraginta annis proximus fui generationi huic, et dixi: Semper hi errant corde: ipsi vero non cognoverunt vias meas, quibus juravi in ira mea, si introibunt in requiem meam.

Christus natus est nobis, * venite, adoremus.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.

Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

Venite, adoremus.

Christus natus est nobis, * venite, adoremus.
Come, let us praise the Lord with joy, let us joyfully sing to God our Saviour; let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

Christ is born unto us, * come, let us adore.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods; he will not reject his people; for in his hand are all the ends of the earth, and the heights of the mountains are his.

Come, let us adore.

For the sea is his, and he made it, and his hands formed the dry land: come, let us adore and fall down, and weep before the Lord that made us; for he is the Lord our God; and we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Christ is born unto us, * Come, let us adore.

To-day, if ye shall hear his voice, from the Crib, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, me the Lord, the Father of Emmanuel; they proved me, and saw my works.

Come, let us adore.

Forty years was I nigh unto this generation, and I said: These always err in heart: and these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.

Christ is born unto us: * come, let us adore.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Come, let us adore.

Christ is born unto us, * come, let us adore.

After the Invitatory, the Church intones the sweet Hymn on the Birth of Jesus, composed by St Ambrose, which was sung in our First Vespers. Let us again sing it to our Redeemer, and feed our spirit on its delicious unction.

Hymn

Jesu, Redemptor omnium.
O Jesus! Redeemer of mankind, etc.

See abovep. 116.


Thus far are the preludes to our solemn Night Office which now commences. It is divided into three vigils, or Nocturns, each of which is composed of three Psalms, three Lessons and three Responsories. The Responsories are a sort of interlude after each Lesson: but the third Lesson of the Third Nocturn is followed by the Te Deum, which takes the place of a Responsory. The interpreters of the Liturgy thus explain the Three Nocturns of tonight’s Matins. The first signifies the time which preceded the Written Law, given by God to Moses. In the Middle Ages it was the custom to veil the Altar in black during this Nocturn, to express the sentence of condemnation pronounced by God against our first Parents, and the long ages which would then have to pass before the Redeemer came. The second Nocturn signifies the time under the Written Law; and during this Nocturn the Altar was covered with a white veil, to denote that, under the Law, men received a greater degree of light, by the figures and prophecies of the Old Testament. And lastly, the third Nocturn signifies the time under the Law of Grace. During this Nocturn the Altar was covered with a red veil, to symbolize the love of God for his Spouse the Church, whereby the Son of God and our souls are mystically united.

The First Nocturn

The first Psalm celebrates the Kingly dignity of the Babe that is to be born. All nations are to be given to him as his inheritance, and the day will come when he will judge the Kings who plot his death in Bethlehem. He is the Son of the Eternal Father, begotten in the day of eternity, and now made manifest on this night to the eyes of men.

Ant. Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.
Ant. The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

Psalm 2

Quare fremuerunt gentes: * et populi meditati sunt inania?
Adstiterunt reges terræ, et principes convenerunt in unum: * adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum ejus.
Dirumpamus vincula eorum: * et projiciamus a nobis jugum ipsorum.
Qui habitat in cœlis, irridebit cos: * et Dominus subsannabit eos.
Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua: * et in furore suo conturbabit eos.
Ego autem constitutus sum Rex ab eo super Sion montem sanctum ejus: * prædicans præceptum ejus.
Dominus dixit ad me: * Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.
Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hæreditatem tuam: * et possessionem tuam terminos terræ.
Reges eos in virga terrea: * et tamquam vas figuli confringes eos.
Et nunc, reges, intelligite: * erudimini qui judicatis terram.
Servite Domino in timore: et exsultate ei cum tremore.
Apprehendite disciplinam, nequando irascatur Dominus: * et pereatis de via justa.
Cum exarserit in brevi ira ejus: * beati omnes qui confidunt in eo.

Ant. Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.
Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
The Kings of the earth stood up, and the Princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
They said: Let us break their bonds asunder; and let us cast away their yoke from us.
He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.
But I, the Son of Mary, am appointed King by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.
The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
And now, O ye Kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.
Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.
Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.
When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.

Ant. The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.


The second Psalm praises the loveliness of the heavens during the night, and the magnificent testimony which the countless stars render to the greatness of their Creator. It then passes on to speak of the Sun, whose brilliant rising is like the Bridegroomcoming forth from the nuptial chamber. The Sun is our Emmanuel; his Tabernacle the Womb of Mary. It is to-day that he begins his course; starting from the deepest stage of humiliation, he will mount to the meridian of glory. Let us adore him in his humble commencement, and humble ourselves together with him. He is the Lawgiver and the Law; he is our joy and our light; he is our helper and our Redeemer: let us love and obey him.

Ant. Tamquam sponsus Dominus procedens de thalamo suo.
Ant. The Lord is as a Bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber.

Psalm 18

Cœli enarrant gloriam Dei: * et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.
Dies diei eructat verbum: * et nox nocti indicat scientiam.
Non sunt loquelæ, neque sermones: * quorum non audiantur voces eorum.
In omnem terram exivit sonus eorum: * et in fines orbis terræ verba eorum.
In sole posuit tabernaculum suum: * et ipse tamquam sponsus procedens de thalamo suo.
Exsultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam: * a summo cœlo egressio ejus.
Et occursus ejus usque ad summum ejus: * nec est qui se abscondat a calore ejus.
Lex Domini immaculata, convertens animas: * testimonium Domini fidele, sapientiam præstans parvulis.
Justitiæ Domini rectæ, lætificantes corda: * præceptum Domini lucidum, illuminans oculos.
Timor Domini sanctus, permanens in sæculum sæculi: * judicia Domini vera, justificata in semetipsa.
Desiderabilia super aurum et lapidem pretiosum multum: * et dulciora super mel et favum.
Etenim servus tuus custodit ea: * in custodiendis illis retributio multa.
Delicta quis intelligit? ab occultis meis munda me: * et ab alienis parce servo tuo.
Si mei non fuerint dominati, tunc immaculatus ero: * et emundabor a delicto maximo.
Et erunt ut complaceant eloquia oris mei: * et meditatio cordis mei in conspectu tuo semper.
Domine adjutor meus: * et Redemptor meus.

Ant. Tamquam sponsus Dominus procedens de thalamo suo.
The heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.
Day to day uttereth speech, and night to night showeth knowledge.
There are no speeches nor languages, where their voices are not heard.
Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.
He hath set his tabernacle in the sun, the image of his Son; and he as a Bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber,
Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way: his going out is from the end of heaven,
And his circuit even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.
The law of the Lord, which Jesus is coming to declare to us, is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones, little as the Divine Infant in his Crib.
The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts: the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgements of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.
More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honey-comb.
For thy servant keepeth them; and in keeping them there is a great reward.
Who can understand sins? From my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord; and from those of others spare thy servant.
If they shall have no dominion over me, then shall I be without spot; and I shall be cleansed from the greatest sin.
And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in thy sight.
O Lord, that art born for my sake, thou art my helper and my Redeemer.

Ant. The Lord is as a Bridegroom coming out of his bride-chamber.

The third Psalm shows us Christ advancing in the conquest of the world, as the mighty Conqueror. His beauty and meeknessare, like his truth and his justice, perfect; and the power of his love is irresistible. On his right we have the Queen of this world, the august Mary; the Lord has been pleased with her beauty, and her fruitful Virginity has been the model after which have been formed all those pure souls consecrated to God, who are the companions of the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. In this most sublime Psalm, let us sing our canticle of praise to the ineffable dignity of our Divine King, and to the sweetness of our incomparable Mother and Queen.

Ant. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis; propterea benedixit te Deus in æternum.
Ant. Grace is poured out upon thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.

Psalm 44

Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum: * dico ego opera mea Regi.
Lingua mea calamus scribæ: * velociter scribentis.
Speciosus forma præ filiis hominum, diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis: * propterea benedixit te Deus in æternum.
Accingere gladio tuo super femur tuum: * potentissime.
Specie tua et pulchritudine tua: * intende, prospere procede, et regna.
Propter veritatem, et mansuetudinem, et justitiam: * et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua.
Sagittæ tuæ acutæ, populi sub te cadent: * in corda inimicorum regis.
Sedes tua, Deus, in sæculum sæculi: * virga directions, virga regni tui.
Dilexisti justitiam, et odisti iniquitatem: * propterea unxit te Deus, Deus tuus, oleo lætitiæ præ consortibus tuis.
Myrrha, et gutta, et casia a vestimentis tuis, a domibus ebumeis: * ex quibus delectaverunt te filiæ regum in honore tuo.
Adstitit Regina a dextris tuis in vestitu deaurato: * circumdata varietate.
Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: * et obliviscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui.
Et concupiscet Rex decorem tuum: * quoniam ipse est Dominus Deus tuus, et adorabunt eum.
Et filiæ Tyri in muneribus: * vultum tuum deprecabuntur omnes divites plebis.
Omnis gloria ejus filiæ regis ab intus: * in fimbriis aureis circumamicta varietatibus.
Adducentur Regi virgines post eam: * proximæ ejus afferentur tibi.
Afferentur in lætitia et exsultatione: * adducentur in templum Regis.
Pro patribus tuis nati sunt tibi filii: * constitues eos principes super omnem terrain.
Memores erunt nominis tui: * in omni generatione et generationem.
Propterea populi confitebuntur tibi in æternum, * et in sæculum sæculi.

Ant. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis, propterea benedixit te Deus in æternum.

℣. Tamquam sponsus.
℟. Dominus procedens de thalamo suo.
My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works, my songs, to Jesus the King.
My tongue is the pen of a scrivener, that writeth swiftly.
Thou, Emmanuel, art beautiful above the sons of men; grace is poured abroad in thy lips: therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.
Thou comest that thou mayest conquer the world; gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O thou most Mighty!
With thy comeliness and thy beauty, set out, proceed prosperously and reign.
Because of truth, and meekness, and justice: and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.
Thy arrows are sharp: under thee shall people fall, into the hearts of the enemies of the King, who sends thee.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness.
Thou hast loved justice, and hatedst iniquity: therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Myrrh, and stacte, and cassia perfume thy garments, from the ivory houses; out of which the daughters of kings have delighted thee in thy glory.
The Queen, thy Mother, who shares in thy triumph, stood on thy right hand in gilded clothing, surrounded with variety.
Thy Holy Spirit spoke to her, and said: * Hearken, O Daughter, and see, and incline thine ear: and forget thy people, and thy father’s house.
‘And the King shall greatly desire thy beauty: for he is the Lord thy God, and him they shall adore.
‘And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, yea, all the rich among the people, shall entreat thy countenance.'
All the glory of the King’s Daughter is within, in golden borders, clothed round about with varieties.
After her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbours, they that have spiritually conceived Christ, shall be brought to thee, O King I
They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the King.
Instead of thy fathers of the Jewish people, of whose race thou didst deign to be bornbut who have not known thee,O Emmanuel I sons are born to thee of a new race: thou shalt make them princes over all the earth.
They shall remember thy name throughout all generations.
Therefore shall people praise thee for ever, yea for ever and ever.

Ant. Grace is poured out upon thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever.

℣. As a Bridegroom.
℟. The Lord is coming from his bride-chamber.

The Priest begins the two first words of the Lord's Prayer:

Pater noster.
Our Father.

The rest is said in silence, as far as the last two petitions, when the Priest says aloud:

℣. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
℣. And lead us not into temptation,

The Choir answers:

℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
℟. But deliver us from evil.

Then the Priest:

Exaudi, Domine Jesu Christe, preces servorum tuorum, et miserere nobis, qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum.
Graciously hear, O Lord Jesus Christ, the prayers of thy servants, and have mercy upon us: who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever and ever.

The Choir answers: Amen.

Then one of the Choir turns towards the Priest, and bowing down, says:

Jube, Domne, benedicere.
Pray, Father, give thy blessing.

Then the Priest:

Benedictione perpetua benedicat nos Pater æternus.
℟. Amen.
May the Eternal Father bless us with an everlasting blessing.
℟. Amen.

The Lessons of the First Nocturn are taken from the Prophet Isaias, whom the Church has followed through the whole of Advent. The Responsories which follow each Lesson assist the Faithful in those sentiments of joy which should fill their hearts on hearing the sacred prophecies read to them, and that, too, at the very hour when they are to be accomplished.

First Lesson
(Isaias ix)

Primo tempore alleviata est terra Zabulon, et terra Nephtali: et novissimo aggravata est via maris trans Jordanem Galilææ Gentium. Populus qui ambulabat in tenebris vidit lucem magnam: habitantibus in regione umbrae mortis, lux orta est eis. Multiplicasti gentem, et non magnificasti lætitiam. Lætabuntur coram te, sicut qui lætantur in messe, sicut exsultant Victores capta præda, quando dividunt spolia. Jugum enim oneris ejus, et virgam humeri ejus, et sceptrum exactoris ejus superasti, sicut in die Madian. Quia omnis violenta prædatio cum. tumultu, et vestimentum mistum sanguine, erit in combustionem, et cibus ignis. Parvulus enim natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: et factus est principatus super humerum ejus: et vocabitur nomen ejus, Admirabilis, Consiliarius, Deus, Fortis, Pater futuri sæculi, Princeps pacis.

℟. Hodie nobis cœlorum Rex de Virgine nasci dignatus est, ut hominem perditum ad cœlestia regna revocaret. * Gaudet exercitus Angelorum: quia salus æternahumano generi apparuit.
. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis. * Gaudet exercitus. Gloria Patri.
℟. Hodie nobis cœlorum, usque ad Gloria in excelsis.Benedictio. Unigenitus Dei Filius nos benedicere et adjuvare dignetur.
℟. Amen.
At the first time, the land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephtali, was lightly touched by the Lord; and at the last, the way of the sea beyond the Jordan of Galilee of the Gentiles was heavily loaded. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and hast not increased the joy. The inhabitants of Jerusalem whom thou hast succoured, shall rejoice before thee, as they that rejoice in the harvest; as conquerors rejoice after taking a prey, when they divide the spoils. For the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulder, and the sceptre of their oppressor, thou hast overcome, as in the day of Madian. For every violent taking of spoils, with tumult, and garment mingled with blood, shall be burnt, and be fuel for the fire. For a Child is born unto us, and a Son is given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.

℟. To-day the King of heaven deigned to be born to us of a Virgin, that he might restore lost man to the heavenly kingdom. * The host of Angels rejoices: for that eternal salvation hath appeared to the human race.
. Glory be to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. * The host of Angels, etc. Glory be to the Father.
Then is repeated the ℟. Today the King, as far as Glory be to God.Blessing. May the onlybegotten Son of God vouchsafe to bless and help us.
℟. Amen.

Second Lesson
(Isaias xl)

Consolamini, consolamini popule meus, dicit Deus vester. Loquimini ad cor Jerusalem, et advocate eam, quoniam completa est malitia ejus, dimissa est iniquitas illius: suscepit de manu Domini duplicia pro omnibus peccatis suis. Vox damantis in deserto: Parate viam Dei, rectas facite in solitudine semitas Dei nostri. Omnis vallis exaltabitur et omnis mons et collis humiliabitur, et erunt prava in directa, et aspera in vias planas. Et revelabitur gloria Domini: et videbit omnis caro pariter quod os Domini locutum est. Vox dicentis: Clama. Et dixi: Quid clamabo? Omnis caro fœœnum, et omnis gloria ejus quasi flos agri. Exsiccatum est feenum, et cecidit flos; quia spiritus Domini sufflavit in eo. Vere foenum est populus: exsiccatum est feenum, et cecidit flos: Verbum autem Domini nostri manet in æternum.

. Hodie nobis de cœlo pax vera descendit: * Hodie per totum mundum melliflui facti sunt cœli.
℣. Hodie illuxit nobis dies redemptionis novæ, reparationis antiquæ, felicitatis æternæ. * Hodie per totum.Benedictio. Spiritus sancti gratia illuminet sensus et corda nostra.
. Amen.
Be comforted, be comforted, my people, saith your God. Speak ye to the heart of Jerusalem, and call to her, for her evil is come to an end, her iniquity is forgiven: she hath received of the hand of the Lord double blessings for all her sins. The voice of one crying in the desert: ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight and the rough ways plain.’ And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. The voice of one saying: Cry. And I said: What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field. The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed the people is grass: the grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the Word of our Lord endureth for ever.

℟. To-day true peace has come down to us from heaven: * To-day throughout the whole world the heavens have dropped honey.
℣. To-day there has shone upon us the day of the new redemption, of the ancient reparation, of the eternal happiness. * To-day throughout.Blessing. May the grace of the Holy Ghost enlighten our senses and our hearts.
. Amen.

Third Lesson
(Isaias lii)

Consurge, consurge, induere fortitudine tua, Sion; induere vestimentis gloriæ tuæ, Jerusalem, civitas Sancti: quia non adjiciet ultra ut pertranseat per te incircumcisus et immundus. Excutere de pulvere, consurge, sede, Jerusalem: solve vincula colli tui, captiva filia Sion. Quia hæc dicit Dominus: Gratis venumdati estis, et sine argento redimemini. Quia hæc dicit Dominus Deus: in Ægyptum descendit populus meus in principio, ut colonus esset ibi: et Assur absque ulla causa calumniatus est eum. Et nunc quid mihi est hic, dicit Dominus? quoniam ablatus est populus meus gratis: dominatores ejus inique agunt, dicit Dominus: et tota die nomen meum blasphematur. Propter hoc sciet populus meus nomen meum in die illa: quia ego ipse qui loquebar, ecce adsum.

. Quem vidistis pastores? dicite, annuntiate nobis, in terris quis apparuit? * Natum vidimus, et choros Angelorum collaudantes Dominum.
℣. Dicite, quidnam vidistis? et annuntiate Christi nativitatem. * Natum vidimus. Gloria. * Natum vidimus.
Arise, arise, put on thy strength, O Sion; put on the garments of thy glory, O Jerusalem, the city of the Holy One; for henceforth, the uncircumcised and unclean shall no more pass through thee. Shake thyself from the dust, arise, sit up, O Jerusalem: loose the bonds from off thy neck, O captive daughter of Sion. For thus saith the Lord: You were sold without price, and you shall be redeemed without money. For thus saith the Lord God: My people went down into Egypt at the beginning, to sojourn there: and the Assyrian hath oppressed them without any cause at all. And now what have I here, saith the Lord: for my people is taken away without price? They that rule over them treat them unjustly, saith the Lord, and my name is continually blasphemed all the day long. Therefore my people shall know my name in that day: for I myself that spoke, behold I am here.

. Whom have ye seen, O Shepherds! say, tell us, who is it has appeared on the earth? * We have seen the Child that is born, and choirs of Angels praising the Lord.
℣. Say, what have ye seen? and tell us of the birth of Christ. * We have seen. Glory. * We have seen.

The Second Nocturn

The fourth Psalm is a hymn in praise of the Christian Church, which begins to-day, and receives, in the Stable of Bethlehem, the first believers, the Shepherds. This new Sion, which is to contain the City of our God, is founded on the sides of the North, to show that it shall be open to the Gentiles. In vain will the Princes of the earth seek, in their conceited calculations, to destroy the Church: God, who has founded her, will make her triumph. Empires shall pass away, and their persecutions: the Church will survive them all, knowing neither wrinkle nor decay.

Ant. Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui.
Ant. We have received thy mercy, O God, in the midst of thy temple.

Psalm 47

Magnus Dominus, et laudabilis nimis: * in civitate Dei nostri, in monte sancto ejus.
Fundatur exsultatione universæ terræ mons Sion: * latera aquilonis, civitas regis magni.
Deus in domibus ejus cognoscetur: * cum suscipiet eam.
Quoniam ecce reges terræ congregati sunt: * convenerunt in unum.
Ipsi videntes sic admirati sunt, conturbati sunt, com* moti sunt: * tremor apprehendit eos.
Ibi dolores ut parturientis: * in spiritu vehementi conteres naves Tharsis.
Sicut audivimus, sic vidimus in civitate Domini virtutum, in civitate Dei nostri: * Deus fundavit eam in æternum.
Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam: * in medio templi tui.
Secundum nomen tuum, Deus, sic et laus tua in fines terræ: * justitia plena est dextera tua.
Lætetur mons Sion, et exsultent filiæ Judæ: * propter judicia tua, Domine.
Circumdate Sion, et complectimini eam: * narrate in turribus ejus.
Ponite corda vestra in virtute ejus: * et distribuite domos ejus, ut enarretis in progenie altera:
Quoniam hic est Deus, Deus noster in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi: * ipse reget nos in sæcula.

Ant. Suscepimus, Deus, misericordiam tuam in medio templi tui.

Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to be praised, in the City of our God, in his holy mountain.
On this day, with the joy of the whole earth is Mount Sion founded, on the sides of the North, the City of the great King.
In her houses shall God be known, when he shall protect her.
For behold the kings of the earth assembled themselves: they gathered together.
They saw, so they wondered, they were troubled, they were moved: trembling took hold of them.
There were pains as of a woman in labour. With a vehement wind thou shalt break in pieces the ships of Tharsis.
As we have heard, so have we seen, in the City of the Lord of hosts, in the City of our God: God hath founded it for ever.
We have received thy mercy, O God, which appeared to us in Bethlehem; we have received it in the midst of thy temple.
According to thy name, O God, so also is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of justice.
Let Mount Sion rejoice, and the daughters of Juda be glad: because of thy judgements, O Lord.
Surround Sion, and encompass her: tell ye in her towers.
Set your hearts on her strength; and distribute her houses, that ye may relate it in another generation:
For this is our God, our God unto eternity, and for ever and ever: he, our Pastor, shall rule us for evermore.

Ant. We have received thy mercy, O God, in the midst of thy temple. 

The fifth Psalm prophesies the peaceful reign of the Son of David, who comes to save the poorand humble the oppressor. His coming is in sweetness and silence, like the dew of night. It is this very night that he comes to us from Mary's virginal womb. He is the rain announced by the Prophets, which is to fall upon the parched earth. His kingdom shall be glorious and eternal. In a few days hence, the Kings shall prostrate themselves at his feet, offering him the gold of Arabia and the incense of Saba. He, on his part, will give to his people for their nourishment the Bread of his own Body; and thus his Church will be for ever a Bethlehem, that is, a House of Bread.

Ant. Orietur in diebus Domini abundantia pads, et dominabitur.
Ant. There shall spring up an abundance of peace in the days of the Lord; and he shall rule.

Psalm 71

Deus, judicium tuum Regi da: * et justitiam tuam filio Regis.
Judicare populum tuum in justitia: * et pauperes tuos in judicio.
Suscipiant montes pacem populo: * et colles justitiam.
Judicabit pauperes populi: et salvos faciet filios pauperum: * et humiliabit calumniatorem.
Et permanebit cum sole, et ante lunam: * in generatione et generationem.
Descendet sicut pluvia in vellus: * et sicut stillicidia stillantia super terrain.
Orietur in diebus ejus justitia, et abundantia pacis: * donec auferatur luna.
Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare: * et a flumine usque ad terminos orbis terrarum.
Coram illo procident Æthiopes: * et inimici ejus terram lingent.
Reges Tharsis, et insulae munera offerent: * Reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent.
Et adorabunt eum omnes reges terræ: * omnes gentes servient ei.
Quia liberabit pauperem a potente: * et pauperem cui non erat adjutor.
Parcet pauperi et inopi: * et animas pauperum salvas faciet.
Ex usuris et iniquitate redimet animas eorum: * et honorabile nomen eorum coram illo.
Et vivet, et dabitur ei de auro Arabiæ, et adorabunt de ipso semper: * tota die benedicent ei.
Et erit firmamentum in terra in summis montium, superextolletur super Libanum fructus ejus: * et florebunt de civitate sicut fœnum terræ.
Sit nomen ejus benedictum in sæcula: * ante solem permanet nomen ejus.
Et benedicentur in ipso omnes tribus terræ: * omnes gentes magnificabunt eum.
Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel: * qui facit mirabilia solus.
Et benedictum nomen majestatis ejus in æternum: * et replebitur majestate ejus omnis terra: fiat, fiat.
Ant. Orietur in diebus Domini abundantia pacis, et dominabitur.

Give to the King thy judgement, O God! and to the King’s Son, who is born to-day, thy justice.
To judge thy people with justice, and thy poor with judgement.
Let the mountains receive peace for the people; and the hills justice.
He, the Messias, shall judge the poör of the people, and he shall save the children of the poor; and he shall humble the oppressor.
And his kingdom on earth shall continue with the sun, and before the moon; throughout all generations.
He shall come down mysteriously in the midnight like rain upon the fleece, and as showers falling gently upon the earth.
In his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away.
And he shall rule from sea to sea; and from the river Jordan unto the ends of the earth.
Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down; and his enemies shall lick the ground.
The Kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents; the Kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts.
And all kings of the earth shall adore him; all nations shall serve him.
For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty, and the needy that had no helper.
He shall spare the poor and needy; and he shall be called Jesus, because he shall save the souls of the poor, his creatures.
He shall redeem their souls from usuries and iniquity: and their name shall be honourable in his sight.
And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia, for him they shall always adore: they shall bless him all the day.
He is the bread of life; therefore under his reign there shall be a firmament on the earth on the tops of the mountains; above Libanus shall the fruit thereof be exalted: and they of the City, his Church, shall flourish like the grass of the earth.
Let his name be blessed for evermore: his name continueth before the sun.
And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed: all nations shall magnify him.
Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things,
And blessed be the name of his majesty for ever: and the whole earth shall be filled with his majesty. So be it. So be it.
Ant. There shall spring up an abundance of peace, in the days of the Lord; and he shall rule.

The sixth Psalm is a hymn of gratitude for the blessing brought us by the Divine Infant. The anger of the Almighty Lord is appeased at the sight of a Crib containing the Son of God and the Son of Mary! Let us listen with delight to the words of the New-born Babe. Justice and Peace have kissed: Incarnate Truth now dwells on our earth, and the Justice of the Eternal Father looks down from heaven upon our Emmanuel.

Ant. Veritas de terra orta est; et justitia de cœlo prospexit.
Ant. Truth is sprung out of the earth; and justice hath looked down from heaven.

Psalm 84

Benedixisti, Domine, terrain tuam: * avertisti captivitatem Jacob.
Remisisti iniquitatem plebis tuæ: * operuisti omnia peccata eorum.
Mitigasti omnem iram tuam: * avertisti ab ira indignationis tuæ.
Converte nos Deus salutaris noster; * et averte iram tuam a nobis.
Numquid in æternum irasceris nobis: * aut extendes iram tuam a generatione in generationem?
Deus tu conversus vivificabis nos: * et plebs tua lætabitur in te.
Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam: * et salutare tuum da nobis.
Audiam quid loquatur in me Dominus Deus, * quoniam loquetur pacem in plebem suam.
Et super Sanctos suos: * et in eos qui convertuntur ad cor.
Verumtamen prope timentes eum salutare ipsius: * ut inhabitet gloria in terra nostra.
Misericordia et veritas obviaverunt sibi: * justitia et pax osculatæ sunt.
Veritas de terra orta est: * et justitia de cœlo prospexit.
Etenim Dominus dabit benignitatem: * et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.
Justitia ante eum ambulabit: * et ponet in via gressus suos.

Ant. Veritas de terra orta est, et Justitia de cœlo prospexit.

℣. Speciosus forma præ filiis hominum.
℟. Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis.

Pater noster.
Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast, this night, turned away the captivity of Jacob.
Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people: thou hast covered all their sins.
Thou hast mitigated all thy anger: thou hast turned away from the wrath of thy indignation.
Convert us, O God, our Saviour! and turn off thy anger from us.
Heavenly Father! wilt thou be angry with us for ever? or wilt thou extend thy wrath from generation to generation?
Thou wilt turn, O God, and bring us to life; and thy people shall rejoice in thee.
Show us, O Lord, Him who is thy mercy: and grant us thy salvation.
I will hear, near my Saviour’s Crib, what the Lord God will speak in me, for he will speak peace unto his people:
And unto his Saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.
Surely his Salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land.
This day, in Bethlehem, Mercy and Truth have met each other: Justice and Peace have kissed.
Truth is sprung out of the earth: and Justice hath looked down from heaven.
For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.
Justice shall walk before him, the Man-God: and shall set his steps in the way.

Ant. Truth is sprung out of the earth, and Justice hath looked down from heaven.

℣. Thou art beautiful, O Jesus, above the sons of men.
℟· Grace is poured forth on thy lips.

Our Father.

After the Pater Noster has been recited, as in the First Nocturn, the Priest says:

Ipsius pietas et misericordia nos adjuvet, qui cum Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
May his goodness and mercy help us, who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for ever and ever.

℟. Amen.

The Book of the Sermons of the Holy Fathers is now opened, and a passage is read from one of those magnificent discourses of St Leo the Great, which enraptured the people of Rome in the fifth century.

Benedictio. Deus Pater omnipotens sit nobis propitius et clemens.

. Amen.
Blessing. May God the Father Almighty be propitious and merciful unto us.

℟. Amen.

Fourth Lesson

Sermo Sancti Leonis Papæ.

Salvator noster, dilectissimi, hodie natus est: gaudeamus. Neque enim fas est locum esse tristitiæ, ubi natalis est vitæ: quæ consumpto mortalitatis timore, nobis ingerit de promissa æternitate lætitiam. Nemo ab hujus alacritatis participatione secernitur. Una cunctis lætitiæ communis est ratio: quia Dominus noster peccati mortisque destructor, sicut nullum a reatu liberum reperit, ita liberandis omnibus venit. Exsultet sanctus, quia propinquat ad palmam: gaudeat peccator, quia invitatur ad veniam: animetur Gentilis, quia vocatur ad vitam. Dei namque Filius secundum plenitudinem temporis quam divini consilii inscrutabilis altitudo disposuit, reconciliandam auctori suo naturam generis assumpsit humani, ut inventor mortis diabolus, per ipsam quam vicerat, vinceretur.

℟. O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum! ut animalia viderent Dominum natum jacentem in præsepio: * Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
℣. Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. * Beata Virgo.
Sermon of St Leo, Pope.

On this day, dearly beloved, is born our Saviour: let us be glad: for surely it is a sin to be sad on the Birthday of that Life which, ridding us of the fear of death, gladdened us with the promise of immortality. From a share in this gladness not one of us is excluded. To all there is the one same cause of joy: for our Lord, the destroyer of sin and death, came to deliver all, seeing that all were slaves to guilt. Let the Saint exult, because he is now brought near to his crown; let the Sinner rejoice, because he is invited to his pardon; let the Gentile be of good heart, because he is called to life. For when there had come the fulness of time, fixed by the inscrutable depths of the divine counsel, the Son of God assumed to himself the nature of man, in order to restore it to the favour of its Maker; that thus the Devil, the author of Death, might be conquered by that very nature whereby himself had conquered.

℟. O great Mystery, and wonderful secret! brute beasts to see their new-born Lord laid in a Manger! * Blessed is the Virgin, that deserved to carry in her Womb Christ our Lord!
℣. Hail Mary! full of grace, the Lord is with thee. * Blessed is the Virgin.

At Rome, if there be in the Holy City the Knight, who has received the Helmet and Sword, blessed, as we have described, by the Sovereign Pontiff, the fifth Lesson is given to him to sing, because it speaks of the great Battle between Christ and Satan in the glorious mystery of the Incarnation. Whilst the Choir is singing the Responsory O magnum mysterium, the Knight is taken by the Master of Ceremonies to the Pope. Standing before the Holy Father, he draws his sword, thrice sets its point on the ground, thrice brandishes it in the air, and then wipes the blade upon his left arm. He is then taken to the Ambo, or reading-desk, takes off his helmet, and, having vested the Cope over his armour, he sings the Lesson. These ceremonies of our holy Mother, the Church of Rome, were drawn up in days when might was not right, and brute force was made subservient to moral power and principle. The Christian Warrior, cased in his steel armour, was resolved, as indeed he was bound, never to draw his sword save in the cause of Christ, the conqueror of Satan: was there anything strange in his expressing this by a sacred ceremony?

Benedictio. Christus perpetuæ det nobis gaudia vitæ.

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May Christ grant unto us the joys of eternal life.

℟. Amen.

Fifth Lesson

In quo conflictu pro nobis inito, magno et mirabili æquitatis jure certatum est, dum omnipotens Dominus cum sævissimo hoste non in sua majestate, sed in nostra congreditur humilitate: objiciens ei eamdem formam, eamdemque naturam, mortalitatis quidem nostræ participem, sed peccati totius expertem. Alienum quippe ab hac Nativitate est, quod de omnibus legitur. Nemo mundus a sorde, nec infans cujus est unius diei vita super terram. Nihil ergo in istam singularem Nativitatem de carnis concupiscentia transivit, nihil de peccati lege manavit. Virgo regia Davidicæ stirpis eligitur, quæ sacro gravidanda fœtu, divinam humanamque prolem prius conciperet mente, quam corpore. Et ne superni ignara consilii ad inusitatos paveret affatus, quod in ea operandam erat a Spiritu Sancto, colloquio discit angelico, nec damnum credit pudoris, Dei Genitrix mox futura.

. Beata Dei genitrix Maria, cujus viscera intacta permanent: * Hodie genuit Salvatorem sæculi.

. Beata quæ credidit, quoniam perfecta sunt omnia quæ dicta sunt ei a Domino. * Hodie genuit Salvatorem.

Benedictio. Ignem sui amoris accendat Deus in cordibus nostris.

℟. Amen.
In the conflict thus entered into for our sakes, the combat was fought by our Omnipotent God with great and admirable equity; inasmuch as it is not in bis own Majesty, but in our lowliness, that he attacks our bitter foe; opposing him with the self-same form, and self-same nature as ours, Man like us in everything save sin: for, that which is written of all men, had no place in this Nativity: 'Not one is free from defilement, no, not the child whose life on earth is but one day.' Into this admirable Birth, then, there passed nothing pertaining to the concupiscence of the flesh, there entered not aught of the law of sin. A Virgin of the royal family of David is chosen, who, having to be made Mother of the Divine Child, the God-Man, conceived him in her soul, before she conceived him in her womb. And lest the ineffable mystery should make her fear, were she left ignorant of the Divine plan, she is told by the Angel of that which was to be done in her by the Holy Ghost, and was given to see how she could be Mother of God, yet remain a pure Virgin.

. The Blessed Mother of God, Mary, remaining ever the spotless Virgin, * Hath this day given birth to the Saviour of the world.

. Blessed in that she believed, for all those things have been done in her, that were said unto her by the Lord.

Blessing. May God enkindle within our hearts the fire of his love.

. Amen.

Sixth Lesson

Agamus ergo, dilectissimi, gratias Deo Patri, per Filium ejus in Spiritu sancto: qui propter multam charitatem suam, qua dilexit nos, misertus est nostri: et cum essemus mortui peccatis, convivificat nos Christo, ut essemus in ipso nova creatura, novumque figmentum. Deponamus ergo veterem hominem cum actibus suis, et adepti participationem generationis Christi, carnis renuntiemus operibus. Agnosce, O Christiane, dignitatem tuam: et divinæ consors factus naturæ, noli in veterem vilitatem degeneri conversatione redire. Memento cujus capitis et cujus corporis sis membrum. Reminiscere, quia erutus de potestate tenebrarum, translatus es in Dei lumen et regnum.

℟. Sancta et immaculata Virginitas, quibus te laudibus efferam, nescio: * Quia quem cœli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.

℣. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. * Quia. Gloria. * Quia.
Let us, therefore, dearly beloved, give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Ghost: because, through his exceeding charity, wherewith he hath loved us, he has had compassion upon us; and when we were dead in our sins, quickened us unto life together with Christ, that we might be a new creature in him, and a new substance. Therefore, let us put off the old man with his acts, and, having been made partakers of the generation of Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh. Learn thy own worth, O Christian I and having been made a partaker of the divine nature, scorn to become again the vile thing of old. Remember of what Head and of what Body thou art a member. Remember how thou, having been snatched from the power of darkness, hast been translated into the Light and Kingdom of God.

. O holy and immaculate Virginity, I know not with what praises I shall extol thee: * For thou didst bear in thy womb him whom the heavens cannot contain.

℣. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. * For thou. Glory. * For thou.

THE THIRD NOCTURN

The seventh Psalm of Christmas Day’s Matins is the prayer of the Jewish people for their Deliverer, the Messias. Juda has fallen under the Roman power; she has lost the sceptre; Jerusalem is polluted by the presence of the Gentiles; and yet the Christ appears not. This Psalm reminds the God of Jacob of the promises made to David and his seed, of that everlasting Kingdom, which is so long in coming, and of those other Prophecies, whose accomplishment can alone put a stop to the haughty blasphemies of the Gentiles. But the hour has come; Juda and the Gentiles are to be kept no longer in suspense; Jehovah is about to fulfil his word.

Ant. Ipse invocabit me, alleluia: Pater meus es tu, alleluia.
Ant. He shall cry out to me, alleluia, 'thou art my Father,' alleluia.

Psalm 88

Misericordias Domini * in æternum cantabo.
In generationem et generationem: * annuntiabo veritatem tuam in ore meo.
Quoniam dixisti: in æternum misericordia ædificabitur in cœlis: * præparabitur veritas tua in eis.
Disposui testamentum electis meis; juravi David servo meo: * usque in æternum præparabo semen tuum.
Et ædificabo in generationem et generationem: * sedem tuam.
Confitebuntur cœli mirabilia tua, Domine: * etenim veritatem tuam in Ecclesia Sanctorum.
Quoniam quis in nubibus æquabitur Domino: * similis erit Deo in filiis Dei?
Deus, qui glorificatur in concilio Sanctorum: * magnus et terribilis super omnes, qui in circuitu ejus sunt.
Domine Deus virtutum, quis similis tibi? * potens es, Domine, et veritas tua in circuitu tuo.
Tu dominaris potestati maris: * motum autem fluctuum ejus tu mitigas.
Tu humiliasti sicut vulneratum, superbum: * in brachio virtutis tuæ dispersisti inimicos tuos.
Tui sunt cœli, et tua est terra, orbem terræ et plenitudinem ejus tu fundasti: * aquilonem et mare tu creasti.
Thabor et Hermon in nomine tuo exsultabunt: * tuum brachium cum potentia.
Firmetur manus tua: et exaltetur dextera tua: * justitia et judicium præparatio sedis tuæ.
Misericordia et veritas præcedent faciem tuam. * beatus populus qui scit jubilationem.
Domine, in lumine vultus tui ambulabunt, et in nomine tuo exsultabunt tota die: * et justitia tua exaltabuntur.
Quoniam gloria virtutis eorum tu es: * et in beneplacito tuo exaltabitur cornu nostrum.
Quia Domini est assumptio nostra: * et sancti Israel Regis nostri.
Tunc locutus es in visione Sanctis tuis, et dixisti: * Posui adjutorium in potente, et exaltavi electum de plebe mea.
Inveni David servum meum: * oleo sancto meo unxi eum.
Manus enim mea auxiliabitur ei: * et brachium meum confortabit eum.
Nihil proficiet inimicus in eo: * et filius iniquitatis non apponet nocere ei.
Et concidam a facie ipsius inimicos ejus: * et odientes eum in fugam convertam.
Et veritas mea, et misericordia mea cum ipso: * et in nomine meo exaltabitur cornu ejus.
Et ponam in man manum ejus, * et in fluminibus dexteram ejus.
Ipse invocabit me: Pater meus es tu: * Deus meus, et susceptor salutis meæ.
Et ego primogenitum ponam ilium: * excelsum præ regibus terne.
In æternum servabo illi misericordiam meam: * et testamentum meum fidele ipsi.
Et ponam in sæculum sæculi semen ejus: * et thronum ejus sicut dies cœli.
Si autem dereliquerint filii ejus legem meam: et in judiciis meis non ambulaverint.
Si justitias meas profanaverint: * et mandata mea non custodierint.
Visitabo in virga iniquitates eorum: * et in verberibus peccata eorum.
Misericordiam autem meam non dispergam ab eo: * neque nocebo in veritate mea.
Neque profanabo testamentum meum: * et quæ procedunt de labiis meis, non faciam irrita.
Semel juravi in Sancto meo, si David mentiar: * semen ejus in æternum manebit.
Et thronus ejus sicut sol in conspectu meo: * et sicut luna perfecta in æternum, et testis in cœlo fidelis.
Tu vero repulisti et despexisti: * distulisti Christum tuum.
Evertisti testamentum servi tui: * profanasti in terra sanctuarium ejus.
Destruxisti omnes sepes ejus: * posuisti firmamentum ejus formidinem.
Diripuerunt eum omnes transeuntes viam: * factus est opprobrium vicinis suis.
Exaltasti dexteram deprimentium eum: * lætificasti omnes inimicos ejus.
Avertisti adjutorium gladii ejus: * et non es auxiliatus ei in bello.
Destruxisti eum ab emundatione: * et sedem ejus in terram collisisti.
Minorasti dies temporis ejus: * perfudisti eum confusione.
Usquequo, Domine, avertis in finem: * exardescet sicut ignis ira tua?
Memorare quæ mea substantia: * numquid enim vane constituisti omnes filios hominum?
Quis est homo qui vivet, et non videbit mortem: * eruet animam suam de manu inferi?
Ubi sunt misericordiæ tuæ antiquæ, Domine: * sicut jurasti David in veritate tua?
Memor esto, Domine, opprobrii servorum tuorum: * (quod continui in sinu meo) multarum gentium.
Quod exprobraverunt inimici tui, Domine: * quod exprobraverunt commutationem Christi tui.
Benedictus Dominus in æternum: * fiat, fiat.

Ant. Ipse invocabit me, alleluia: Pater meus es tu, alleluia.
The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever.
Unto generation and generation I will show forth thy truth with my mouth.
For thou hast said: Mercy shall be built up for ever in the heavens; thy truth shall be prepared in them.
Thou hast said: 'I have made a covenant with my elect; I have sworn to David my servant; thy seed will I settle for ever.
‘And I will build up thy Throne unto generation and generation.’
The heavens shall confess thy wonders, O Lord: and thy truth in the Church of the Saints.
For who in the clouds can be compared to the Lord: or who among the sons of God shall be like to God?
God, who is glorified in the assembly of the Saints: great and terrible above all them that are about him.
O Lord God of hosts, who is like unto thee? thou art mighty, O Lord, and thy truth is round about thee.
Thou rulest the power of the sea: and appeasest the motion of the waves thereof.
Thou hast humbled the proud one, as one that is slain: with the arm of thy strength thou hast scattered thy enemies.
Thine are the heavens, and thine is the earth; the world and the fulness thereof thou hast founded: the north and the sea thou hast created.
Thabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name: thy arm is with might.
Let thy hand be strengthened, and thy right hand exalted: justice and judgement are the preparation of thy Throne.
Mercy and truth shall go before thy face: blessed is the people that knoweth jubilation.
They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance, and in thy name they shall rejoice all the day: and in thy justice they shall be exalted.
For thou art the glory of their strength: and in thy good pleasure shall our horn be exalted.
For our protection is of the Lord: and of our King, the Holy One of Israel.
Then thou spokest in a vision to thy Saints, and saidst: 'I have laid help upon one that is mighty, and have exalted one chosen out of my people.
'I have found David my servant: with my holy oil I have anointed him.
'For my hand shall help him: and my arm shall strengthen him.
'The enemy shall have no advantage over him: nor the son of iniquity have power to hurt him.
'And I will cut down his enemies before his face: and them that hate him I will put to flight.
‘And my truth and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
'And I will set his hand in the sea; and his right hand in the rivers.
'He shall cry out to me: Thou art my Father, my God, and support of my salvation.
'And I will make him my First-Born, high above the Kings of the earth.
' I will keep my mercy for him for ever: and my covenant faithful to him.
'And I will make his seed to endure for evermore: and his Throne as the days of heaven.
'And if his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgements:
'If they profane my justices, and keep not my commandments:
'I will visit their iniquities with a rod: and their sins with stripes.
'But my mercy I will not take away from him: nor will I suffer my truth to fail.
'Neither will I profane my covenant: and the words that proceed from my mouth I will not make void.
'Once I have sworn by my Holiness, I will not lie unto David: his seed shall endure for ever.
'And his Throne as the sun before me: and as the moon perfect for ever, and a faithful witness in heaven.'
These are thy words, O Lord! but thou hast rejected and despised: thou hast put off thy Christ.
Thou hast overthrown the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his sanctuary on the earth.
Thou hast broken down all his hedges: thou hast made his strength fear.
All that pass by the way have robbed him: he is become a reproach to his neighbours.
Thou hast set up the right hand of them that oppress him: thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.
Thou hast turned away the help of his sword: and hast not assisted him in battle.
Thou hast made his purification to cease: thou hast cast his Throne down to the ground.
Thou hast shortened the days of his time: thou hast covered him with confusion.
How long, O Lord, turnest thou away unto the end? shall thy anger burn like fire?
Remember what my substance is: for hast thou made all the children of men in vain?
Who is the man that shall live, and not see death? that shall deliver his soul from the hand of hell?
Where, O Lord, are thy ancient mercies, according to what thou didst swear to David in thy truth?
Be mindful, O Lord, of the reproach of thy servants (which I have held in my bosom) of many nations:
Wherewith thy enemies have reproached, O Lord: wherewith they have reproached the change of thy Christ.
But, blessed be the Lord for evermore! this Christ is coming to us, and this very night l so be it—so be it!

Ant. He shall cry out to me, alleluia: ‘thou art my Father:’ alleluia.

The eighth Psalm is one of delighted joy at the coming of our Infant Jesus, our Saviour. It calls on all nations to adore him, and on all nature to do him homage. This Messias is come to reign over us: he is come to correct, that is, to uphold the whole of creation, which was fallen: a New Canticle, then, dear Christians!

Ant. Lætentur cœli, et exsultet terra ante faciem Domini, quoniamvenit.
Ant. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, before the face of the Lord; for lo! he cometh!

Psalm 95

Cantate Domino canticum novum: * cantate Domino omnis terra.
Cantate Domino, et benedicite nomini ejus: * annuntiate de die in diem Salutare ejus.
Annuntiate inter Gentes gloriam ejus: * in omnibus populis mirabilia ejus.
Quoniam magnus Dominus, et laudabilis nimis: * terribilis est super omnes deos.
Quoniam omnes dii Gentium dæmonia: * Dominus autem cœlos fecit.
Confessio et pulchritudo in conspectu ejus: * sanctimonia et magnificentia in sanctificatione ejus.
Afferte Domino patriae Gentium, afferte Domino gloriam et honorem: * afferte Domino gloriam nomini ejus.
Tollite hostias, et introite in atria ejus: * adorate Dominum in atrio sancto ejus.
Commoveatur a facie ejus universa terra: * dicite in Gentibus quia Dominus regnavit.
Etenim correxit orbem terræ qui non commovebitur; * judicabit populos in æquitate.
Lætentur cœli et exsultet terra, commoveatur mare et plenitudo ejus: * gaudebunt campi et omnia quæ in eis sunt.
Tunc exsultabunt omnia ligna silvarum a facie Domini, quia venit: * quoniam venit judicare terram.
Judicabit orbem terræ in æquitate: et populos in veritate sua.

Ant. Lætentur cœli, et exsultet terra, ante faciem Domini, quoniam venit.
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: sing to the Lord all the earth.
Sing ye to the Lord and bless his name: show forth his Saviour from day to day.
Declare his glory among the Gentiles: his wonders among all people.
For the Lord is great, and exceedingly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens.
Praise and beauty are before him: holiness and majesty in his sanctuary.
Bring ye to the Lord, all ye kindreds of the Gentiles, bring ye to the Lord glory and honour: bring to the Lord glory unto his name.
Bring up sacrifices, and come into his courts: adore ye the Lord in his holy court.
Let all the earth be moved at his presence: Say ye among the Gentiles: the Lord hath reigned, he hath reigned in his Crib.
For by his much-loved Birth he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved; he will judge the people with justice.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof; the fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful.
Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge and save the earth.
He shall judge the world with justice; and the people with his truth.Ant. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, before the face of the Lord; for lo! he cometh!

Ant. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, before the face of the Lord; for lo! he cometh!


The ninth Psalm, too, is a New Canticle, in praise of the Saviour that is coming, and of the Father that sends him to us. Jehovah has remembered his mercies, and the whole earth will soon be permitted to see Emmanuel. Let our holy songs, this beautiful night, be full of enthusiasm, and lend a voice of praise to all Nature, for all Nature was regenerated by its Creator being born on this earth.

Ant. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia, Salutare suum, alleluia.
Ant. The Lord hath made known, alleluia I his Saviour, alleluia!

Psalm 97

Cantate Domino canticum novum: * quia mirabilia fecit.
Salvavit sibi dextera ejus: * et brachium sanctum ejus.
Notum fecit Dominus Salutare suum: * in conspectu
Gentium revelavit justitiam suam.
Recordatus est misericordiæ suæ, * et veritatis suæ domui Israel.
Viderunt omnes termini terræ: * salutare Dei nostri.
Jubilate Deo omnis terra: * cantate et exsultate et psallite.
Psallite Domino in cithara, in cithara et voce psalmi: * in tubis ductilibus et voce tubæ corneæ.
Jubilate in conspectu Regis Domini: * moveatur mare, et plenitudo ejus, orbis terrarum, et qui habitant in eo.
Flumina plaudent manu, simul montes exsultabunt a conspectu Domini: * quoniam venit judicare terrain.
Judicabit orbem terrarum in justitia: * et populos in æquitate.Ant. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia, Salutare suum, alleluia.

. Ipse invocabit me, alleluia.
℟. Pater meus es tu, alleluia.

Pater noster.
Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because he hath done wonderful things.
On this day, his right hand hath wrought for him salvation; and his arm is holy.
The Lord hath made known his Saviour: he hath revealed
his justice in the sight of the Gentiles.
He hath remembered his mercy, and his truth toward the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth, that were expecting it, have seen the salvation of our God.
Sing joyfully to God, all the earth; make melody, rejoice and sing.
Sing praise to the Lord on the harp, on the harp and with the voice of a psalm: with long trumpets and sound of cornet.
Make a joyful noise before the Lord our King: let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.
The rivers shall clap their hands, the mountains shall rejoice together at the presence of the Lord; because he cometh to judge and save the earth.
He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with equity.Ant. The Lord hath made known, alleluia! his Saviour, alleluia!

℣. He shall cry out to me, alleluia!
. 'Thou art my Father,' alleluia!

Our Father.

The Pater noster having been recited, as in the two first Nocturns, the Priest says:

A vinculis peccatorum nostrorum absolvat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. ℟. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord deliver us from the chains of our sins. ℟. Amen.

Then are read the beginnings of the three Gospels which are said in the three Masses of Christmas Day.

To each portion of these Gospels is appended a passage from a Homily by one of the Holy Fathers.

The first of the three is that of St Luke, and the Homily given is that of St Gregory the Great. It relates the publishing of the Emperor Augustus’s edict, commanding a census of the whole world. This seventh Lesson, according to the Ceremonial of the Roman Church, is to be sung by the Emperor, if he happen to be in Rome at the time; and this is done in order to honour the Imperial power, whose decrees were the occasion of Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem, and so fulfilling the designs of God, which he had revealed to the ancient Prophets. The Emperor is led to the Pope, in the same manner as the Knight who had to sing the fifth lesson; he puts on the Cope; two Cardinal-Deacons gird him with the sword, and go with him to the Ambo. The Lesson being concluded, the Emperor again goes before the Pope, and kisses his foot, as being the Vicar of the Christ whom he has just announced. This ceremony was observed in 1468, by the Emperor Frederic III, before the then Pope, Paul II.

Benedictio. Evangelica lectio sit nobis salus et protectio!

℟. Amen.
Blessing. May the reading of the Gospel bring us salvation and protection.

℟. Amen.

Seventh Lesson

Lectio sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
Cap. II.

In illo tempore, exiit edictum a Cæsare Augusto, ut describeretur universus orbis. Et reliqua.

Homilia S. Gregorii Papæ.

Quia, largiente Domino, Missarum solemnia ter hodie celebraturi sumus, loqui diu de Evangelica lectione non possumus; sed nos illiquid vel breviter dicere Redemptoris nostri Nativitas ipsa compellit. Quid est enim quod nascituro Domino, mundus describitur, nisi hoc quod aperte mοnstratur, qui ille apparebat in carne, qui electos suos adscriberet in æternitate? Quo contra de reprobis per Prophetam dicitur: Deleantur de libro viventium, et cum justis non scribantur. Qui bene etiam in Bethlehem nascitur: Bethlehem quippe domus panis interpretatur. Ipse namque est qui ait: Ego sum panis vivus qui de cœlo descendi. Locus ergo, in quo Dominus nascitur, domus panis antea vocatus est: quia futurum profecto erat, ut ille ibi per materiam carnis appareret, qui electorum mentes interna satietate reficeret. Qui non in parentum domo, sed in via nascitur, ut profecto ostenderet, quia per humanitatem suam, quam assumpserat, quasi in alieno nascebatur.

. Beata viscera Mariæ Virginis, quæ portaverunt æterni Patris Filium, et beata ubera, quæ lactaverunt Christum Dominum, * Qui hodie pro salute mundi de Virgine nasci dignatus est.

℣. Dies sanctificatus illuxit nobis; venite Gentes, et adorate Dominum. Qui hodie.

Lesson from the holy Gospel according to Luke.
Ch. II.

At that time, there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. And the rest.

Homily of St Gregory, Pope.

Since, by the divine bounty, we are this day thrice to celebrate the solemn office of Mass, we cannot speak long on the lesson of the Gospel; and yet this very Nativity of our Redeemer compels us to say something, however brief. Why, then, is it, that when our Lord was about to be born, the world is enrolled; if not that hereby is shown that he who appeared in the flesh is he that would enrol his elect in eternity? Just as, when speaking of the reprobate, the Prophet says: Let them be blotted out of the book of the livingand with the just let them not be written. Then again: Jesus is born in Bethlehem; 'tis well; for Bethlehem signifies a House of Bread, and Jesus said of himself: I am the living Bread that came down from heaven. The place, therefore, in which he is born, had had the name of House of Bread given to it, because there would appear in the material reality of our flesh he who was to refresh the souls of the elect with spiritual repletion. And why is he born, not at his Mother’s home, but away from it? Is it not to show how, by his assuming human nature, he was born, so to say, in a foreign country?

℟. Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, that bore the Son of the Eternal Father; and blessed are the breasts that fed Christ the Lord, * who deigned to be born this day of the Virgin for the world’s salvation.

℣. A holy day hath shone upon us; come, ye Gentiles, and adore the Lord. * Who deigned.


 

The second of the three Gospels, which forms the subject of the eighth Lesson, is also taken from St Luke, and the Homily is by St Ambrose. It gives the description of the Shepherds going to the holy Stable.

Benedictio. Per Evangelica dicta deleantur nostra delicta. ℟. Amen.
Blessing. May our sins be wiped away by the words of the Gospel. ℟.Amen.

Eighth Lesson

Lectio sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

CapII.

In illo tempore: Pastores loquebantur ad invicem: Transeamus usque Bethlehem, et videamus hoc verbum quod factum est, quod Dominus ostendit nobis. Et reliqua.

Homilia sancti Ambrosii Episcopi.

Videte Ecclesiæ surgentis exordium: Christus nascitur, et Pastores vigilare cœperunt: qui gentium greges, pecudum more ante viventes, in caulam Domini congregarent, ne quos spiritualium bestiarum, per offusas noctium tenebras paterentur incursus. Et bene pastores vigilant, quos bonus pastor informat. Grex igitur populus, nox sæculum, pastores sunt sacerdotes. Aut fortasse etiam ille sit Pastor, cui dicitur: Esto vigilans et confirma; quia non solum Episcopos ad tuendum gregem Dominus ordinavit, sed etiam Angelos ordinavit.

℟. Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: * Et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre; plenum gratiæ et veritatis.
℣. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil. Et vidimus. Gloria. Et vidimus.
Lesson of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. II.

At that time the Shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word, that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed unto us. And the rest.

Homily of St Ambrose, Bishop.

Here, see the beginning of the infant Church: Christ is born; and Shepherds are watching, as about to herd into the Lord's fold that Gentile flock which had hitherto lived like brute animals, and this lest, during the thick darkness of night, they might suffer from the attacks of spiritual wild beasts. And it is well said that the Shepherds are watching, for Shepherds, trained by the Good Shepherd, do watch. So that the Flock is the people; the Night is the world; the Shepherds are the Priests. Or perhaps we might interpret him to be the Shepherd to whom it is said: Be thou watchful, and give strength; for not only has our Lord set Bishops to guard the Flock, he has set the very Angels.

℟. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: * And we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the OnlyBegotten of the Father; full of grace and truth.
℣. All things were made by him; and without him was made nothing. * And we saw. Glory be to the Father, etc. * And we saw.

The third Gospel, which forms the subject of the ninth Lesson, is the beginning of that according to St John, and is commented on by St Augustine: it speaks of the Eternal Generation of the Word.

Benedictio. Verba Sancti Evangelii doceat nos Christus Filius Dei. ℟. Amen.
Blessing. May Christ, the Son of God, teach us the words of the Holy Gospel. ℟. Amen.

Ninth Lesson

Lectio sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. I.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Et reliqua.

Homilia sancti Augustini Episcopi.

Ne vile aliquid putares, quale consuevisti cogitare, cum verba humana soleres audire, audi quid cogites, Deus erat Verbum. Exeat nunc nescio quis infidelis Arianus, et dicat, quia Verbum Dei factum est. Quomodo potest fieri ut verbum Dei factum sit, quando Deus per Verbum fecit omnia? Si et Verbum Dei ipsum factum est, per quod aliud Verbum est? Si hoc dicis, quia hoc est Verbum Verbi, per quod factum est illud; ipsum dico ego unicum Filium Dei. Si autem non dicis Verbum Verbi, concede non factum, per quod facta sunt omnia. Non enim per seipsum fieri potuit, per quod facta sunt omnia. Crede ergo evangelistæ.
Lesson of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. I.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the rest.

Homily of St Augustine, Bishop.

Lest thou shouldst think that this is some commonplace thing, as thou art wont to do when men talk to thee, hear what it is thou art to think: The Word was God. After this, some infidel Arian will come forward and tell me that the Word of God was made. How is it possible that the Word of God could be made, when Godmade all things by the Word? If this very word of God was also made, by what other Word was he made? If thou reply that the Word of the Word is the one by which he was made—then I will answer thee, that this very one is he whom we mean by the Son of God. But if thou do not say there is a Word that made the Word, then grant that he by whom all things were made was himself not made, since he by whom all things were made could not make himself. Therefore believe the Evangelist.

Our three Night Vigils are over: we have sung our songs of praise; we have listened to our Mother the Church telling us of the Prophecies of the beautiful Coming: and meanwhile, the night has advanced, and now the long-expected, the ever-sacred hour of Midnight has come, and we are to see the Divine Infant Jesus, lying in his Crib and smiling upon his Mother. Jubilee is the duty of this sweetest moment: let our hearts beat with delight! Jesus, our Salvation, is coming down from heaven, and for our sakes. What a joy it is that our dear Church gives us a Canticle which is a worthy reception of this our God! Come then, Christians, let us make the holy place echo with our grand Te Deum!

Hymn Of Thanksgiving

Te Deum laudamus: * te Dominum confitemur.
Te æternum Patrem; * omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; * tibi cœli, et universæ potestates.
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim: * incessabili voce proclamant.
Sanctus,
Sanctus,
Sanctus, * Dominus Deus Sabaoth!
Pleni sunt cœli et terra * majestatis gloriæ tuæ.
Te gloriosus * Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum * laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus * laudat exercitus,
Te per orbem terrarum * sancta confitetur Ecclesia:
Patrem * immensæ majestatis,
Venerandum tuum verum, * et unicum Filium,
Sanctum quoque * Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriæ, * Christe.
Tu Patris, * sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, * non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu devicto mortis aculeo: * aperuisti credentibus regna cœlorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes: * in gloria Patris.
Judex crederis * esse venturus.
We praise thee, O God! we acknowledge thee to be our Lord.
Thee, the Father everlasting, all the earth doth worship.
To thee the Angels, to thee the heavens, and all the
Powers:
To thee the Cherubim and Seraphim, cry out without ceasing:
Holy!
Holy!
Holy! Lord God of Sabaoth!
Full are the heavens and the earth of the majesty of thy glory.
Thee the glorious choir of the Apostles,
Thee the laudable company of the Prophets,
Thee the white-robed army of Martyrs doth praise,
Thee the Holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge:
The Father of incomprehensible majesty,
Thy adorable, true, and only Son,
And the Holy Ghost the Paraclete.
Thou, O Christ, art the King of glory.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou being to take upon thee to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Thou having overcome the sting of death, hast opened to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Thee we believe to be the Judge to come.


All kneel at the following verse:


Te ergo quæsumus, tuis famulis subveni, * quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Æterna fac cum sanctis tuis * in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum Domine: * et benedic hæreditati tuæ.
Et rege eos: * et extolle illos usque in æternum.
Per singulos dies * benedicimus te.
Et laudamus Nomen tuum in sæculum: * et in sæculum sæculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto, * sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri, Domine: * miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua Domine super nos, * quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te Domine speravi: * non confundar in æternum.
We beseech thee, therefore, to help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy saints in eternal glory.
O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance.
And govern them, and exalt them for ever.
Every day, we magnify thee.
And we praise thy Name for ever and ever.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have put our trust in thee.
In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust: let me not be confounded for ever.

Our Hymn of thanksgiving sung, the Church concludes the Office of Matins by the following Prayer, in which she embodies all her desires on this feast of the New Birth of the Only-Begotten Son of God.

Oremus
Let us pray

Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Per eumdem.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new birth of thine Only-Begotten Son. Through the same Jesus Christ, etc.

MIDNIGHT MASS

It is now time to offer the Great Sacrifice, and to call down our Emmanuel from heaven: he alone can fully pay the debt of gratitude which mankind owes to the Eternal Father. He will intercede for us on the Altar, as he did in his Crib. We will approach him with love, and he will give himself to us.

But such is the greatness of to-day's Mystery, that the Church is not satisfied with only once offering up the Holy Sacrifice. The long-expected and precious Gift deserves an unusual welcome. God the Father has given his Son to us; and it is by the operation of the Holy Ghost that the grand Portent is produced: let there be, then, to the ever Blessed Three, the homage of a triple Sacrifice!

Besides, this Jesus, who is born to-night, is born thrice. He is born of the Blessed Virgin, in the stable of Bethlehem; he is born by grace, in the hearts of the Shepherds, who are the first fruits of the Christian Church; and he is born eternally from the Bosom of the Father, in the brightness of the Saints: to this triple Birth, therefore, let there be the homage of a triple Sacrifice!

The first Mass honours the Birth according to the Flesh, which, like the other two, is an effusion of the Divine Light. The hour is come: the people that walked in darkness have seen a great Light; Light is risen to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death.[9] Outside the holy place, where we are now assembled, there is dark Night: material Night, caused by the absence of the sun; spiritual Night, by reason of the sins of men, who either sleep in the forgetfulness of God, or wake to the commission of crime. At Bethlehem, round the Stable, and in the City, all is deep darkness; and the inhabitants, who would not find room for the Divine Babe, are sleeping heavily: will they awaken when the Angels begin to sing?

Midnight comes. The Holy Virgin has been longing for this happy moment. Her heart is suddenly overwhelmed with a delight which is new even to her. She falls into an ecstasy of love. As her Child will one day, in his almighty power, rise through the unmoved barrier of his Sepulchre; so now, as a sunbeam gleaming through purest crystal, he is born, and lies on the ground before her. With arms outstretched to embrace her, and smiling upon her: this is her first sight of her Son, who is Son also of the Eternal Father! She adores—takes him into her arms—presses him to her heart—swathes his infant limbs—and lays him down in the manger. Her faithful Joseph unites his adoration with hers; and so, too, do the Angels of heaven, for, the Royal Psalmist had sung this prophecy of their adoring him on his entrance into the world.[10] Heaven opens over this spot of earth, which men call a Stable; and from it there mount to the Throne of the Eternal Father the first prayer, the first tear, the first sob of this his Son, our Jesus, who thus begins to prepare the world’s salvation.

The eyes of the faithful are now riveted on the Sanctuary, where the same Jesus is to be their Holy Sacrifice. The procession of the sacred Ministers has entered the Holy of Holies, and the Priest comes with them to the foot of the Altar. The Choir is singing its openingcanticle, the Introit; where we have our God himself speaking to his Son, and saying: This Day have I begotten thee. Let the Nations rage, if they will, and be impatient of the yoke of this Babe of Bethlehem; he shall subdue them and reign over them, for he is the Son of God.

Introit

Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu; ego hodie genui te.
Ps. Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania? ℣. Gloria Patri. Dominus dixit.
The Lord hath said unto me: Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ps. Why have the nations raged, and the people devised vain things? ℣. Glory, etc. The Lord hath said, etc.

The Angelic Hymn is preceded by the Kyrie eleison; but these nine supplications for mercy over, it bursts forth with those sublime wordsGloria in excelsis Deo; et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis! Let us imite, heart and voice, in this the chant of the Angels: Glory be to God! Peace be to men! These our heavenly Brethren first intoned it, and they are, at this moment, round our Altar, as they were round the Crib; they are singing our happiness. They are adoring that divine Justice, which gave not a Redeemer to their fallen fellow-angels, yet to us gives the very Son of God to be our Redeemer. They are magnifying that deep humiliation of him who made both Angels and men, and who so lovingly favours the weaker of the two. They know that our gratitude needs help, and so they lend us their sweet voices to give thanks to him who, by this mystery of love and magnificence, is enabling us poor mortals one day to fill up the thrones left vacant by the rebel spirits. Oh! yes; let us all, men and Angels, Church of earth and Church of heaven, let us sing: Glory be to God! and Peace to men! The more the Son of the Eternal Father has had to humble himself in order to enrich and exalt us, the more fervently must we cry out our warmest praise, and hymn this Mystery of the Incarnation: Tu solus Sanctus! Tu solus Dominus! Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe! Thou only, O Jesus! art Holy!Thou only art Lord! Thou only art Most High!

The Collect then follows, summing up all our prayers in one.

Collect

Deus, qui hanc sacratissimam noctem veri luminis fecisti illustratione clarescere: da, quæsumus, ut cujus lucis mysteria in terra cognovimus, ejus quoque gaudiis in cœlo perfruamur. Qui tecum.
O God, who hast enlightened this most sacred Night by the brightness of him who is the true Light: grant, we beseech thee, that we who have known the mysteries of this Light on earth, may likewise come to the enjoyment of it in heaven. Who liveth, etc.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Titum.

Cap. II.

Carissime, apparuit gratia Dei Salvatoris nostri omnibus hominibus, erudiens nos, ut, abnegantes impietatem et sæcularia desideria, sobrie et juste et pie vivamus in hoc sæculo: exspectantes beatam spem, et adventum gloriæ magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi: qui dedit semetipsum pro nobis, ut nos redimeret ab omni iniquitate, et mundaret sibi populum acceptabilem, sectatorem bonorum operum. Hæc loquere et exhortare, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
Lesson of the Epistle of St Paul the Apostle to Titus.

Ch. II.

Dearly beloved, the grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us that denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world; looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak and exhort, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 This God our Saviour hath at length appeared! and with such grace and mercy! He alone could deliver us from dead works, and restore us to life. At this very hour, he appeareth to all men, laid in his narrow Crib, and fastly wrapped, as a Babe, in swaddlingclothes. Yes, here have we the Blessed One, whose visit we had so long hoped for! Let us purify our hearts, that he may be pleased with us; for though he is the Infant Jesus, he is also, as the Apostle has just told us, the Great God, and the Son of the Eternal Father, born from all eternity. Let us unite with the Angels and the Church in this hymn to our Great God, Jesus of Bethlehem.

Gradual

Tecum principium in die virtutis tuæ, in splendoribus sanctorum: ex utero ante luciferum genui te.

℣. Dixit Dominus Domino meo: sede a dextris meis, donec ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum.

Alleluia, alleluia.

Dominus dixit ad me: Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te. Alleluia.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints: from the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.

℣. The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies my footstool.

Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.


Cap. II.

In illo tempore: exiit edictum a Cæsare Augusto, ut describeretur universus orbis. Hæc descriptio prima facta est a præside Syriæ Cyrino: et ibant omnes, ut profiterentur singuli in suam civitatem. Ascendit autem et Joseph a Galilæa de civitate Nazareth, in Judæam, in civitatem David, quæ vocatur Bethlehem; eo quod esset de domo et familia David, ut profiteretur cum Maria desponsata sibi uxore prægnante. Factum est autem, cum essent ibi, impleti sunt dies ut pareret. Et peperit filium suum primogenitum, et pannis eum involvit, et reclinavit eum in præsepio; quia non erat eis locus in diversorio. Et pastores erant in regione eadem vigilantes, et custodientes vigilias noctis super gregem suum. Et ecce Angelus Domini stetit juxta illos, et claritas Dei circumfulsit illos, et timuerunt timore magno. Et dixit illis Angelus: Nolite timere: ecce enim evangelizo vobis gaudium magnum, quod erit omni populo: quia natus est vobis hodie Salvator, qui est Christus Dominus, in civitate David. Et hoc vobis signum: Invenietis infantem pannis involutum, et positum in præsepio. Et subito facta est cum Angelo multitudo militiæ cœlestis, laudantium Deum, et dicencentium: Gloria in altissimis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.


Ch. II.

At that time, there went out a decree from Cæsar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus, the governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapt him up in swaddling-clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country Shepherds watching and keeping the night-watches over their flock. And behold an Angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the Angel said to them: Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you: You shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling-clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.


O Divine Infant! we too must needs join our voices with those of the Angels, and sing with them: Glory be to God! and Peace to men I We cannot restrain our tears at hearing this history of thy Birth. We have followed thee in thy journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; we have kept close to Mary and Joseph on the whole journey; we have kept sleepless watch during this holy Night, waiting thy coming. Praise be to thee, sweetest Jesus, for thy mercy! and love from all hearts for thy tender love of us! Our eyes are riveted on that dear Crib, for our Salvation is there; and there we recognize thee as the Messias foretold in those sublime Prophecies which thy Spouse the Church has been repeating to us in her solemn prayers of this night. Thou art the Mighty God—the Prince of Peace—the Spouse of our souls—our Peace—our Saviour—our Bread of Life. And now what shall we offer thee? A good Will? Ah! dear Lord! thou must form it within us; thou must increase it, if thou hast already given it; that thus, we may become thy Brethren by grace, as we already are by the human nature thou hast assumed. But, O Incarnate Word! this Mystery of thy becoming Man works within us a still higher grace: it makes us, as thy Apostle tells us, partakers of that divine nature[11] which is inseparable from thee in the midst of all thy humiliations. Thou hast made us less than the Angels in the scale of creation; but in thy Incarnation thou hast made us Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with thine own divine Self![12] Never permit us, through our own weaknesses and sins, to degenerate from this wonderful gift, whereby thy Incarnation exalted us, and oh! dear Jesus, to what a height!

After the Gospel, the Church triumphantly chants the glorious symbol of our Faith, which tells, one by one, the Mysteries of the Man-God. At the words: Et Incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et Homo factus est, profoundly adore the great God who assumed our human nature, and became like unto us, his poor creatures; let your adoration and love repay him, if it were possible, for this his incomprehensible abasement. In each of to-day's Masses, when the Choir comes to these words in the Credo,the Priest rises from the sedilia, and remains kneeling in humble adoration at the foot of the Altar whilst they are being sung. You must unite your adorations with those of the Church, which is represented by the Celebrant.

During the Offering of the bread and wine, the Church tells us how the Birth of Jesus Christ filled heaven and earth with joy. In a few short moments there will be on our Altar, where we now see mere bread and wine, the Body and Blood of this same Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Offertory

Lætentur cœli et exsultet terra ante faciem Domini, quoniam venit.
Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad in the presence of the Lord, for he is come.

Secret

Accepta tibi sit, Domine, quæsumus, hodiernæ festivitatis oblatio; ut, tua gratia largiente, per hæc sacrosancta commercia in illius inveniamur forma, in quo tecum est nostra substantia. Qui tecum vivit.
Receive, O Lord, the offerings we make to thee on this present solemnity: that by thy grace, through the intercourse of these sacred mys teries, we may be conformable to him in whom our nature is united to thine. Who liveth etc.

The Preface then gives expression to the thanksgiving of the people, and finishes with the triple Sanctus to the God of Sabaoth. At the Elevation, when, in the midst of the mysterious silence, your Saviour, the Incarnate Word, descends upon the Altar, you must see, with the eye of your faith, the Crib, and Jesus stretching out his hands to his Eternal Father, and looking upon you with extreme tenderness, and Mary adoring him with a Mother’s love, and Joseph looking on and weeping with joy, and the holy Angels lost in amazement at the mystery. You must give your heart to the New-Born Babe, that he may fill it with what he wishes to see there; nay, beg of him to fill it with himself, and make himself its Master and its All.

After the Communion, the Church, which has just been united to the Infant God by partaking of the sacred mysteries, once more celebrates the Eternal Generation of that Divine Word, who was born from the Bosom of the Father before any creature existed, and who has appeared to the world this Night before the Day-Star has risen.

Communion

In splendoribus Sanctorum, ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
In the brightness of the Saints, from the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.

The Church terminates this her first Sacrifice, by praying for the grace of indissoluble union with the Saviour who is born to her.

Postcommunion

Da nobis, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut qui Nativitatem Domini nostri Jesu Christi mysteriis nos frequentare gaudemus, dignis conversationibus ad ejus mereamur pervenire consortium. Qui tecum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that we, who celebrate with joy the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, by partaking of these sacred mysteries, may, by a worthy conduct of life, come to be united with him. Who liveth, etc.

The sacred Night is passing quickly on; and will soon bring us to the Second Mass, which is to sanctify the hour of day-break, or the Aurora. Every day in the year, the Church passes the hour before Sunrise in prayer, for the rising of the Sun is a beautiful figure of the mystery of Jesus' coming to this earth to give it light. This portion of the Divine Office is called Lauds, on account of its being wholly made up of praise and joy. On Christmas Day, however, she somewhat anticipates the usual hour, in order that she may begin, at the precise time of the Aurora, a more perfect and more divine Sacrifice of Praise—the Eucharistic Oblation, which satisfies all the obligations we owe to the Divine bounty.

The Office of Lauds is celebrated with the same solemnity as that of Vespers; and altogether, the two Offices are much alike. Both of them tell us of the Divine Sun of Justice; Lauds celebrates his glorious rising, whilst Vespers which are said at sunset, when the shades of evening are beginning to fall upon the earth, remind us how we must long for that eternal Day which shall have no night, and whose Lamp is the Lamb.[13] Lauds are the morning, Vespers the evening incense. The mysteries of the liturgical day begin with the first, and end with the second.

Lauds

. Deus in adjutorium meum intende.

. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto:

Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

 

The first Psalm of Lauds shows us our Lord in his infinite power and majesty. His admirable Birth has renewed our earth. He is born in time; but he was before all time. The voice of the deep sea betokens marvellous power; the power of Emmanuel is far more wonderful. Let us lead lives worthy of the holiness of his House, which he has come to throw open to us.

Ant. Quern vidistis pastores? Dicite: annuntiate nobis, in terris quis apparuit? Natum vidimus, et choros Angelorum collaudantes Dominum, alleluia, alleluia.
Ant. Whom have ye seen, O Shepherds? Say, tell us, who is it has appeared on the earth?—We have seen the Child that is born, and choirs of Angels praising the Lord, alleluia, alleluia.

Psalm 92

Dominus regnavit, decorem indutus est: * indutus est Dominus fortitudinem et præcinxit se.
Etenim firmavit orbem terræ: * qui non commovebitur.
Parata sedes tua ex tunc: * a sæculo tu es.
Elevaverunt fllumina, Domine: * elevaverunt flumina vocem suam.
Elevaverunt ilumina fluctus suos: * a vocibus aquarum multarum.
Mirabiles elationes maris: * mirabilis in altis Dominus.
Testimonia tua credibilia facta sunt nimis: * domum tuam decet sanctitudo, Domine, in longitudinem dierum.

Ant. Quem vidistis pastores? Dicite: annuntiate nobis, in terris quis apparuit? Natum vidimus, et choros Angelorum collaudantes Dominum. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself.
For this day, by his birth, he hath established the world, which shall not be moved.
Thy throne, O Divine Infant! is prepared from of old: thou art from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord! the floods have lifted up their voice.
The floods have lifted up their waves, with the noise of many waters.
Wonderful are the surges of the sea: wonderful is the Lord on high.
Thy testimonies are become exceedingly credible: holiness becometh thy House, which is thy Church, O Lord, unto length of days.

Ant. Whom have ye seen, O Shepherds? Say, tell us, who is it has appeared on the earth?—We have seen the Child that is born, and choirs of Angels praising the Lord, alleluia, alleluia.

The second Psalm is an invitation to all nations to enter into Bethlehem, that House of our Lord which is now filled with his sweet presence. He is the sovereign Pastor, and we are the sheep of his pasture. Though he be the Mighty God, yet is he most sweet and merciful; let us celebrate his coming with joy and gratitude.

Ant. Genuit puerpera regem, cui nomen æternum, et gaudia matris habens cum virginitatis honore, nec primam similem visa est, nec habere sequentem, alleluia.
Ant. The Mother has given birth to the King, whose name is eternal: she has both a Mother's joy and a Virgin’s privilege: not one has ever been, or shall ever be, like her, alleluia.

Psalm 99

Jubilate Deo omnis terra: * servite Domino in lætitia.
Introite in conspectu ejus: * in exsultatione.
Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus: * ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos.
Populus ejus, et oves pascuae ejus, * introite portas ejus in confessione: atria ejus in hymnis, confitemini illi.
Laudate nomen ejus, quoniam suavis est Dominus; in æternum misericordia ejus: * et usque in generationem et generationem veritas ejus.

Ant. Genuit puerpera regem, cui nomen æternum, et gaudia matris habens cum virginitatis honore, nec primam similem visa est, nec habere sequentem, alleluia.
Sing joyfully to God, all the earth! serve ye the Lord with gladness.
Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy.
Know ye that this Infant, the Lord, is God: he made us, and not we ourselves.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture; go ye into his gates with praise: into his courts with hymns, and give glory to him.
Praise ye his name, for the Lord is sweet: his mercy endureth for ever: and his truth to generation and generation.

Ant. The Mother has given birth to the King, whose name is eternal; she has both a Mother's joy and a Virgin’s privilege: not one has ever been, or shall ever be, like her, alleluia.

The following Psalm is the prayer of the faithful soul to her God, at dawn of day. From her first waking, she thirsts after the Great God, her Creator and Redeemer. To-day we have this same God lying before us in his Crib; he comes that he may fill our souls, and nourish us with his own substance—how shall we do otherwise than rejoice in him? The orb of day will soon light up the east; but our Sim of Justice, the Lamb, is already shedding his bright soft rays upon us. May he mercifully pour out his light on all nations! May all the earth bless this divine Fruit, which the Virgin-Mother has yielded!

Ant. Angelus ad pastores ait: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: quia natus est vobis hodie Salvator mundi, alleluia.
Ant. The Angel said unto the Shepherds: I bring you tidings of great joy; for this day is born unto you the Saviour of the world, alleluia.

Psalm 62

Deus, Deus meus: * ad te de luce vigilo.
Sitivit in te anima mea: * quam multipliciter tibi caro mea.
In terra deserta, et invia, et inaquosa: * sic in sancto apparui tibi, ut viderem virtutem tuam, et gloriam tuam.
Quoniam melior est misericordia tua super vitas: * labia mea laudabunt te.
Sic benedicam te in vita mea: * et in nomine tuo levabo manus meas.
Sicut adipe et pinguedine repleatur anima mea: * et labiis exsultationis laudabit os meum.
Si memor fui tui super stratum meum, in matutinis meditabor in te: * quia fuisti adjutor meus.
Et in velamento alarum tuarum exsultabo, adhæsit anima mea post te: * me suscepit dextera tua.
Ipsi vero in vanum quæsierunt animam meam, introibunt in inferiora terræ: * tradentur in manus gladii, partes vulpium erunt.
Rex vero lætabitur in Deo, laudabuntur omnes qui jurant in eo: * quia obstructum est os loquentium iniqua.

Ant. Angelus ad pastores ait: Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum: quia natus est vobis hodie Salvator mundi, alleluia.
O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day.
For thee my soul hath thirsted; for thee my flesh, oh! how many ways.
In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary of Bethlehem have I come before thee, to see thy power and thy glory.
For thy mercy is better than lives: thee my lips shall praise.
Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.
Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness, O Bread of Life! and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.
If I have remembered thee upon my bed, I will meditate on thee in the morning: because thou hast been my helper.
And I will rejoice under the covert of thy wings; my soul hath stuck close to thee: thy right hand hath received me.
But they have sought my soul in vain; they shall go into the lower parts of the earth: they shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes.
But the just man thus delivered shall, as a King, rejoice in God; all they shall be praised that swear by him; because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

Ant. The Angel said unto the Shepherds: I bring you tidings of great joy; for this day is born unto you the Saviour of the world, alleluia.

The Canticle, in which the Three Children, in the fiery Furnace of Babylon, bid all creatures of God bless his name, is sung by the Church in the Lauds of every Feast. It gives a voice to all creatures, and invites the whole universe to bless its divine Author. How just it is that on this day heaven and earth should unite in giving glory to God, who comes down among his own creatures, and repairs the injury done to them all by sin.

Ant. Facta est cum Angelo multitudo cœlestis exercitus laudantium Deum, et dicentium: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis, alleluia.
Ant. With the Angel was a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will, alleluia.

Canticle of the Three Children
(Dan. 3)

Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino: * laudate et superexaltate eum in sæcula.
Benedicite Angeli Domini Domino: * benedicite cœli Domino.
Benedicite aquæ omnes, quæ super cœlos sunt, Domino: * benedicite omnes virtutes Domini Domino.
Benedicite sol et luna Domino: * benedicite stellæ cœli Domino.
Benedicite omnis imber et ros Domino: * benedicite omnes spiritus Dei Domino.
Benedicite ignis et æstus Domino: * benedicite frigus et æstus Domino.
Benedicite rores, et pruina Domino: * benedicite gelu et frigus Domino.
Benedicite glacies et nives Domino: * benedicite noctes et dies Domino.
Benedicite lux et tenebræ Domino: * benedicite fulgura et nubes Domino.
Benedicat terra Dominum: * laudet et superexaltet eum in sæcula.
Benedicite montes et colies Domino: * benedicite universa germinantia in terra Domino.
Benedicite fontes Domino: * benedicite maria et flumina Domino.
Benedicite cete, et omnia quæ moventur in aquis, Domino: * benedicite omnes volucres cœli Domino.
Benedicite omnes bestiæ et pecora Domino: * benedicite filii hominum Domino.
Benedicat Israel Dominum: * laudet et superexaltet eum in sæcula.
Benedicite Sacerdotes Domini Domino: * benedicite servi Domini Domino.
Benedicite spiritus et animæ justorum Domino: * benedicite Sancti et humiles corde Domino.
Benedicite Anania, Azaria, Misael Domino: * laudate et superexaltate eum in sæcula.
Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum sancto Spiritu: * laudemus et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.
Benedictus es Domine in firmamento cœli: * et laudabilis et gloriosus et superexaltatus in sæcula.

Ant. Facta est cum Angelo multitudo cœlestis exercitus laudantium Deum et dicentium: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis, alleluia.
All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above ail for ever.
O ye Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye heavens, bless the Lord.
O all ye waters, that are above the heavens, bless the Lord: O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord.
O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord.
O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord.
O ye dews and hoar frosts, bless the Lord: O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord.
O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: O ye nights and days, bless the Lord.
O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.
Oh! let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye mountains and hills, bless the Lord: O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord.
O ye fountains, bless the Lord: O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord.
O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord.
O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: O ye sons of men, bless the Lord.
Oh! let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all for ever.
O ye Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.
O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord.
O Ananias, Azarias, Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Let us bless the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Ghost; let us praise and exalt him above all for ever.
Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious, and exalted above all for ever.

Ant. With the Angel was a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will, alleluia.

The last Psalm of Lauds sings the praise of the Lord, and urges all creatures to bless his holy name. It has a great resemblance with the Canticle of the Three Children.

Ant. Parvulus filius hodie natus est nobis, et vocabitur Deus, Fortis, alleluia, alleluia.
Ant. A Little Child is this day born unto us, and he shall be called God, the Mighty One, alleluia, alleluia.

Psalm 148

Laudate Dominum de cœlis: * laudate eum in excelsis.
Laudate eum omnes Angeli ejus: * laudate eum omnes virtutes ejus.
Laudate eum sol et luna: * laudate eum omnes stellæ et lumen.
Laudate eum cœli cœlorum: * et aquæ omnes quæ super cœlos sunt, laudent nomen Domini.
Quia ipse dixit et facta sunt: * ipse mandavit, et creata sunt.
Statuit ea in æternum, et in sæculum sæculi: * præceptum posuit, et non præteribit.
Laudate Dominum de terra: * dracones et omnes abyssi.
Ignis, grando, nix, glacies, spiritus procellarum: * quæ faciunt verbum ejus.
Montes et omnes colles: * ligna fructifera, et omnes cedri.
Bestiæ et universa pecora: * serpentes et volucres pennatæ.
Reges terræ et omnes populi: * principes et omnes judices terræ.
Juvenes et virgines, senes cum junioribus, laudent nomen Domini: * quia exaltatum est nomen ejus solius.
Confessio ejus super cœlum et terram: * et exaltavit cornu populi sui.
Hymnus omnibus Sanctis ejus: * filiis Israel, populo appropinquanti sibi.

Ant. Parvulus filius hodie natus est nobis, et vocabitur Deus, Fortis, alleluia, alleluia.

Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places.
Praise ye him, all his Angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.
Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise ye him, all ye stars and light.
Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord.
For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created.
He hath established them for ever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away.
Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons and all ye deeps.
Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds, which fulfil his word.
Mountains and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars.
Beasts and all cattle; serpents and feathered fowls.
Kings of the earth, and all people; princes and all judges of the earth.
Young men and maidens; let the old with the younger praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is exalted.
His praise is above heaven and earth: and he hath this Day exalted the horn of his people.
A hymn to all his Saints: to the children of Israel, a people approaching to him.

Ant. A Little Child is this day born unto us, and he shall be called God, the Mighty One, alleluia, alleluia.

The Capitulum is taken from the Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews; we shall have it repeated, with several additional verses, in the Epistle of the Third Mass.

Capitulum
(Heb. I) 

Multifariam, multisque modis olim Deus loquens patribus in Prophetis: novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio, quem constituit hæredem universorum, per quem fecit et sæcula.

℟. Deo gratias.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the fathers by the Prophets; last of all in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed Heir of aU things, by whom also he made the world.

℟. Thanks be to God.

Sedulius, a Christian Poet of the fourth century, is the author of the beautiful Hymn which now follows:

Hymn[14]

A solis ortus cardine
Ad usque terræ limitem,
Christum canamus Principem,
Natum Maria Virgine.

Beatus auctor sæculi
Servile corpus induit:
Ut carne carnem liberans,
Ne perderet quos condidit.

Castæ Parentis viscera
Cœlestis intrat gratia:
Venter puellæ bajulat
Secreta, quæ non noverat.

Domus pudici pectoris
Templum repente fit Dei;
Intacta nesciens virum,
Concepit alvo Filium.

Enititur puerpera
Quem Gabriel prædixerat,
Quem ventre matris gestiens,
Baptista clausum senserat.

Foeno jacere pertulit;
Præsepe non abhorruit:
Et lacte modico pastus est,
Per quem nec ales esurit.

Gaudet chorus cœlestium,
Et Angeli canunt Deo;
Palamque fit pastoribus
Pastor, creator omnium.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna sæcula.

Amen.

℣. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia.
℟. Salutare suum, alleluia.
From where the sun
rises to the furthest west,
let us all sing to Jesus our King,
the Son of the Virgin Mary.

The blessed Creator of the universe
assumed the Body of a servant:
that he might thus by Flesh deliver flesh,
and save from perdition the creatures of his hands.

The heavenly grace enters
into the womb of the VirginMother:
the young Maiden carries within her
a Secret which she knows not.

This chastest living Dwelling becomes,
in that instant God’s own Temple:
the purest of Virgins
conceives the Son of God.

She gives him birth:
him whom Gabriel had foretold,
and whom the Baptist, exulting in his mother’s womb,
perceived when yet unborn.

He suffered himself to be laid on the straw:
he disdains not the Crib:
and he who feeds the hungry birds,
is fed himself on a few drops of milk!

The heavenly citizens keep glad choir,
singing their angelhymns to God:
and the Shepherd, the Creator of the world,
is looked at by shepherds.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus,
that wast born of the Virgin!
and to the Father, and to the Spirit of Love,
for everlasting ages.

Amen.

℣. The Lord hath made known, alleluia.
℟. His salvation, alleluia.

The Canticle of Zachary is now sung: it is the Church’s daily welcome of the rising Sun. It celebrates the coming of Jesus to his creatures, the fulfilment of the promises made by God, and the apparition of the divine Orient in the midst of our darkness.

Ant. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis, alleluia, alleluia.
Ant. Glory be to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will, alleluia, alleluia.

Canticle of Zachary
(St Luke I)

Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel: * quia visitavit, et fecit redemptionem plebis suae.
Et erexit cornu salutis nobis: * in domo David pueri sui.
Sicut locutus est per os Sanctorum: * qui a sæculo sunt Prophetarum ejus.
Salutem ex inimicis nostris: * et de manu omnium qui oderunt nos.
Ad faciendam misericordiam cum Patribus nostris: * et memoran testamenti sui sancti.
Jusjurandum quod juravit ad Abraham patrem nostrum: * daturam se nobis.
Ut sine timore de manu inimicorum nostrorum liberati: * serviamus illi.
In sanctitate et justitia coram ipso; * omnibus diebus nostris.
Et tu puer, Propheta Altissimi vocaberis: * præibis enim ante faciem Domini parare vias ejus.
Ad dandam scientiam salutis plebi ejus: * in remissionem peccatorum eorum.
Per viscera misericordiæ Dei nostri: * in quibus visitavit nos Oriens ex alto.
Illuminare his qui in tenebris et in umbra mortis sedent: * ad dirigendos pedes nostros in viam pacis.

Ant. Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis, alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath this day visited and wrought the redemption of his people.
And hath raised up an horn of salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets, who are from the beginning.
Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform mercy to our Fathers, and to remember his holy testament.
The oath which he swore to Abraham our Father; that he would grant to us.
That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear.
In holiness and justice before him, all our days.
And thou, child, the Precursor of our Emmanuel, shalt be called the Prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways.
To give to his people the knowledge of the Salvation brought them by the Messias, unto the remission of their sins.
Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us.
To enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; to direct our feet into the way of peace.

Ant. Glory be to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will, alleluia, alleluia.

Collect

Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem Nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Per eumdem.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new birth of thine Only-Begotten Son. Through the same, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Heb. x 5, 6, 7.
[2] Isa. ix 6.
[3] St Luke i 32.
[4] Rom. xiii 3, 4.
[5] Isa. xlv 1, 5.
[6] Ps. xliv 4.
[7] Eph. iv 13.
[8] Apoc. xxii 20.
[9] Isa. ix 2.
[10] Ps. xcvi 7; Heb. i 6.
[11] 2 St Pet 14.
[12] Rom.viii 17
[13] Apoc. xxi 23.
[14] In the Monastic Breviary, it is as follows: ℟. breve. Verbum caro factum est, * Alleluia, Alleluia. Verbum, ℣. Et habitavit in nobis. * Alleluia, alleluia. Gloria Patri. Verbum. A solis ortus cardine Ad usque terræ limitem, Christum canamus Principem, Natum Maria Virgine. Beatus Auctor sæculi Servile corpus induit; Ut Carne carnem liberans, Ne perderet quos condidit. Castæ Parentis viscera Cœlestis intrat gratia: Venter Puellæ bajulat Secreta, quæ non noverat. Domus pudici pectoris Templum repente fit Dei: Intacta nesciens virum, Verbo concepit Filium. Enixa est Puerpera Quem Gabriel prædixerat, Quem matris alvo gestiens, Clausus Joannes senserat. Fœno jacere pertulit. Præsepe non abhorruit: Parvoque lacte pastus est, Per quem nec ales esurit. Gaudet chorus cœlestium, Et Angeli canunt Deo: Palamque fit pastoribus Pastor, Creator omnium. Gloria tibi Domine, Qui natus es de Virgine, Cum Patre et Sancto Spiritu, In sempiterna sæcula. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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