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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year .

THE Feast of Christmas is over; the four Octaves are closed; and we are on the Eve of the Solemnity of our Lord's Epiphany. We must spend this January 5 in preparing ourselves for the Manifestation which Jesus, the Angel of Great Counsel, is about to make to us of his glory. A few more hours, and the Star will stand still in the heavens, and the Magi will be seeking for admission into the stable of Bethlehem.

This Vigil is not like that of Christmas, a day of penance. The Child whose coming we were then awaiting, in the fervour of our humble desires, is now among us, preparing to bestow fresh favours upon us. This eve of to-morrow’s Solemnity is a day of joy, like those that have preceded it; and therefore we do not fast, nor does the Church put on the vestments of mourning. If the Office of the Vigil be the one of to-day, the colour used is White. This is the Twelfth day since the Birth of our Emmanuel.

If the Vigil of the Epiphany fall on a Sunday, it shares with Christmas Eve the privilege of not being anticipated, as all other Vigils are, on the Saturday: it is kept on the Sunday, has all the privileges of a Sunday, and the Mass is that of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas Day. Let us, therefore, celebrate this Vigil in great joy of heart, and prepare our souls for to-morrow’s graces.

The Greek Church keeps this a fasting-day, in memory of the preparation for Baptism, which used formerly to be administered, especially in the East, on the night preceding the feast of the Epiphany. She still solemnly blesses the Water on this Feast. We will in our next volume speak of this ceremony, of which some vestiges still remain in the Western Church.

The Church of Rome commemorates to-day the holy Pope and Martyr, St Telesphorus. This Pontiff began his reign in the year 127; and among his decrees, we find that he prescribed the holy sacrifice of the Mass to be offered up on Christmas Night, in order to honour the hour when our Saviour was born he also ordered that the Angelic Hymn Gloria in excelsis should be said on most days at the beginning of Mass. This devotion of the holy Pope towards the great Mystery which we are now celebrating renders his commemoration at this season of the year doubly dear to us. Telesphorus suffered a glorious martyrdom, as St Irenæus expresses it, and was crowned with eternal glory in the year 138.

MASS

The Mass of the Vigil of the Epiphany is that of the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, except the Commemoration of St Telesphorus and the Gospel.

Introit

Dum medium silentium, p. 341.


Collect

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, p. 342.


Commemoration of St Telesphorus

Oremus

Deus qui nos beati Telesphori, Martyris tui atque Pontificis, annua solemnitate lætificas: concede propitius; ut cujus natalitia colimus, de ejusdem etiam protectione gaudeamus.
Let us Pray

O God, who by the yearly solemnity of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop, rejoicest the hearts of the faithful; mercifully grant that we who celebrate his martyrdom may enjoy his protection.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin

Deus, qui salutis œternœ, p. 415.


Epistle

Fratres, quanto tempore, p. 342.


Gradual

Speciosus forma, p. 343.


Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum.

Cap. II.

In illo tempore: defuncto Herode, ecce Angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph in Ægypto, dicens: Surge, et accipe Puerum et Matrem ejus, et vade in terram Israel; defuncti sunt enim qui quærebant animam Pueri. Qui consurgens accepit Puerum et Matrem ejus, et venit in terram Israel. Audiens autem quod Archelaus regnaret in Judæa pro Herode patre suo, timuit illo ire: et admonitus in somnis, secessit in partes Galilææ. Et veniens habitavit in civitate quæ vocatur Nazareth: ut adimpleretur quod dictum est per Prophetas: quoniam Nazaræus vocabitur.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.

Ch. II.

When Herod was dead, behold an Angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, saying: Arise and take the Child and his Mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the life of the Child. Who arose, and took the Child and his Mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by the prophets: That he shall be called a Nazarene.

Offertory

Deus firmavit, p. 345.


Secret

Concede, quœsumus, p. 345.


Commemoration of St Telesphorus

Munera tibi Domine, dicata sanctifica: et, intercedente beato Telesphoro, Martyre tuo atque Pontifice, per eadem nos placatus intende.
Sanctify, O Lord, the offerings consecrated to thee: and being appeased thereby, mercifully look upon us, by the intercession of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin

Tua, Domine, propitiatione, p. 416.


Communion

Tolle puerum, p. 346.


Postcommunion

Commemoration of St Telesphorus

Oremus

Refecti participatione muneris sacri, quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut cujus exsequimur cultum, intercedente beato Telesphoro, Martyre tuo atque Pontifice, sentiamus effectum.
Let us Pray

May this communion, O Lord, cleanse us from sin, and by the intercession of blessed Telesphorus, thy Martyr and Bishop, make us effectually partakers of this heavenly remedy.

Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin

Hæc nos communio, p. 417.


The last words of Advent were those of the Spouse, recorded in the prophecy of the Beloved Disciple: Come, Lord Jesus, come![1] We will close this first part of our Christmas with those words of the Prophet Isaias, which the Church has so often spoken to us: unto us a Child is born![2] The heavens have dropped down their Dew, the clouds have rained down the Just One, the earth has yielded its Saviour, the Word is made Flesh, the Virgin has brought forth her sweet Fruit, our Emmanuel, that is, God with us. The Sun of Justice now shines upon us; darkness has fled; in heaven there is Glory to God; on earth there is Peace to men. All these blessings have been brought to us by the humble yet glorious Birth of this Child. Let us adore him in his Crib; let us love him for all his love of us; and let us prepare the gifts we intended to present to him, with the Magi, on to-morrow's Feast. The joy of the Church is as great as ever; the Angels are adoring in their wondering admiration; all nature thrills with delight: Unto us is born a little Child!

APPENDIX

Hymn

The stanzas usually sung are marked thus *

* Adeste fideles, læti, triumphantes.
Venite, venite in Bethlehem!
Natum videte Regem Angelorum!
Venite adoremus! Venite adoremus!
Venite adoremus Dominum!

* Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine,
Gestant Puellæ viscera,
Deum verum, genitum non factum.
Venite adoremus! etc.
En grege relicto, humiles ad cunas
Vocati Pastores adproperant:

Et nos ovanti gradu festinemus.
Venite adoremus! etc.
Æterni Parentis splendorem æternum
Velatum sub carne videbimus,
Deum Infantem pannis involutum.
Venite adoremus! etc.

Pro nobis egenum et fœno cubantem
Piis foveamus amplexibus. Sic nos amantem quis non redamaret?
Venite adoremus! etc.

* Cantet nunc Io chorus angelorum,
Cantet nunc aula cœlestium:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Venite adoremus! etc.

* Ergo qui natus die ho dierna,
Jesu, tibi sit gloria!
Patris æterni Verbum caro factum!
Venite adoremus! etc.

* Come, ye Faithful,
in joy and triumph,
to Bethlehem,
and gaze on the new-born King of Angels!
Come, let us adore the Lord!

* The Virgin's womb carries the God of God, the Light of Light,
the true God that was born, not made.
Come, let us adore the Lord!
Lo! the Shepherds are called, and leaving their flocks,
hasten to the humble Crib. Let us also go thither with joy.
Come, let us adore the Lord!

We shall see
the eternal brightness
of the Eternal Father
hid under the veil of Flesh:
the Infant-God wrapped in swaddling-clothes.
Come, let us adore the Lord!

Let us devoutly embrace him who, for our sakes, is become poor and lies on straw.
Oh! who will refuse to love him who so loves us?
Come, let us adore the Lord!

* Let the Angel choir now sing its hymns.
Let the court of the Blessed give forth
its Glory be to God in the highest!
Come, let us adore the Lord!

* To thee, O Jesus!
who art this day born, be glory. Glory be to thee,
O Word of the Eternal Father, that art now made Flesh!
Come, let us adore!


[1] Apoc. xxii 20.
[2] Isa. ix 6.