Saturday, December 24, 2016

Gaudeámus omnes in Dómino . . . .

24 December

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino,
quia Salvator noster natus est in mundo.
Hodie nobis de cælo pax vera descéndit

Let us all rejoice in the Lord,
for our Savior has been born in the world.
Today peace has come down to us from heaven. 

                                                                        Entrance antiphon for Midnight Mass

Photo: The "Salve" window at St. Joseph Abbey (Trappist) in Spencer, MA.  Every night at the end of compline the monks turn toward this backlit window in a darkened church.  They chant the Salve Regina, the final prayer of the Church's day. 

Meditation:  Dag Hammarskjöld described this night in a haiku. Using only seventeen syllables Hammarskjöld summarized the complete arc of our salvation.

On Christmas Eve, Good Friday
Was foretold them
In a trumpet fanfare.

Without Good Friday we would not celebrate on this night. Sometimes the gooey sentimentality attached to Christmas buries its meaning under waves of treacle.  What began in the wood of the manger in Bethlehem ended on the wood of the Cross on Calvary.  It could not have been otherwise.  Christmas cannot be understood in any other way.


O God, who have made this most sacred night
radiant with the splendor of the true light,
grant, we pray, that we, who have known the mysteries
of his light on earth,
may also delight in his gladness in heaven,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 
                                                                        Collect for Midnight Mass

O Holy Night sung by Leontyne Price.  This is the definitive version in English.  It will never be equaled.

The Polish equivalent, Wśród Nocnej Ciszy by Mazowsze.  I think this was the last kolęda sung before Mass, possibly in the dark though at this point memory is a little shaky.

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