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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; 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 the 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 the 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.

nostro j praeoccupemus 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 terrae, 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 pascuae ejus.

Christus natus est nobis,

* venite, adoremus. Hodie sivocem ejus audie

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

Venite, adoremus.

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

Christus natus est nobis,

* venite, adoremus.

Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Glory be to the Father, and

Spiritui Sancto. to the Son, and to the Holy


Sicut erat in principio et As it was in the beginning,

nunc et semper, et in saecula is now, and ever shall be, world

saeculorum. Amen. without end. Amen.

Venite, adoremus. Come, let us adore.

Christus natus est nobis, Christ is born unto us, *

* venite, adoremus. come, let us adore.

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


Jesu, Redemptor om- O Jesus! Redeemer of mannium. kind, &c.

See above, page 130.

Thus far, are the preludes to our solemn Night Office, which now commences. It is divided into three vigils, or Noctums, 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 Beum, which takes the place of a Responsory. The Interpreters of the Liturgy thus explain the Three Nocturns of to-night'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 symbolise the love of God for his Spouse the Church, whereby the Son of God and our souls are mystically united.


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

Psalm 2.

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.

Quare f remuerunt gentes: * et populi meditati sunt inania 1

Adstiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum: * adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum ejus.

Dirumpamus vincula eorum : * et projiciamus a nobis jugum ipsorum.

Qui habitat in ccelis, irridebit eos : * et Dominus subsannabit eos.

Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua: * et in furore suo conturbabit eos.

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.

Ego autem constitutus sum Rex ab eo super Sion montem sanctum ejus: * praedicans praeceptum ejus.

Dominus dixit ad me: * Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te.

Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes haereditatem tuam:

* et possessionem tuam terminos terrae.

Reges eos in virga ferrea:

* 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.

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 Bridegroom coming 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 Re- deemer: let us love and obey him.

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

Psalm 18.

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

Cash enarrant gloriam Dei: * et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum,

Dies diei eructat verbum: * et nox nocti indicat scientiam.

Non sunt loquelae, neque sermones: * quorum non audiantur voces eorum.

In omnem terram exivit sonus eorum: * et in fines orbis terrae verba eorum.

In sole posuit tabernaculum suum: * et ipse tamquam sponsus procedens de thalamo suo.

Exsultavit ut gigas ad currendam viam: * a summo coelo 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 praastans parvulis.

Justitiffi Domini rectae, laetificantes corda: * prae

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