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The Angelic Hymn is preceded by the Kyrie eleison; but these nine supplications for mercy over, it bursts forth with those sublime words: Gloria In
EXCELSIS DEO; ET IN TERRA PAX HOMINIBUS Bonje
Voluntatis! Let us unite, 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 to one day 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:
LET US PKAY. OREMUS.
O God, who hast enlightened Deus, qui hanc sacratissi
this most sacred Night by the mam noctem veri luminis
brightness of Him, who is the fecisti illustratione clares
true Light: grant, we beseech cere: da, quaesumus, ut
cujus lucis mysteriain terra
Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli
Charissime, apparuit gratia Dei Salvatons nostri omnibus hominibus, erudiens nos, ut, abnegantes impietatem et saecularia desideria, sobrie, et juste, et pie vivamus in hoc saeculo : exspectantes beatam spem, et adventum gloriae magni Dei et Salvatoris nostri Jesu Christi: qui dedit semetipsum pro nobis, ut nos redimeret ab omni iniquitate, et mundaret sibi populum acceptabilem, sectatorembonorum opgrum. Haec loquere et exhortare, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro.
thee, that we who have known
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint
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 Christ Jesus 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 swaddling-clothes. Yea, 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.
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.
ft. The Lord said to my Lord: Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies my footstool.
ft. The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Alleluia.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus sanctorum: ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
ft. Dixit Dominus Domino meo : sede a dextris meis, donee ponam inimicos tuos scabellum pedum tuorum.
Dominus dixit ad me: Fib-us meus es tu, ego hodie genui te. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.
At that time, there went out a decree from Caesar 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
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.
In illo tempore: exiit edictum a Caesare Augusto, ut describeretur universus orbis. Hajc descriptio prima facta est a proeside Syriae Cyrino: et ibant omnes, ut profiterentur singuli in suam civitatem. Ascendit autem et Joseph a Galilaea de civitate Nazareth, in Judamn, in civitatem David, quae vocatur Bethlehem ; eo quod esset de domo et familia David, ut profiteretur cum Maria desponsata sibi uxore praegnante. Factum est autem, cum essent ibi, impleti sunt dies ut pareret. Et peperit filiuin suum primogenitum, et pannis eum involvit, et reclinavit eum in praesepio ; quia non erat eis locus in diversorio. Et pastores erant in regione eadem vigilantes, et custo
dientes vigilias noctis super in the inn. And there were
gregem suum. EtecceAn- in the same country Shepherds
gelus Domini stetit juxta watching and keeping the
illos, et claritas Dei circum- night-watches over their flock.
fulsit illos, et timuerunt ti- And behold an Angel of the
more magno. Et dixit illis Lord stood by them, and
Angelus: Nolite timere: the brightness of God shone
ecce enim evangelizo vobis round about them, and they
gaudium magnum, quod erit feared with a great fear.
omni populo: quia natus And the Angel said to them:
est vobis hodie Salvator, qui Fear not: for behold I bring
est Christus Dominus, in you good tidings of great joy,
civitate David. Et hoc vobis that shall be to all the people:
signum: Invenietis infan- for, this day, is born to you a
tem pannis involutum, et Saviour, who is Christ the
positum in praesepio. Et Lord, in the city of David.
subito facta est cum Angelo And this shall be a sign unto
multitudo militiae coelestis, you : You shall find the Infant
laudantium Deum, et dicen- wrapped in swaddling-clothes,
centium: Gloria in altissi- and laid in a manger. And
mis Deo, et in terra pax suddenly there was with the
hominibus bonae voluntatis. Angel a multitude of the
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! 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 recognise 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, 0 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,1 which is inseparable with 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!2 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 Virgme, Et Homo Pactus 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 these 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,
1II. St. Pet. i. 4.
Rom. viii. 17.