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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 BONÆ 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 thať 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, 0 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 PRAY.
OGod, who hast enlightened Deus, qui hanc sacratissithis most sacred Night by the mam noctem veri luminis brightness of Him, who is the fecisti illustratione clarestrue Light: grant, we beseech cere : da, quæsumus, ut
cujus lucis mysteria in terra thee, that we who have known cognovimus, ejus quoque the mysteries of this Light on gaudiis in coelo perfruamur. earth, may likewise come to Qui tecum.
the enjoyment of it in heaven.
Who liveth, doc. Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Apostoli ad Titum.
Paul the Apostle to Titus. Cap. II.
Charissime, apparuit gra- Dearly beloved, the grace of tia Dei Salvatoris nostri om- God, our Saviour, hath apnibus hominibus, erudiens peared to all men, instructing nos, ut, abnegantes impie- us, that denying ungodliness tatem et sæcularia deside- and worldly desires, we should ria, sobrie, et juste, et pie live soberly, and justly, and vivamus in hoc sæculo : ex- godly, in this world ; looking spectantes beatam spem, et for the blessed hope, and comadventum gloriæ magni Dei ing of the glory of the great et Salvatoris nostri Jesu God and our Saviour Jesus Christi: qui dedit semetip- Christ : who gave himself for sum pro nobis, ut nos redi- us, that he might redeem us meret ab omni iniquitate, from all iniquity, and might et mundaret sibi populum cleanse to himself a people acceptabilem, sectatorem bo- acceptable, a pursuer of good norum operum.
Hæc lo- works. These things speak, quere et exhortare, in Chris- and exhort, in Christ Jesus to Jesu Domino nostro.
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 Tecum principium in die in the day of thy strength; in virtutis tuæ, in splendorithe brightness of the Saints : bus sanctorum : ex utero from the womb, before the ante luciferum genui te. Day-star, I begot thee.
. The Lord said to my Ñ. Dixit Dominus DomiLord : Sit thou at my right no meo : sede a dextris meis, hand, until I make thine ene- donec ponam inimicos tuos mies my footstool.
scabellum pedum tuorum. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia. W. The 'Lord hath said to Dominus dixit ad me : me : Thou art my Son, this Filius meus es tu, ego hodie day have I begotten thee. genui te. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Sequel of the holy Gospel ac- Sequentia sancti Evangelii cording to Luke.
secundum Lucam. Ch. II.
Cap. II. At that time, there went out In illo tempore : exiit a decree from Cæsar Au- edictum a Cæsare Augusto, gustus, that the whole world ut describeretur universus should be enrolled. This en- orbis. Hæc descriptio prima rolling was first made by Cy- facta est a præside Syriæ rinus, the governor of Syria. Cyrino : et ibant omnes, ut And 'all went to be enrolled, profiterentur singuli in 'suevery one into his own city. am civitatem. Ascendit auAnd Joseph, also, went up tem et Joseph a Galilæa de from Galilee, out of the city civitate. Nazareth, in Juof Nazareth, into Judea, to the dæam, in civitatem David, city of David, which is called quæ vocatur Bethlehem ; eo Bethlehem ; because he was of quod esset de domo et fa
l the house and family of David, milia David, ut profiteretur to be enrolled with Mary, his cum Maria desponsata sibi espoused wife, who was with uxore prægnante. Factum child. And it came to pass, est autem, cum essent ibi, that when they were there, her impleti sunt dies ut pareret. days were accomplished that Et peperit filium suum prishe should be delivered. And mogenitum, et pannis eum she brought forth her first- involvit, et reclinavit eum born Son, and wrapt him up in præsepio ; quia non erat in swaddling-clothes, and laid eis locus in diversorio. Et him in a manger; because pastores erant in regione there was no room for them eadem vigilantes, et custo
dientes vigilias noctis super in the inn. And there were gregem suum.
Et ecce An- 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 præsepio. Et Lord, in the city of David. subito facta est cum Angelo And this shall be a sign unto multitudo militiæ 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 bonæ voluntatis. Angel à 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! 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, 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, 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!? 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,
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,
1 II. St. Pet. i. 4.
2 Rom. viii. 17.