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Deus tuorum militum, page 261.
After the Hymn, the following Versicles and Antiphons are sung:
Commemoration of Holy Innocents.
Ant. Innocentes pro Ant. Innocent Infants were Christo infantes occisi sunt, slain for Christ; children at
the breast were murdered by a wicked king: they follow the spotless Lamb himself, and say ever: Glory be to thee, O Lord.
ft. Beneath the throne of God, all the Saints cry out:
B. O God, avenge thou our blood.
ab iniquo rege lactentes interfecti sunt: ipsum sequuntur Agnum sine macula, et dicunt semper : Gloria tibi, Domine.
ft. Sub throno Dei omnes Sancti clamant:
Bj. Vindica sanguinem nostrum, Deus noster.
LET US PRAY.
O God, whose praise the Holy Martyrs, the Innocents, published this day, not by speaking, but by dying; mortify in us all our vicious inclinations : that we may show forth, in our actions, thy faith which we profess with our lips.
Ant. This day, Christ is born; this day, the Saviour hath appeared; this day, Angels sing on earth ; the Archangels rejoice ; this day, the just ex, ult, saying: Glory be to God in the highest, alleluia.
ft. The Lord hath made known, alleluia.
Bj. His salvation, alleluia.
DeuS; cujus hodierna die praeconium Innocentes Martyres non loquendo, sed moriendo confessi sunt, omnia in nobis vitiorum mala mortifica: ut fidem tuam, quam lingua nostra loquitur, etiam moribus vita fateatur.
LET US PRAY.
Grant, we beseech thee, 0 Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new Birth of thine Only Begotten Son. Through the same, &c.
Ant. Hodie Christus natus est, hodie Salvator apparuit, hodie in terra canunt Angeli,laetantur Archangeli: hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluia.
ft. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia.
Bj. Salutare suum, alleluia.
Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus : ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem Nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Per eumdem.
And now, let us listen to the several Churches celebrating the triumph of the Holy Innocents. Their chants for this Feast are very beautiful. We will begin with the following fine Preface, which is in both the Ambrosian Missal, and in the Leonian Sacramentary.
Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare : nos in pretiosa morte parvulorum te, sancte Pater omnipotens, gloriosius collaudare : quos propter Filii tui Domini nostri Salvatoris inf antiam immani saevitia Herodes funestus occidit: immensa clementiae tuae dona cognoscimus. Fulget namque sola magis gratia, quam voluntas: et clara est prius confessio, quam loquela. Ante passio, quam membra passionis existerent: testes Christi, qui ejus nondum fuerant agnitores, O infinita benignitas Omnipotentis: cum pro suo nomine trucidatis, etiam nescientibus, aeternae meritum gloriae perire non patitur; sed proprio cruore perfusis et salus regenerationis expletur et imputatur corona martyrii!
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should exceedingly praise thee, O Holy Almighty Father, in the precious death of the Infants, whom the unhappy Herod, with savage cruelty, slew because of the Infant Jesus, thy Son, our Lord. Herein do we recognise how immeasurable are the gifts of thy mercy, for the splendour of thy free grace outshines the martyrs' will; and they nobly confess thy name, who are not yet able to speak. They suffer martyrdom before their bodies are ripe for martyrdom : they bear testimony to Christ, before they have even known him. O the infinite goodness of the Omnipotent God! He suffers not the merit of everlasting glory to be lost by them that are slain for his sake, though they know not what they do: and being bathed in their own blood, he effects in them the salvation of regeneration, and gives them the crown of martyrdom.
The following is from the Mozarabic Missal, and is full of unction and eloquence.
Dignum et justum est: It is meet and just, yea vere dignum et justum est, truly right and just, that we nos tibi semper et ubique should always and in all places,
E".ve thanks to thee, O Holy ord, Almighty Father, Eternal God, and now especially for these whose yearly feast we this day keep, celebrating the memory of their passion. These are they, whom Herod's satellites snatched from their mothers' breasts. Rightly are they called The Flowers of the Martyrs, for they grew in the mid-winter of infidelity, as the first buds of the Church, and, being nipped by the frost of persecution, filled the city of Bethlehem with a ruddy stream. They were Babes, and could not speak ; yet did they joyfully proclaim the praise of the Lord. Their deaths profess, what their lives could not. They say by their blood, what they could not with their tongue. Martyrdom gave them power to praise, though their tongue denied them that of speech. The Infant Jesus sends these Infants, before himself, to heaven : he presents these new gifts to his Father, and offers to him, as the first fruits of martyrdom, this of the Innocents, who were slain by the wicked Herod. This enemy confers on them what their body could not; while he injures their body, he benefits it; whilst their body falls, it lives by its death, it rises by its fall, it conquers by its defeat.
gratias agere, Domine, sancte, Pater omnipotens, ieterne Deus, pro his praecipue, quorum hodierno die annua f estivitate recolentes memoriam passionis celebramus: quos Herodianus satelles lactantum matrum uberibus abstraxit. Qui jure dicuntur Martyrum flores; qui in medio f rigore infidelitatis exorti, velut primas erumpentes Ecclesiae gemmas quaedam persecutionis pruina discussit, rutilante fonte in Bethlehem civitate. Infantes enim quia aetate loqui non poterant, laudem Domini cum gaudio resonabant. Occisi predicant: quod vivi non poterant. Loquuntur sanguine, quod lingua nequiverunt. Contulit his Martyrium laudem ; quibua abnegaverat lingua sermonem. Praemittit infantes Infans Christus ad ccelos; transmittit novaxenia Patri; primitias exhibet Genitori parvulorum prima martyria, Herodis scelere perpetrata. Praestat hostis corpora ; dum nocet, beneficium tribuit; dum occidit, moriendo vivitur: cadendo resurgitur: victoria per interitum comprobatur.
Our own Venerable Bede offers us the following Hymn, which is full of melody and pathos.
Hymnum canentes Martyrum Dicamus Innocentium,
uos terra flendo perdidit,
audens sed aethra suscipit.
Vultum Patris per saecula, Quorum tuentur Angeli, Ejusque laudant gratiam, Hymnum canentea Martyrum.
Quos rex peremit impius, Pius sed Auctor colligit, Secum beatos collocans, In pace regni perpetis.
Qui mansiones singulis Largitus in domo Patris; Donat supernis sedibus, Quos rex peremit impius.
Bimos et infra parvulos, Herodis ira perculit; Finesque Bethlemiticos, Sancto respersit sanguine.
Praeclara Christo splen-
Mors innocens fidelium:
Vox in Rama percrebuit, Lamenta luctus maximi, Rachel suos, cum lacrymis Perfusa, flevit filios.
Gaudent triumpho perpeti,
Tormenta quique vicerant, uorum gemens ob verbera, ox in Rama percrebuit. Ne, grex pusille, formides Dentes leonis perndos!
Let us chant the hymn of the Martyred Innocents, whom earth lost, and wept, but heaven gained and was glad.
Their Angels see the Face of the Eternal Father, and sing the Hymn of their Martyrs, lauding the grace of God.
A cruel king destroyed them, the merciful Creator received them, making them happy with Himself in the brightness of the never-ending kingdom.
He that gives to each elect a mansion in his Father's house, places the Innocents, massacred by the impious king, on thrones in heaven above.
Herod was angry, and slew every child below the age of two, staining with their sacred blood the borders of Bethlehem.
Precious in the sight of Jesus shone the innocent death of these his faithful ones; and Angels came down to carry them to the land of heaven.
A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation of poignant grief, and Rachel shed a flood of tears over her infant sons,
Who now rejoice in endless triumph, for they overcame their torments, whose cruel blows filled Rama with the voice of wailing.
Fear not, Little Flock, the prowling lion's tooth ! for the