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Christmas Eve/Vigil of Christmas

by pastorjuhl ~ December 21st, 2009

Dom Prosper Gueranger writes about The Vigil of Christmas in “The Liturgical Year”. He says when December 24 falls on Sunday (as it did in 2006 and not again until 2017) the Fourth Sunday in Advent makes way for The Vigil of Christmas. Lutheran Service Book makes no provision for this vigil, but does provide for Christmas Eve. It would be best to use LSB’s Christmas Eve service for evening, though there is overlap in the Gospels (Matthew 1:18-21 for the Vigil, Matthew 1:18-25 for the LSB Christmas Eve propers).

We can have that discussion when 2017 comes. For now, here’s a hymn for The Vigil of Christmas taken from the Anthology of the Greeks, courtesy of Gueranger’s “The Liturgical Year”.

On a certain day, there was enrolled at Bethlehem, together with the old man Joseph, as being of the family of David, Mary, who bore in her virginal womb the divine fruit. The time of her delivery was come, and there was no place in the inn; and instead of a splendid palace for the Queen there was but a cave.

The moment has come for the accomplishment of the mystic prophecy: “And thou Bethlehem, land of Juda, art not the least among the princes, for thou art the first to adorn the cave. For there shall come to me from thee the leader of the nations, born of a Virgin-Maid according to the flesh; it is Christ, who is God, and  he shall rule his new people of Israel.” Let us all give him highest praise.

This is our God, and there is none other; he was born of a Virgin, and he conversed with men; the only-begotten Son becomes mortal, and is laid in a poor crib; the Lord of glory is wrapped in swaddling clothes; the star invites the Magi to adore Him, and let us sing: O holy Trinity, save our souls!

Come, all ye faithful; let us be transported with divine enthusiasm; let us look at God coming in a visible form from on high and descending into Bethlehem; then raising up our minds, let us bring to him our virtues as the myrrh we offer him, thus preparing, with faith, for his birth among us; let us sing, Glory in the highest be to God, one in three Persons, whose good-will to man is thus made manifest! for thou, O Jesus! the Lover of man, hast redeemed Adam and restored the work of thy hands!

Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth! let the foundations of the earth be moved, and all the earth tremble; for God the maker of man has himself put on a created form, and he whose creative hand upheld his creatures, has, by mercy moved, clothed himself with a body. Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How incomprehensible are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!

O come, ye Christian people! let us see the prodigy that stupefies all thought and holds it in suspense; then let us devoutly adore, and sing our hymns with hearts full of faith. This day there hath come to Bethlehem a Maid that is to give birth to God! Choirs of angels are already there! Joseph, her spouse, seeing her, has already received the answer to his question; What is this mystery which I see in thee, pure Virgin? How canst thou bring forth, that never hast borne a mother’s humiliation?

This day, there is born of a Virgin, he that holds in his hand the whole creation. He whose very essence ’tis to be intangible, has become mortal and is bound in swathing-bands. He who, of old, in the beginning, poised and set the heavens, is laid in a manger. He who rained down manna on his people in the desert, is fed with milk at his Mother’s breast. The Spouse of the Church invites the Magi; the Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts. We adore thy Nativity, O Jesus! show unto us thy divine manifestations.

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