Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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CHRISTMAS IN LITURGY
Christ, for redemption and for judgment; and then are sung the words that strike the keynote of the Advent services, and are heard again and again.
" Rorate, coeli, dcsuper, et nubes pluant Justum (Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down
the Righteous One). Aperiatur terra et germlnet Salvatorem (Let the earth open, and let her bring forth the Saviour)."
Rorate, coeli, desuper—Advent is a time of longing expectancy. It is a season of waiting patiently for the Lord, whose coming in great humility is to be commemorated at Christmas, to whose coming again in His glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead the Christian looks forward with mingled hope and awe. There are four weeks in Advent, and an ancient sym­bolical explanation interprets these as typifying four comings of the Son of God : the first in the flesh, the second in the hearts of the faithful through the Holy Spirit, the third at the death of every man, and the fourth at the Judgment Day. The fourth week is never completed (Christmas Eve is regarded as not part of Advent), because the glory bestowed on the saints at the Last Coming will never end.
The great Eucharistic hymn, " Gloria in excelsis," is omitted in Advent, in order, say the symbolists, that on Christmas night, when it was first sung by the angels, it may be chanted with the greater eagerness and devotion. The " Te Deum " at Matins too is left unsaid, because Christ is regarded as not yet come. But " Alleluia" is not omitted, because Advent is only half a time of penitence : there is awe at the thought of the Coming for Judgment, but joy also in the hope of the Incarnation to be celebrated at Christmas, and the glory in store for the faithful.3
Looking forward is above all things the note of Advent; the Church seeks to share the mood of the Old Testament saints, and she draws more now than at any other season, perhaps, on the treasures of Hebrew prophecy for her lessons, antiphons, versicles, and responds. Looking for the glory that shall be revealed, she awaits, at this darkest time of the year, the rising
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