Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search



Share page  


Previous Contents Next

CHRISTMAS IN LITURGY
tavern, another gives disgusting particulars of disorders in a church where the only sober man was the preacher.22
In Sweden the Christmas service is performed very early in the morning, the chancel is lighted up with many candles, and the celebrant is vested in a white chasuble with golden orphreys.23
A Midnight Mass is now celebrated in many Anglican churches, but this is purely a modern revival. The most distinct British survival is to be found in Wales in the early service known as Ply gain (dawn), sometimes a celebration of the Communion. At Tenby at four o'clock on Christmas morning it was customary for the young men of the town to escort the rector with lighted torches from his house to the church. Extinguishing their torches in the porch, they went in to the early service, and when it was ended the torches were relighted and the procession returned to the rectory. At St. Peter's Church, Carmarthen, an early service was held, to the light of coloured candles brought by the congregation. At St. Asaph, Caerwys, at 4 or 5 a.m., Plygain, consisting of carols sung round the church in procession, was held.24 The Plygain continued in Welsh churches until about the eighteen-fifties, and, curiously enough, when the Established Church abandoned it, it was celebrated in Nonconformist chapels.25
In the Isle of Man on Christmas Eve, or Oiel Verry (Mary's Eve), "a number of persons used to assemble in each parish church and proceed to shout carols or * Carvals.' There was no unison or concert about the chanting, but a single person would stand up with a lighted candle in his or her hand, and chant in a dismal monotone verse after verse of some old Manx ' Carval,' until the candle was burnt out. Then another person would start up and go through a similar performance. No fresh candles might be lighted after the clock had chimed midnight." 26
One may conjecture that the common English practice of ringing bells until midnight on Christmas Eve has also some connection with the old-time Midnight Mass.
For the Greek Church Christmas is a comparatively unim­portant festival by the side of the Epiphany, the celebration of
99 I                                                              % (TO 5l{
Previous Contents Next