Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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example is the following ninth-century trope ascribed to Tutilo of St. Gall :
" Hodie cantandus est nobis puer, quern gignebat ineffabilitcr ante tempora pater, et eundem sub tempore generavit inclyta mater. (To-day must we sing of a Child, whom in unspeakable wise His Father begat before all times, and whom, within time, a glorious mother brought forth.)
Ouis est iste puer quem tarn magnis praeconiis dignum vociferatis? Dicite nobis ut collaudatores esse possimus. (Who is this Child whom ye proclaim worthy of so great laudations ? Tell us that we also may praise Him.)
Hic cnim est quem praesagus et electus symmista Dei ad terrain venturum praevidens longe ante praenotavit, sicque praedixit. (This is He whose coming to earth the prophetic and chosen initiate into the mysteries of God foresaw and pointed out long before, and thus foretold.)"
Here followed at once the Introit for the third Mass of Christmas Day, " Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis, &c. (Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.)" The question and answer were no doubt sung by different choirs.2
One can well imagine that this might develop into a regular little drama. As a matter of fact, however, it was from an Easter trope in the same manuscript, the " Quem quaeritis," a dialogue between the three Maries and the angel at the sepulchre, that the liturgical drama sprang. The trope became very popular, and was gradually elaborated into a short symbolic drama, and its popularity led to the composition of similar pieces for Christmas and Ascensiontide. Here is the Christmas trope from a St. Gall manuscript :
" On the Nativity of the Lord at iMass let there be ready two deacons having on dalmatics, behind the altar, saying :
Quem quaeritis in praesepe, pastores, dicite ? (Whom seek ye in the manger, say, ye shepherds ?)
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