Christmas and its Octave (GA 3. 11 – 15)

Ch. 11
On Morning Lauds.

Image result for fra angelico dance

Then the Church leads a dance, as it were, as it sings canticles to her Spouse and Liberator in morning Lauds. The Mass that follows celebrates the shepherds’ praise, by which they lauded the Lord when they discovered him. The third Mass, which is sung at the third hour, solemnizes his birth from the Father, and the Gospel In principio is therefore read during it.

CAP. XI. – De matutinis laudibus.

Deinde Ecclesia quasi choream ducit, dum Sponso suo ac Liberatori suo cantica in matutinis laudibus concinit. In missa quae sequitur, laus pastorum celebratur, qua inventus Dominus ab eis laudatur. In tertia missa, quae tertia hora cantatur, eius nativitas a patre solemnizatur. Unde et evangelium In principio ad hanc recitatur.

Ch. 12
On St. Stephen

The nocturnal office of St. Stephen imitates a wrestling school, where members compete for the crown. In the day office, the agonothete is crowned for his victory. And so Stephen, which means “crown,” is fittingly named. The order of Levites keep this day as a celebration because Stephen was the first deacon.

CAP. XII. – De sancto Stephano.

In nocturnali officio de sancto Stephano palaestra imitatur, in qua pro corona certatur. In officio de die quasi pro victoria hic agonotheta coronatur. Unde et Stephanus, id est corona, congrue nominatur. Huius diem ideo Levitarum ordo celebrem ducit, quia Stephanus primus diaconus fuit.

Ch. 13
On St. John

The dormition of St. John the Evangelist occurs on the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, but since on account of this eminent office the former could not be commemorated then, the Church established that his feast be held on the day when he returned from exile, or when his church was dedicated. In the chant of the feast of St. John we imitate lovers who strive to call out their lovers with song. Some sing super intellectus with a jubilus, because St. John has written about the ineffable Word of God through the spirit of understanding (per spiritum intellectus). The priestly order keeps this as a feast day, because he especially exalted the priesthood by word and example when he even placed a certain robber in command of the priesthood.

CAP. XIII. – De sancto Ioanne.

Dormitio sancti Ioannis evangelistae est in nativitate sancti Ioannis Baptistae; sed quia ob celebre officium illic agi non potuit, hic Ecclesia eius festum coli instituit, quando ab exsilio rediit, vel ipsius ecclesia dedicata exstitit. In cantu de sancto Ioanne imitamur amantes, qui amicos suos cantibus efferre conantur. Quidam neumam super intellectus iubilant, quia sanctus Ioannes per spiritum intellectus de ineffabili verbo Dei scripserat. Hunc diem sacerdotalis ordo ideo festivum agit, quia ipse praecipue verbo et exemplo sacerdotium extulit, dum latronem quemdam etiam sacerdotio praefecit.

Ch. 14
On the Innocents

When we do not sing the Te Deum laudamus, Gloria in excelsis, and Alleluia on Holy Innocents we imitate their mothers who were sorrowing. For the same reason songs of joy are not sung and the dalmatic and tunicle are not worn, in memory of the chorus of infants who descended into hell. If their feast falls on a Sunday, we do all for them as for other saints, because we believe that in Our Lord’s Resurrection they are brought into the company of the saints. In the Octave we sing their Alleluia with its verse because we know that after Christ’s Resurrection they have been received into eternal joy. Children keep this feast especially, because the Innocents were the first to go to their reward in Christ. The Gloria Patri is sung on the Holy Innocents according to the usual order because it is only ever omitted during Our Lord’s Passion.

CAP. XIV. – De Innocentibus.

Quod Te Deum laudamus, et Gloria in excelsis, et Alleluia de Innocentibus non cantamus, matres illorum imitamur, quas in tristitia fuisse non dubitamus. Ideo etiam cantus laetitiae non cantantur, et dalmatica vel subtile non portatur, quia idem chorus infantium ad inferna descendisse memoratur. Si illorum festivitas in Dominica evenerit, omnia de illis, ut de aliis sanctis agimus, quia in resurrectione Domini eos sanctis associatos credimus. In octava quoque illorum Alleluia et alia canimus, quia facta Christi resurrectione eos in gaudio receptos scimus. Horum festum ideo infantes solemnizant, quia eos primum ad Christum praemio praeibant. Gloria Patri secundum ordinem de Innocentibus canitur, quod nunquam nisi in passione Domini intermittitur.

Ch. 15
On the Octave Day of Christmas

On the Octave Day of Christmas, the entire office we celebrate is of the Blessed Virgin, because on the day she gave birth we were not able to do it on account of her Son’s feast. This signifies that if we serve Christ devotedly in this life, then we will rejoice in the future Octave, i.e. in the Church’s glorified life, which Mary prefigured. Christ willed to be born of Mary and from no other woman because she was the first woman to know virginity.

CAP. XV. – De octava Domini.

In octava Domini totum officium de sancta Maria agimus, quia in die partus sui propter filii sui celebritatem ea facere non potuimus. Hoc autem significat si Christo in hac vita devote serviamus, in octava scilicet futura vita de Ecclesiae glorificatione, quam Maria praefiguravit, gaudeamus. Ideo autem Christus de Maria, non ab alia, nasci voluit, quia ipsa prima in mundo virginitatem novit.

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