Sunday, December 24, 2023

Durandus on the Vigil of Christmas

On the vigil of the Lord’s Nativity, the Invitatory is “Today you shall know that the Lord will come, and in the morning, you shall see His glory.” This is taken from Exodus, chapter 16 (verse 6-7), where it is said, “In the evening you shall know that the Lord hath brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.” And it can be said that this sentence pertains in part to the Nativity, and in part to the Resurrection, as follows: Today, meaning, in the present life, you shall know that the Lord will come, that is, the living bread, who comes down from heaven, and in the morning, you shall see His glory, that is, the glory of the Resurrection …

Introitus Hodie sciétis, quia veniet Dóminus et salvábit nos: et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. V. Dómini est terra, et plenitúdo ejus, orbis terrárum, et universi, qui hábitant in eo. Gloria Patri... Hódie sciétis...
Introit Ex. 16 Today you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. Ps. 23 The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and all those who dwell in it. Glory be... Today you shall know...
On this vigil, the Church instructs and invites Her children to be ready to receive the Lord; for which reason, at Matins the first responsory is “Be sanctified”, that is, you spiritual men, who will see God through faith, and be prepared to be prepared to take part in the wedding feast…

But the intention of the Office during the day is to show that Christ is born, and this is said in the Epistle (of the Mass, Romans 1, 1-6), and in the Gospel (Matthew 1, 18-21). And on this day is read the story of Mary’s betrothal, that it may be know that she was betrothed to one, namely, Joseph, but made fruitful by another, namely, the Holy Spirit. And in order that this may be a matter of greater certitude to the unbelieving, some churches put a prophecy from Isaiah 62 (verses 1-4) before (the Epistle), in which it is shown that He would be born.
The Mass of the vigil of the Nativity in a Premonstratensian Missal printed in 1578, with the prophecy Isaiah 62, 1-4 (upper left), before the Epistle. (Note that there is no chant between them.) Uses which follow this tradition also have readings from Isaiah (9, 2 & 6-7; 61, 1-3 & 62, 11-12a; 52, 6-10) before the Epistles at the three Masses of Christmas itself.
But He was born that He might save the people, and blot out the iniquity of the land, today in hope through the sacraments of grace, tomorrow in fact, through the revelation of (His) glory. These things are clear in the introit, and in the gradual “Today you shall know” and in the Alleluja, “Tomorrow”... when the vigil falls on Sunday, and it is said because of the Lord’s Resurrection.
Graduale Hodie sciétis, quia veniet Dóminus et salvábit nos, et mane vidébitis glóriam ejus. V. Qui regis Israël, intende: qui dedúcis, velut ovem, Joseph: qui sedes super Chérubim, appáre coram Ephraim, Bénjamin, et Manasse.

Allelúja, allelúja. V. Crástina die delébitur iníquitas terræ: et regnábit super nos Salvátor mundi. Allelúja.

Gradual Today you shall know that the Lord will come and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. V. (Ps. 79) O Thou who rulest Israel, hearken, who leadest Joseph like a sheep:, who sittest upon the Cherubim, appear before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasse.
Allelúja, allelúja. V. On the morrow the iniquity of the earth shall be blotted out, and the Saviour of the world will rule over us. Allelúja.

The same is also clear in the Communio “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed”, which is from Isaiah chapter 40.
Communio, Isa. 40 Revelábitur gloria Dómini, et vidébit omnis caro salutáre Dei nostri. (The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.)

And because in His Incarnation the dispersal of the Jews was to happen, therefore in the gradual is added the verse “O Thou who rulest Israel”, in which a prayer is offered for them. The Psalm which is sung at the Introit shows how great He is, namely, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” (Psalm 23), from which is also taken the Offertory, “Lift up your gates, o ye princes.” (William Durandus, Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, 6, 12, 1-3)
Offertorium, Ps 23 Tóllite portas, principes, vestras: et elevámini, portae aeternáles, et introíbit Rex gloriae. (Lift up your gates, o ye princes, and be lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.)

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