The Armchair Liturgist: Christmas Proclamation

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A number of years ago, LTP began to promote this suggestion for parishes:

  • The twenty-fifth day of December.
  • In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
  • the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
  • the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
  • the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
    and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
  • the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;
  • in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
  • in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
  • the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
  • the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
  • the whole world being at peace,
  • in the sixth age of the world,
  • Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
    desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
    being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    and nine months having passed since his conception,
  • was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
    being made flesh.
  • The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Would you sing this in your parish? If so, how so? At every Christmas Mass? I didn’t realize John Tavener has a choral setting of it. Would you use it or stick to a chant?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Christmas Proclamation

  1. I have sung it, although the text in the Sacramentary Supplement wisely does not commit itself to the young-earth theory.

    It doesn’t really call for the priest to sing it, so I’d prefer someone else do it. However, the past few years, the choir had its hands full and I had no deacon to sing it.

    Here’s an idea I had the other night, when I saw how much music the choir had planned for midnight Mass (I was sick so didn’t hear any of it except at rehearsal): how about having a Vigil, starting at around 11 or 11:15, which would go till about 11:45; have a “break” with carols, so people can come and go without doing so during a liturgy, then right at midnight, have a deacon intone this chant before the Introit.

    Just a thought . . .

    Oh, and I have only done this at Midnight, on the theory that some things should be done only one time, and if you want to be part of it, come to the proper Mass (i.e., the blessing of the wreath at the first Mass of 1st Advent; blessing of the creche at the vigil Mass, etc.)

  2. Eric says:

    At our parish, the deacon (me) read this from the church door after the carols concert concluded and the reminder to turn off cell phones had been done. The gathering song and the procession then began.

  3. Liam says:

    Since it comes from the old office of Prime for Christmas, it’s ideal for the LOH (perhaps as a tag between 1st Vespers and the first vigil Mass of Xmas)? It should be chanted, sans instruments, before the commencement of the liturgy in any event.

  4. I’ve never heard this sung or chanted, but I do have a connection here. When I was 16, my parish put me to work as a liturgical flunky. For that Christmas, I illuminated a scroll of this text, the first illuminated calligraphic work I completed. The parish had a very big-voiced lector, who proclaimed this, from the scroll, to begin the processional, then it became a part of the creche scene. (I wonder if my childhood parish still has this stashed away somewhere?)

  5. Diana says:

    For the last several years I’ve used this proclamation right before the gathering song (O Come All Ye Faithful) at the Midnight Mass. This year, I had two cantors sing it, starting and ending it together, then alternating the lines in between. We used the setting in the Sacramentary Supplement. Yes, I know it should be unaccompanied. But I kept a pedal point F on the organ pedals throughout (the first year just to keep the cantor in tune), gradually adding octave Fs and Cs, changing to Bb and F at “Bethlehem”, then back to Fs and Cs to the end. Then we segued immediately into O Come All ye Faithful (in F), modulating to G for the final verses. It can be quite dramatic. I couldn’t imagine Midnight Mass without the proclamation being sung in some way.

    I heard that some of the celebrants in our diocese were arguing that they should sing the proclamation. So I posted this on my blog about who should sing the Christmas Proclamation.

  6. Lorna Brook says:

    Tavener’s Christmas Proclamation is not this text at all. If you look at the disk here illustrated, you will see that its subtitle is God With Us. The soloist sings “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light…” etc. The chorus sings “Hear ye people, even unto the uttermost ends of the earth” three times and ends with “Christ is born”. It is a glorious piece of music and I wholeheartedly recommend this CD.

  7. aplman says:

    The current 2007 Sourcebook from LTP has a USCCB text of the Dec 25 Martyrology which is better than the one quoted above.

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