Midnight Mass Past Its Zenith?

I hope your plans for Midnight Mass are coming along well. Christmas Eve still eclipses the traditional 12:00 festivities in most every Catholic parish. How are you finding the trend of Christmas Masses in your parish, or in your personal experience?

One of the things I miss in my old Kansas City parish is the annual “reunion” of out-of-town and occasional singers and musicians. It was the most fun I had in liturgical music in my six years there. Usually about a dozen singers, from teenage to retired, and all highly skilled and motivated to do well. For a thrown-together group I never had to worry about entrances. And the harmonies on the various songs was always rich and well-blended.

This year I get to do Midnight Mass again at my new parish. I already have a small passel of instrumentalists: violin, sax, and clarinet (bass or Bb–my choice). I have a few really good singers, all men so far. I have a really good singer I’m hoping to attract with a French-language version of “Cantique de Noel.” (I remember Liam mentioning the English translation we usually use is horrid.) We initiated a Howard Hughes gospel acclamation in 7/8 time last year. So my excitement for the Mass as well as the lessons and carols prior is building.

Any ideas anyone wish to share on what you’re doing for the late hour? The Christmas proclamation? A great setting of Psalm 96? The chant Puer Natus Est?

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About catholicsensibility

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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One Response to Midnight Mass Past Its Zenith?

  1. Liam says:

    No midnight Mass in our parish. That is fairly common in areas where lots of people rely on public transit (the schedules for which tend to get reduced on holidays) and the elderly do not want to be walking at a late hour.

    As for the Cantique, my cobbled-together approximation shows what the saccharine English paraphrase fails to capture from the French:

    Minuit! Chrétiens! C’est l’heure solennelle
    Où l’homme Dieu descendit jusqu’à nous,
    Pour effacer la tache originelle
    Et de son Père arrêter le courroux.
    Le monde entier tressaille d’espérance
    A cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.

    Peuple à genoux!
    Attends ta délivrance: Noël! Noël!
    Voici le Rédempteur: Noël! Noël!
    Voici le Rédempteur!

    De notre foi que la lumière ardente
    Nous guide tous au berceau de l’enfant,
    Comme autrefois, une étoile brillante
    Y conduisit les trois chefs d’Orient,
    Le Roi des rois né dans la dépendance
    En lui confond toute humaine grandeur

    Peuple debout!
    Chante ta délivrance! Noël! Noël!
    Chantons le Rédempteur! Noël! Noël!
    Chantons le Rédempteur!

    Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour
    when the Man-God came down to us
    to wipe away original sin
    and to end his Father’s wrath.
    The entire world is full of hope
    On this night that gives it a Savior.

    People! To your knees!
    Behold your deliverance! He is born! * He is born!
    Behold the Redeemer! He is born! He is born!
    Behold the Redeemer!

    With our faith as a burning light
    that guides us all to the cradle of the child,
    as once a brilliant star led
    the three kings of the East
    To the King of kings, born in need:
    In him human greatness [pride] is confounded.

    People! To your feet!
    Sing of your deliverance! He is born!* He is born!
    Let us sing of the Redeemer! He is born! He is born!
    Let us sing of the Redeemer!

    * “Noël” now means “Christmas” but derived from the French word relating to “nativity” or “birth”; I rendered this in a way more in keeping with the proclamatory sense of the text.

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