The End of Christmas

The Roman Church observes the Baptism of the Lord today, thus ending the Christmas season. At least the continuous bulk of it. Liturgists are correct to note that the final Christmas feast, the Presentation of the Lord, is forty days removed from the Nativity. Usually Presentation is buried on a weekday–as it is this year. But it remains a part of the Church’s observance. I think of the Christmas season as an amoeba with a long pseudopod touching that February 2nd feast.

How much of the Christmas character remains for today’s feast? For musicians who use the propers, you know your antiphons are taken from the New Testament, especially the Gospels, as they have been for most of this season. (Next week, you shift to psalm texts.) But for today, what psalms have you used for Entrance and Communion? Have you given thought to the use of the Messianic texts of the Psalter–the worship that alludes to God as King? Psalm 93? Psalm 110? Or the usual Christmas psalmody of 96-97-98? Were I in your shoes, I might consider yoking the text of the canticle in Isaiah 42:8ff, an echo of Psalm 98, to that entrance antiphon. Imagine the “thunder” of the Father’s voice linked to verse 13:

The Lord goes forth like a hero, like a warrior he stirs up his ardor; He shouts out his battle cry, against his enemies he shows his might.

And for those who prefer songs and hymnody, are you focused on the Scriptures and picking baptism songs? Or has one lone Christmas carol, a pseudopod from our festive season, made it to your musical lineup today?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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5 Responses to The End of Christmas

  1. Liam says:

    And this is also a theophanic feast: the first manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity to the world. My parish finished by singing “I Clasp Unto My Heart This Day”, CV Stanford’s indelible setting of the English paraphrase of the Lorica of St Patrick, a parish favorite (we unfortunately do not do the “Christ Be With Me” bridge section).

  2. Mike K says:

    To my way of thinking, there should be little to no mention of Christmas – other than linking the Lord’s incarnation, epiphany and theophany.

    All carols: gone (the last time any one would have been sung would have been at Saturday morning’s Mass, the day before the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord). All hymns/chants
    should be of a “baptismal” character.

    The manger scene: gone. We’re now dealing with an adult Christ. Christmas decorations/greenery: remain, but not as prevalent.

    Yes, I know we have one more remaining “Christmas” feast – the Presentation of the Lord – but considering there are usually 3+ weeks of ordinary time between now and then, it’s hard to keep the Christmas approach going through February 2.

  3. Penguins Fan says:

    I think that it’s a shame the Christmastide season has been cut short with the liturgical calendar used in the Novus Ordo.

    The Traditional Latin Mass Calendar observes the Sundays after Epiphany until the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas) – as should be.

    “Ordinary Time” sounds so bland. I do not like it.

    Advent is a three to four week season, and Christmastide lasted 40 days. Catholic countries like Poland still observe Christmas until Feburary 2nd.

    Not in the USA. In almost all homes that celebrate Christmas, the tree and Nativity set were packed away before New Year’s.

    Sorry to disagree, but the old calendar is better and in some way, our household will have some observance of Christmas until February 2nd.

  4. Liam says:

    I would hope the TLM Calendar observes the Sundays after Epiphany until Septuagesima…Candlemas/Purification/Presentation has no bearing whatsoever on the Sunday Mass cycle in either form (I will note that the OF has it as a feast of the Lord, as it is in the Orthodox tradition, rather than a feast of our Lady). It traditionally had a relationship to the choice of Marian antiphon in the Breviary, but that’s a very different level of connection.

    “Ordinary Time” is something of a misnomer as the common English translation for weeks of the year outside Advent/Christmastide/Lent/Eastertide. The ordinal numbering system in the OF propers is such that they count forward from this week until Lent, and backward from the last week of the year until Pentecost. I understand why this was done, but I think reasonable minds can differ about its merits and I would hope no one would get upset if it got changed someday.

  5. MizzouGal says:

    We sang Joy To The World and ended with River of Glory. We took down the Christmas decorations today, but left the poinsettias. Interestingly enough, when you read one liturgical source they say, “strip the church of all Christmas decorations and music” and then another one says, “No, ease into it…” Guess it is somewhat subjective to your parish and your liturgist.

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