The Eve of the Nativity
O God, who has made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of the true light: Grant, we beseech thee, that as we have known on earth the mysteries of that light, we may also come to the fullness of his joys in heaven; who liveth and reigneth…
Latin original Collect:
Dues, qui hanc sacratissimam noctern veri luminis fecisti illustratione clearescere: da, quaesumus, ut cujus mysteria in terra cognovimus, ejus quoque gaudiis in coelo perfraumur: Qui tecum vivt et regnat.
-- Gregorian Sacramentary
Introit: The Lord hath said unto me, thou art my Son: this day have I begotten thee.….
Epistle: Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men…
Isaiah 9: 2-7 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light...
Gospel Luke 2 1-14. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree…
The eve of Christmas the church breaks into the season of light from the Advent preparation. In many churches, this is shown visibly in moving from the Advent colors of blue and purple, into the white of Christmas and Epiphany.
This is the first major festival of the church year. It is a festival of the Lord, and so occupies a very special place in our hearts. It is one of the three festivals in which it was appointed that all Christians should take communion. The early celebration has its history in the ancient church, which celebrated Christ's Mass after midnight, at the cockcrow, and would be followed by a later service. This is the dawning of a new day for God's people especially, and for the whole world generally. It is the arising of the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings.
The octave of Christmas runs until the Feast of the Circumcision. Yet, we celebrate over the full 12 days the Christmas season, We consider the birth of our Lord in all humbleness to be a "light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of his people Israel". Jesus is not just "a light" among many, but the true (veri luminis) light which the people of God had awaited for so many centuries. This was prophesied by Isaiah who wrote of a "great light" who is to be called the Prince of Peace, Everlasting Father, Mighty God, Wonderful, Counselor. He should come to occupy the throne of David and rule the Kingdom of God. In the Gospel of Luke we have the Christmas story in all of its richness and imagery.
(Portions were paraphrased and passages cited from The Collect of the Day, by Paul Zeller Strodach, 1939, The United Lutheran Press, Philadelphia) http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/s/t/r/strodach_pz.htm
The Ancient Collect: Its history and form
Released by Primus Pilus
Legio Christi-Ecclesia Militans
"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]
* ORDO CENTURIONUM * IN HOC SIGNO VINCES * TIME DEUM ET OPERARE IUSTITIAM