Wednesday, December 15, 2010

An EXTRA VERSE for "O Come, all ye Faithful", Honouring Our Lady

By now priests and their liturgically minded helpers are preparing for the great Christmas services, and in particular, Midnight Mass.

When I became Rector of the historic Anglo-Catholic "shrine church" of All Saints' Wickham Terrace (in Brisbane, Australia) in 1995, I had to adapt myself to a number of local liturgical customs, most of which, I hasten to add, were very moving and beautiful.

In particular it was no hardship to learn the "extra" verse of O Come all ye Faithful for the wonderful and joyous procession in connection with the blessing of the Crib at Christmas Midnight Mass. I've always been accustomed to pausing the hymn for a Collect when the procession reaches our Lady's Shrine; but I'd never seen this verse honouring our Lady before.

So, just in case you would like to use it, here is the entire hymn, with that verse added. And - in case you're looking for a suitable blessing of the crib in traditional liturgical English - it's here, too.

The choir sings: In the day of thy power shall the people offer the free-will offerings with an holy worship: the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning.

Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord:
People: Who hath made heaven and earth.

Priest: The Lord be with you.
People: And with thy spirit.

Priest: Let us pray. O Almighty God, who hast given us the spirit of thy creative power to use for thy glory, and to inspire thy people with a greater devotion: Bless and sanctify this image of the infant Child, and grant that we, beholding this figure, may be so imbued by the infinite love and deep humility of this redemptive act, that we may bring forth the fruits of joy and service. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost one God, world without end. Amen.

The image of the Christ Child is sprinkled with holy water and incensed.

It is then carried in procession to the Crib and placed therein.

Priest: Let us pray. O Almighty God, who didst cause thine only-begotten Son to come down from heaven, and to be born of the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary for our salvation: vouchsafe, we beseech thee, thy blessing upon this Crib, where will be shewn forth the wonders of that sacred birth; that all they who, beholding the same, shall ponder and adore the mystery of his holy incarnation may be fulfilled with thy heavenly benediction unto life eternal. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Deacon: Let us proceed in peace.
All: In the name of Christ. Amen.

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him
Born the King of Angels:
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord.

God of God,
Light of Light,
Lo! he abhors not the Virgin's womb;
Very God,
Begotten, not created: O come . . .

See how the Shepherds,
Summoned to his cradle,
Leaving their flocks,
draw nigh with lowly fear;
We too will thither
Bend our joyful footsteps: O come . . .

Child, for us sinners
Poor and in a manger,
Fain we embrace thee, with awe and love;
Who would not love thee,
Loving us so dearly? O come . . .

Station at the Shrine of Our Lady
Priest: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
All: Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Priest: We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts: that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought to the glory of his resurrection through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The processional hymn resumes:
Hail to his Mother,
Mary most holy,
See how she cradles the Son of God.
Mother of mercies,
Mother of salvation: O come . . .

Sing, choirs of Angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
Glory to God
In the highest: O come . . .

Yea, Lord we greet thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing: O come . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The other thing we did was to sing this verse - much more slowly but with grandeur and accompanied by the full organ - as an acclamation at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer just before the Our Father. The celebrant and his ministers would kneel before the Blessed Sacrament as it was sung:

Yea, Lord, we greet thee,
'Throned upon thine altar,
Jesu, to thee be glory given;
Word of the Father,
Sacrament Most Holy: O come . . .


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