Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas MMXXIII

Cum enim quietum silentium contineret omnia, et nox in suo cursu medium iter haberet, omnipotens sermo tuus de cælo, a regalibus sedibus... prosilivit. — Sap. 18, 14-15

For while all things were in quiet silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thy almighty word leapt down from heaven from thy royal throne. — Wisdom 18:14-15


Thine all-powerful Word, O Lord, leapt down from heaven! The Incarnation of the Eternal Word, the Second Person of the most blessed Trinity hypostatically united henceforth forever to a human nature: all this a supreme mystery beyond the grasp of every created mind!

This text is used as the Introit on the Sunday within the Octave of Christmas, with the following changes, some quite minor – but rather than saying that a “quiet silence” (nominative singular) “contained” (singular) “all things” (accusative), the first phrase instead is made to say that “all things” (nominative plural) “held” (plural) a “moderate silence” (accusative)... and the magnificent verb prosilivit (leapt) becomes the more common venit (came):

Dum médium siléntium tenérent ómnia, et nox in suo cursu médium iter habéret, omnípotens Sermo tuus, Dómine, de cælis a regálibus sédibus venit.

While all things held a moderate silence, and the night was in the midst of her course, thine almighty Word, O Lord, came from the heavens from thy royal throne.

With further slight alterations (changing habéret to perágeret, omitting de cælis, and adding a final allelúja) this text is used as both the Magnificat Antiphon at first Vespers and the Benedictus Antiphon at Lauds on that same Sunday; while on the 4th Sunday of Advent, a shorter modified version of the second part is sung as the fifth psalm antiphon at both Lauds and Vespers, and also as the sole psalm antiphon at None – Omnípotens Sermo tuus, Dómine, a regálibus sédibus veniet. (Thine almighty Word, O Lord, shall come from thy royal throne.)