Music for the Anticipated Mass of Christmas Eve
  • henry
    Posts: 242
    Our parish always began celebrating Christmas with Midnight Mass, but this year there will be a 4pm anticipated Mass. Children's Choir. Too late to teach them the Latin propers for Entrance/Communion. The Entrance is "Today you will know that the Lord is coming..." and Communion is "The glory of the Lord will be revealed...". Was thinking of just having them sing quieter carols (O Little Town of Bethlehm, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, Silent Night). Any suggestions? Thanks.
  • Regis
    Posts: 9
    My children's choir also sings for the Christmas vigil Mass- this year, besides the usual carols we're doing the Vaughan-Williams arrangement of the Sussex Carol and an arrangement of "The Friendly Beasts." In the past we've also done things like the Holst "Personet Hodie."
  • It’s really hard to do a Christmas Vigil well in your position, I think. The Vigil Mass is its own liturgical “entity”, and given that several of these texts use the future tense, it compromises things a bit to use, say, Psalm 98 for communion.

    I myself have started to wonder if we ought not try to emphasize psalms more at Christmastide. It’s pastorally problematic because people’s expectations are to sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, “Joy to the World”, and all points in between. Still, I think it’s no accident at all that the Gregorian propers for Christmas are so heavily based on psalms. If we give McKinnon’s “Advent Project” theory credence, then we must conclude that the framers of the Roman Mass Proper wanted it that way--as opposed to the prevalence of psalms in the post-Pentecostal propers, which some explain as a hasty patchwork job just to get things done.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    As a boy chorister we always processed in before Mass to "Once In Royal David's City". To me it is still the song that symbolizes Christmas, alongside "Dominus Dixit" which is the chant with the same power.
  • This raises a more important question: how many parish churches (or cathedral churches, for that matter) actually keep the propers specific to each Mass from the Vigil through Midnight, Dawn and Day. Very few typical OF parishes, I'd wager. (I'd be glad to be wrong in this).
  • Ha! I would say that your wager is a pretty good bet!
  • At Our Lady of Walsingham, we had the Mass at Night (late on the Eve, but not at Midnight), and only one Mass on Christmas Day, which we alternated each year between the Dawn and Day Masses. I think most use only the Dawn Mass.
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    Where can One read to find out why there are so many Masses on these days? Are we expected to attend multiple times? Did large parishes have to accomodate the huge influx of Catholics who only attend on Easter/Christmas?
  • a1437053a1437053
    Posts: 198
    One more thing: does anyone know where to find audio samples for the Propers of this Vigil Mass?
  • G
    Posts: 1,397
    "how many parish churches (or cathedral churches, for that matter) actually keep the propers specific to each Mass from the Vigil through Midnight, Dawn and Day."

    Us, us!!!!!!! We do it!
    (I'm shouting because it is so rare that we do anything liturgically precise, so I'm surprised to find out that this is rare...)
    It's really not all that hard, is it?
    When I started at my present job, it was was a good ploy to weed out at least one hearing of a dreadful psalm setting, "oh, no, that's not the right one for the 7:00 a.m. Mass!"
    Although I admit, I am tempted to try and squeak in In Splendoribus at another Mass...

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World!)
  • For the Vigil Mass at the Cathedral one year, the children's choir did "Lift Up Ye Heads, O Mighty Gates." My rector looked at me rather puzzled, but, I told him that since we were saving the full-blown stuff for Midnight Mass, we should at least preserve some semblance of the Vigil. We used O LIttle Town of Bethlehem for Communion. We ended with O Come all Ye Faithful.

    For Midnight Mass, we began with O Come All Ye Faithful (English, Spanish and Latin) and ended with Joy to the World. Our cantor chanted the Christmas Proclamation. For Communion at this Mass, we used Silent Night (English and Spanish).

    In my Dad's former parish, the pastor (who has a PhD in Liturgy) did the Midnight Mass readings and everthing else that came along with it for the Vigil Mass. Go figure.
  • Last summer, Dom Saulnier covered a little history of the different Christmas Masses. According to my sketchy notes, the Mass in the Day is the oldest. The Midnight Mass was added after the definition of Ephesus (Mary as the Mother of God); the station was St Mary Major, which has the relic of the Bethlehem crib. The Vigil was a penitential, preparatory Mass the day before the feast--these penitential vigils remain in the 1962 Missal the day before several important feasts. On his way to the main Christmas Mass, the Pope offered the Dawn Mass for an Eastern rite congregation at St Anastasia's Church in Rome on December 25, the patronal feast. Recall the Eastern rite didn't celebrate Christmas with the Latins until later--their big feast was Epiphany. In the 1962 Missal, the Dawn Mass of Christmas still contains a commemoration of St Anastasia.

    Dom Gueranger probably has more info on this history in his work on the liturgical year.
  • I've been wrong before ... but ...

    Since the Second Vatican Council allowed vigil masses in the ordinary form, on a "typical" Sunday that means that Sunday is celebrated on Saturday afternoon. So it goes to follow that Christmas would actually be celebrated in its fullness at its vigil.
  • priorstf
    Posts: 460
    Actually the Graduale Romanum has specific Introits, Graduals, Alleluia, Offertories and Communions for the different Masses of Christmas: ad Missam in Vigilia (Vigil), Ad Missam in Nocte (Midnight), Ad Missam in Aurora (Dawn), and Ad Missam in Die (Daytime).

    The Introits tell the tale.

    Vigil: "Today you will know that the Lord is coming to save us; and tomorrow you will see his glory."
    Midnight: "The Lord said unto me: You are my son, today I have begotten you."
    Dawn: "Radiant light will shine upon us today, for the Lord is born unto us."
    Day: "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given."

    So even though the Vigil Mass counts towards one's fulfillment of the obligation, the words still speak of anticipation and awareness of The Coming.
  • Furthermore, the Christmas Vigil Mass is a vigil in every sense of the word because it truly anticipates what will come to pass at Midnight. This is very different from the anticipated Sunday Mass that is celebrated late afternoon or early evening on Saturday. The readings for this anticipated Mass are not diferent from the regular Sunday Mass, whereas, the readings for the Christmas Vigil, by their very nature, are markedly different from what is to be proclaimed at Midnight.

    Even the Vigil for Pentecost has its own readings (although it is very rare for a parish to use them, let alone the Vigil readings for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Thus, the very nature and character of this particular vigil should be preserved.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    If you've been doing all propers all the time anyway, then what's the big deal about doing the right ones for each Mass? But I would say if you're not doing five propers every Sunday in ordinary time, then Christmas is no time to start. people are very attached to their carols, and there is a venerable tradition of singing them. Unlike when people request songs like "Be Not Afraid" and then don't actually sing them, people sing carols. If you can sing the Communion proper for each Christmas Mass, followed by a more familiar carol, you may have the chance to convert a lot more people than if you suddenly do all propers.