Friday, December 24, 2010

Divinum Mysterium, a Turtle, and Two Cats

What would be a better gift to all you dear, long-suffering readers, than for me this Christmas Eve to simply not write a Friday essay at all?

Herewith let your wish be granted.

Instead, let's ponder a text entitled Of the Father's Love Begotten, written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, who lived from 348 to 413AD. Prudentius' exquisite Gospel narrative proclaims the salvific centrality of Christ's life - not just His birth - in both history and God's ultimate purpose in creation: His glory. This is my favorite Christmas carol.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a suitable corresponding video on YouTube, so I selected one of the more bizarre entries for this tune. It features a turtle and two cats listening to their owner eek out Divinum Mysterium (Plainsong) on a tired electric organ. There's so much bad about this video, it's actually almost intriguing.

But first, for real intrigue, consider this ancient Christmas jewel:

(Translated from Latin)
Of the Father's love begotten, 'ere the worlds began to be.
He is Alpha and Omega, He the Source, the Ending He.
of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore.

O, that birth forever blessed, when the virgin, full of grace
by the Holy Ghost conceiving, bore the Savior of our race,
and the Babe, the world's Redeemer, first revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore.

This is He, Whom Heaven-taught singers sang of old with one accord
Whom the Scriptures of the prophets promised in their faithful word.
Now He shines, the long-expected; let creation praise its Lord,
evermore and evermore.

O, ye heights of Heaven, adore Him! Angel hosts, His praises sing!
All dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on Earth be silent, every voice in concert ring,
evermore and evermore.

Christ, to Thee, with God the Father, and O Holy Ghost, to Thee:
hymn, and chant, and high thanksgiving and unwearied praises be;
honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory
evermore and evermore!

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whose nativity we celebrate today, be with you now and always.

Merry Christmas!

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