Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

It's been a warm Christmas Eve here in the lower left hand corner of the United States. The Santa Ana winds are back for a couple of days, the temperature is in the 70's and there is a fire watch on at least until tomorrow night. The day has been pleasant here, though, filled with last minute chores which took a bit longer than usual as I took advantage of the good weather to run some errands on the bicycle. For the past couple of hours we have been listening to the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols whilst decorating the tree, a task I leave until the last minute -- on principle for a change and not merely from constitutional laziness.

Yesterday was the last of the "O" antiphons in the Roman Rite. But there is one more that has survived from the Sarum Rite:

O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be? for neither before thee was any seen like thee, nor shall there be after. Daughters of Jerusalem, why marvel ye at me? the thing which ye behold is a divine mystery.

If you're at a loss for Christmas music this evening or tomorrow try here. KUSC always does a good job of providing wonderful music of the season.

And to all who frequent this little corner, whether regularly, or occasionally, or even only this once, a very Merry Christmas to you.


by John Betjeman

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
'The church looks nice' on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says 'Merry Christmas to you all'.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children's hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say 'Come!'
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window's hue,
A Baby in an ox's stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No caroling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare -
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.