Christmas: a celebration, observance of Christ

Father Lawrence Heiney

The English word Christmas is made up of two word’s “Christ” and “mass.”

Jesus is the Christ. He is truly divine and truly human. He made his dwelling among us to be our light and life.

A mass is a communal religious service. Christians, in the western Mediterranean world, began to celebrate the Mass of Christ around the year 325, soon after the Council of Nicea. They celebrated the Paschal Mystery every Sunday – the Day of the Lord. Christmas was to be an extra day to celebrate the Lord’s coming to dwell among us.

Following is an ancient hymn written for this day around 400 AD. Of the Father’s Love Begotten. It was written by Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius. It may be sung to 87 87 877.

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,

He is the Alpha and Omega, he the source, the ending be,

Of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At his Word the worlds were framed; he commanded; it was done:

Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;

All that grows beneath the shining of the moon and morning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,

That the race of Adam’s children, doomed by law to endless woe,

May not henceforth die and perish in the dreadful gulf below, 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 seers in old time chanted of with one accord;

Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful words;

Now he shines, the long expected, let creation praise it’s Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore him; angel hosts, his praises sing;

Powers, dominions, bow before him, and extol our God and King!

Let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,

On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with thee may strive;

Who at last in vengeance coming sinners from my face shall drive, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,

Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:

Honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory, evermore and evermore!

Happy Christmas!

Father Lawrence Heiney