Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Chant for Christmas Eve

At the beginning of my parish’s Christmas Eve Holy Communion service, I and a strong voiced acolyte will chant alternatively the following, which I adapted with slight alteration from Pearson’s The Sarum Missal in English:

The Lesson of Isaiah the Prophet

In which is foretold the glorious Birth of Christ

Thus saith the Lord

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by Whom are created all things in Heaven and Earth.

The people that walked in darkness

Whom Thou createst: whom the enemy deceived by subtle fraud, and led captive with him to hell,

Have seen a great light.

And at midnight, strange brightness hath shone on the Shepherds.

They that dwell in the shadow of death, the light

Everlasting, and our True Redemption

Upon them hath shined.

O wondrous birth.

For unto us a Child is born,

Jesus the Son of God, He shall be great,

A Son

Of the highest Father

Unto us is given

So had it been foretold from the Throne on high.

And the government shall be upon His shoulder,

That He may rule Heaven and Earth.

And his Name shall be called

Messiah, Emmanuel, Sabaoth, Adonai


The Root of David


Of God the Father,


Who created all things,


Overthrowing the hideous gates of hell.

The Everlasting Father,

King Almighty, and governing all,

The Prince of Peace.

Here and for ever.

Of the increase of His government

In Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria,

And peace there shall be no end,

For ever and ever,

Upon the Throne of David and upon His kingdom,

And there shall be no bounds to His reign

To order it,

In the bonds of The Faith,

And to establish it with judgement and with justice,

When He shall come as Judge to judge the world.

From henceforth

To Him be due glory, praise, and rejoicing,

Even for ever.

From the rising of the Sun to the going down of the same, let meet praise resound to the Creator throughout all climes to the ends of the whole world. A-men.


In a quiet candlelit sanctuary, I think this will be a powerful start to our Christmas Eve service. It will be a first for my parish, so we shall see.

This chant (again with slight changes, for which I am to blame) is from near the beginning of the Sarum Midnight Mass. But surprisingly, I have found almost nothing about the chant or its history online. Probably, I do not know where to look. Perhaps my learned readers can educate me in the comments?

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