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Musical Musings: Christmas

Ideas from The Liturgy of the Hours:

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The Liturgy of the Hours provides a rich, underused source of creative ideas for music during Mass. We have here the wisdom of the Church, offering new readings to amplify the familiar readings at Mass. We also have valuable new psalm selections and hymns, all a legitimate part of Sacred Liturgy, which can be a fertile new ground for selecting music that the Church relates to the themes of a particular feast. Practically speaking, for the music planner, these texts may lead one to a long-forgotten choral motet, or to a new possibility for an opening or communion processional based on one of the prescribed psalms or canticles.

CanticaNOVA Publications will offer these Ideas from the Liturgy of the Hours periodically, with the hope that musicians may find new sources of traditional music to enhance the Mass within the guidelines proposed by the Church.

+ Brief History of this Feast +

Jesus, who is called Christ, was born of Joseph's spouse into the messianic lineage of David. Jesus' messianic consecration reveals his divine mission, "for the name 'Christ' implies 'he who anointed,' 'he who was anointed' and 'the very anointing with which he was anointed.' The one who anointed is the Father, the one who was anointed is the Son, and he was anointed with the Spirit who is the anointing." His eternal messianic consecration was revealed during the time of his earthly life at the moment of his baptism by John, when "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, that he might be revealed to Israel" as its Messiah.

The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he is coming to "fulfill all righteousness," that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father' will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him." Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" -- the heavens that Adam's sin had closed -- and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

Taken from: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, English translation© 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

+ Evening Prayer I +

Latin Hymn A Patre Unigenite

  • Psalm 135 (I)
    • Antiphon John was in the wilderness baptizing and proclaiming a baptism of penance for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Psalm 135 (II)
    • Antiphon I baptize you with water, but the one who is coming will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
  • I Timothy 3:16
    • Antiphon As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came out of the water, and the heavens opened before him.
Reading Acts of the Apostles 10:37-38

[excerpt] O Lord our God, hear the cry of your people; open for them the spring of living water.

Magnificat Antiphon
Our Savior came to be baptized,
so that through the cleansing waters of baptism he might restore the old man to new life,
heal our sinful nature,
and clothe us with unfailing holiness.

[response] Lord, send forth your Spirit upon us.

+ Invitatory Antiphon +

Come, let us worship Christ, the bleoved Son in whom the Father was well pleased.

+ Office of Readings +

Latin Hymn Implente munus debitum

  • Psalm 29
    • Antiphon The voice of the Lord, the God of majesty, echoes over the waters.
  • Psalm 66 (I)
    • Antiphon Let all the earth adore you, Lord, and let it be joyful; for a new light has dawned upon the ages.
  • Psalm 66 (II)
    • Antiphon Blessed be God, for he has willed that my soul should live; he has led me to a place of refuge.
This is my beloved Son; listen to him.

First Reading Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-9 [The gentle servant of the Lord is a light to the nations]

[excerpt] Today in the Jordan as the Lord was baptized, the heavens opened and the Spirit in the form of a dove rested upon him; the voice of the Father was heard: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
The Spirit descended in visible form as a dove, and a voice from heaven was heard.

Second Reading From a sermon by Saint Gregory Nazianzus, bishop [The baptism of Christ]

[excerpt] Today the heavens opened and the waters of the sea became sweet and fragrant; the earth rejoiced, the mountains and hills exulted, because Christ was baptized by John in the Jordan.
What has happened that the sea has been put to flight, and the Jordan has turned back upon itself?

 Back to Christmas Index

Part 2: Morning Prayer, etc.

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