Day Twelve — Sunday 5 January 2020 (Second Sunday after Christmas, celebrated as the Epiphany)

(Tomorrow, 6 January, is the Epiphany, which marks the light of Christ revealed.)

The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us. O come, let us worship. Alleluia


Isaiah 60.1-6 | Psalm 72.1-7, 10-14 | Ephesians 3.1-12 | Matthew 2.1-12 |


Gentile da Fabriano The Adoration of the Magi. Commissioned for the church of Santa Trinita in 1423 and now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.


Your nativity, O Christ our God,
has shed the light of knowledge upon the world.
Through it,
those who had been star-worshipers
learned through a star to worship you,
O Sun of Justice,
and to recognize in you the one who rises
and who comes from on high.
O Lord, glory to you!
—Feast of the Nativity Liturgy

Arnold Bax. Mater Ora Filium (1921). The Carrice Singers, dir. George Parris.

Mater ora filum
Ut post hocexilium
Nobis donet gaudium
Beatorum Omnium. Amen

[Mother pray thy son that, after his exile,
he may grant us the joy of all the blessed ones. Amen.]

Fair Maiden, Who is this bairn That thou barest in thine arm?

Sir, it is a kinges son
That in Heaven above doth wone.

Mater ora filium … Man to father He had none
But himself God alone
Of a maiden He would be born
To save mankind that was forlorn.

Mater ora filium … The kings brought him presents
Gold, myrrh, and frankincense.
To my son full of might. Alleluia.
King of kings and Lord of Right.

Mater ora filium …

Fair Maiden, Pray for us
Unto thy Son, Sweet Jesus
That He may send us of His grace.
In heav’n on high to have a place.

Mater ora filium …

W.H. Auden. For the Time Being
from For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio (1942)

Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes—
Some have got broken—and carrying them up to the attic.
The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
And the children got ready for school. There are enough
Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week—
Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
Stayed up so late, attempted—quite unsuccessfully—
To love all of our relatives, and in general
Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
Back in the moderate Aristotelian city
Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.
It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.
For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
Grew up when it opened. Now, recollecting that moment
We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
Everything became a You and nothing was an It.

May the Lord, who has called out of darkness into his marvellous light, bless us and fill us with peace. Amen.