Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Magi have arrived at the crib… and
Christmas continues until Candlemas

The Magi have arrived at the crib … an Epiphany scene at home (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Patrick Comerford

The Magi have arrived, and we welcomed their arrival in style in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, last night [6 January 2016] with a Sung Eucharist for the Feast of the Epiphany.

The choir is back after its post-Christmas break, and the Mass setting was the Missa O Magnum Mysterium by Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548-1611). Canon Mark Gardner, who is canon-in-residence this week, presided and I served the Liturgy as deacon, reading the Gospel (Matthew 2: 1-12), which tells the story of the arrival of the “wise men from the East,” and assisting at the administration of the Holy Communion.

We had some well-loved Epiphany carols, including ‘From the eastern mountains pressing’ (Godfrey Thring), ‘As with gladness men of old’ (W Chatterton Dix), ‘Hail, thou source of every blessing’ (Basil Wood) and ‘Bethlehem, of noblest cities’ (translated by Edward Caswall).

We returned home by another road – well, through Arbour Hill and then backtracking through Crumlin and Templeogue – and noticed how most of the bright Christmas lights that were so visible from early in December have been removed.

Increasingly, it seems, many people in Dublin appear to think the 12 Days of Christmas are the 12 days before rather than the 12 days after. But, of course, Christmas does not end with the Feast of Epiphany, but continues until Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation on 2 February.

Epiphany is part and parcel of the Christmas celebrations, with two more important Epiphany events to mark liturgically: the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan, which we reflect on next Sunday [10 January 2016], when I am presiding at the Eucharist and preaching in Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Ballsbridge; and the Wedding Feast in Cana, which we reflect on the following Sunday [17 January 2016], when I am back in Christ Church Cathedral preaching and as canon-in-residence.

The Magi arrive in Bethlehem … a stained-glass window in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2016)

Collect:

O God,
who by the leading of a star
manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth:
Mercifully grant that we, who know you now by faith,
may at last behold your glory face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Post Communion Prayer:

Lord God,
the bright splendour whom the nations seek:
May we, who with the wise men
have been drawn by your light,
discern the glory of your presence in your incarnate Son;
who suffered, died, and was buried,
and who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.