03 January 2011

Ten lords-a-leaping on the Tenth Day of Christmas

Bishops leaping to their feet to speak in the House of Lord. On the Tenth Day of Christmas ... ten lords-a-leaping

Patrick Comerford

The Tenth Day of Christmas is 3 January. In modern Roman Catholic usage, today celebrates the Holy Name of Jesus, which is marked in most other traditions, including the Anglican and Lutheran traditions, on 1 January.

Saint Seraphim of Sarov was also recalled in the calendar of the Church of England yesterday. He is one of the best-known mystics and monks in the Russian Orthodox Church, and died on 2 January (OS) 1833. Seraphim’s best-loved quotation is: “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”

The tenth verse of the traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is:

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...
10 lords a leaping,
nine ladies dancing,
eight maids-a-milking,
seven swans-a-swimming,
six geese-a-laying,
five golden rings,
four colly birds,
three French hens,
two turtle doves
and a partridge in a pear tree.

The Christian interpretation of this song often sees the ten lords-a-leaping as figurative representations of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17).

The Church of Ireland Lectionary readings for the Eucharist today are: I John 2: 29 – 3: 6; Psalm 98: 2-7; John 1: 29-34.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, and a canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.

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