Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Although the Christmas season is 40 days long, and continues until Candlemas or the Feast of the Presentation [2 February], Epiphany traditionally marks the end of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas.’
Already, the Christmas songs have long ceased playing in the shopping centres, most schools reopened earlier this week, most working people are back to work, and in many houses the Christmas tree and the Christmas decorations have been taken down. Even the Christmas cribs have been packed away, without waiting for the arrival of the three Wise Men.
Today is the Feast of the Epiphany [6 January 2016], and we are celebrating the feast with a special Choral Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, at 6 p.m. this evening.
The feast of the Epiphany is traditionally associated with three Gospel events: the arrival of the three Wise Men or magi at the stable in Bethlehem, which is today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 2: 1-12); the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan (see Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22), which is the subject of the Gospel reading next Sunday (10 January 2016); and the Wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11), which is the Gospel reading for Sunday week (17 January 2016).
Throughout the Christmas season, I have been listening each morning to Christmas works by the great English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958).
As we come to the end of the 12 Days of Christmas on this Feast of the Epiphany, I conclude my Christmas reflections this morning [6 January 2016] by listening to four Christmas songs written by or arranged by Vaughan Williams: ‘The Salutation Carol,’ ‘The Cherry Tree Carol’ (parts 1 and 2), from music written for his nativity play, The First Nowell, and ‘Sweet Was the Song the Virgin Sang,’ written for his Christmas cantata Hodie (‘This Day’), which I was listening to earlier this Christmas season.