The Evensong of God’s praise is about to close this beautiful Day: let us go and unite in it. The material sun is fast sinking in the west: but our Sun of Justice shall never set for us, who have received him into our hearts. Yes, let us go join our Mother the Church, and chant, in the songs of the Royal Prophet, the happiness of our earth, that has yielded its divine Fruit; the glories of this new-born Saviour; and the mercies which he has brought us. God forbid that our hearts should have lost, since morning, aught of their earnest fervour! has not Christ been born within us? Therefore, let our psalmody proclaim his praises, and ascend to him with all that beauty and loveliness and merit which the divine Liturgy always adds to our own individual fervour.

V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende. 
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina. 
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto: Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

The first Psalm of Second Vespers for Christmas Day is that which always begins the Evening Office on Sundays and Feasts. It celebrates the Eternal Generation of the Word, and prophesies his Sufferings and his Triumph.


ANT. Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus Sanctorum: ex utero ante luciferum genui te.

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die irae suae reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multo rum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.

ANT. With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints; for the Father has said to thee: From the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.

The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord, thy Father, will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints: for the Father hath said to thee: From the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the God-Man: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Meichisedech.
Therefore, O Father! the Lord thy Son is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations; he shall fill the ruins of the world:  he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility; he shall drink in the way of the torrent of sufferings: therefore shall he lift up the head.

ANT. Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus Sanctorum: ex utero ante luciferum genui te. ANT. With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the Saints; for the Father has said to thee: From the womb, before the day-star, I begot thee.

The second Psalm praises our Lord for the Covenant he has made with his people, and for the Redemption he has this day sent us. The human race was sunk into the depth of misery: the God of mercy, faithful to his promises, gives us, in Bethlehem, him who is the Bread of life - the heavenly food that preserves from death.


ANT. Redemptionem misit Dominus populo suo, mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum.

Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: * in consilio justorum et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini: * exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, misericors et miserator Dominus: * escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in seculum testamenti sui: * virtutem operum suorum annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis hereditatem Gentium: * opera manuum ejus veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus, confirmata in saeculum saeculi: * facta in veritate et aequitate.
Redemptionem misit populo suo: * mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus; * initium sapientiae timor Domini.
Intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum: * laudatio ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.

ANT. He hath sent Redemption to his people; he hath commanded his covenant for ever.

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: in the council of the just, and in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.
His work is praise and magnificence: and his justice continueth for ever and ever.
He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: and being the Bread of life, he hath given food to them that fear him.
He will be mindful for ever of his covenant with men: he will come and will show forth to his people the power of his works.
That he may give them, his Church, the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hand are truth and judgement.
All his commandments are faithful, confirmed for ever and ever: made in truth and equity.
He hath sent Redemption to his people: he hath thereby commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and terrible is his name: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
A good understanding to all that do it: his praise continueth for ever and ever.

ANT. Redemptionem misit Dominus populo suo, mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum. ANT. He hath sent Redemption to his people; he hath commanded his covenant for ever.

The third Psalm tells the happiness and hopes of the just man, on the day of Jesus’ Birth. In the very midst of darkness, there has suddenly risen up the bright and lovely Light, that is, our Emmanuel, our merciful God. The upright of heart are enlightened by him: but woe to the sinner that will not receive him


ANT. Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis corde: misericors et miserator, et justus Dominus.

Beatus vir, qui timet Dominum: * in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus: * generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Gloria et divitiae in domo ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis: * misericors et miserator, et justus.
Jucundus homo, qui miseretur et commodat, disponet sermones suos in judicio: * quia in aeternum non commovebitur.
In memoria aeterna erit justus; * ab auditione mala non timebit.
Paratum cor ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: * non commovebitur donec despiciat inimicos suos.
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus, justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi: * cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
Peccator videbit, et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet: * desiderium peccatorum peribit.

ANT. To the upright of heart a Light has risen up in darkness; the merciful and compassionate and just Lord.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
To the righteous a Light is risen up in darkness: he is merciful and compassionate and just, and is born among men to-day.
Acceptable, on this day, is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth; he shall order his words with judgement: be cause he shall not be moved for ever.
The just shall be in everlasting remembrance: he shall not fear the evil hearing.
His heart is ready to hope in the Lord; his heart is strengthened: he shall not be moved, until he look over his enemies.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor; his justice remaineth for ever and ever: his horn shall be exalted in glory.
The wicked shall see, and shall be angry; he shall gnash with his teeth, and pine away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

ANT. Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis corde: misericors et miserator et justus Dominus. ANT. To the upright of heart a Light is risen up in darkness; the merciful and compassionate and just Lord.

The fourth Psalm expresses the cry of distress sent forth to its Deliverer by the human race, when in the depth of its misery and degradation. But this cry was also one of hope; for God had promised to come to its deliverance. At length the Lord, whose mercy is infinite, has vouchsafed to descend upon the earth, and our Redemption begins this very day.


ANT. Apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio.

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine: * Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuae intendentes: * in vocem deprecationis meae.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine: * Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est: * et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: * speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem: * speret Israel in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia: * et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israel: * ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.


ANT. With the Lord there is merciful forgiveness; and with him plentiful Redemption.

From the depths have I, thy people, cried to thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice.
Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If thou wilt observe iniquities, O Lord, Lord, who shall endure it ?
For with thee there is merciful forgiveness; and by reason of thy law I have waited all these long ages for thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on his word; my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy, and with him plentiful redemption.
This day he hath been born among us, and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

ANT. Apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio. ANT. With the Lord there is merciful forgiveness; and with him plentiful Redemption.

The fifth Psalm celebrates the Ark of the Lord which rested in Ephrata. Mary was the true Ark, of which that of old was but a type: in her did our Lord take up his dwelling; in her did he place the throne of his Majesty. Let our God, then, arise and take possession of his Church, which begins to-day in Bethlehem; let him arise, and, together with Mary, the Queen of mercy, govern us. Henceforth he is to dwell among us - console us in all our tribulations - satisfy us poor ones with the Bread of eternal life - invest the new Priesthood with singular powers - shine in his Church as the Lamp of immutable truth - triumph over all his enemies - in a word, whilst the crowns of other kings shall fall off, the one which sits on the brow of our divine King, our sweet Babe of Bethlehem, shall flourish for everlasting ages.


ANT. De fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam.

Memento, Domine, David: * et omnis mansuetudinis ejus.
Sicut juravit Domino: * votum vovit Deo Jacob.
Si introiero in tabernaculum domus meae: * Si ascendero in lectum strati mei.
Si dedero somnum oculis meis: * et palpebris meis dormitationem.
Et requiem temporibus meis, donec inveniam locum Domino: * tabernaculum Deo Jacob.
Ecce audivimus eam in Ephrata: * invenimus eam in campis silvae.
Introibimus in tabernaculum ejus: * adorabimus in loco ubi steterunt pedes ej us.
Surge, Domine, in requiem tuam: * tu et arca sanctificationis tuae.
Sacerdotes tui induantur justitiam: * et Sancti tui exsultent.
Propter David servum tuum: * non avertas faciem Christi tui.
Juravit Dominus David veritatem, et non frustrabitur eam: * De fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam.
Si custodierint filii tui testamentum meum: * et testimonia mea haec, qua docebo eos.
Et filii eorum usque in saeculum: * sedebunt super sedem tuam.
Quoniam elegit Dominus Sion: * elegit eam in habitationem sibi.
Haec requies mea in saeculum saculi: * hic habitabo, quoniam elegi eam.
Viduam ejus benedicens benedicam: * pauperes ejus saturabo panibus.
Sacerdotes ejus induam salutari: * et Sancti ejus exsultatione exsultabunt.
Illuc producam cornu David: * paravi lucernam Christo meo.
Inimicos ejus induam confusione: * super ipsum autem efflorebit sanctificatio mea.

ANT. I will set upon thy throne, O David, one of the fruit of thy womb.

O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness.
How he swore to the Lord: he vowed a vow to the God of Jacob.
If I shall enter into the tabernacle of my house: if I shall go up into the bed wherein I lie;
‘If I shall give sleep to my eyes: or slumber to my eye lids,
Or rest to my temples, until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.’
Behold! we have heard of it that it was in Bethlehem of Ephrata; we found it in the fields of the wood.
We will go into his tabernacle; we will adore in the place where his feet have stood.
Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place; thou and Mary, the Ark which thou hast sanctified.
Let thy priests be clothed with justice: and let thy Saints rejoice.
For thy servant David’s sake, O heavenly Father! turn not away the face of thy Christ.
The Lord hath sworn truth to David, and he will not make it void: ‘Of the fruit of thy womb I will set upon thy throne.
‘If thy children will keep my covenant, and these my testimonies, which I shall teach them;
‘Their children also for evermore shall sit upon thy throne.’
For the Lord hath chosen Sion, his Church: he hath chosen it for his dwelling.
He hath said: ‘This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
‘Blessing, I will bless her widow, by the Birth of my Son in Bethlehem I will satisfy her poor with Bread.
‘I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her Saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy.
‘There, in my Church, will I bring forth the horn, the strength of David: I have prepared a lamp for my Christ.
His enemies I will clothe with confusion: but upon him shall my sanctification flourish.’

ANT. De fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam. ANT. I will set upon thy throne, O David! one of the fruit of thy womb.


(Heb. i)

Multifariam, multisque modis olim Deus loquens patribus in Prophetis: novissime diebus istis locutus est nobis in Filio, quem constituit haeredem universorum, per quem fecit et saecula. God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past to the Fathers by the Prophets; last of all in these days hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world,


For the version as preserved in the Monastic Rite, see above.

Jesu, redemptor omnium,
Quem, lucis ante originem,
Parem paternae gloria
Pater supremus edidit;

Tu lumen et splendor Patris,
Tu spes perennis omnium,
Intende quas fundunt preces
Tui per orbem servuli.

Memento, rerum conditor,
Nostri quod olim corporis,
Sacrata ab alvo Virginis
Nascendo, formam sumpseris.

Testatur hoc praesens dies,
Currens per anni circulum,
Quod solus e sine Patris
Mundi salus adveneris.

Hunc astra, tellus, aequora,
Hunc omne quod coelo subest,
Salutis auctorem novae
Novo salutat cantico.

Et nos, beata quos sacri
Rigavit unda sanguinis,
Natalis ob diem tui,
Hymni tributum solvimus.

Jesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna saecula.

O Jesu! Redeemer of man kind! born before the light was made, and born of the Eternal Father, equal to him in infinite glory;

O thou the Light and brightness of the Father! O thou the everlasting hope of all men! hear the prayers offered thee by thy servants through out the world.

Be mindful, O Creator of all things! that heretofore thou didst assume a Body like unto ours, and wast born from the sacred womb of a Virgin.

This present day, which the year has brought round to us, tells us of this mystery - that thou, the one Saviour of the world, didst come to us from the Father’s Bosom.

The stars, and earth, and sea, and all that is under heaven greet this the Author of their new salvation with a new canticle.

And we, who have been re deemed by the stream of thy precious Blood, we too pay thee the tribute of this Hymn, in honour of thy Birthday.

Glory be to thee, O Jesus! who wast born of the Virgin and to the Father, and to the Spirit of love, for everlasting ages. Amen.

V. Notum fecit Dominus, alleluia.
R. Salutare suum, alleluia.
V. The Lord hath made known, alleluia.
R. His Salvation, alleluia.


Hodie Christus natus est: hodie Salvator apparuit; hodie in terra canunt Angeli, laetantur Archangeli; hodie exsultant justi, dicentes: Gloria in excelsis Deo, alleluia. This day Christ is born, this day the Saviour hath appeared; this day the Angels sing on earth; the Archangels rejoice; this day the just exult, saying: Glory be to God in the highest, alleluia.

The Canticle, Magnificat.

Concede, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, ut nos Unigeniti tui nova per carnem Nativitas liberet, quos sub peccati jugo vetusta servitus tenet. Per eumdem.
Grant, we beseech thee, O Almighty God, that we who groan under the old captivity of sin, may be freed therefrom by the new Birth of thine Only-Begotten Son. Through the same, etc. 

Commemoration of St Stephen

ANT. Stephanus autem plenus gratia et fortitudine, faciebat signa magna in populo.
V. Gloria et honore coronasti eum, Domine.
R. Et constituisti eum super opera manuum tuarum.

Da nobis, quaesumus, Domine, imitari quod colimus, ut discamus et inimicos diligere: quia ejus natalitia celebramus, qui novit etiam pro persecutoribus exorare Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum. Qui tecum.

ANT. But Stephen, full of grace and fortitude, did great signs among the people.
V. Thou hast crowned him, O Lord, with glory and honour.
V. And hast placed him over the works of thy hands.

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we may imitate him whose memory we celebrate, so as to learn to love even our enemies: because we now solemnise his martyrdom, who knew how to pray even for his persecutors to our Lord Jesus Christ thy Son. Who liveth, etc.



For Compline, see here.


The great Day is over, and the night is coming upon us, when sleep will refresh us after the holy fatigues of last night. Before retiring to rest, let us give the holy Martyrs a thought, whose memory is offered to our veneration by the Church in her Martyrology of this December 25. Diocletian and his colleagues in the Empire had recently published the famous edict of persecution, which waged against the Church the fiercest war she has ever sustained. The edict was torn down from the Emperor’s palace at Nicomedia by one of the Christians, who paid for this holy daring by a glorious martyrdom. The faithful of the same city were ready for the combat, and feared not to brave the Emperor’s power by continuing to frequent their Church, which was condemned to be pulled down. Christmas Day came, and several thousands of them had assembled there, in order to celebrate, for the last time within those walls, the Nativity of our Saviour. Being informed of it, the Emperor became furious, and sent one of the officers of his court to order the Church doors to be fastened, and a fire to be enkindled on each side of the building. This being done, the clang of trumpets was heard, and then a herald’s voice proclaiming to the faithful, in the Emperor’s name, that they who wished to save their lives would be permitted to leave the Basilica, on the condition of their offering incense on an altar of Jupiter, which had been placed near the door; but that otherwise, all were to be left a prey to the flames. One of the Christians thus answered, in the name of the whole assembly: ‘We are all of us Christians; we honour Christ as the one only God and King; and we are all ready to lay down our lives for him on this Day.’ Where upon the soldiers were commanded to set fire to the Church. In a very short time, it was one immense mass of flames, whence was offered to the Son of God - who deigned to begin on this same day the human life he had assumed - the generous holocaust of these thousands of lives, laid down as witness to his having come into this world. Thus was glorified, in the year 303, Emmanuel, who had come from heaven to dwell among us. Let us, after the example of the Church herself, join our homage to the Babe of Bethlehem with that offered him by these courageous Christians, whose fame the Liturgy will perpetuate even to the end of time.

Once more let us visit in spirit the dear Cave, where Mary and Joseph are loving and nursing and adoring the Divine Infant. Let us, too, adore him, and ask his blessing. St Bonaventure, with an unction worthy of his seraphic soul, thus expresses the sentiments which a Christian should have on this Day, when admitted to the Crib of Jesus: ‘Do thou also kneel down - thou hast delayed too long. Adore the Lord thy God, and then reverence his Mother, and salute, with much respect, the saintly old man Joseph. After this, kiss the feet of the Infant Jesus, laid as he is on his little bed, and ask our Lady to give him to thee, or permit thee to take him up. Take him into thine arms, press him to thy heart, and look well at his lovely face, and reverently kiss him, and show him confidently the delight thou takest in him. Thou mayest venture on all this, because it is for sinners that he came, that he might save them: it was with sinners that he so humbly conversed, and at last gave himself to sinners, that he might be their food. I say, then, that his gentle love will permit thee to treat him as affectionately as thou pleasest, and will not call it too much freedom, but will set it down to thy love.’ [Meditations on the Life of Christ, by St Bonaventure.]

As a conclusion to our Feast, we give two favourite pieces of the Middle Ages, whereby our Fathers expressed their joy on this glorious Solemnity. The first is a Sequence, which is to be found in all the Roman-French Missals. For a long time it was thought to have been written by St Bernard: but we have seen it in a Manuscript of the eleventh century, and consequently it must have been written earlier than the date usually assigned to it.


Exsultet fidelis chorus.

Regem regum
Intactae profudit torus:
Res miranda!

Angelus Consilii
Natus est de Virgine,
Sol de Stella.

Sol occasum nesciens,
Stella semper rutilans,
Semper clara.

Sicut sidus radium,
Profert Virgo Filium
Pari forma.

Neque sidus radio,
Neque Virgo Filium
Fit corrupta.

Cedrus alta Libani
Conformatur hyssopo
Valle nostra.

Verbum ens Altissimi
Corporari passum est,
Carne sumpta.

Esaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit;
Numquam tamen desinit
Esse caeca.

Si non suis vatibus,
Credat vel gentilibus,
Sibyllinis versibus
Haec praedicta:

Infelix, propera,
Crede vel vetera:
Cur damnaberis, gens misera?

Quem docet littera
Natum considera:
Ipsum genuit puerpera.

Let the choir of all the faithful exult in their joy. Alleluia.

The Virgin’s womb hath given us the King of Kings! O wonderful mystery!

The Angel of the great Counsel is born of the Virgin, the Sun is born of a Star!

The Sun knows no setting; the Star is ever shining, ever bright.

As a star gives forth its ray, so does the Virgin her Child.

The star loses naught of its purity by the ray it yields, so neither does the Virgin by her Child.

The lofty cedar of Libanus comes down into our valley, making itself little as the hyssop.

He that is the Word of the Most High God deigns to take a body unto himself; he assumes our flesh.

Isaias had foretold all this; and the Jews, though they knew the prophecy by heart, see not its accomplishment in this mystery.

If they will not believe their Prophets, let them believe the Sybils, who thus sang:

‘Unhappy people, delay not, believe, at least, the ancient oracles! Why wilt thou be cast off, O wretched nation?

This is the Child of whom thy books tell thee: he is the Son of a Virgin-Mother.’

The second piece is a Sequence in honour of the most Holy Mother of God. It belongs to the fifteenth century. It is one of the many imitations of the Easter Sequence, Victimae Paschali, which are to be found in many of the Missals of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries


Virgini Marie laudes
Intonent Christiani.

Eva tristis abstulit;
Sed Maria protulit
Natum, qui redemit

Mors et vita modulo
Convenere mirando:
Mariae Filius
Regnat Deus.

Dic nobis, Maria,
Virgo clemens et pia:
Quomodo facta es genitrix,
Cum tu sis plasma
De te nascentis?

Angelus est testis
Ad me missus coelestis.

Natus est ex me spes mea;
Sed incredula
Manet Judaea.

Credendum est magis soli Gabrieli forti,
Quam Judaeorum
Pravae cohorti.

Scimus Christum processisse
Ex Maria vere:
Tu nobis nate,
Rex! miserere.

Let the Christian people hymn their praises to the Virgin Mary.

Unhappy Eve was the cause of our ruin; but Mary brought forth a Son, who redeemed us sinners.

Death and life were thus strangely reconciled: there reigns now God, the Son of Mary.

Tell us, O Mary, Virgin most merciful and kind!
How thou, the creature of him that was born of thee, didst become his Mother?

The Angel is witness, that was sent to me from heaven.

He that is my hope was born of me his Mother: but the Jews will not believe.

Faith must be had in Gabriel, the Power of God, rather than in the perverse Jewish tribe.

We know that Christ was in very truth born of Mary:
do thou, her Son! our King! have mercy on us.