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Arkansas Catholic
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December 17, 1927     Arkansas Catholic
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December 17, 1927

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THE GUARDIAN, DECEMBER 17, 1927 Page Twenty-One The Story of the Christmas Crib By Martial Massiani, (Written for N. C. W. C. Christmas fanny are familiar with the history of the custom of Crib of Bethlehem in Ca- during Christmas- many know that this is and pious practice which we owe so much of the of the Faith--to our ancestors of the Middle This reminder of the scene the fact of the Nativity of Divine Infant on a bed with Mary and Joseph Shepherds and the other groups, the cat- donkey in the background now to Catholics in al- continent and country, not always take the form we see it today. time in France, cen- only was the scene shown, but the whole was reverently enacted Women, and the whole transformed into a stage birthplace of Ottr Lord. who foretold His com- angels who sang of His '.araation, the simple shep- the great Kings of the alike before His beauty herself, and Saint PaSSed through the church, re-enacting their historic clergy and laity shared entation of the "Mystery," of ChristYs birth and was incorporated into the of the miracle of the Mystery Play accurate historical rec- mystery play of the that has been preserved It is known that in t~ear 1,000 the Christmas he lgass of the Day, as called--was cele- Cathedral preceded by to as the Office The complete ritual may still be read, in over a thousand who played the part Stood before the high Cathedral. Then, seeing who represented shep- the altar, he saying. "Fear not. you good tidings shall be to all the day is born to you a is Christ the Lord, in David. And this shall Unto you; you shall find Supplement). the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger." Upon this announcement, other angels, scattered through the stalls, intoned the Gloria in Excelsis, to which the Canon-shepherds replied with the canticle: The Shephards' Hymn. Peace wily be in earth and heaven, Glory in the skies. Discord from the world is driven By grace's blessed ties. God made man. in man's appearance, Will descend to earth. Mediator, our deliv'rance. By His sacred birth. Let us go, then; let us see, then, Word of God, born man. Let us go, then; let us hear. then. The tidings, if we can. Juda hears a Child's voice crying, Saviour of us all. Earth's most ancient foe is flying, Conquered now. he'll fall. Let us hasten! Let us hasten! To that Child's crib. no other. Let us sing then, let us sing then, All praise to His Virgin Mother! Prophecy of lsaias Recalled At the close of this hymn, the Canons ranged themselves beside the altar. Then two midwives uppeared --in realty, two more Canons in hooded robes---and invited the shep- herds and angels to draw near to the crib, which was installed behind the altar, saying to them, "Here is the Child, with Mary, His Mother, her of whom Isaias prophesised, saying 'Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son.' Go forth and say that He is born." The Canons. or "pastors," then r knelt, adoring the Divine Child 'and intoned a second hymn in praise f of the Virgin, the Slave Virgo singu- laris: Then they returned to the front of the choir, singing Alleluia Alleluia! .... The Introit then began. Similarly, at Easter, in the Cathe- dral of Rouen, the choir boys and, Canons played the parts of the holyj women who met the angel at the Torah of Christ on the morning of the resurrection, and greeted the congregation before the beginning of the Mass with their triumphant song Alleluia, Alleluia, Christ is risen! Although at Rouen, in the nays- tery play of the Nativity, the Virgin and Child were not impersonated, and their presence Was only sensed be- hind the altar, in other cities the early period, the mystery play lost "Sle~ep all right?" he inquired. some of its purely religious character, "Splendidly," she answered. and toward the end of the thirteenth "Not sick at all no pains?" he century the ecclesiastical authorities persisted. recognized the necessity of exclud- "Why, of course not, dear," she ing the performances from the responded in surprise. church buildings. After that, the i "Hurrah, then," exclaimed the pro- plays became more and more populartfessr" "I have discovered another and many were given in the public species of mushroom that isn't pois- squares at all times of the year and onous." varying greatly in character, from the wholly religious to the wholly secular. Finally, by the sixteenth century, they were almost entirely blotted out by the Renaissance .re- vival of interest in classical art, and still later they at last disappeared al- together in the stress of the wars that swept Europe. The professor, a noted botanist, parts were actually played by a worn- gave instructions for a dish of mush- an and baby, and in Sens, the young rooms, which he had gathered himself, girt who was given the honor of to be cooked for dinner expressly for playing the role of the Virgin was ac- his wife. The latter, who was partic- companied to the Cath*edral by the ularly fond of them, was highly de- Archbishop and clergy, in solemn ligted at her husband's thought on procession through the streets, her behalf and thanked him with much Other Forms of Commemoration In some cities, the sacred drama was enriched with additional scenes and numerous personages. The pro- phets who told of Christ's coming, the Sibyls, and even Virgil, appeared in processions. The Magi, with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, were shown, or else, instead of the five Canons of Rouen, a whole crowd of joyous shepherds would en- ter the scene, accompanied by their flocks and dogs, and sometimes the joy of the redeemed people would express itself in songs and even dances almost too gay to be wholly suitable to the sacred precincts where they were held. Then gradually, after that first Z. T. MATTHEWS & SON" Jonesboro's Best Store --_- gusto. At breakfast next morning he greeted her anxiously. 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