Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
There are four different Masses for the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas):
At the Vigil Mass; This Mass is used on the evening of 24 December, either before or after First Vespers (Evening Prayer I) of the Nativity.
At the Mass during the Night; in Latin 'Ad Missam in nocte'. The term 'Midnight Mass' is no longer used.
At the Mass at Dawn.
At the Mass during the Day.
It is worth noting that 'Christmas' comes from the Old English Crīstesmæsse, meaning 'Christ's Mass'.
Gospel for the Mass during the Night. Luke 2:1-14 (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition)
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"
Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon
A ballad about the Christmas Truce of 1914 during the Great War.
My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.
I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound.
Says I, 'Now listen up, me boys!' each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
'He's singing bloody well, you know!' my partner says to me.
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony.
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
'God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen' struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was 'Stille Nacht'. 'Tis "Silent Night",' says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.
'There's someone coming toward us!' the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one long figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shone on that plain so bright.
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night.
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home,
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own.
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men
Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more.
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
'Whose family have I fixed within my sights?'
'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung;
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung.
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore
My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell;
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well.
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same.
'"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" struck up some lads from Kent'
'The next they sang was "Stille Nacht". "'Tis 'Silent Night'," says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.'
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.'
The vast majority of the soldiers who fought and died in the Great War (1914-18) were only a few years older than the boys in the Thomanerchor above, many of them still in their teens. 'Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school'.
Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.