Christmas Day

Lux Arumque
Christmas Day

Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.

Our text for Christmas day is actually a poem  Light and Gold written in English by poet Edward Esch (b. 1970).  When composer Eric Whitacre chose to create a piece based on the poem it was translated into Latin for him.

There is no need for me to spend too much time explaining this piece - I will link below a recording of the choral composition on Eric Whitacre's YouTube channel.  It is enough to say that the poem and the music give expression to a simple scene.  Though the image brought to mind is simple, it is nevertheless profound too.  As only poetry can do, we see  "Light, warm and heavy as pure gold" and hear "angels sing softly to the new-born babe."

I suggest an Ignatian form of prayer which takes this simple scene and allows you to enter into it.  Just sit in silent prayer and imagine that you are there.  Who are you in the scene?  A bystander?  Mary? Joseph? A shepherd or passerby?  Use your imagination the enter into the moment the poetry (and music if you are listening to the choral piece) is offering and look around.  What do you see, and hear, and smell, and feel?  Are the angels singing something that you recognize?  What small detail is capturing your attention?  What does this scene and this moment say to you about God and God's presence in your life?

The prologue of the gospel according to John reads:
1:1   In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was in the beginning with God.  3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6   There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.  9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10   He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.  12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,  13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

Daily Collect
You are the light and the life of all people.  Your light shines in the darkness and enlightens those who receive it.  So help us, Lord, as we celebrate Christmas to see your light - heavy as gold, and may we learn to treasure your light more than gold.  Amen.

Listen to the choral piece (about 4 minutes long) HERE.

Paul Lang