Traditionally the empty crib is not blessed by the father of the family [or someone who takes his place
when necessary] until Christmas Eve just before the evening meal:
Father. Our help is in the name of the Lord. All. Who hath made Heaven and earth.
Antiphon (all). A great mystery and wonderful sign, dumb beasts saw the newborn Lord lying in a crib.
Canticle of the Blessed Virgin-----the Magnificat
(Divide the group and alternate reading the lines.)
My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour.
For He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me
Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear Him.
He hath showed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich He hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy:
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His seed for ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Antiphon repeated (all). O great mystery and wonderful sign, dumb beasts saw the newborn Lord lying in a crib.
Reader (Perhaps the oldest child). The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 15 through 20:
At that time, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath showed us. And they came with haste: and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger. And seeing they understood the word that was spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard wondered: and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
All. Praise be to Thee, O Christ.
Leader. The Word was made flesh. Alleluia.
All. And dwelt among us. Alleluia.
Leader. O Lord, hear my prayer.
All. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Leader. The Lord be with you.
All. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray.
Bless, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, this crib which we have prepared in honor of the new birth in the flesh of Thine only begotten Son, that all who devoutly contemplate in this image the mystery of His Incarnation may be filled with the light of His glory, Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.
(The crib is sprinkled with holy water.)
This is the most solemn vigil of the year. Self-denial at supper is to remind us that this night Mary and Joseph sought lodging in a sheep cave, prayed and waited. Then it happened. In the dark, silent cavern in the side of the hill, the Saviour of the world was born, hidden from men by God and the earth He had come to redeem.
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