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Meek and Humble of Heart

Apart from poignant experiences in the family, it is rare that I would be found with tears in my eyes. I've yet to be psychoanalyzed on this point and I don't intend to start now. But I admit there is powerful current surrounding the Nativity of Our Lord that melts my otherwise frigid heart. Similar to a suspension of belief that one makes to get the most of a fairy tale, I can't help but feel a suspension of emotion that converts me into a sanguine for at least an octave. This year the Babe chose to cut me to the quick with several beloved carols sung in His honor.

The first instance of this occurring was at the Mass During the Day for Christmas. Our choir came in strong with O Come, All Ye Faithful for the Processional. For the second verse we jumped to the following words:

Yea, Lord, we greet Thee, Born this happy morning;
Jesus, to Thee be glory giv'n;
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Whether it was the brevity of this past Advent or my sickness throughout it, I didn't feel I prepared enough to receive the King; I was quite dour going to bed on Christmas Eve. But the words "this happy morning" got me in the gut, telling me that today is not a day to brood. And on hearing "now" I was transported to Bethlehem to witness "flesh appearing." With watery eyes I sung the refrain:

O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord!

The next instance would be on New Year's Eve, when after Mass our family tuned in to the replay of the STAS Christmas Concert. Although the performances were not up to par compared to last year, we didn't let that deter us from enjoying it as a whole. In the middle of it, the host introduced the next piece as being about the Holy Innocents. I was sure it would be Sedulius's Crudelis Herodes (at the moment I thought it was by Prudentius, who instead composed Audit Tyrannus Anxius and more notably Corde Natus ex Parentis), but to my surprise it was Coventry Carol. Though I've heard it in times previous, its somber tone and unusual time signature make it difficult to be memorable, and I so never gave it to much thought. But for once I was attentive and could hear the words:

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
This men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.

On the couch watching and hearing I held my composure as best I could considering the pain of these proto-protomartyrs and of their inconsolable mothers, of whom Jeremias prophesied.

Yesterday our choir sung as a Recessional a hymn new to us, Good Christian Men, Rejoice. We picked a pace that allowed us to sing all of the verses presented in the hymnal, a pace so lively I was caught off guard when I heard:

Now ye hear of endless bliss: Jesus Christ was born for this;
He has opened heaven's door, and man is blest for evermore.
Christ was born for this, Christ was born for this.

He was born for this! For rejection, suffering and the cruelest of deaths! For me, for my sinfulness, my selfishness, my faithlessness! For this! But I don't have a choice:

Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice!

I tried to pick up the pieces for the final verse but was quickly knocked down again:

Now ye need not fear the grave: Jesus Christ was born to save;
Calls you one and calls you all, to win His everlasting hall.
Christ was born to save, Christ was born to save.

At this point I kept my peace since the choir was populated enough that the congregation didn't need to hear my voice cracking. Then and since I have thanked God for giving me an increased share of what I petition for every morning: Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

I'll close with another seasonal anecdote that always gets me misty-eyed: the 1914 Christmas Truce. With opposing sides singing Stille Nacht and Silent Night, men of differing nations, tribes, peoples and tongues were able to lay aside their artificial enmity for one day and give witness to one of the titles Isaias reserved for the Holy Child: Prince of Peace. Were there not photos of the event I would regard it as a legend. A short film was made commemorating the centenary of the truce which I highly recommend.

May the Prince of Peace reign in our hearts and the King of Heaven and Earth reign in our lives.

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