Waes Hael, Drinc Hael, And Merry Christmas To All

Christ is born, and a Merry Christmas to all!

I greet the men of ROK with an article composed solely to share a bit of Christmas cheer. I have little of my own to say, for this day speaks enough for itself, in the beauties that it hands down to us from ages past. I will present an (expurgated) homily of St. John Chrysostom, some of my favourite, largely forgotten Christmas tunes, and a link to the “Carols at King’s” from the year 2000; it has been my tradition for the past few years, at the end of Christmastide days, to enjoy a bit of brandy or wassail (with brandy, obviously), watching Carols at King’s by the light of the Christmas Tree. God grant you all joy on the feast!

First, an expurgated version of a Christmas sermon by St. John Chrysostom:

I behold a new and unthinkable Mystery! My ears resound to the shepherds’ song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth an heavenly hymn. The Angels sing! The Archangels blend their voice in harmony; the Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice.

What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend. Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption.

Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.

What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and utter abasement be the measure of His Goodness.

Come, then, let us observe the Feast! Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth is brought back, the speech of kindliness is diffused, and spreads out in every direction. A heavenly way of life has been planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold colloquy with angels.

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and forevermore. Amen.

Byzantine Nativity

Very much worth a listen, in connection with this, is the Byzantine Office composed by St. John Damascene, which is based in part on this homily of St. John. Readers may remember I quoted from it in my post at the beginning of Advent; “I behold a new and unthinkable Mystery” begins at the one minute mark, but all of it is impressive (moreso if you understand Greek, I’ll admit).

And, for good measure, one of the best renditions of the Latin hymn I also quoted at that time (“O Magnum Mysterium”), so similar in spirit.

And now, for some of my favourite, lesser-known Christmas music. There are many very great Christmas carols, which we all know – God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night – so, I don’t mean to detract from these. But one of my favourite things about Christmas, is how steeped it is in the glory and traditions of our ancestors, reaching back in time to music and customs that feel like “home” when we find them, even if we hadn’t known them before. So, these are some miscellaneous bits from Christmases past, which I enjoy most.

Circa Canit Michael

From a long, long time ago this Rundellus was part of a Medieval Christmas play (sometimes also appearing at Eastertide), and I can’t help but smile at its ebullience. The song tells how Michael proclaims the news of Christ’s birth, the angels sing ‘Gloria’ on high, the Fatherland of manly excellence is returned to us, so we must now strive to leave vice and effeminacy behind; now the Virgin’s chastity has blossomed with the flowers of integrity and impassibility.

In Dulci Iubilo

You’ll find the original text and plenty of translations on the web. Here’s one of my favourite recordings of it – some may say it is baroque, eccentric, opulent, and excessive. Yes, it is, and to God be the glory. I like to turn it up on full blast while surveying all the Christmas decorations with satisfied, good cheer (and a bit more brandy). Sweet jubilation, indeed! Our cause is just! And indeed, the lyrics were probably written by Blessed Henry Suso, an holy Dominican contemplative, so honi soit qui mal y pense.

Personent Hodie

You’ll find the original text and many translations for this one, too. The prince of hell is ruined, and we enjoy the spoils! Raise your glasses, men! There are lots of glorious versions of this around, but I like this simple version sung by the distinctive voice of Maddy Prior (best known as lead singer of Steeleye Span) for its clarity, Medieval style and good-heartedness.

Joseph est Bien Marié

I like this song for its charm and understatement, which rather highlights the grandeur of its themes, understating them with such sentiments as: “Joseph sure did marry into a good family,” and “it’s a rather novel thing, to be both a mother and a maiden.”

Christmas is a time when fathers often get forgotten, since the focus is primarily on the children and on the busy activity of the womenfolk. Also, men usually don’t spend the month ahead of time dropping hints about all the stuff they want for Christmas… so, while he buys what everyone else wants, he often gets stuck with socks or a tie. A superficial judgment may think the man is getting the raw end of the deal, but, truly, they have the better part: the focus is entirely off them, and they experience the greater joy of selflessness and providing for their loved ones; men more naturally penetrate into the meaning of the feast, and raise their minds above the things that women and children are rather more taken with. So, I like that this carol focuses on St. Joseph, who is also often forgotten amidst the songs of Virgin and Child. There are cleaner and crisper versions of this song online, but I like this one for the all-male choir (Franciscans, in fact) and its heart.

Go away

Last but not least, how better could I bid you all farewell on this day, than by sharing Leonin’s meditative setting of the deacon’s dismissal from Christmas Day Mass? “Go ye, (the oblation) is offered,” to which the people respond, “thanks be to God” (or, pithily translated: “Go away, Mass is over.” “Thank God!” – though, if they still sang Mass like this, we wouldn’t mind hanging around). This setting takes the most solemn melody for the dismissal, adds some simple polyphony, and turns five words into a four-minute musical meditation (chiefly on the response, “thanks be to God”).

Now, as promised, I bid you farewell and offer you the Carols from Kings, from the year 2000; they have a similar policy to ROK: no women allowed! (Okay, sometimes a woman does a reading; but at least none of them ruin the singing. Speaking of, you may want to skip the readings, since they reflect modern Anglicans’ thoughts, and are sometimes more “Churchian” than Christian.)

Now: there are 12 days of feasting, brothers; pour the brandy, and may you have good cheer for them all!

Waes hael for Lord and Dame, o merry be their dole!
Drinc hael in Jesu’s name, and fill the tawny bowl!

Merry Christmas to all.

Read More: A ROK Christmas Benediction From Brother Cui Pertinebit

73 thoughts on “Waes Hael, Drinc Hael, And Merry Christmas To All”

  1. Merry Christmas Brother Aurelius.
    It has been a pleasure following a traditional lead up and celebration of the season with you at the helm.

    1. Glory to God! This season is so precious; we have no idea what we are squandering when we let it slide through our hands in a blur of shopping and inanity. How beautiful are the customs and traditions we lucky souls have inherited; let us not quit them for anything.

  2. Brother Aurelius, please know that although I am spending time with various friends and family and will be attending church service, you are providing the most meaningful and joyous celebration of Christmas by far through the internet.

    1. I wholeheartedly agree with you, AM’s post have been very poignant has helped shaped my faith and bring me closer with God. God bless you Brother Aurelius Moner

    2. I can’t say how gratified and humbled I am by this. Glory to God, Author of all good.
      God bless you as Christmastide continues on.

  3. Listening to this glorious Latin music and reflecting on the article about the Christmas celebration during the Great War, where Germans and English crossed into No Mans Land and briefly celebrated their common bonds together, made me realize how a Latin Mass and music would unite a Christian no matter where he was in the world–attend a mass in Brazil, or Italy, or America, or Spain and it will be the same. The removal of Latin Mass, while controversial, definitely removed some of the common bonds all Christians shared throughout the world.

    1. Indeed; the destruction of the Church’s institutions and culture was the crowning achievement of the Revolution in this past century. May God save us with lofty arm. Christmas is dying in the hearts of men; the glue that held us together is no more.
      Or rather, it still is; but it has been hidden from this profane generation that it may not be blasphemed. With God, all things are possible; let us hope for better things and an end to the captivity of justice and mirth.

  4. Merry Christmas Brother Aurelius and to all!
    Brother Aurellus! I raise my glass and toast thee! I toast all men of good cheer. Men of reason. Men of faith and men of courage!
    May we all rejoice in Christ’s birth and with renewed vigor, carry forth and live in His name and in His word!
    Ein prosit!

  5. It is hardly little known but I’ve been listening to Handel’s Messiah all day. It’s more than just the hallelujah chorus and its in English.

    1. Some of the best red pill truths and values that exist can be found inside of the Bible and traditional Christianity.

        1. Wisdom is found in many places, just look behind the lines. To dismiss the entire bible because of some irrational elements is not the best move.

    2. … Which shows you have no idea what red-pill values and truths really are. Keep reading, studying, thinking, and you’ll see. Or maybe you won’t. It is not possible for the prideful to see what they don’t know, only what they do know, and they place all their faith in their own limited knowledge, not searching for more.

      1. what red-pill values and truths really are

        What they really are? Who is the authority on the ‘real red-pill values’? Is there some kind of ether out of which the Christians sucked the ‘real red-pill truths’?

        1. The authority ? It would be the men collective approval of these redpill values accross different cultures. But yeah, not one authority.

        2. 1. The term “red pill” is a new term, still being defined by its proponents and adversaries. So even though you meant to be cynical, it is a topic that has been discussed often and there is no one authority to dictate what those truths and values are.
          2. I know I am making a mistake in taking you seriously in any way. Oh wait, I am not. I am writing for others to see what a jackass you are.
          3. You mockingly insinuate that there is no such thing as “red-pill values and truths”, and then later declare that “collectives do not exist.” Pray tell why you attack two collectives that supposedly do not exist (Christians and red-pill truths). I thought they did not exist. How is it you are able to attack that which does not even exist? If they cannot exist, then why is the idea of them, as collectives, bothering you enough to attack them, as collectives?
          Your mother and your ten potential fathers, are they a collective? Or they were temporarily a collective as they all dogged your moms that one night? Or they were not a collective because collectives do not exist? They were separately separating her orifices… at the same time?

        3. 1. I did not mean to be cynical at all. A tad sarcastic perhaps, but in general I just wanted to point out that which you have somewhat acknowledged – that there is no authority.
          2. I feel so intimidated by your intellect right now. Please give me a break.
          3. It is not even mocking as much as it is a statement of fact. When I write that collectives do not exist, I mean to – perhaps insufficiently so – express that they are mere abstract theoretical concepts. There is no Christians – there is merely a big number of people who call their belief system Christian. This is important, because it makes you aware of the fact that there is indeed no ‘greater good’. Collectives are abstractions and average-means of a great number of individual entities. ‘Society’ does not exist. There is merely a great number of people. Collectives are phantoms – ungraspable, untouchable, unmeasurable and unsatisfiable.
          Not sure what my mother and my ten potential fathers have to do with this. I find that a bit confusing.

        4. these religious fanatics, trying to find a way to mold any rational concept into their senseless ridiculous religions.

        5. Yes, collectives actually do exist. Think about it the next time you but that “bunch” of oranges, or a pound of tomatoes, etc. Or when you use numbers above, oh, the number “one”.
          While you’re at it, you and Bill should get together over scotch and wonder what the meaning of “is” is.

        6. 1. No one here was saying there was any authority. Where is the authority on the English language, yet it still exists.
          3. Oh, but you fail to realize that they are not merely abstract theoretical concepts. Though said collectives might have borders, members, boundaries and definitions that are difficult to ascertain or define, does not mean they do not exist. Abstractions most certainly can have and often have their physical manifestations, however imperfectly you, me, or others might be able to ascertain where it starts or stops.
          Virtually the entire art and science of human language is built upon IN-exactitude. By that I mean, when we say “The trees are green,” we all know that not EVERY tree is ALL green (barks, leaves, roots, etc.). That is understood, we understand what is meant, though the literal meaning of the sentence, taken to an insane extreme, would be found wanting and false.
          When you say “the trees of the forest are…” or “Christians are…” or “red-pill truths are…”, you are using language, which is not a science, but a form of communication with many unspoken understandings, agreements, and logic of its own, understood. If you wish to begin speaking in some form of scientifically exact (down to the atom level), all-encompassing language… by all means go ahead and invent it.
          When you say “I am angry”… be sure to explain that you are not full of anger, but full of a few other emotions as well, though anger seems to be presently taking center stage. Be sure as well to explain to all hearing that you are not only full of anger, but made up of millions of separate blood cells, neuro-chemical responses that make up your emotional state, to include one called anger, among many others.
          I wouldn’t want you to collectivize yourself into one label called “angry”, because we might get confused that you are nothing more than anger and not also filled with many other emotions, thoughts, or physiological processes.
          Oranges are orange. Except when one is not, because it was picked early and is half green. So, I collectivized oranges in my statement, which you deem so utterly ridiculous. So my statement is false then? I am not allowed to say ANYTHING about ANY collective? Of course not. Everyone know that oranges are orange. Because that statement is a general truth. Which makes it a truth. We all know the few exceptions, and they are exceptions that prove the rule. And language is not an exact science, it is not engineering, despite you wanting it to be so. There is a deductive logic to it, it is not meant to be, whatever it is you are demanding of it. When we need exactitude, we use the right words and syntax to express it, to make clearer distinctions and to discriminate. When we don’t, we don’t. Otherwise basic, everyday communication would be outrageously laborious and exhausting.
          I wish you luck on your journey into insanity as you attempt to de-collectivize the entire world. Even the trees will know you’re going insane. Oh, no, i meant MOST of the trees, not all, not every single one… ’cause we know a collective “trees” does not exist and I can’t assume that every single tree will note your descent into pseudo-intellectual insanity…
          For that matter… we should not even group anything, ever, into categories, because that would be collectivizing, which we all know is just utterly ridiculous. So, out with words and categories like “plants,” “men,” “religions,” “politicians,” “cookies,” “children,” and on and on.
          Hey, ever had a chat with Mr. Cookies? Or Mr. Plants? Or Mrs. Humanity?

        7. On a side note, it is a great thing to know that no orange you will ever eat will be the same as the one you are eating right now. Makes you appreciate the moment.

        8. The brother of a former friend of mine once played the saxophone with Bill Clinton. They had this one photograph and said they are not allowed to share it with anybody.

    3. i hoover somewhere between agnosticism and christianity, with a little sympathy for norse paganism because of my scandanavian roots. i cannot prove christianity is true, but i see strong evidence of its value. one example is comparing my devout catholic central american wife to the the godless western women i used to date. if christianity produces women like my wife (loyal, traditional, not materialistic, virgin until i met her) i believe there must be some truth in it.

        1. i was working down in central america a few years ago. wasn’t looking for a wife, but fortunately came to my senses and realized what i’d found. women like her are still out there, you just have to be open to christianity and willing to wait a few months for sex. easier for me since i was devout as a younger man and understood her wanting to wait for marriage.

        2. Cheers for the reply, but no I definitely agree. Devout christian is the way to go for a wife, a marriage actually means something more than a piece a paper and actually a communion with spouse and God. Also the fear of God makes people stick to their morals and better themselves. But if theres no consequences for screwing other people over then people will do it.

        3. Yeah Christian wives may be the best, but preventing all problems is impossible. But with some authority/firm hand, and lovable character from the both sides, it should work.

        4. a christian girl is definitely no guarantee, but if you get one who is sincere and naturally submissive and traditional, you’ve got a good chance i think. probably easier to find those in latin america or other christian nations outside of the west.
          i’m particularly fond of my wife’s central american catholicism in the sense that she very sincerely believes that adultery is a mortal sin and that since we got married in the church, she only gets this one marriage and that’s it. makes it much less likely that she’ll pull an eat, pray, love on me someday.

  6. Merry Christmas to all! I leave you with a favorite group of singers of mine, Celtic Woman. Gotta love that red head with that violin. Wouldn’t mind striking her strings with my fiddlestick, if you catch my drift;-]

  7. The Byzantine chant is beautiful. Women’s singing was not allowed in the church. Male brains aren’t designed to listen to female voices.

    1. Nice clip. The pictures juxtapose beautifully the idea of expansiveness and order, interspersed between the relative degrees of light and darkness…with the chant acting similarly as an ascending through the layers of time temporally freed from the cause and effect of all passing phenomena.

        1. Through my general interest in music and travel around various churches and ancient temples in Europe, one not only gets a keener sense of sight, but, also a sharper and more acute sense of hearing too.
          I hope you publish some more chants. Are you Greek or Macedonian by any chance?

    2. I love terirems, and it’s hard to find a better composer of Byzantine chants than Koukouzelis. His αἰνειτε τὸν Κύριον in the First Plagal mode is always a wonder to me, especially in the recording I have with Lykourgos Angelopoulos leading the Greek Byzantine Choir.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=000_ReL7Nww

    1. Some of the best music ever written, I think. Not the work of men, but truly of divine inspiration.

    1. Yes wonderful too. Although Bach is perhaps one of the greatest creators of religious music in the west, rather than a musician who wrote strictly for church services, the degree of difference between the Byzantine chant of the Greek monks and his own music is vast as they signify very different relationships with the divine even within Christianity.
      Both are intriguing and incredible in their own ways.

        1. The chant is imbued with an almost private sensibility that comes through both the faith and understanding of a community of men who’ve lived apart from the secular world so as to be immersed into the Byzantine spirit of their Christianity.
          Bach’s relationship will the divine through his supreme craftsmanship is created as a relationship that can be publicly shared by all of the faithful in the various towns and cities in the Prussia of his day. It’s a relationship that brings the faithful together to share the bonds of common values and feelings through the deception of the key events in the life of Christ. Bach’s music, unintentionally is a step towards a more secular accommodation with the world. The monks chant is the opposite as it doesn’t need to make that accommodation towards the world where divine things are made understandable for the green grocer and the candle stick maker.

        2. It’s the difference between the more communal Lutheran music of Bach’s works that needed to be religious, but, also accessible to the ordinary folk of the faithful too. While the monk’s chant doesn’t need to be watered down or made more accessible to the ordinary world, as it’s directed by a largely homogeneous community of men who are primarily interested in their relationship with GOD and not the World. They don’t need to compose music to depict the life of Christ in a readily accessible form to people outside their community, for this is not the purpose of a monk’s chant. You could describe the difference as being akin to man/God relationships that are democratic while others are aristocratic.

        3. You elaborated it beautifully. Well done.
          I’ve noticed that when I play Byzantine music, people around me always ask “What is this?” because they feel a certain unease when listening to it. It reawakens their souls and many people prefer to keep them under the lid.

        4. Music that awakes the slumbering soul is indeed music that can cause a certain degree of unease. What I loved about this music is its direction which is projected upwards from our world. It denotes our real presence in the heart of creation as beings who reciprocate their creator in a language both can mutually understand.

        5. Indeed; similar to Gregorian and Kievan chant, though Westerners often at least know what Gregorian chant is.

    1. Ah, it’s still Christmas yet! For at least two more days, depending on how you count; merry Christmas!

    1. Their recordings of Cistercian chants are some of my favourites. Their Orbis Factor was one of the first pieces of music I heard upon discovering the ancient traditions of the Faith.

  8. Hello, Br. Aurelius
    Greetings and merry Christmas. From your description above you state that you came from an “atheistic, liberal…” am I right to think you were an atheist? (I’m ESL). I always find interesting those changes like C.S. Lewis which was highly influenced by Tolkien. Second, I happen to be curious by the Middle Ages/”Dark Ages”, and all the interesting things that happened that have been misrepresented post-enlightenment. Do you have any books/references you recommend about the real un-revisioned history of the dark ages?

    1. Well, I got most of my Medieval History from primary sources, or from reading between the lines of many different secondary sources. Give me a while to think about a good resource, and if you don’t hear back from me soon, email me (this handle is also my gmail address).

  9. Hello gents; sorry to only just now see that this article ran. I didn’t see it on the main ticker and had to go straight into my username for some reason. Thanks to all who commented, and apologies for not getting to you sooner.

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