Station for Christmas Eve is at St. Mary Major in Rome with a Privileged Vigil of the First Class. It was only when Our Lord’s nativity was celebrated with increasing solemnity that a special Mass was said on this vigil. The actual solemnity of December 25, instead of consisting of two Masses, one of the vigil and the other of the feast, with a third inserted in commemoration of St. Anastasia, ended by allowing four Masses, all of them in honor of the Christian mystery. Thus, one in the evening of December 24 at the beginning of the night Office, one at midnight at the first cock crowing, one in the early morning, and one, finally, at the hour of Terce. Unlike the other vigils, in which the penitential character and a sense of sadness predominate, that of Christmas, is full of vivacity and holy joy. This is fully in accordance with the nature of the heart of man. After so long a period of anxious and painful expectation the sudden news of our approaching deliverance lightens the heart, while a common joy unites us and makes us forget for a moment the hard conditions of our life here below.
INTROIT Exodus 16: 6, 7
This day you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. (Ps. 23: 1) The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof, the world, and all they that dwell therein. v. Glory be to the Father…
O God, Who dost gladden us year by year with the expectation of our redemption, grant that we, who now with joy receive Thine only begotten Son as our Redeemer, may behold Him also without fear, when He cometh as our judge, our Lord Jesus Christ. Who with Thee livest and reignest, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Romans 1: 1-6
Lesson from the Epistle of Blessed Paul the Apostle to the Romans. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which He had promised before by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, Who was made to Him of the seed of David according to the flesh, Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead: by Whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith, in all nations, for His name, among whom are you also the called of Jesus Christ.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Exodus 16: 6, 7
This day you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us; and in the morning you shall see His glory. V. (Ps. 79: 2, 3) Give ear, O Thou that rulest Israel: Thou that leadest Joseph like a sheep; Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, appear before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasses.
GOSPEL Matthew 1: 18-21
When Mary, the mother of Jesus, was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost. Whereupon Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing publicly to expose her, was minded to put her away privately. But while he thought on these things, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to him in his sleep, saying: Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 23: 7
Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O almighty God, that, as in anticipation we come to celebrate the adorable birthday of Thy Son, so we may joyously lay hold upon His everlasting rewards. Who with Thee livest and reignest, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Isaias 40: 5
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed; and all flesh shall see the salvation of our God.
Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may begin a new life with this festival of the Nativity of Thine only begotten Son, Who, in these mysteries, feeds us with the meat and drink of that life which is eternal. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God world without end. R. Amen.