Saturday, January 7, 2012

Finally Epiphany!

I've heard it said that earlier in the Church's history, the feast of the Epiphany was considered a greater feast than Christmas. Certainly in the Divine Office you see some odd hints that this feast is packed with significance far beyond the mere event of the magi.  Sometimes it's worthwhile to flip through all the liturgical hours of a day, reading just the antiphons, to see what kind of "theme" they turn up.  Doing this for Epiphany give you lots of Light, glory,revelation, splendor, and mysteries revealed. The antiphons for Benedictus and the Magnificat are nearly identical, and make the odd statement that today's feast celebrates three different events: the revelation of Christ to the Magi, the Baptism of Our Lord, and the miracle at Cana.  

So there's a topic for your meditation this weekend: comparing these three mysteries of light and revelation. 

And pay special attention to the New Testament canticle for Evening Prayer I, because you don't see it very often. In fact, there is only one other day in the entire year when this canticle is used. 
Now that's a great Divine Office trivia question: what day besides the Epiphany will we see I Timothy 3:16 as a canticle? 

Let's see which smarty-pants  can answer that first in the comments.  

Here's the Canticle

R. Praise the Lord, all you nations.
Christ manifested in the flesh,
Christ justified in the Spirit.
R.Praise the Lord, all you nations.
Christ contemplated by the angels,
Christ proclaimed by the pagans.
R.Praise the Lord, all you nations.
Christ who is believed in the world,
Christ exalted in glory.
R. Praise the Lord, all you nations.


  1. Well--it wasn't the one I expected! I went through 4 or 5 possiblities before checking the index at the back of Christian Prayer and having that "why didn't I think of THAT ONE?" moment.
    Not going to spoil it for the next commenter, especially since I didn't nail this answer on my own. It is a beautiful canticle :)

  2. In the Orthodox Church Theophany is still considered a bigger feast than Christmas. Although I think for them it's only about the Baptism of the Lord and not about the Magi.

    My family always celebrated Epiphany as a second Christmas. We got presents from Santa on Christmas and got presents from Mom and Dad/exchanged presents with each other on Epiphany. I rather like breaking up the gift-giving and so we're continuing the same. Also, gifts from my parents arrive in time for Epiphany. This year we're celebrating on Sunday because our diocese moved the celebration. I slightly prefer celebrating on the actual day; but this year was behind on my shopping so didn't mind waiting so much.

    I'm would guess that the canticle is also seen on the feast of Christ the King. But I have no idea if I'm right or not. I do have a vague memory of praying it in the past year and noting that we don't pray it often; but I don't remember when it was.

  3. I'm betting on the Baptism of the Lord.

  4. The answer to the canticle question is: The feast of the Transfiguration, August 6th. So now we can think about the connections between these two feasts, that they would have this same canticle.

    Melanie--we did "3 Kings" gifts for years when the kids were young. We would also benefit greatly on this day from all the sales of Christmas candy on Dec. 26th.

  5. Thank makes sense. Both the Transfiguration and Epiphany have to do with Christ's revelation of himself.

    When we were slightly older we always hit the after Christmas sales to buy our Epiphany gifts for each other. It made the allowance money spread further.