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Midnight mass

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Lisa4NH | 16:23 Sat 12th Nov 2005 | Arts & Literature
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Soz but i didn't really know where to put this question. Can anyone teel me what happens at midnight Mass or does anyone know somewhere where I can find out. I'm struggling with my R.E. homework. Thanks


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The midnight Mass or Communion service happens on Christmas Eve. It usually starts before midnight and so Christmas Day dawns during the service. The hymns are usually carols and I believe that the reading is the bit where the nativity story is told. I am not Catholic, and have only atended the Anglican version, but it is a very special way to start Christmas

........."Holy Mary , Mother of God, send us down a couple of bob" ........

The Roman Catholic version is as above. A normal mass with Christmas hymns.
And here is how it is supposed to have begun..... if this any help with the homework.
This first of the three Christmas masses was originally celebrated by the Pope towards midnight in the chapel of the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica in Rome before a small congregation. Pope Sixte III had constructed this small chapel in 440 to house a cr�che which faithfully reproduced the one in Bethlehem.

The celebration of mass at midnight at Santa Maria Maggiore is based on the ancient belief that Jesus was born precisely on the stroke of twelve. We owe this to the XIIIth century Hungarian Saint Elizabeth. A IVth century Latin hymn, Quando noctis medium, already reflected the belief that the Messiah was born on the stroke of midnight. .

A little more on shaneystar's excellent answer can be found here. Sixte III is in fact the French name for the Pope who in English is known as Sixtus III, and more again can be found here. My picture above is a bit of a s tease in the hope that it would lead to an interesting discussion, but I don't suppose that it will. One essence of the Christmas Mass is that Jesus was born at midnight, and you can see from this picture that the manger was somewhat crowded.

I cannot add to your already wonderful answers and pictures Lisa, but you might be interested in this poem by Thomas Hardy. It's called 'The Oxen' and it was believed by country folk that all creatures knelt down at midnight on Christmas Eve to pay homage to the Christ Child.

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