‘Tis the season of Wassail, a custom which for hundreds of years has been linked with the Midwinter holidays — Christmas (Yuletide) and, more recently, New Year’s. Here is a reasonably detailed, yet readable and (to me at least) quite fascinating historical discussion of the custom, courtesy of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation!
My good friend Ryan Hunter shared this and noted:
From Her Majesty The Queen’s first televised Christmas broadcast of 1957 Addressing the phenomenon of popular new technologies (like TV) and the suddenly “new world” in which postwar Britain found itself, Her Majesty said:
“I’m not surprised that many people feel lost, and unable to decide what to hold on to and what to discard, and how to take advantage of this new life without losing the best of the old. But it is not the new inventions which are the difficulty. The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery. They would have religion thrown aside; morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness, and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint. At this critical moment in our history, we will certainly lose the trust and respect of the world if we just abandon those fundamental principles which guided the men and women who built the greatness of this country…”
Wise words, as is commonly the case where Her Majesty is concerned!
While all things were in quiet silence, and night was in the midst of her swift course, thine Almighty Word, O Lord, leapt down from Heaven, out of thy royal throne. Alleluia! (traditional Christmas antiphon)
O God, who hast caused this holy night to shine with the illumination of the true Light: Grant us, we beseech thee, that as we have known the mystery of that Light upon earth, so may we also perfectly enjoy him in heaven; where with thee and the Holy Spirit he liveth and reigneth, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ, our Saviour, is born! Alleluia!
Wishing all my readers a merry, holy, and blessed Christmas.
For those following the “Sarum Use,” which began Sapientiatide (the season of the “Great O” Antiphons on the Magnificat) on December 16th instead of 17th, today is the day of “O Virgo Virginum”:
O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud?
Quia nec primam similem visa es nec habere sequentem.
Filiae Jerusalem, quid me admiramini?
Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.
O Virgin of virgins, how shall this be?
For before you there was none like you, nor shall there be after.
Daughters of Jerusalem, why do you marvel at me?
What you behold is a divine mystery.
O joy of women, beyond the glory of heaven,
most noble virgin through all the corners of the earth
of whom sea-dwellers ever heard tell,
explain to us the mystery which came to you from the skies,
how you ever conceived a pregnancy,
the bearing of a baby, when you never knew
bed-companionship according to the ways of men.
Truly, we have not heard of such a thing
ever occurring in former days,
as that you, with special grace, conceived in this way,
nor should we ever expect that event
to occur again in time.
Hmmmmmm… good point.
I absolutely love this ad, and even more, the historical episode it portrays: the Great Christmas Truce of 1914, which for a few brief, shining hours, stopped one of the most horrific and destructive wars in history – certainly in European history – in its tracks. Before they were forced back to killing each other by their “superiors,” the ordinary soldiers of the British and German Armies enjoyed a brief respite from the fighting… and a brief vision of one another as fellow humans, and European brothers.
If only the spirit of that moment could have somehow taken hold, been built upon, perhaps the terrible destruction and loss of the flower of European youth – the “death of a generation” – at Verdun, the Somme, and other battles, might have been prevented. And perhaps, just perhaps, the continued suffering and loss which has followed – World War Two, the Cold War, and Europe’s present crisis – might also have been prevented…
A heartwarming, yet heartbreaking, story.
I have not chosen to emphasize in this blog, but neither have I sought to conceal, my lifelong sympathy for the Confederate side in the War Between the States (1861-1865). The usual term, “Civil War,” is not factually accurate, since a civil war by definition is a conflict between two sides over who will control the central government, and that is not what was at issue in that war. Rather, the Southern (or to use the old term, Southron) Confederacy wished simply to be left alone to pursue its own destiny, while the North, under the Lincoln administration, sought to impose its will upon the breakaway States.
As a child, my appreciation for the Confederate States was based on my instinctive sympathy for the “underdog,” and my admiration for such towering figures of military prowess, personal honour, and gentlemanly conduct as Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and many more. As an adult, I have come to realize that the War Between the States was indeed what many Southrons have called it, a “Second American War for Independence,” wherein the South was defending the ideals and principles of our Founders and the Constitutional Republic they had given us. Continue reading “If the South had been victorious…”