Sermon of Saint Leo, Pope.
In the conflict thus entered into for our sakes, the combat was fought by our omnipotent God with great and admirable equity: inasmuch as it is not in His own Majesty, but in our lowliness, that he attacks our bitter foe; opposing him with the self-same form, and self-same nature as ours, man like us in everything save sin: for, that which is written of all men, had no place in this Nativity: "Not one is free from defilement, no, not the child whose life on earth is but one day." Into this admirable birth, then, there passed nothing pertaining to the concupiscence of the flesh, there entered not aught of the law of sin. A virgin of the royal family of David is chosen, who, having to be made mother of the Divine Child, the God-Man, conceived Him in her soul, before she conceived Him in her womb. And lest the ineffable mystery should make her fear, were she left ignorant of the Divine plan, she is told by the Angel of that which was to be done in her by the Holy Ghost, and was given to see how she could be Mother of God, yet remain a pure Virgin.
Let us, therefore, dearly Beloved, give thanks to God the Father: through His Son, in the Holy Ghost: because, through His exceeding charity, wherewith He hath loved us, He has had compassion upon us; and when we were dead in our sins, quickened us unto life together with Christ, that we might be a new creature in Him, and a new substance. Therefore, let us put off the old man with his acts, and, having been made partakers of the generation of Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh. Learn thy own worth, O Christian! and, having been made a partaker of the divine nature, scorn to become again the vile thing of old. Remember of what Head and of what body thou art a member. Remember how thou, having been snatched from the power of darkness, hast been translated into the Light and Kingdom of God.
This extract forms the lessons in the 2nd nocturn of Matins of Christmas. It is broken into 3 parts, as indicated. After each lesson, there is a responsory sung by the schola. These are magnificent texts of great power and antiquity, and have often been set to polyphonic notes.
R. O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum! ut animalia viderent Dominum natum jacentem in praesepio: * Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
V. Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. * Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum.
O great Mystery, and wonderful secret! brute beasts to see their newborn Lord laid in a manger! * Blessed is the Virgin, that deserved to carry in her womb, Christ our Lord!
V. Hail Mary! full of grace, the Lord is with thee. * Blessed is the Virgin, that deserved to carry in her womb, Christ our Lord!
R. Beata Dei genitrix Maria, cujus viscera intacta permanent: * Hodie genuit Salvatorem saeculi.
V. Beata quae credidit, quoniam perfecta sunt omnia quae dicta sunt ei a Domino. * Hodie genuit Salvatorem saeculi.
R The Blessed Mother of God. Mary, remaining ever the spotless Virgin, * Hath this day given birth to the Saviour of the world.
V. Blessed in that she believed, for all those things have been done in her, that were said unto her by the Lord. * Hath this day given birth to the Saviour of the world.
R. Sancta et immaculata Virginitas, quibus te laudibus efferam, nescio: * Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
V. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui. * Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.Gloria Patri ... * Quia quem coeli capere non poterant, tuo gremio contulisti.
R. O holy and immaculate Virginity, I know not with what praises I shall extol thee: * For thou didst bear in thy womb Him whom the heavens cannot contain.
V. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. * For thou didst bear in thy womb Him whom the heavens cannot contain.
Glory be ... * For thou didst bear in thy womb Him whom the heavens cannot contain.