The celebration of 'Christmas and the three days following' occurs in many mediaeval liturgical sources. For a general guide to festal rankings, see the Missal of the use of York, published by the Surtees Society, vols 59, 60. Vol 59 has the information in the introduction.
The Uses of Sarum and Exeter provide further details of the celebrations. These 'extra' days were marked by the use of the 'Verbum Patris hodie' trope in place of a plain Benedicamus Domino at Vespers on each of these days. The liturgy of St. Stephen's Day (26th) was conducted by the deacons, other clergy being bound to follow the ordo they laid down. Consequently the troped dismissal was sung by a deacon on this day.
On the 27th the liturgy was conducted by the priests, who held similar sway over the community. It should be noted that these priests were distinct from cathedral canons who had the usual control of the liturgy. In a sense, this was an exercise in empowerment!
The 28th (Holy Innocents) was marked by the liturgical arrangements being made by the choirboys of the foundation in question. This is the origin of the practice of electing a 'boy bishop' who presided at all the services of the day and, again, sang the troped dismissal.
Due to the ranking of these days in kalendars the liturgy was extremely complex. For example, I Vespers for the feast of St. Stephen was due to be sung on Christmas Day. Sometimes this was done, sometimes various truncations took place allowing the liturgy of the day itself to have precedence. This may also be a possible etiology for the above practices; having the extra liturgical portions doled out amongst the available staff!
I would be interested to have any details regarding specifics of the Templar liturgy for this (or any other) period of the kalendar.
Regarding the Epiphany, it is wortgh noting that the '12 days' of Christmas is not a mediaeval liturgical concept. Although some ordines take teh following day as being 'per annum', a good number do not regard the festal cycle as being over until the Octave of the Epiphany is complete. cf. modern Roman practice - the Christmas season is not liturgically over until the Sunday after the Epiphany.
Hope this clears up more questions than it raises!
>From : Dana Cushing / Austrechild <[log in to unmask]>
To : [log in to unmask]
Date : 08 December 2000 19:33:09
Subject : days of xmas?
>My question is concerning a book on medieval military history I'm writing,
>>and has to do with the celebration of Christmas. Why were the Crusaders
>>celebrating their Christmas festivities from 24 to 28 December (Xmas eve
>>to Holy Innocents)? Especially as opposed to a single night (usually xmas
>>eve) or the full twelve days until Epiphany?
>thanks, dana cushing (new member)
Director, 1509 Society
email: [log in to unmask]
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