Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lully Lullay

Today is day 4 of the 12 days of Christmas.

In the traditional church calendar, it is the feast day of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the victims in one of the saddest stories in the Bible:

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son" [Hosea 11:1].

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

     A voice was heard in Ramah,
     sobbing and loud lamentation;
     Rachel weeping for her children,
     and she would not be consoled,
     since they were no more.
        [Jeremiah 31:15]

Matthew 2:13-18

One of the most poignant tunes of the season, the Coventry carol comes from a medieval mystery play and commemorates this heartrending event:

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