ATHER FORTESCUE says there are three “cardinal feasts” of the liturgical year: viz. EPIPHANY, EASTER, and PENTECOST. On the eve of the Epiphany—in other words, on 5 January (tomorrow night)—there is a special blessing of water: Benedictio Aquae in Vigilia Epiphaniae Domini. Below is the booklet we use at Saint Vitus Parish, which is run by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I’m sharing this rough draft of a booklet we use, in case anyone else needs to sing this ceremony; it contains the Gregorian chant scores reqired. I’m not saying it’s the greatest booklet in the world, but here it is:
* PDF Download • BLESSING EPIPHANY WATER (18 pages)
—Blessing of the Waters on the Eve of the Epiphany; Gregorian Chant.
I scanned a few pages from the Rituale Romanum so you can see where Benedictio Aquae in Vigilia Epiphaniae Domini comes from. I wrote out the Tonus Solemnis (“Solemn Tone”) for the TE DEUM with a literal English translation by Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles E. Spence. (The 1961 Graduale Romanum provides a total of three tones.) If you just want the TE DEUM for your congregation to sing at the end of the ceremony, print those 4 pages double-sided. Speaking of EPIPHANIA DOMINI, Ms. Eleanor Parker has posted an English “Book of Hours” (circa 1350AD) with exquisite illustrations depicting the entire narrative of the Magi and King Herod, in a series of pictures running across the bottom:
We begin with one king:
…plus two kings:
…equals three kings:
The Magi encounter the shepherds, who point the way to Bethlehem:
When we turn the page, they are arriving at Herod’s castle:
They tell Herod the purpose of their quest:
Troubled by what the Magi have told him, Herod sends letters gathering the “chief priests and scribes of the people”:
And they point out to him the prophecies which tell that Christ is to be born in Bethlehem:
Meanwhile, the Magi find the child and present their gifts, but are quickly warned by an angel—while sleeping still wearing their crowns!—to flee:
“They departed into their own country by another way,” and that’s the last we see of them. But Joseph is also warned by an angel:
…and takes his family to Egypt:
Learning that the Magi set sail from Tarsus, Herod orders the ships there to be burnt:
Having failed in his pursuit, he sends out his knights to kill children under two years old:
Katérva matrum pérsonat
conlísa deflens pígnora,
quorum tyránnus mília
Christo sacrávit víctimam.
And we see the massacre of the children, their mothers struggling against the soldiers:
This story is told on the very first pages of the Brébeuf hymnal—in Latin with a literal English translation—by the ABECEDARIUS, which is a very important Alphabetical Hymn by Caelius Sedulius, a Christian Poet who lived in the 5th century.