Tuesday 6 December

Antiphon: He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms.

St. Nicholas and Krampus Card. Wiener Werkstätte (Viennese Workshops) 1911. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

A voice says, ‘Cry out!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’ All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 96.7-13

7. Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
8. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
9. Worship the Lord in holy splendour; tremble before him, all the earth.

10. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.’
11. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12. let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13. before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.

Matthew 18:12-14

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Eternal God, in your great love you gave your servant Nicholas a perpetual name for deeds of kindness on land and sea. Grant that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor and the help of those who are tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tom Lehrer's (in)famous A Christmas Carol (1959)

"Lasst uns froh und munter sein", ("Let us be happy and cheerful") German Christmas carol from the Hunsrück/Taunus region, traditionally sung on St Nicholas Eve. Jazz version played by Michael Gundlach

Lasst uns froh und munter sein
und uns recht von Herzen freun!
Lustig, lustig, tralera-lera,
bald ist Nikolausabend da,
bald ist Nikolausabend da!

Bald ist uns're Schule aus;
dann zieh'n wir vergnügt nach Haus.
Lustig, lustig, …

Dann stell ich den Teller auf,
Nikolaus legt gewiß was drauf.
Lustig, lustig, …

Wenn ich schlaf, dann träume ich:
Jetzt bringt Nikolaus was fü mich.
Lustig, lustig, …

Wenn ich aufgestanden bin,
lauf ich schnell zum Teller hin.
Lustig, lustig, …

Nikolaus ist ein guter Mann,
dem man nicht g'nug danken kann.
Lustig, lustig, …

Let us be happy and cheerful
And really be happy in our hearts!
Jolly, jolly, tralala-lala,
Soon Nicholas Eve is here!
Soon Nicholas Eve is here!

Soon our school day ends,
Home I'll go with all my friends.
Jolly, jolly, …

Then I put the plate out
Nick'll surely put somethin' on it.
Jolly, jolly, …

When I sleep, then I dream:
Now Nicholas brings me something.
Jolly, jolly, …

When I am woken up,
I run quickly to the plate.
Jolly, jolly, …

Nicholas is a good man
Whom we can't thank enough.
Jolly, jolly, …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Origin of Species,
Phyllis McGinley

Nicholas, Bishop of Myra's See,
Was holy a saint
As a saint could be;
Saved not a bit
Of his worldly wealth
And loved to commit
Good deeds by stealth.

Was there a poor man,
Wanting a roof?
Nicholas sheltered him weatherproof.
Who lacked a morsel
Had but to ask it
And at his doorsill
Was Nicholas' basket.

O, many a basket did he carry.
Penniless girls
Whom none would marry
Used to discover to their delight,
Into their windows
Tossed at night
(When the moon was old
And the dark was showry),
Bags of gold
Enough for a dowry.

People, I read,
Grew slightly lyrical,
Calling each deed
He did, a miracle.
Told how he calmed the sea for sailors
And rescued children
From awful jailers
Who, drawing lots
For the foul design,
Liked pickling tots
In pickle brine.

Nicholas, circa
Fourth cent. A.D.,
Died in the odor of sanctity.
But fortune changes,
Blessings pass,
And look what's happened to Nicholas.

He who had feared
The world's applause,
Now, with a beard,
Is Santa Claus.
A multiplied elf, he struts and poses,
Ringing up sales
In putty noses;
With Comet and Cupid
His constant partners,
Telling tall tales to kindergart'ners,
His halo fickle as
Wind and wave.

While dizzily Nicholas
Spins in his grave.

"Origin of Species", from Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades with Seventy New Poems by Phyllis McGinley. (1961)

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.