Christmas tree
Let us go over to Bethlehem and see these things that have happened which the Lord has made known to us.

Luke 2: 15

Advent Wreath
Mother Abbess Lucia lighting the Advent Wreath
The ‘Christmas Season’ begins with Advent and continues through Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord. It is one of our most intense yet enriching times. Both the liturgy and the chants proper to this season express this intensity, moving from a sense of anticipation during Advent to the wonder of the Incarnation—God made man—and the joy of the Nativity. Here are some of the special events that take place in the Abbey church in anticipation of Christmas Day. All are welcome to attend.

At the Office of Compline each night we sing a hymn to Our Lady which changes according to the liturgical season. On the First Sunday of Advent we begin singing the beautiful Alma Redemptoris Mater. Classicist and Abbey friend, Joseph T. Moller offers what he calls a new "interpretative translation" of the hymn, versicle, and collect which follow the hymn.

Our Lady
Linocut of Our Lady by Mother Telchilde
Alma Redemptoris Mater, quæ pervia cæli
Porta manes, et stella maris, succurre cadenti,
Surgere qui curat, populo: tu quæ genuisti,
Natura mirante, tuum sanctum Genitorem
Virgo prius ac posterius, Gabrielis ab ore
Sumens illud Ave, peccatorum miserere.

℣. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.
℟. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Gratiam tuam quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, angelo nuntiante, Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem ejus et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.

Gentle Nurturing Redeemer's Mother, our passage to heaven's
Gate abiding, and Star of the Sea, hasten to succour us even as we fall
While yet trying to arise, your people; You who have borne,
To Nature's astonishment, your holy Creator
Virgin before as after, from the mouth of Gabriel
Accepting that Ave greeting, on us now have mercy.

V. The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Sprit.

Let us pray.
Your grace we ask you, Lord, on our minds to pour forth; that we, who, from the Annunciation of the angel, learned of the Incarnation of Christ, Your Son, through His passion and death to the glory of His Resurrection may be brought. Through that same Christ our Lord.
R. Amen

Beginning on December 17th until the Vigil of Christmas, the Great ‘O’ Antiphons are chanted each evening at Vespers. Notable for their distinct theological and musical excellence, they are prayed at Vespers because of the belief that it was at the evening hour of the world that the Savior was born. So as to also honor the Mother of God, they precede the Magnificat, Mary's prayer. Vespers is sung with great solemnity: candle-bearers stand on each side of the Hebdomadarian who, standing in the center of the monastic choir, intones the 'O' Antiphon and sings the special Collect for the day. The Magnificat is sung on the Solemn tone and all the bells are rung from the intonation of the 'O' Antiphon to the end of the final prayer. All are invited to our Church of Jesu Fili Mariae to join us at 5:00 pm (4:30 on Sunday) for this liturgy.

Listen to O Radix Jesse and the Solemn Magnificat sung by the monastic choir.

We are pleased to present beautiful poetic English translations of the 'O' Antiphons by classicist and Abbey friend, Joseph T. Moller, who offers some background to these ancient antiphons:

The 'O' Antiphons are structured as collects, the Church’s ancient and traditional form of a prayer of petition. As with all collects the language is drawn directly from the Scriptures. Each begins with an invocation addressing the Lord with a particular epithet drawn from the Old Testament: Sapientia, Adonai, Radix Jesse, Clavis David, Oriens, Rex Gentium, Emmanuel, roughly coinciding with salvation history from Creation, through the Exodus and Kings and culminating in the Messianic prophecies.

As in every collect the central point of each antiphon is a petition. For these antiphons this is: veni, come, the hope of Advent. Veni radically speaks the meaning of Advent and our unqualified need for Christ to come into our lives.

The veni is followed by a specific expectation of a salvific action: teach, redeem, set free, enlighten, save, these actions increasing in intensity and scope from the first to the last antiphon. An acrostic is formed by the first letters of the antiphons, last to first: ERO CRAS: I will be there tomorrow.

O Sapientia quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

O Wisdom,
Who from the mouth of the Most High has come forth,
Stretching forth to touch from limit unto limit
In strength and in delight
Forming and placing all things:
To teach us the way of foresight.

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Adonai,
And Leader of the house of Israel
Who to Moses in the fire of the burning bush appeared
And to him on Sinai the law gave:
To redeem us with your arm outstretched.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse,
Who stands as a sign for the peoples
Before Whom kings will hold their mouths shut
And Whom the nations will implore:
To set us free.
Now do not delay.

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David
And scepter of the house of Israel
You open and no one closes, you close and no one opens:
And lead the captive
Down from the prison house
Who is sitting in darkness
And the shadow of death.

O Oriens, splendor lucis æternæ, et sol justitiæ: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Rising Dawn
Splendor of light eternal
And Sun of Justice:
And bring light to
Those sitting in darkness
And the shadow of death.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.

O King of the Nations
And their Desired One
The corner stone Who makes both one:
And save man
Whom from mud You formed.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.

O Emmanuel
King and our Law Giver
Awaited One of the nations and their Saviour:
To make us whole.
Lord, Our God.

(Translations of 'O' Antiphons courtesy of Joseph T. Moller: Copyright © 2013 The Abbey of Regina Laudis. All rights reserved.)

Gallery of images of the 'O' antiphons in stained glass and mosaics created by Mother Praxedes.


A special blessing ceremony for the Christmas tree takes place after Vespers on December 23rd. (Vespers is sung in our church Jesu Fili Mariae at 4:15 pm, earlier than usual, on the 23rd.) At Vespers you will hear the last solemn O Antiphon sung. The blessing ceremony lasts about twenty minutes and all are welcome.

This year's tree is a special gift from Verdi Construction, the Company carrying out our New Horizons Renovation Project. It was purchased through the annual Christmas Tree Sale Fundraiser for the Sandy Hook Fire House. Mike Burton, who is the project manager for New Horizons, is an active volunteer at the Sandy Hook Fire House and delivered this beautiful tree to us. Visit the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company web site to see a photo of the tree in our sanctuary before it was decorated. We feel privileged to have this tree, which they describe as the "holiest of trees", in our Abbey church and hope you and your families can join us in blessing it this year.

Christmas itself begins with Solemn First Vespers on December 24th at 4:00 pm. Matins of Christmas begins at 8:00 pm. At Matins, each of the Nine Lessons of Christmas is sung by a member of the monastic Community.

genealogy One of the highlights of our celebration of Christmas is the singing of the Genealogy of Jesus by Mother Abbess at the conclusion of Matins just before Midnight Mass. In a solemn ceremony in the darkened Church, Mother Abbess sings the name of each person of the successive generations in the lineage of Jesus, from the Patriarch Abraham to Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. This text of the Gospel according to St. Matthew is set to an ancient, haunting Gregorian chant melody, which is reserved for this night. Each Christmas Eve when we hear Mother Abbess sing the Genealogy, the timeless, wondrous message of the Incarnation is brought to birth again: "You are my Son; today I have begotten you."

“Midnight” Mass follows, sung in Gregorian chant, at about 10:30 pm. English-Latin translations are available for the congregation.


4:15 pm Vespers Followed by Blessing of the Christmas Tree Jesu Fili Mariæ


6:15 am Lauds and Prime Monastery Chapel
6:45 am Solemn Announcement of the Nativity Monastery Chapel
8:00 am Terce and Mass Jesu Fili Mariæ
12:00 pm Sext and None Monastery Chapel
4:00 pm First Vespers of the Nativity Jesu Fili Mariæ
7:45 pm First bell for Matins
8:00 pm Christmas Matins Jesu Fili Mariæ
10:45 pm Midnight Mass* Jesu Fili Mariæ


7:00 am Lauds, Angelus and Prime Monastery Chapel
8:45 am Terce and Mass of the Day Jesu Fili Mariæ
12:00 pm Sext and None Monastery Chapel
4:30 pm Second Vespers of the Nativity Jesu Fili Mariæ
7:30 pm Compline Monastery Chapel
*Time of Midnight Mass may vary depending on when the Office of Matins ends. We recommend coming early and hearing Mother Abbess sing the Genealogy of Jesus at the end of Matins.

starThird in a series of Women in Chant CDs is The Announcement of Christmas, an album of Gregorian chant recorded by the community of Regina Laudis. Conducted by Mother Abbess David Serna, and produced by Travis Pomposello, the album was recorded live in the Church of Jesu Fili Mariæ and released in 2007. The CD takes the listener through the wondrous arc of time surrounding the birth of Christ: from the anticipatory longing of Advent, through the fulfillment of the Feast of Epiphany, which commemorates the offering of precious gifts to the Christ child by the three Wise Men. Listen to introductory selections from the album.