I have returned to my native place for the Octave of Christmas. At St. Agnes in St. Paul, MN, there was a fine midnight Mass. A full orchestra and large choir began with traditional and modern Christmas carols at 11:15 pm. The church filled to “jammed” status before the procession to the crib began shortly before midnight. The orchestra and choir began Transeamus usque ad Bethlehem, et videamus ….” With many altar boys (no girls) in cassock and surplice, clergy in choir dress the procession included a bier carrying the infant Jesus to be placed in the creche. At the place of the creche, an altar boy dressed in a Franciscan habit in honor of the origin of this great custom, brought the figure of the infant King to the deacon, who placed Him in the manger. The priest blessed the scene and the Introit of Mass rang out in Gregorian chat: Dominus dixit ad me…. The ordinary of the Mass was Mozart’s Coronation Mass and the propers were in Gregorian chant.
Every day during the Octave, Vespers are sung each afternoon, in Latin, followed by a sung Mass in Latin with deacons or deacon and seminarian Acolyte acting in the place of the “subdeacon”.
Here is a detail of the fine presepio at St. Agnes: