We continue with the series on Prefaces of the Roman Missal by Canon Alan Griffiths, as we look at Preface of Advent II.
This Preface was composed for the 1970 Missal, but it is a mosaic of phrases from early Roman liturgical sources, namely two prefaces from the Verona Sacramentary and part of a prayer over the offerings for the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.
It is designed to be used in the second half of Advent from 17th December until Christmas Eve. It features the Prophets, the Blessed Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, all of whom ‘prepared the way’ for the Incarnate Christ:
All the The Prophets, whose praeconia (their ‘oracles’ or preaching) predicted Christ: .. for all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (Matthew 11:13);
The Blessed Virgin Mary, who sustinuit (meaning both ‘was pregnant with him’ and ‘longed for him’) with love;
John the Baptist, who sang (cecinit) of his coming and revealed his presence. Specifically, what John reveals is the presence of the Paschal Mystery: The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29);
The idea of John the Baptist ‘singing’ of the Christ is striking, and appropriate in a preface, which is intended to be sung.
And as we approach Christmas, the ‘mystery of his Nativity’ there are three stances which the Church celebrates in this Preface: ‘gaudentes,’ ‘pervigiles’ and ‘exsultantes:’ rejoicing, being watchful, exsulting. These are the attitudes that will greet both his coming at Christmas and when he comes in glory.
Once again, the references point not just to Christmas but to Easter and beyond, as in two references to the First Letter of Peter:
The end of all things is at hand. Therefore be prudent, and watchful in your prayers (1Peter 4:7)
Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:13).