Friday, January 04, 2013

The Offertory for the Feast of the Epiphany: Reges Tharsis

Reges Tharsis ("The Kings of Tarshish") is the lovely Offertory for the Feast of the Epiphany.   Here's a wonderful recording of it, I believe sung by the group Pro Cantione Antiqua:



Here's the score:


The text comes from Psalm 72:
Reges Tharsis
et insulae munera offerent:
reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent:
et adorabunt eum omnes reges terrae,
omnes gentest servient ei.


The kings of Tarshish
and the islands shall pay tribute;
the kings of Arabia and of Saba offer gifts;
all the kings of the earth shall bow down before him,
all nations shall do him service.
Here's a video version (sung by "the Schola des Moines de Montserrat") with an embedded chant score:




(It strikes me, after listening to this numerous times, that it seems to have definite echoes, in parts of the melody, of the Christmas Midnight Introit,  Dominus Dixit Ad Me.)

Tarshish may have been Carthage (now Tunis) or Tartessos (an ancient harbor city in southern Spain, near present-day Cádiz); this is still, as far as I know, unclear.  But Derek has pointed out that:
Saba [Sheba] was ... used colloquilly in combination with Tarshish to refer to the two ends of the earth. Tarshish was as far west as you could go; Saba as far east.
And that is probably the most important idea here.


The modern form of today's propers is exactly like the historical (1962 Missal/Tridentine) form; all of the chants have been retained.  These are the chant propers for this feast; the sound files were recorded at St. Benedict's Monastery in São Paulo (Brazil):
In Epiphania Domini
Introitus: Cf. Mal. 3, 1; I Chron. 29, 12; Ps. 71, 1.10.11 Ecce advenit (4m21.1s - 1786 kb) score
Graduale: Is. 6, 60. V. 1 Omnes de Saba venient (2m31.0s - 1033 kb) score
Alleluia: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (2m17.2s - 939 kb) score
Offertorium: Ps. 71, 10.11 Reges Tharsis (1m59.0s - 814 kb) score
Communio: Cf. Mt. 2, 2 Vidimus stellam (39.6s - 272 kb) score

Other posts on Chantblog for the propers on this feast day are:


The Feast of the Epiphany is one of the most beautiful of the Great Church Year, in my view - and has one of the most interesting backgrounds.  It's known that Easter and Pentecost were just about universally celebrated very early on by the Church - by the mid-2nd century and early 3rd century, respectively - but Epiphany wasn't established until sometime in the 4th century, after Nicea and possibly around the same time Christmas entered the Calendar.

The feast is now and has always been called Theophany in the East - originally (apparently) a celebration of John's baptism of Christ in the Jordan, although other events became part of it too.  A theophany, in Christian terms, is a "Manifestation of God that is tangible to the human senses." 
This observance commemorates Christ's baptism by John the Forerunner in the River Jordan, and the beginning of Christ's earthly ministry. The Feast of Theophany is the culmination of the Christmas Season, which starts on December 25 and ends on January 6. In mystic commemoration of this event, the Great Blessing of Water is performed on this day, and the holy water so blessed is used by the local priest to bless the homes of the faithful.

The feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ the Holy Trinity appeared clearly to mankind for the first time—the Father's voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing physically in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends on Him in the form of a dove.

....

Originally, there was just one Christian feast of the shining forth of God to the world in the human form of Jesus of Nazareth. It included the celebration of Christ's birth, the adoration of the wise men, and all of the childhood events of Christ such as his circumcision and presentation to the temple as well as his baptism by John in the Jordan. There seems to be little doubt that this feast, like Pascha and Pentecost, was understood as the fulfillment of a previous Jewish festival, in this case the Feast of Lights. 

In fact, this feast has always been multi-faceted and somewhat in flux; it's commemorated a variety of occasions in the life of Christ, from the Nativity to the visitation of the Magi to events in Jesus' childhood to his baptism in the Jordon to the wedding at Cana - and often several of these at once.  Even in the West, Epiphany has been a multifaceted celebration; as the Office hymns and antiphons (e.g., Tribus miraculis - "three miracles" - at Vespers) on the day make plain, it has celebrated the visitation of the Magi, the baptism in the Jordan, and Christ's first miracle at Cana.   (The Epiphany hymn Hostis Herodites impie, which elaborates upon these three events, is part of of Caelius Sedulius's 5th-Century poem, Paean alphabeticus de Cristo and has been cited in Swiss manuscripts from the 9th century - so the three-part observance has been around for a long, long time.)


It's certainly among the most mystical of the great feasts of the year, and so offers much food for contemplation.   And its movements and variations over time are interesting, too, I think; this allows for a variety of strands of thought to emerge and be considered.

The feast has also been an historical celebration of the Kingship of Christ, as the Introit - "Behold, the Lord, the Ruler, Is Come" - makes plain (and as Fr. Stephen Gerth often points out when the Feast of Christ the King comes around in November).   But that is, interestingly, actually an inference drawn from the resonances surrounding the feast; it doesn't necessarily follow from the actual history.

Full Homely Divinity has a nice page on Epiphany; it includes poems by T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden - and this section about "The Blessing of Chalk" and "The Hallowing of Homes."
St. Matthew tells us that when the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to visit Jesus, they found him and his mother in a house, not the stable where they had found their first temporary shelter. This is a cue to us that our Epiphany celebration should focus on our own houses and it is a very old custom to bless houses on Epiphany. In the East, in particular, it is the custom for the parish priest to go through the parish blessing houses. This is not the elaborate blessing of a new home, but a special blessing that is also often given at Easter, a renewal of the homes in which the people of God dwell and live out the mystery of faith day by day. In recent years, this custom has been revived in some places in the West. The Book of Occasional Services of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. provides forms for this blessing. However, there is another way of blessing homes at Epiphany that begins in church, but does not require the priest to go from house to house--something that would be quite impossible in many non-geographical parishes in the modern world. This custom involves chalk that is blessed by the priest and taken home by families to mark the doors of their homes.

The Blessing of Chalk

Priest:  Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
People:  The maker of heaven and earth.
Priest:  The Lord be with you.
People:  And also with you.
Priest:  Let us pray.

Bless, O Lord, this chalk that it may be an effective sign of your blessing upon the homes of your people.  Watch over our going out and our coming in and grant that the love of Christ and the wonder of his grace may be bestowed on every inhabitant and every guest. We pray that, like the wise men of old, we may serve him as our only King, worship him as the one true God, and honor him with lives of sacrifice and praise, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The Hallowing of Homes

The blessing of the house begins with all members of the household standing outside of the main entrance of the home. It is not necessary for a priest to perform this blessing. Rather, the head of the household is usual, though any member of the household may be designated. In some families, the person who finds the bean or token in the Twelfth Cake or the King Cake has the privilege of presiding at this blessing.
Leader:  Peace be to this house.
People:  And to all who enter here.
Leader:  Wise men came to Bethlehem to honor the Savior and offered him gifts:
People:  Gold for a great king.
Leader:  Incense to the true God.
People:  And myrrh for his body, for he would suffer and die.
 The initials of the legendary names of the wise men are written with blessed chalk on the door or the lintel of the house, framed by the numbers of the new year, in this way:

Everyone then enters the house. In some places it is customary to cross the threshold with the right foot first, thus starting the year out "on the right foot." Once inside, everyone may gather in the vestibule or another room for the blessing of the house.
Leader:  The Lord be with you.
People:  And also with you.
Leader:  Let us pray.
 Send your blessing, O Lord, upon this house and on all who shelter under its roof. Inspire us as you inspired the wise men of old who sought your Son: give us courage on the journey, discernment to find the right way, and whatever we may need to complete the tasks to which he calls us. And, at the last, may we find our rest and fulfilment in his presence in the home he has prepared for us in your heavenly kingdom, where he now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
 If water has also been blessed at church (see below), it is appropriate to go through the house sprinkling each room with it. Incense could also be used. It would be appropriate to sing a hymn while this is being done. The familiar carol, "We three kings of Orient are," would be a good, and very Anglican choice (see below). In some churches, gold, frankincense, and myrrh are blessed on this day. With or without these symbolic gifts, the house blessing should end at the family crèche with the collect for the feast.


O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The text and tune for "We three kings" were written in 1857 by John Henry Hopkins, Jr., son of the first Bishop of Vermont and the first instructor in church music at the General Theological Seminary in New York. While he never married, he was uncle to a large brood of nephews and nieces, and they expected him to bring a new hymn to the family Christmas gatherings each year at the bishop's house at Rock Point, in Burlington, Vermont. Several of these survive in various publications, including "Gather around the Christmas Tree," which is found here. Sources say that "We three kings" was written for a pageant Hopkins helped to stage at the seminary. In the text, as originally set out by Hopkins, the kings were each assigned a different line in the music: Gaspard the treble, Melchior the alto, and Balthazar the bass.

Here's the icon "Revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ, Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos (1774) at Kondopoga.


And here's Boris Kustodiev's painting "The consecration of water on the Theophany" (1921).




Finally, here is the New Advent (1913) entry for this feast; one of the great things about writing about church music and church traditions is that you can cite something from a century ago with fairly good confidence!  There may, of course, have been further developments in the understanding of the origins of the Feast of the Epiphany, but most likely a great deal of what's there still works.

I may as well quote the page in its entirety, since this is all rather complicated and the pieces all refer to one another:

Epiphany

Known also under the following names: (1) ta epiphania, or he epiphanios, sc. hemera (rarely he epiphaneia: though, e.g. in Athanasius, he somatike epiphaneia occurs); theophaneia: dies epiphaniarum; festivitas declarationis, manifestationis; apparitio; acceptio. (2)hemera ton photon: dies luminum; dies lavacri. (3) phagiphania, Bethphania; etc. (4) Festum trium regum: whence the Dutch Drie-koningendag Danish Hellig-tre-kongersdag, etc. (5) Twelfth Day, Swedish Trettondedag;, etc. — The meaning of these names will be explained below. The feast was called among the Syrians denho (up-going), a name to be connected with the notion of rising light expressed in Luke. I, 78. The name Epiphania survives in Befana, the great fair held at that season in Rome; it is difficult to say how closely the practice then observed of buying all sorts of earthenware images, combined with whistles, and representing some type ofRoman life, is to be connected with the rather similar custom in vogue during the December feast of the Saturnalia. For the earthenware or pastry sigillaria then sold all over Rome, see Macrobius; s. I, x, xxiv; II, xlix; and Brand, "Pop. Ant.", 180, 183.

History

As its name suggests, the Epiphany had its origin in the Eastern Church. There exists indeed a homily of Hippolytus to which (in one manuscript only) is affixed the lemma ieis ta hagia theophaneia [not epiphaneia: Kellner]; it is throughout addressed to one about to be baptized, and deals only with the Sacrament of Baptism. It was edited by Bonwetsch and Achelis (Leipzig, 1897); Achelis and others consider it spurious. The first reference about which we can feel certain is in Clement (Stromata I.21.45), who writes: "There are those, too, who over-curiously assign to the Birth of Our Saviour not only its year but its day, which they say to be on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus. But the followers of Basilides celebrate the day of His Baptism too, spending the previous night in readings. And they say that it was the 15th of the month Tybi of the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar. And some say that it was observed the 11th of the same month." Now, 11 and 15 Tybi are 6 and 10 January, respectively. The question at once arises; did these Basilidians celebrate Christ's Nativity and also His Baptism on 6 and 10 January, or did they merely keep His Baptism on these days, as well as His Nativity on another date? The evidence, if not Clement's actual words, suggests the former. It is certain that the Epiphany festival in the East very early admitted a more or less marked commemoration of the Nativity, or at least of the Angeli ad Pastores, the most striking "manifestation" of Christ's glory on that occasion. Moreover, the first actual reference to the ecclesiastical feast of the Epiphany (Ammianus Marcellinus, XXI, ii), in 361, appears to be doubled in Zonaras (XIII, xi) by a reference to the same festival as that of Christ's Nativity. Moreover, Epiphanius (Haer., li, 27, in P.G., XLI, 936) says that the sixth of January is hemera genethlion toutestin epiphanion,Christ's Birthday, i.e. His Epiphany. Indeed, he assigns the Baptism to 12 Athyr, i.e. 6 November. Again in chapters xxviii and xxix (P.G., XLI, 940 sq.) he asserts that Christ's Birth, i.e. Theophany, occurred on 6 January, as did the miracle at Cana, in consequence of which water, in various places (Cibyra, for instance), was then yearly by a miracle turned into wine, of which he had himself drunk. It will be noticed, first, if Clement does not expressly deny that the Church celebrated the Epiphany in his time at Alexandria, he at least implies that she did not. Still less can we think that 6 January was then observed by the Church as holy. Moreover, Origen, in his list of festivals(Against Celsus VIII.22), makes no mention of it.

Owing no doubt to the vagueness of the name Epiphany, very different manifestations of Christ's glory and Divinity were celebrated in thisfeast quite early in its history, especially the Baptism, the miracle at Cana, the Nativity, and the visit of the Magi. But we cannot for a moment suppose that in the first instance a festival of manifestations in general was established, into which popular local devotion read specified meaning as circumstances dictated. It seems fairly clear hat the Baptism was the event predominantly commemorated. The Apostolic Constitutions (VIII, xxxiii; cf. V, xii) mention it. Kellner quotes (cf. Selden, de Synedriis, III, xv, 204, 220) the oldest CopticCalendar for the name Dies baptismi sanctificati, and the later for that of Immersio Domini as applied to this feast. Gregory of Nazianzusidentifies, indeed, ta theophania with he hagia tou Christou gennesis, but this sermon (Orat. xxxviii in P.G., XXXVI. 312) was probably preached 25 Dec., 380; and after referring to Christ's Birth, he assures his hearers (P.G., 329) that they shall shortly see Christ baptized. On 6 and 7 Jan., he preached orations xxxix and xl (P.G., loc. cit.) and there declared (col. 349) that the Birth of Christ and the leading of the Magi by a star having been already celebrated, the commemoration of His Baptism would now take place. The first of these two sermons is headed eis ta hagia phota, referring to the lights carried on that day to symbolize the spiritual illumination of baptism, and the day must carefully be distinguished from the Feast of the Purification, also called Festum luminum for a wholly different reason.Chrysostom, however, in 386 (see CHRISTMAS) preached "Hom. vi in B: Philogonium" where (P.G., XLVIII, 752) he calls the Nativity theparent of festivals, for, had not Christ been born, neither would He have been baptized, hoper esti ta theophania. This shows how loosely this title was used. (Cf. Chrys., "Hom. in Bapt. Chr.", c. ii, in P.G., XLIX, 363; A.D. 387). Cassian (Coll., X, 2, in P.L., XLIX; 820) says that even in his time (418-427) the Egyptian monasteries still celebrated the Nativity and Baptism on 6 January.

At Jerusalem the feast had a special reference to the Nativity owing to the neighbourhood of Bethlehem. The account left to us by Etheria (Silvia) is mutilated at the beginning. The title of the subsequent feast, Quadragesimae de Epiphania (Perigrin. Silviae, ed. Geyer, c.xxvi), leaves us, however, in no doubt as to what she is describing. On the vigil of the feast (5 Jan.) a procession left Jerusalem for Bethlehem and returned the following morning. At the second hour the services were held in the splendidly decorated Golgotha church, after which that of the Anastasis was visited. On the second and third days this ceremony was repeated; on the fourth the service wasoffered on Mount Olivet; on the fifth at the grave of Lazarus at Bethany; on the sixth on Sion; on the seventh in the church of theAnastasia, on the eighth in that of the Holy Cross.  The procession to Bethlehem was nightly repeated. It will be seen, accordingly, that this Epiphany octave had throughout so strong a Nativity colouring as to lead to the exclusion of the commemoration of the Baptism in the year 385 at any rate. It is, however, by way of actual baptism on this day that the West seems to enter into connection with theEast. St. Chrysostom (Hom. in Bapt. Chr. in P.G., XLIX, 363) tells us how the Antiochians used to take home baptismal water consecratedon the night of the festival, and that it remained for a year without corruption. To this day, the blessing of the waters by the dipping into river, sea, or lake of a crucifix, and by other complicated ritual, is a most popular ceremony. A vivid account is quoted by Neale ("HolyEastern Church", Introduction, p. 754; cf. the Greek, Syriac, Coptic, and Russian versions, edited or translated from the original texts byJohn, Marquess of Bute, and A. Wallis Budge). The people consider that all ailments, spiritual and physical, can be cured by the application of the blessed water. The custom would seem, however, to be originally connected rather with the miracle of Cana than with the Baptism. That baptism on this day was quite usual in the West is proved, however, by the complaint of Bishop Himerius of Tarragonato Pope Damasus (d. 384), that baptisms were being celebrated on the feast of the Epiphany. Pope Siricius, who answered him (P.L., XIII, 1134) identifies the feasts of Natalitia Christi and of his Apparitio, and is very indignant at the extension of the period for baptisms beyond that of Easter and that of Pentecost. Pope Leo I ("Ep. xvi ad Sicil. episcopos", c. i, in P.L., LIV, 701; cf. 696) denounces the practice as an irrationabilis novitas; yet the Council of Gerona (can. iv) condemned it in 517, and Victor Vitensis alludes to it as the regular practice of the (Roman-) African Church (De Persec. Vandal., II, xvii, in P.L., LVIII, 216). St. Gregory of Tours, moreover (De gloriâ martyrum in P.L., LXXI, 783; cf. cc. xvii, xix), relates that those who lived near the Jordan bathed in it that day, and that miracles were then wont to take place. St. Jerome (Comm. in Ez., I, i, on verse 3 in P.L., XXV, 18) definitely asserts that it is for the baptism and opening of the heavens that the dies Epiphaniorum is still venerable and not for the Nativity of Christ in the flesh, for then absconditus est, et non apparuit — "He was hidden, and did not appear."

That the Epiphany was of later introduction in the West than the Christmas festival of 25 December, has been made clear in the article CHRISTMAS. It is not contained in the Philocalian Calendar, while it seems most likely that 25 December was celebrated at Rome before the sermon of Pope Liberius (in St. Ambrose, De virg., iii, I, in P.L., XVI, 231) which many assign to 25 Dec., 354. St. Augustine clearly observes Oriental associations in the Epiphany feasts: "Rightly", says he (Serm. ccii, 2, in Epiph. Domini, 4, in P, L., XXXVIII, 1033), "have refused to celebrate this day with us; for neither do they love unity, nor are they in communion with the Eastern Church, where at last the star appeared." St. Philastrius (Haer., c. cxl, in P.L., XII, 1273) adds that certain heretics refuse to celebrate the Epiphany, regarding it, apparently, as a needless duplication of the Nativity feast, though, adds the saint, it was only after twelve days that Christ "appeared to the Magi in the Temple". The dies epiphaniorum, he says (P.L., XII, 1274), is by some thought to be "the day of the Baptism, or of the Transformation which occurred on the mountain". Finally, an unknown Syrian annotator of Barsalibi (Assemani, Bibl. Orient., II, 163) boldly writes: "The Lord was born in the month of January on the same day on which we celebrate the Epiphany; for of old the feasts of the Nativity and Epiphany were kept on one and the same day, because on the same day He was born and baptized. The reason why our fathers changed the solemnity celebrated on 6 January, and transferred it to 25 December follows: it was the custom of the heathens to celebrate the birthday of the sun on this very day, 25 December, and on it they lit lights on account of the feast. In these solemnities and festivities the Christians too participated. When, therefore, the teachers observed that the Christians were inclined to this festival, they took counsel and decided that the true birth-feast be kept on this day, and on 6 Jan., the feast of the Epiphanies. Simultaneously, therefore, with this appointment the custom prevailed of burning lights until the sixth day."

It is simpler to say that, about the time of the diffusion of the December celebration in the East, the West took up the Oriental January feast, retaining all its chief characteristics, though attaching overwhelming importance, as time went on, to the apparition of the Magi.  Epiphanius indeed had said (loc. cit.) that not only did water in many places turn into wine on 6 Jan., but that whole rivers, and probably the Nile, experienced a similar miracle; nothing of this sort is noted in the West. The Leonine Sacramentary is defective here; but Leo'seight homilies on the Theophania (in P.L., LIV, Serm. xxxi, col. 234, to Serm. xxxviii, col. 263) bear almost wholly on the Magi, while in Serm. xxxv, col. 249, he definitely asserts their visit to be the commemoration for which the feast was instituted. Fulgentius (Serm. iv in P.L., LXV, 732) speaks only of the Magi and the Innocents. Augustine's sermons (cxcix-cciv in P.L., XXXVIII) deal almost exclusively with this manifestation; and the Gelasian Sacramentary (P.L., LXXIV, 1062) exclusively, both on the vigil and the feast. The Gregorian Sacramentary makes great use of Psalm 72:10 and mentions the three great apparitions in the Canon only. The Ambrosian, however, refers to all three manifestations in the vigil-preface, and in the feast-preface to baptism alone. The "Missale Vesontiense" (Neale and Forbes, The Anc. Liturgies of the Gallican Church, p. 228) speaks, in the prayer, of Illuminatio, Manifestatio, Declaratio, and compares its Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:22; and John 2:1-11, where the Baptism and Cana are dwelt upon. The Magi are referred to on the Circumcision. The Gothic Missal (Neale and Forbes, op. cit., p. 52) mentions the Magi on the vigil, saying that the Nativity, Baptism, and Cana make Christ's Illustratio. All the manifestations are, however, referred to, including (casually) the feeding of the 5000, a popular allusion in the East, whence the name phagiphania. Augustine (Serm. suppl. cxxxvi, 1, in P.L., XXXIX, 2013) speaks of the raising of Lazarus (cf. day 5 of the Jerusalem ritual) as on an equality with the other manifestations, whence in the East the name Bethphania occurs. Maximus of Turin admits the day to be of three miracles, and speculates (Hom. vii, in epiph., in P.L., LVII, 273) on the historical connection of date and events. Polemius Silvanus, Paulinus of Nola (Poem. xxvii; Natal., v, 47, in P.L., LXI) and Sedulius (in P.L., LXXII) all insist on the three manifestations. The Mozarabic Missal refers mainly to the Magi, using of their welcome by Christ the word Acceptio, a term of "initiation" common to Mithraists and Christians. In 381, the Council of Sargossa (can. iv), read together with the Mozarabic Missal's Mass in jejunio epiphaniae, makes it clear that a fast at this season was not uncommon even among the orthodox. "Cod. Theod." (II, viii, 20; XXV, v, 2) forbids the circus on this day in the year 400; "Cod. Justi." (III, xii, 6) makes it a day of obligation. In 380 it is already marked by cessation of legal business in Spain; in Thrace (if we can trust the "Passio S. Philippi" in Ruinart, "Acta", 440, 2) it was kept as early as 304. Kellner quotes the "Testamentum Jesu Christi" (Mainz, 1899) as citing it twice (I, 28; IV, 67, 101) as a high festival together with Easter and Pentecost.

In the present Office, Crudelis Herodes alludes to the three manifestations; in Nocturn i, the first response for the day, the octave, and the Sunday within the octave, deals with the Baptism, as does the second response; the third response, as all those of Nocturns i and iii, is on the Magi. The antiphon to the Benedictus runs: "Today the Church is joined to her celestial spouse, because in Jordan Christ doth wash her sins; the Magi hasten with gifts to the royal marriage-feast, and the guests exult in the water turned to wine." O Sola refers to the Magi only. The Magnificat antiphon of Second Vespers reads: "We keep our Holy Day adored with three miracles: today a star led theMagi to the crib, today wine was made from water at the marriage, today in Jordan Christ willed to be baptized by John to save us." On the Epiphany it was a very general custom to announce the date of Easter, and even of other festivals, a practice ordered by many councils, e.g. that of Orléans in 541 (can. i); Auxerre in 578 and 585 (can. ii), and still observed (Kellner) at Turin, etc. Gelasius finally tells us (Ep. ad episc. Lucan., c. xii, in P.L., LIX, 52) that the dedication of virgins occurred especially on that day.

Origin

The reason for the fixing of this date it is impossible to discover. The only tolerable solution is that of Mgr. Duchesne (Orig. Chr., 262), who explains simultaneously the celebration of 6 January and of 25 December by a backward reckoning from 6 April and 25 March respectively. The Pepyzitae, or Phrygian Montanists, says Sozomen (Church History VII.18), kept Easter on 6 April; hence (reckoning an exact number of years to the Divine life) Christ's birthday would have fallen on 6 January. But, it may be urged, the first notice we have of the observance of this date, refers to Christ's Baptism. But this (if we may assume the Basilidians, too, to have argued from 6 April) will have fallen on the exact anniversary of the Birth. But why preeminently celebrate the Baptism? Can it be that the celebration started with those, of whatever sect, who held that at the Baptism the Godhead descended upon Christ? On this uncertain territory we had better risk no footstep till fresh evidence, if such there be, be furnished us. Nor is this the place to discuss the legends of the Three Kings, which will be found in the article MAGI. Kellner, Heortologie (Freiburg im Br., 1906); Funk in Kraus, Real-Encyclopädie, s.v. Feste; Bingham,Antiquities of the Christian Church (London, 1708-22), Bk. XX, c. iv; Usener, Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen (Bonn, 1889). I.Cyril Martindale.
I think I will write more about Epiphany in a separate post; I do like this feast.

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