The Anathemata

Mabinog’s Liturgy (continued)

(for she to welcome him must surely gaud with her dawn-blush reds the wither of the year, nor do less in awe to him than do poor Hobsa  with aid-fires)1 

is it they?

or clear-voiced cantors

tunicled as though

in cloth of rainbow

(from the wide-pomoerium’d Urbs

as ultramundane to the Pleiades as to the ordered polis whose archetype the Pleiad is)b 

that sing and say

Lux fulgebit hodie?2 

Keeping this most stella’d night

on Christmas Day in the Morning.

Then back to Mary Major to hear them tell of how that from before all time Minerva is sprung from the head of Jove.3 


David Jones notes

1 Cf. Milton, Hymn on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity, Verse I.
‘Nature in aw to him
Had doff’t her gawdy trim
With her great Master so to sympathize’.

2 See the Second Mass of Christmas; Introit, Isaias IX. ‘A light shall shine upon this day, etc.’ This Mass, called Aurora Mass, is sung at daybreak from the church of St Anastasia on the Palatine Hill, formerly the chapel royal of the emperors. In this Mass it is not so much the birth that is celebrated as the radiance which the birth sheds on the world-darkness.

3 The Third Mass of Christmas is said, like the first, from St Mary Major, but the emphasis is now on the timeless begetting of the Logos which alone makes sense of this particular birth in time.

Cf. also Minerva Jovis capite orta as a formula proposed by one of the pontiffs to express the Eternal Generation of the Word, but, for various reasons, not officially adopted.

additional notes

DJ note 3: Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and strategy. She was born, or rather sprang fully formed with weapons, from the head of Jove.

a Hob: rustic, countryman. It is possible that DJ also had in mind here the tradition that primitive people lit fires to help the labouring sun of midwinter rekindle his expiring light, an idea he would have found in Frazer’s Golden Bough.

b A difficult parenthesis. We met the pomoerium on page 127 note 8, the real or imagined circle that encloses the city of Rome. The Pleiad constellation contains seven stars just as Rome contains seven hills, so in a sense the Pleiad is an archetype of Rome. The subject of the parenthesis (i.e. that which is ultramontane to, or beyond the boundaries of, both Rome and the Pleaid) is the Lux fulgebit hodie.


We finish with the Second and Third Masses of Christmas traditionally celebrated in Rome.

semantic structures