Dec 28, 2012

Posted by in Articles & Essays, CHRISTmas | 0 Comments

Holy Innocents

holy-innocents-14A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.
Matthew 2:18

December 28 (in some communities, December 29) is remembered as the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This commemorates King Herod’s order to kill all boys in Bethlehem, and the nearby area, who were aged two years or less. Herod had learned of the birth of Jesus from the Magi, the three kings from the east. He was fearful of the newborn King of the Jews. He had request that the Magi report back to him when they had found the newborn child so that he may go and “do him homage (Matthew 2:8).

The Magi did not return to report any news to Herod, having been warned in a dream not to do so.

Joseph, earthly father of the Christ child, was visited by an angel in a dream; the angel warned him to take the baby and his mother and flee to Egypt. The angel warned that Herod sought to destroy the child. Joseph heeded the advice and went to Egypt with his family, staying there until Herod’s death.

After a time, Herod realized that the Magi had deceived him and ordered the killing of the boys. 

The church has set this feast day to honor the little ones, the young lives that may seem irrelevant and even unimportant. During this joyful Christmas season, let us all take a moment to remember those who are considered a threat or inconvenience. The murder of the Holy Innocents is very similar to the ongoing, daily massacre of the littlest and weakest in our world today: the unborn, the orphaned, the sick, the elderly. 


Coventry Carol

The “Coventry Carol” is about a mother whose child was to die because of Herod’s decree.

Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me, poor Child, for Thee,
And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Read more about the Feast of the Holy Innocents:

Read more about the Coventry Carol:

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