Catholic Prayer: Procession to the Royal Crib on Epiphany
A part of the children's party for Epiphany or Twelfth Night is the procession to the Royal Crib, imitating the Three Wise Men. This ceremony can also be done just in the family circle.
Most important of the offices the three party Magi perform is the bearing of the figures of the three Wise Men on the last stage of their journey which started on Christmas and which ends today, as they find the Child in the crib. The whole party can be made far more meaningful for the children if this is carried out with reverence and solemnity.
First, the children help "enthrone" the Christ-Child for the Epiphany in the Church. Then all the children form in a procession, with the three live Magi in the lead, each bearing the statue whom he represents. The carol, "We Three Kings of Orient Are" provides just the right rhythm for a royal procession, and if the kings happen to be singers, each sings the verse about his particular gift.
After the figures are in position, the rest of the children have an opportunity to offer gifts. If they have not already had a chance to give material gifts to the poor, this would be a suitable time to do it. But if the children have already done this on a previous occasion, they can begin to learn what it means to give something of themselves for the service of Christ. First, the mother explains to the children that the gold means love; the frankincense, prayer; and the myrrh, suffering and mortification. Then she makes a few definite suggestions, and each child writes on a slip of paper a promise to do one act of this kind. For example, "I will say an extra Hail Mary every day for the next week for an African child my own age who has never heard of Christ," or "I will let my sister play with my new doll dishes." The pieces of paper are laid at the feet of the Christ-Child during the procession.
It also helps the children to realize the scope of Christ's kingdom if each one chooses as his own "kingdom" a different country. As they do their homage to the Christ-Child, the children tell Him where they come from — and then they pray for that particular country very especially during the octave of the Epiphany feast.
After the procession, the children gather round the crib, and two of the older ones read alternate verses of a psalm as a concluding prayer.
All Pray: From the East came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
1st Child: May he rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.
2nd Child: His foes shall bow before him, and his enemies shall lick the dust.
1st Child: The kings of Tharsis and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring tribute.
2nd Child: All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him. For he shall rescue the poor man when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. From fraud and violence he shall redeem them, and precious shall their blood be in his sight. May he live to be given the gold of Arabia, and to be prayed for continually day by day shall they bless him. May there be an abundance of grain upon the earth; on the tops of the mountains the crops shall rustle like Lebanon; the city dwellers shall flourish like the verdure of the fields. May his Name be blessed forever; as long as the sun his Name shall remain. In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed; all the nations shall proclaim his happiness. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be his glorious Name; may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
All: From the East came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial.
YOUNG HOST or HOSTESS reads the Gospel for the feast of Epiphany., Matthew 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child. When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way. The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise be to You, Lord Jesus Christ.
The mother or father then gives a short explanation of the "Our Father" as the great missionary prayer, reminding the children particularly of the meaning of the words, "Thy Kingdom come."
All Pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come: Thy Will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Since this is the last of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" it would be especially appropriate to end with carol singing around the royal throne.Prayer Source: Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Elsa Chaney, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955