Originally Posted by Lollybrat
There is another religious significance for Catholics and other Christians who believe in Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist. The image of the infant Jesus in the manger ("feed box") preshadows the teaching that His flesh is real food for the faithful. It is a beautiful image.
Is the hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" sung at Christmas in the Catholic Church? I know it was when I was an Episcopalian. I'm asking, because it fits with what you wrote above. In Orthodoxy, it's sung at the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning in place of the usual hymn for the Great Entrance (roughly equivalent to the offertory in Catholicism and Anglicanism). It was originally from the Liturgy of St. James (2nd Century?).Anglican hymn translation (first two verses):
Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.
King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.Orthodox translation:
Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and in fear and trembling stand, pondering nothing earthly-minded. For the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, comes to be slain, to give Himself as food to the faithful. Before Him go the ranks of angels: all the principalities and powers; the many-eyed cherubim; and the six-winged seraphim, covering their faces, singing the hymn: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
And in the Orthodox iconography (part of our "big T" Tradition), the manager is depicted as a stone box (the "barn" was a cave) and Christ wrapped in swaddling cloths that look like grave cloths - ties his birth with his death.
Nativity of Christ icon:http://www.iconmotif.com/store/?q=node/252
The Myrrh-bearing Women at the Tomb:http://www.iconmotif.com/store/?q=node/231
(Note: this is a contemporary American iconographer - also an Orthodox priest, and the second icon - the Myrrh-bearing Women - is a picture of the one that is actually on the iconostasis of my church. The iconographer is currently working on more icons for us.
I love his work.)