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The Christmas Story

As we enter the season of advent and the school calendar moves ever more quickly towards the holiday break, I like to introduce some readings that relate to the season at hand.  I find offering a break in the routine with material relevant to the holidays really helps to maintain the interest and enthusiasm of students growing restless and anxious with anticipation.   Many years I have often given students old Latin hyms to translate.  Traditional hyms such as Veni, Veni, Emmanuel and Adeste Fideles are still widely popular today.  The students seem to genuinely enjoy learning the meaning behind the words they sing each year.  The first verses of the latter are wonderful for even younger students due to their simplicity.  The former is a little more complicated, but the poetry of the verses is powerful and moving.

Having read through both of these in years past, I gave my advanced students the Christmas Story: Luke 2 from the Vulgate Bible.  The New Testament, including all four gospels were originally penned in Koine Greek for this was the common language of commerce in the Mediterranean world.  In the late 4th century Anno Domini Jerome translated the entire Bible into Latin.  It was known as the versio vulgata, the commonly used version.  Today it is called the Vulgate.  This translation served as the authoritative work for the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.

This resource provides a wonderful opportunity for student work.  For Christian students there is certainly a caveat against relying to heavily on their memory of Bible stories or peeking at their own Bibles for too much help.  It must be emphasized that they need to understand the words and their meanings for themselves, otherwise they are short changing themselves.  At the same time, the familiarity of words and story allow a great opportunity for reading at sight.  Perhaps most valuable of all, in this time of shopping, decorating, and celebration overload, it reminds us all of the true meaning of Christmas.  God most high descending to earth in lowly human form, a seemingly helpless babe in a manger who would become our savior and redeemer. 

 gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax in hominibus bonae voluntatis  

(Luke 2.14)

The following are two links for online versions of the Vulgate.  The first is a great resource for teachers and parents as it provides a side-by-side English translation.  This allows you to move through the text more easily to find the passages you want to use.  It is difficult, however, to cut ‘n’ paste text from this site.

Latin Vulgate with King James Translation:

(It should be noted that the King James translation is based off the original Hebrew and Greek, not the Latin text.)

 The Vulgate:




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