The Circumcision of Christ

[January 1]

ALMIGHTY God, who madest thy blessed Son to be circumcised, and obedient to the law for man; Grant us the true circumcision of the Spirit; that, our hearts, and all our members, being mortified from all worldly and carnal lusts, we may in all things obey thy blessed will; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Sacramentary of Bishop Gregory of Rome [ca 600AD]. Circumcision was required eight days after birth. Some now call this day "The Holy Name". New Year's Day is of pagan origin, and this day was at a fast day as early as the 6th century. It is based on Romans ii. 29, Collosians iii. 5, and Titus ii. 12

Philippians ii. 9. St. Luke ii. 15

"his name was called JESUS"

The Epistle. Philipians ii. 9.


GOD also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

The Gospel. St. Luke ii. 15.

AND it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Scripture from 1928 Book of Common Praye
The Collects of Thomas Cranmer
Sermon from the Anglican Breviary

Other Homilies: Chrysostom on Philippians ii. 5ff | PrimiPilus I - MMVI

Homily on the Circumcision
Ambrose of Milan

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the Child, his Name was called JESUS: This is the Child of whom it is said: Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: or again: Made under the Law to redeem them that were under the Law: or again: To present him to the Lord. (In my Commentary on Isaiah I have already explained what is meant by being presented to the Lord in Jerusalem, and therefore I will not enter into the subject again.) He that is circumcised in heart gaineth the protection of God, as it is written: The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous. Ye will see that as all the ceremonies of the Old Law were types of realities in the New Law, so the circumcision of the body signified the cleansing of the heart from the guilt of sin.

But since the body and mind of man remain yet infected with a proneness to sin, the circumcision of the eighth day is meant to put us in mind of that complete cleansing from sin which we shall have at the resurrection. This is doubtless to be inferred from the words: Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy unto the Lord. That is, these words are literally true only of the delivery of the Blessed Virgin. Verily, he that opened her womb was holy, for he was altogether without spot. And we may gather that the Law hath this meaning because the Angel said almost the same words: That Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

Among all them that are born of women the Lord Jesus Christ stood alone in holiness. He alone, because of his immaculate birth, felt no contagion from human corruption; it came not near him because of his heavenly majesty. Otherwise (that is, if we are to apply this passage of the Law literally) we are obliged to say that without exception every male that openeth the womb is holy) and how then shall we explain that so many were unrighteous? Was Ahab holy? Were the false prophets holy? Were they holy on whom Elijah justly called down fire from heaven? But he to whom the sacred commandment of the Law of God is mystically directed is the Holy One of Israel. And he alone hath opened the secret womb of his holy virgin-bride the Church, filling her with a sinless fruitfulness whereby to bring forth the People of God.