simple michaelmas

Singing “Christ the Fair Glory” for Michaelmas (and Other Fabulous Ways to celebrate This Feast of the Archangels)

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Michaelmas (pronounced ‘mickel-mas’ [as in the Mass that celebrates Saint Michael]) is celebrated every year on September 29th. If your ordinary time Catholic feasting has taken a bit of a downturn--this is the perfect feast to get yourself back in the celebrating swing of things again before Advent!

The namesake for this feast is Saint Michael the Archangel, but the feast day is also in honor of saints Raphael and Gabriel, Archangels. These are the only three Archangels mentioned by name in Holy Scripture, but there is little ‘t’ Catholic tradition of four other Archangels (bringing the total to 7).

Angels are a fascinating subject to look into. For instance, did you know that Archangels are ranked eighth out of the nine orders of angels in heaven?

“We know on the authority of Scripture that there are nine orders of angels, viz., Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim, and Seraphim. That there are Angels and Archangels nearly every page of the Bible tells us, and the books of the Prophets talk of Cherubim and Seraphim. St. Paul, too, writing to the Ephesians enumerates four orders when he says: `above all Principality, and Power, and Virtue, and Domination’; and again, writing to the Colossians he says: `whether Thrones, or Dominations, or Principalities, or Powers’. If we now join these two lists together we have five Orders, and adding Angels and Archangels, Cherubim and Seraphim, we find nine Orders of Angels” [1].

After you’ve done some more reading about the angels in heaven, here are some great ways to celebrate Michaelmas:

1. Read Jimmy Akin’s “Celebrating the Archangels: 7 things to know and share”

Seriously. It’s short and a great introduction to the Archangels we’re celebrating on Michaelmas. He also breaks down where Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are in the Bible!

Read it right here!

2. Sing “Christ the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels”

I was introduced to this lovely hymn at Anglican summer camp, but its origin is absolutely Catholic! This triumphant hymn was written by Saint Rabanus Maurus (776-856 A.D.). He was a schoolmaster, abbot, archbishop, and a lifelong scholar of Scripture. Another hymn by him, “Come, Creator Spirit,” occasioned life-changing moments for Saints Clare and Teresa of Avila among others. It’s said to be an incredible hymn for receiving the Holy Spirit’s graces!

As Archbishop of Mainz, he was a powerful warrior for the Church Militant--condemning local heresy and penning this hymn asking the archangels and Our Lady for protection and guidance. Making it an excellent choice for Michaelmas on September 29th!

I recorded this hymn to help Catholic families celebrate the liturgical year. In collaboration with Kendra Tierney at Catholic All Year (my lovely boss!) I created this lyric video and transcribed the sheet music of “Christ the Fair Glory” (Catholic All Year Members receive hymn printables every month!)

If your family loves to sing and celebrate the liturgical year, we decided to share a free sample of the monthly hymn resources with you: check out the free(!) Christ the Fair Glory hymn printable (sheet music with an easy-to-read melody line, description of the hymn, and accompanying lyrics!) right here!

Christ the Fair Glory of the Holy Angels | MICHAELMAS HYMN

Tap twice to load then open Video…

3. Say the Prayer to Saint Michael

Written by Pope Leo XIII in 1884, this prayer to Saint Michael has quite a story associated with it!

“He had just finished celebrating in his private chapel when he suddenly stood transfixed in front of the altar. For perhaps 10 minutes he stood there as if in a trance, his face drained of color. Then he went to his office and composed a prayer to St. Michael. He told his staff the prayer should be offered throughout the Church.

He explained that he had heard two voices in the vicinity of the tabernacle. He believed they were the voices of Our Lord and of Satan. Pope Leo heard Satan boast that he could destroy the Church in 75 or 100 years, if given the opportunity. Then he heard Our Lord give Satan permission to try. (This sounds somewhat similar to what we read in Job 1.)” [2]

michaelmas-saint michael the archangel defend us

Though it is no longer required to be prayed after every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is still a common pious practice to do so. (Considering the leaders of the Church could really use some protection from the evil one, it might not be such a bad idea!)

The part of the prayer acceptable for laypeople to pray is this:

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

4. Cook a Goose for Michaelmas, Smite Satan, and Various other Celebrating Shenanigans

“Yet my wife would persuade me (as I am a sinner)

To have a fat goose on St. Michael for dinner

And then all the year round, I pray you would mind it,

I shall not want money — oh! grant I may find it.”

The poem, written in the early 18th century, alludes to a tradition which holds that anyone eating goose on Michaelmas Day will have plenty of money the rest of the year [3].

Kendra has a fantastic post all about celebrating the day with goose (or chicken!), a devil pinata, and more--so I’ll point you to her liturgical living expertise to finish planning your Michaelmas celebrations!

Michaelmas Resources

[1]: Catholic Answers Encyclopedia: Angels

[2]: Simply Catholic; What is the Origin of the St. Michael Prayer?

[3]: Washington Post; ENTERTAIN: Cooking Your Goose

My lyric video for Christ the Fair Glory.

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