Wednesday, 31 December 2008

St. Sylvester Pope and Confessor

Today is the feast of St. Sylvester I Pope & Confessor, it is of double rite.

Mattins has three nocturns and the usual nine lessons. The antiphons and psalms being taken from the Psalter for Wednesday. At Lauds a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is made.

At Mass the Gloria is sung, a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity made, the Credo is sung and the preface and communicantes in the Canon are of the Nativity.

Vespers are first Vespers of the Circumcision without any commemorations.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' today is a day within the Octave of the Nativity. At Mattins the antiphons and psalmody are festal but there is only one nocturn of three lessons. At the Little Hours ferial antiphons and psalms are used(and as noted below the hymns do not have the tone or Doxology in honour of the Incarnation). The Mass is Puer natus with a commemoration of St. Sylvester. Vespers are the same as the Old Rite.

In pre-1911 practice in addition to the Octave of the Nativity the Octaves of St. Thomas (in England), St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents would have beem commemorated at Lauds and Mass.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity


Today, interestingly, the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity is kept transferred from the 28th with both its Mass and Office. A commentator asked the other day why this should be.

The basic issue appears to be that the number of Sundays after the Fourth Sunday of Advent and before the first Sunday after the Epiphany varies depending on which day the Nativity falls. In addition when the Nativity falls on a Sunday there is never any commemoration of that Sunday. Neither is there a commemoration of any Sunday that falls on the Circumcision, Epiphany or Octave Day of the Epiphany. Between the Nativity and Epiphany there can be either two or just one Sunday (the latter case when the Nativity falls on a Tuesday or Monday). Historical evidence of course strongly suggests that there was a cycle of Dominical observance before the development of the Sanctorale and the older sacramentaries do indeed give two formularies for Sundays after the Nativity but their use is not straightforward. The two Sundays became known as 'vacant' Sundays as they might be celebrated or not depending on the degree of development of the Sanctoral and the day the Nativity fell. The celebration of the Nativity on the 25th December does appear to be more recent (relatively!) than the celebration of the Nativity-Epiphany-Theophany on January 6th but I have no knowledge of what arrangements of pericope cycles were in place then: the longer Advent, as found in the Ambrosian rite, clearly has some significance to that situation. Returning to more 'modern' times the three feasts of the 'comites Christi' have developed rather extraordinary privileges in terms of their occurence with the Sunday after the Nativity. We are of course looking at layers of liturgical history that have been built up over the centuries. Surely the best practice, as when on an archaelogical dig or dealing with an ancient treasure, is not to destroy the artefact or treasure in the process of investigation?

If the 25th, 26th, 27th or 28th of December falls on a Sunday a rubric in the Breviary, found on December 28th, directs that the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity is celebrated on December 30th, as it is this year. This is a unique example of a semi-double Sunday Mass and Office being 'resumed' in the following week. The Incipit (beginning) of the Epistle to the Romans was traditionally assigned to the 30th (this was moved to the 29th in the 1911-13 reform - which we shall observe has an unfortunate consequence for January 1st in due course). As Incipits normally occur on Sundays this suggests a close relationship with the Sunday.

So today the semi-double Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity is celebrated. The liturgical colour is white. At mattins there are three nocturns and nine lessons, the antiphons and psalmody being that of the feast of the Nativity. At Lauds the Octave of the Nativity is commemorated. At the Hours the antiphons are from the Nativity and the psalmody is festal.

The Mass, Dum medium, is proper, the Gloria is sung, a commemoration of the Octave is made, the Credo is sung and the preface and communicantes of the Nativity are used. Vespers of the Nativity are sung, from the chapter of the Sunday within the Octave with a commemoration of the following day's feast of St. Silvester and of the Octave of the Nativity.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' today is a day within the Octave of the Nativity. Mattins has the antiphons and psalmody of the Nativity (with the shortened Ps. 88 ) and three lessons from occuring scripture, the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. When the 1962ists celebrated their, debatably more rational (?), Sunday within the Octave they had to re-read mattins lessons from the Nativity as St. Paul's Epistle does not begin until the 29th - an interesting novelty. One wonders why the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans was not moved to that Sunday - presumably to avoid the disruption to the pericopes for the other II class days. (In the 1970-2002 rite Liturgia Horaram fails to restore a 'vacant' Sunday within the Octave instead assigning to it the Feast of the Holy Family.) Festal Lauds are celebrated. At the Hours ferial antiphons are psalmody are used and Mass is celebrated of a day within the Octave, Puer natus. Vespers are of the Nativity with no commemorations.

In pre-1911 practice there would have been commemorations of the Octaves of St. Thomas (in dioceses of England and Wales) St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents in addition to the commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity.

Monday, 29 December 2008

St. Thomas of Canterbury



Today is the feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury, it is of double rite. Today, again, the liturgical colour is red.

St. Thomas of Canterbury, or St. Thomas Becket, fell foul of the political machinations of King Henry II and was slain by the King's soldiers in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29th, 1170.

Mattins has, as usual, three nocturns and nine lessons. The antiphons and psalms are taken from the Psalter for Monday. In the first nocturn the beginning of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans is read. At Lauds a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is made.

At Mass the Gloria is sung, a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is made, the Credo is sung and the preface and communicantes in the Canon are of the Octave of the Nativity.

Vespers are of the Octave of the Nativity but from the chapter of the follwing Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity with a commemoration of St. Thomas Becket and of the Octave of the Nativity.

Following the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Thomas is reduced to a commemoration in the fifth day within the Octave of the Nativity. Unusually festal psalmody is used at mattins and lauds, as on the feast (this contrasts with the practice for third order octaves in the old rite). At the Hours the antiphons and psalmody are ferial. Mass is of a day within the Octave, with Gloria, commemoration of St. Thomas, Credo, preface and communicantes of the Nativity. Vespers are of the Nativity without any commemorations. In pre-1911 practice the Octaves of St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents would have been commemorated in addition to that of the Nativity.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Holy Innocents


Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, it is a double of the second class with a simple octave. It is also a 'vacant' Sunday as both the Office and Mass of the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity are transferred this year to the 30th December.

The feast of the Holy Innocents is unique in the Roman rite in that it changes its liturgical colour when it falls on a Sunday, as this year, to when it falls on a feria. This year as the feast falls on a Sunday it is celebrated in red. When it falls on a feria the feast is celebrated in violet. The origin of this practice is a compromise between the differences in Gallican and Roman practice.

This year with the feast falling on the vacant Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity the following rules are observed: Mattins has nine lessons but only eight responsories, the Te Deum being sung. At Lauds a comemmoration is made of the Octave of the Nativity. The office is festal, of that of a double of the second class. At the Little Hours the hymns have their Doxology changed in honour of the Incarnation. As usual on doubles of the second class festal psalmody is used at Prime.

At Mass, in red vestments as noted above, the Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the Octave of the Nativity, an Alleluia sung as on other feasts, the Credo is sung and the preface and communicantes are of the Octave of the Nativity. When the feast of the Holy Innocents falls on a feria as well as the liturgical colour being violet the Te Deum is not sung but the ninth responsory sung in its place. Likewise instead of the Alleluia and versicle after the Gradual a Tract is sung.

Vespers are of the Nativity, but from the chapter of the Holy Innocents with a commemoration of the following day's feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury and of the Octave of the Nativity.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the traditional order of the Nativity Octave is destroyed and today becomes the Sunday within the Octave celebrated in white vestments. Mattins has but one nocturn and the first and second lesson from the Nativity are re-read! The Holy Innocents are reduced to a commemoration at Lauds and non-sung Mass. However no commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity is made in either the Office or Mass. As already referred to the proper Doxology is omitted at the Little Hours and the arrangement is applied to the psalmody of Prime that is used for minor Sundays. Vespers are without any commemorations. In pre-1911 practice the Holy Innocents are celebrated as above but in addition to the commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity the octaves of St. Stephen and St. John are commemorated at Lauds, Mass and Vespers.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

St. John Apostle and Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, it is a double of the second class with a simple octave.

The Office is again proper. As for all days until Epiphany hymns of Iambic metre have the special Doxology and tone in honour of the Incarnation. Mattins has three nocturns and the Nativity of the LORD is commemorated at Lauds, Mass and Vespers.

At Mass the Gloria and Credo are sung. The preface and communicantes are of the Nativity.

Vespers are of the Nativity but from the chapter of St. John. A commemoration of tomorrow's feast of the Holy Innocents is made and of the Octave of the Nativity.

In pre-1911 practice the day within the octave of St. Stephen's feast was also commemorated at Lauds, Mass and Vespers.

Following the 'liturgical books of 1962' the Doxology in honour of the Incarnation is omitted in the hymns of the Little Hours. At the Little Hours ferial antiphons and psalms are used. Vespers is of the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity. No commemoration of the Octave is made nor is there any commemoration of the Holy Innocents.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

The Nativity of the LORD


The feast of the Nativity is a double of the first class with a privileged octave of the third order.

Mattins is sung late in the evening, so the Mass which immediately follows can begin at midnight. The Caeremoniale gives special instructions, Lib.II, Cap. XIV, 3, for pontifical mattins, but may be reasonably applied to other celebrations or arranging adequate candles to supply light for the service and talks of candelabris ferreis magnis to help provide this. One can easily see the modern practice of candlelit nine lessons and carols comes from - how unfortunate that the same effort is not made to celebrate mattins.

The invitatorium is proper, when intoning the hymn, Jesu, Redemptor omnium the Hebdomadarius turns and bows to the altar. Mattins has three nocturns and the usual nine lessons. After the Te Deum the collect is sung followed by Benedicamus Domino. The first of the three Masses for the Nativity is then sung. The Gloria is sung (one theory of its origin in the Mass rite is from the song of the Angels on Christmas night to the shepherds) as is the Creed. The preface and communicantes are proper. Lauds, with different antiphons to those used at first vespers immediately follows the Mass.

Later in the morning Prime is sung followed by the second Mass, the Missa in aurora that has a second collect to commemorate St. Anastasia.
After Terce the third Mass is sung. At the Gospel pericope for this Mass is In principio the Gospel of the Epiphany is read as a proper last Gospel.
Second Vespers has yet a third set of proper antiphons for the feast and will be used through the Octave. The following feast of St. Stephen is commemorated.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' there a fewer differences today with the old rite. At Mattins, and for the Octave, psalm 88, Misericordias Domini is cut from 51 to 36 verses. The verses from Tu vero repulisti et despexisti to the end are omitted. In the third Mass the last Gospel is omitted and at Vespers no commemoration of St. Stephen is made.


May all readers have a very blessed and Holy Christmas

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Vigil of the Nativity

Uniquely in the Liturgical Year the Vigil of the Nativity changes rank after Mattins and from being a simple then becomes a double from Lauds onwards.

Mattins has one nocturn of three lessons. The invitatorium is Hodie scietis and the hymn Verbum supernum, the antiphons and psalms are from the ferial psalter for Wednesday but the vericles, lessons and responsories are proper. Lauds has proper antiphons on the psalms and Benedictus.

Prime is festal and the Martyrology is sung with extra soleminity today. The Hebdomadarius dons a violet cope and preceded by acolytes bearing candles and a thurifer with incense. After reverencing the choir the Martyrolgy is censed, as a Gospel book, three times. The the choir rise and the Hebdomadarius chants 'Octavo Kalendas Januarii. Luna vicesima septima. Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimonono: A diluvio etc. listing the years since the birth of Abraham, the Exodus from Egypt, the anointing of David, the time since Daniel the Prophet, since the founding of Rome and the conception of the LORD by the Holy Ghost '...novemque post conceptionem decursis mensibus', then raising the pitch of the chant, whilst the choir kneel, he continues, 'in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus Homo'. Then in the tone of the Passion: 'Nativitas Domini nostri Jesu Christi secundem carnem.' The choir then rise and sit whilst in the normal tone the Hebdomadarius continues with the entries for the day: 'Eodem die natalis santae Anastasiae etc. The lectio brevis is proper to the Vigil. The antiphons from Lauds are used in sequence at the Hours.



After None Mass is sung. Today the ministers do not wear folded chasubles but dalmatic and tunicle. There is just one collect. The dismissal, Benedicamus Domino, is sung by the deacon to a most beautiful and ornate tone reserved for today, the feast of the Holy Innocents (when celebrated in violet which won't happen this year) and pro re gravi Masses.

First Vespers of the Nativity are sung in the afternoon. All hymns of Iambic metre have the Doxology Jesu, tibi sit glori, qui natus es de Virgine... for the Octave and up until the feast of the Epiphany.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' there is no change of rank between Mattins and the rest of the day. The antiphons at Mattins and the Hours are doubled. At Prime the special lesson is omitted and the one used for all of Advent sung. Not having folded chasubles the distinction of the lightening of the penitential tone is lost at Mass and the beautiful chant of the Benedicamus Domino is replaced by Ite, missa est.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

O Virgo Virginum 23 December

The title of this post has nothing to do, directly, with the liturgy of the post-Tridentine Breviary. However, for many years I have been struck by the beauty of some of what might be termed the 'Lesser O Antiphons'. The most widespread of these by far was O Virgo Virginum and was sung in many Western rites, including the illustrious Sarum rite, as the last of the 'O' antiphons on December 23rd. The meant that 'O Sapientia' instead of being sung on December 17th was sung on December 16th. A vestige of this practice can even be found in the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer which, although not providing texts, indicates 'O Sapientia' in the Kalendar on the 16th December.

I recommend the interesting website The Hymns and Carols of Christmas for a visit at this particular season of the Liturgical year and from that site take the texts given below:


O Virgo virginum, quomodo fiet istud? quia noc primam similem visa es, nec habere sequentem. Filæ Jerusalem, quid me admiramini? Divinum est mysterium hoc quod cernitis.


O Virgin of virgins! how shall this be? for never was there one like thee, nor will there ever be. Ye daughters of Jerusalem, why look ye wondering at me? What ye behold, is a divine mystery.



Dom Guéranger notes (see the link above) that this antiphon was used in the post-Tridentine Roman rite in Spain and some of her Dominions for the pro aliquibus locis feast of the Expectation of the BVM on 18th December. The old practice of having the antiphon on the 23rd seems to me at least an excellent one emphasising the inseparable link between the Mother of God and the mystery of the Incarnation. A beautiful acrostic was created (very common in the Sarum breviary) by taking the first letter of each antiphon in reverse order. So for the seven in the Roman Breviary this creates 'Ero Cras' that translates as 'Tomorrow, I will come'. With O Virgo virginum this becomes 'Vero Cras', 'Truly, tomorrow'.

There were also other 'Lesser O's' (again texts from the excellent site of Doug Anderson):


O Hierusalem, civitas Dei summi: leva in circuitu oculos tuos, et vide Dominum tuum, quia jam veniet solvere te a vinculis.


O Jerusalem, city of the great God: lift up thine eyes round about, and see thy Lord, for he is coming to loose thee from thy chains.


O Rex pacifice, Tu ante saecula nate: per auream egrede portam, redemptos tuos visita, et eso illuc revoca unde ruerunt per culpam.

O King of peace, that was born before all ages: come by the golden gate, visit them whom thou hast redeemed, and lead them back to the place whence they fell by sin.

O Gabriel, nuntius caelorum, qui clausis ianuis ad me introisti, et verbum annuntiasti: concipies et paries Emmanuel vocabitur.

O Gabriel! the messenger of heaven, who camest unto me through the closed doors, and didst announce the Word unto me : Thou shalt conceive and bear a Son, and he shall be called Emmanuel.


The last was generally replaced by O Thoma that I mentioned yesterday. Many years ago I speculated that it would be fascinating to interpolate all of the 'O's into the Magnficat on December 23rd as they all have the same tone, 2D. I then discovered that this had indeed been done in some Monastic establishment but didn't record my reference. A good friend I lunched with on my recent visit to Ireland suggested that it may have been Prinknash. I shall investigate this in due course.

In the Roman liturgy the day is of simple rite. The antiphons Rorate, caeli etc are sung at the second scheme of Lauds and at the Little Hours. At the Benedictus an antiphon special to this day is sung: Ecce completa sunt... Behold all things are accomplished... Ferial preces are sung, kneeling at Lauds and at the Little Hours.


At Mass, sung after None, the ministers wear folded chasubles and four candles are on the altar. The chants are ferial. The Mass is of the fourth Sunday of Advent but without the Alleluia and versicle after the Gradual. The second collect is of the BVM, Deus, qui de beate, and the third collect is for the Church, Ecclesiae. As always when violet vestments are worn Benedicamus Domino is the dismissal. As normal on 'kneeling days' the choir kneels for the orations and from the Sanctus to the Fraction.

At Vespers the antiphon O Emmanuel is sung, doubled, and with the choir standing. After the Magnificat and the repetition of the antiphon the ferial preces are sung, kneeling. Again at Compline preces are sung with the choir kneeling.

In the 'ancient' liturgical books of 1962 there are no ferial preces. Antiphons are of course 'doubled' regardless of the rank of day, at Prime the festal Regi saeculorum is sung rather than the ferial Pacem. At Mass, sung after Terce (in the 'ancient' rite of 1962) the distinction of singing the Mass after different Hours depending on the rank of day is lost and all Masses are sung after Terce except for a 'grave reason'), the ministers wear dalmatic and tunicle, there is no collect of the BVM or for the Church and Ite, missa est is the dismissal. At Vespers the significance of the doubled 'Great 'O' antiphon is lost and there are no preces at either Vespers or Compline.

Monday, 22 December 2008

St. Thomas the Apostle



Today is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, the feast has a rank of Double of the Second Class and is transferred this year to today as the Fourth Sunday of Advent was the 21st, the normal day of St. Thomas' celebration.

According to tradition St. Thomas preached the Gospel in Asia and the Indian sub-continent. He is believed to have founded, inter alia, the St. Thomas Christians on the West coast of India, one of several groups using the East-Syrian family of liturgies (see image at the bottom of this post).

The Benedictine liturgist Dom Prosper Guéranger has eloquent words for St. Thomas' feast:
"This is the last feast the Church keeps before the great one of the Nativity of her Lord and Spouse. She interrupts the greater ferias in order to pay her tribute of honour to Thomas, the apostle of Christ, whose glorious martyrdom has consecrated this twenty-first day of December, and has procured for the Christian people a powerful patron, who will introduce them to the divine Babe of Bethlehem. To none of the apostles could this day have been so fittingly assigned as to St. Thomas. It was St. Thomas whom we needed; St. Thomas, whose festal patronage would aid us to believe and hope in that God whom we see not, and who comes to us in silence and humility in order to try our faith. St. Thomas was once guilty of doubting, when he ought to have believed, and learnt the necessity of faith only by the sad experience of incredulity: he comes then most appropriately to defend us, by the power of his example and prayers, against the temptations which proud human reason might excite within us."

The liturgy of the day is festal and began with first Vespers of the feast yesterday on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Four pluvialistae in pariti assist the Hebdomadarius at Vespers and Lauds. At Mattins there are the usual nine lessons. At Lauds the antiphon on the Benedictus is proper Quia vidisti me, Thoma, credidisti: beati, qui non viderunt, et crediderunt, alleluia referring to the incident recorded in the Gospel of St. John about St. Thomas' doubt in the Risen LORD. A commemoration is then made of the Advent feria.

Festal hymn tones and psalmody are used at the Horae Minorae. At Mass, which is sung after Terce the Gloria and Creed are both sung and there is a commemoration of the Advent feria, the preface is that of the Apostle. At second Vespers there is a commemoration of the Advent feria with the 'O' antiphon O Rex gentium. Compline ends the celebration of St. Thomas' transferred feast. Dom Guéranger gives a medieval 'O antiphon' for St. Thomas found in several rites including that of Sarum:

O Thoma Didyme! qui Christum meruisti cernere; te precibus rogamus altisonis, succurre nobis miseris; no damnemur cum impiis, in adventu Judicis.

O Thomas Didymus! who didst merit to see Christ; we beseech thee, by most earnest supplication, help us miserable sinners, lest we be condemned with the ungodly, at the coming of the Judge.

According to the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Thomas, considered so important by Dom Guéranger, is entirely omitted this year and the day is a feria. In the 1970-2002 calendar his feast has been permanently transferred to July 3rd, the date of the translation of his relics. Yet again, the inadequacy of the putative "Gregorian", "TLM", "ancient" 1962 rite is apparent.

Holy Apostle Thomas pray to God for us that we may be delivered from the affliction of the liturgical books of 1962.



Art: (Top) Wikipedia; a Russian Icon of St. Thomas, 18th century.
(Lower) Icon of St. Thomas in the Indian tradition.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Fourth Sunday of Advent


Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, it is a semi-double Sunday of the second class. The feast of St. Thomas the Apostle is transferred to tomorrow.

Mattins has, as for most Sundays, three nocturns and nine lessons. The first nocturn lessons are from the prophet Isiah, the second from a sermon of St. Leo and the third nocturn homily on the Gospel from St. Gregory. The Gospel places the Incarnation in the historical context of various rulers in lands around the Holy Land and the preaching of St. John the Baptist 'Prepare ye the way of the LORD'.

At Lauds the antiphons on the psalms are proper and the antiphon on the Benedictus is proper to the 21st December: Nolite timere... (Fear not..). At Prime the Dominical preces are sung.

At Mass the second collect is of the BVM, Deus, qui de beate, the third for the Church, Ecclesiae, the Creed is sung and the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino. The ministers, of course, wear folded chasubles and, as for all Sundays, six candles are on the altar.

Vespers are of St. Thomas the Apostle, the antiphon on the Magnificat is proper and the Sunday is commemorated with the Great O antiphon O Oriens.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' Mattins is reduced to one nocturn of three lessons. No preces are sung at Prime. At Mass there is no collect for the BVM and no third collect. The dismissal is Ite, missa est. The ministers wear dalmatic and tunicle. Vespers is of the Sunday: St. Thomas, one of the Twelve chosen by the LORD Himself is omitted entirely this year as was the case with St. Andrew barely three weeks ago.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

O clavis David Ember Saturday in Advent

My apologies for the lack of posts in Advent, despatching Ordines has been my priority.

Today is Ember Saturday in Advent and also the Vigil of St. Thomas the Apostle. The rank is simple.

From December 17th a special set of antiphons have been sung at Lauds and the Hours. In the case of today these are the antiphon Intuemini etc. Mattins has one nocturn and three lessons. The second scheme of Lauds is sung (starting with Ps.50, Miserere mei, Deus) and the ferial preces are sung whlst kneeling after the Benedictus. The Vigil is not commemorated in the Office. At the Hours again the special set of antiphons are used in sequence and the ferial preces are sung, kneeling, towards the end of each.

The Mass, sung after None, has the usual, ancient form, for Ember Saturdays. As for all Advent Masses and Ember Days (excepting those of Pentecost) the ministers wear folded chasubles. Four candles are on the altar. After the Kyrie there are a series of structural units comprising of the invitation Oremus, followed by Flectamus genua, Levate, a collect, O.T. reading and gradual. Four of these readings are from Isiah and the last from Daniel. After the pericope from Daniel instead of a gradual the hymn of the Three Men in fiery furnace is sung, Beneditus es, Domine, Deus patrum nostrorum and its collect Deus, qui tribus pueris. After this collect the Vigil is commemorated and the third collect is of the BVM, Deus, qui de Beate. Mass then continues as usual (with of course kneeling for the orations and from the Canon through to the Fraction as usual on penitential days) with Benedicamus Domino as the dismissal and the last Gospel of the Vigil.

A private Mass may be of the Vigil with the second collect of the Ember Saturday, the third collect of the BVM, Deus, qui de Beate. The same praxis about kneeling is followed and Benedicamus Domino sung and the last Gospel of the Ember Saturday.

Vespers of the fourth Sunday in Advent are sung. A series of special antiphons at the Magnificat are used from December 17th (or December 16th in Sarum etc), the great O antiphons. For December 20th this is O clavis David. Exceptionally for a semi-double the O antiphons are 'doubled' and sung entire both before and after the canticle. At compline the preces are sung.

The feast of St. Thomas the Apostle is transferred to Monday.

The unfortunate users of the 'liturgical books of 1962' see the Canticle of Moses at Lauds shortened from 65 to 27 verses. The Vigil of St. Thomas has been abolished. At Prime the ferial chapter Pacem et veritatem.. is replaced by the festal (!) Regi saeculorum.... Ferial preces (that have been sung at all the Hours on feriae) are omitted at Prime and the Hours. The Mass has the option of the 'mini-Ember Day' there is no commemoration of the Vigil or prayer to the BMV, the dismissal is Ite, missa est and the ministers wear dalmatic (the garment of joy!) and tunicle. Vespers, apart from the doubling of the antiphons on the psalms are the same.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Gaudete, the third Sunday of Advent


Gaudete in Domino semper; iterum dico, gaudete. The introit for the third Sunday of Advent's Mass 'Rejoice in the LORD always; again I say rejoice', and also its Epistle, is from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians (4:4). The illustration from Jerome Nadal depicts today's Gospel where the Jews sent priests and Levites to interrogate St. John the Baptist.

The Sunday, mirroring Laetare Sunday in Lent, lightens the penitential violet and so rose vestments may be worn for Vespers and the day. The deacon and sub-deacon instead of wearing folded chasubles - one of the most ancient and typically Roman characteristis of the whole liturgy - wear dalmatic and tunicle today of rose colour. (Where rose vestments are not available violet dalmatic and tunicle are worn in their place.)

The Sunday is of semi-double rank of the second class. Mattins, as usual for most Sundays, has nine lessons and is divided into three nocturns. The invitatory is proper from today until the Vigil of the Nativity, Prope est jam Dominus: Venite adoremus. At Lauds a commemoration of the Octave of the BVM is made. At Mass the Octave is commemorated, the Creed is sung and the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino.

At Vespers, which has proper antiphons, a commemoration of the following Octave Day is made. After tomorrow's Octave Day the liturgy takes a more serious and penitential note.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

St. Lucy Virgin & Martyr


The feast of St. Lucy Virgin and Martyr is of double rite and has a 'proper' Office.

St. Lucy of Syracuse's Latin name, Lucia, shares a root (luc) with the Latin word for light, lux. Jacobus de Voragine stated "In 'Lucy' is said, the way of light" at the beginning of his vita of the Blessed Virgin Lucy, in Legenda Aurea, the most widely-read version of the Lucy legend in the Middle Ages. In the Julian Calendar December 13th was the longest night of the year hence the adoption of this day for St. Lucy's feast. Looking at her entry on Wikipedia I was surprised to learn her feast is actually kept by the Lutherans too.

Her Office began with Vespers yesterday with proper antiphons starting Orante sancta Lucia.. and psalms used for feasts of the BVM. At Vespers a commemoration of the Octave of the BVM and the Advent feria was made.

Mattins has three nocturns and nine lessons but the antiphons and psalms are of the Saturday. The responsories in the second and third nocturns are either proper or taken from the Common. At Lauds the same set of 'proper' antiphons are used as at Vespers and the Sunday psalms are sung. Again at Lauds there is a commemoration of the Octave of the BVM and of the Advent Saturday. At the Little Hours the Saturday antiphons and psalms are sung. Because of the Octave of the BVM all hymns of Iambic metre are sung to the special tone for the BMV and have the Doxology Jesu, tibi sit gloria.

Mass follows Terce. The Gloria is sung, the 2nd collect is of the Octave of the BVM, the third collect is of Advent, the Creed is sung (because of the Octave) and the Preface is that of the BVM.

Vespers of the Sunday are sung with a commemoration of St. Lucy and the Octave.

Two interesting points: Firstly, today is a good example of a feast that retained parts proper to it in the reform of 1911-13. Before the reform all double feasts would have used antiphons and psalms from the Common if they lacked (which is the case for the majority) proper antiphons. Secondly, since 1911-13 the versicle in the brief responsory at Prime for Advent Qui venturus es in mundum is considered 'proper'. This means that hymns of Iambic metre on the Sunday follow the normal tone and not that of the Octave.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Lucy loses first Vespers. Mattins is cut down to one nocturn of three lessons. At Lauds the proper antiphons and Sunday psalms are retained. In Mass the Gloria is sung but there is no commemoration of the Octave, hence no Credo and the Preface is Common (unless the ad libitum Preface of Advent is used found in later edtions of the 1962 missal). At Mass of course the deacon and sub-deacon wear dalmatic and tunicle - a practice in the Roman rite 47 years old this Advent - hardly 'ancient', 'traditional' or 'Gregorian'. St. Lucy is not commemorated at Vespers. Neither, of course, is the Octave.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ordo update

All international orders that had been received as of last Saturday have been despatched. The first batch, sent a week ago, have arrived in the USA.

Today I have sent UK customers (except those who have already ordered) their last paper order form/reminder.

I am away from tomorrow for five days in the West of Ireland. Orders that arrive during my absence will be processed on Monday evening and posted a week today.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Saint Andrew the Apostle



The feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the 'First Called', is celebrated today, displaced by the First Sunday of Advent yesterday.

According to St. John's Gospel St. Andrew was a disciple of St. John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and St. John the Evangelist to follow Jesus. St. Andrew at once recognised Christ as the Messiah. St. Andrew preached the Gospel in Asia Minor and, according to Eusebius, as far as Kiev. St. Andrew is the patron saint of such diverse countries as Scotland and Russia. According to tradition he was crucified at Patras in Achaea.

Devotion to St. Andrew was strong in the medieval period and many Western Kalendars such as the venerable Sarum Rite had an octave for the feast. In the Roman liturgy clearly St. Andrew was once regarded as more important than in modern times hence his inclusion in the Libera nos.

The liturgy of the day is festal and began with first Vespers of the feast on Advent Sunday. Four pluvialistae in pariti assist the Hebdomadarius at Vespers and Lauds. At Mattins there are the usual nine lessons. At Lauds a commemoration is made of the Advent feria. Festal psalmody is used at the Horae Minorae. At Mass, which is sung after Terce the Gloria and Creed are both sung and there is a commemoration of the Advent feria. At second Vespers there is a commemoration of tomorrow's feast of St. Bibiana and of the Advent feria. Compline ends the celebration of St. Andrew's transferred feast.

According to the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Andrew is entirely omitted this year, as in the 1970-2002 missal, so much for the supposed "Gregorian", "ancient" 1962 rite - Apostles are clearly of little importance!

Holy Apostle Andrew pray to God for us that we may be delivered from the affliction of the liturgical books of 1962.