The Fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday after the opening words of the Introit at its Mass Laetare, Jerusalem - Rejoice Jerusalem, and is also known as 'mid-Lent' Sunday and is also Mothering Sunday in many countries including the United Kingdom. It is a semi-double Sunday of the first class.
The distinguishing feature of this Sunday, in relatively modern times, is the use of rose coloured vestments. Rose is perceived as a lighter shade of violet and the use of rose vestments developed from the older praxis of a golden rose being given to female monarchs by the pope on this day. The use of rose vestments does not appear to go back further than about the sixteenth century. Cardinals of the Court of Rome wore rose choir dress too on this Sunday along with the corresponding Gaudete Sunday in Advent. In Lent Cardinals wore their 'winter violet' cassock, mantelletum and mozzeta (not the violet watered silk of their 'summer violet). The 'winter' material was of merino but on Laetare Sunday they wore watered rose silk and, presumably, hoped for mild weather. This practice disappeared during the 1920s.
In the developed practice the altar is dressed after Mass has been sung on Saturday morning with rose antipendia. Then Vespers were sung. The antiphons and psalms of Saturday were sung. The chapter was proper, the hymn Audi benigne Conditor. The Suffrage of the Saints was sung after the collect of the day. At Compline the Dominical preces were sung.
At Mattins the invitatory is, as previous Sundays of Lent, Non sit vobis and the hymn Ex more. The antiphons given in the Psalter for Sundays are used. As usual Mattins has three nocturns and nine lessons. In the first nocturn the lessons are from Exodus and the story of Moses and the Burning Bush. In the second nocturn they are from St. Basil the Great on fasting and in the third nocturn the lessons are a homily of St. Augustine on St. John's Gospel. At Lauds the antiphons are proper to the Sunday and the second scheme of Psalms sung (50, 117, 62, the canticle Benedictus es, 148). The chapter is proper to the Sunday and hymn is O sol salutis. After the collect of the day the Suffrage of the Saint is sung.
At Prime and the Hours the antiphons are proper to the Sunday. At Prime the psalms are 92, 99 (displaced from Lauds) and the first two stanzas of 118. The Dominical preces are sung and the short lesson is Quaerite Dominum.
Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria is not sung. The second collect is A cunctis, the third Omnipotens, a Tract is sung after the Gradual, the Credo is sung, the preface is of Lent and the dismissal Benedicamus Domino. As folded chasubles are not worn the organ may be played. In the absences of rose vestments violet are worn, the deacon and subdeacon wearing dalmatic and tunicle.
Vespers are of the Sunday (sung at the normal time). The antiphons and psalms are those used on Sundays, the chapter is proper and the hymn Audi, benigne Conditor. The Suffrage of the Saints is sung after the collect of the Sunday. At Compline the Dominical preces are sung.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' Mattins is cut down to three lessons. At Lauds the Suffrage of the Saints is omitted. At Prime the psalms are 53 and the first two stanzas of 118, the Domincial preces are omitted. At Mass the second and third collects are omitted. The dismissal is Ite, missa est. At Vespers the Suffrage of the Saints is omitted and at Compline the Dominical preces not sung.
Art: Jerome Nadal