The Vigil of Penetecost is a semidouble of the first class. The ceremonies before Mass, very similar to Holy Saturday, are linked historically to the practice of baptisms at Pentecost.
The liturgical colour of the Office is white. At Mattins the invitatory, hymn, psalms and antiphons are from the feast of the Ascension. The lessons in the first nocturn are the Incipit of the Apostle Jude, in the second nocturn the lessons are from a discourse of St. Augustine to catechumens on the Creed and St. Augustine sermon s 74 & 75 on St. John's Gospel from the third nocturn. At Lauds the Sunday psalms are sung as on the previous Sunday but without commemoration of the Octave. The Commemoration of the Cross is omitted.
At the Little Hours the hymns are sung with the Doxology of Ascensiontime to Tone4. A white antependium etc is on the choir altar covering a violet one which in turn covers a red one. The altar candles are lit. At Prime the first entry in the Martyrology is that of the great feast of Pentecost. After None the altar candles are extinguished and the white antependium is removed.
The celebrant in violet chasuble, assisted where possible by deacon and subdeacon in violet folded chasubles comes to the altar preceded by acolytes without candles. The celebrant kisses the altar at the centre and goes to the epistle corner. The celebrant begins reading, in a low voice, the first of six prophecies at the Epistle corner. Meanwhile a lector comes to a lectern in the middle of choir accompanied by the 2nd MC, reverences the altar and choir and then sings the first prophecy. The celebrant and ministers may sit after reading the prophecy returning to the altar as the lector finishes chanting the same. After the prophecy has been sung the celebrant sings Oremus, but unlike Holy Saturday without Flectamus genua and Levate, and sings the first collect Deus, qui in Abrahae.
Where resources permit the six prophecies are sung by lectors in ascending order of seniority but for most celebrations they will be sung by the same or by a couple of lectors. The prophecies and collects are:
Prophecy 1: Genesis XXII: 1- 19 (Holy Saturday 3rd prophecy) In diebus illis: Tentavit Deus Abraham… Collect 1: Deus, qui in Abrahae...; Prophecy 2: Exodus XIV: 24-31, XV: 1 (Holy Saturday 4th prophecy) In diebus illis: Factus est in vigilia matutina... This is followed immediately by the tract Cantemus Domino and then Collect 2: Deus, qui primis temporibus... Prophecy 3: Deuteronomy XXXI: 22 -30 (Holy Saturday 11th prophecy) In diebus illis: Scripsit Moyses canticum ... followed by the tract Attende, caelum then Collect 3: Deus, glorificatio fidelium...; Prophecy 4: Isaiah IV: 1 – 6 (Holy Saturday 8th prophecy) Apprehendent septem mulieres..., the tract Vinea facta est... and Collect 4: Omnipotens sempiterne Deus...; Prophecy 5: Baruch III: 9 – 38 (Holy Saturday 6th prophecy) Audi, Israel, mandata vitae... Collect 5: Deus, qui nobis...; and Prophecy 6: Ezechiel XXXVII: 1-14 (Holy Saturday 7th prophecy) In diebus illis: Facta est super me... and Collect 6: Domine, Deus virtutum...
During the sixth prophecy, if there is a font, the acolytes light their candles on the credence table. A server lights the Paschal Candle and holds it near the credence. The celebrant goes to the sedilia and removes the chasuble and maniple and puts on a violet cope. A procession is now made to the Baptistery. The Paschal Candle bearer leads followed by Crucifer between acolytes. The choir sings Sicut cervus.
At the entrance to the Baptistery the collect Concede, quaesumus is sung (as opposed to Omnipotens sempiterne Deus sung on Holy Saturday). Everything then is done to bless the font as on Holy Saturday with the solemn blessing of the water and infusion with Chrism. During the blessing of the font cushions are laid in the sanctuary for the celebrant and ministers to prostrate on.
After the blessing of the font the procession reforms and returns to the sanctuary the Paschal Candle bearer leading it. Two cantors begin the Litany as the procession leaves the Baptistery. The petitions are doubled i.e. the cantors sing the petition and response entire and then it is repeated by the choir and people e.g. C: Pater de caelis Deus, miserere nobis; P: Pater de caelis Deus, miserere nobis.
When the procession enters the sanctuary the candle bearer takes the Paschal Candle back to the sacristy and extinguishes it. The Crucifer and acolytes go to the credence. The cantors kneel in the middle of the choir. The celebrant and ministers go to the sedilia and remove their vestments. They then prostrate on the cushion before the altar, all others kneel. After the invocation Peccatores the celebrant and ministers rise and return to the sacristy where they vest in red. Meanwhile servers remove the violet antependium etc and vest the altar for festal Mass. Where there is no font after the sixth prophecy the cushions are laid on the altar steps and the Litany follows.
As the choir sing Agnus Dei the procession returns to the sanctuary. Mass follows as usual except, like Holy Saturday, it has no introit. During the Gloria the bells are rung. There is only one collect. At the Gospel the acolytes do not carry candles. The Creed is not sung. The communicantes and Hanc igitur are of Pentecost.
In the afternoon solemn first Vespers of Pentecost are sung.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the Vigil of Pentecost has been excoriated from the liturgical books. At Mattins the ferial psalms are used, there is but one nocturn of three lessons. At Lauds and the Hours the ferial psalms are sung. The prophecies and blessing of the font are all gone. The Vigil ceremonies were supressed in churches where the, then optional, 1952 form of the Easter Vigil was introduced and universally in 1956 with the New Order of Holy Week. As no one has argued that the times of the Pentecost Vigil were putatively wrong its reason for suppression was clearly lest it reminded the faithful of the traditional Ordo. Mass has the introit added (previously this was only used in private Masses).