Sunday, 27 November 2011
The First Sunday of Advent
The season of Advent begins with Vespers on the Saturday before Advent Sunday. The first Sunday of Advent is a semi-double Sunday of the first class. The liturgy of Advent is perhaps the most exquisite of the entire liturgical year with 'layers' of meaning for both the First and Second Comings of the LORD. There is a weave of expectant joy and penance to be found in the liturgical texts. The eschatalogical theme of last Sunday's Gospel continues with St. Luke's Gospel today and the Coming of the Divine Judge.
During Advent bishops of the Roman rite exchange their violet choir cassocks for black ones (with train) which are worn with either a black mozzeta or black mattelletum with violet linings. Cardinals of the Court of Rome wear their 'winter' violet merino apparel (in contrast to their summer mourning dress of violet watered-silk) in place of their watered-silk scarlet dress.
Vespers yesterday marked the beginning of the Pars Hiemalis, or Winter Volume, of the Breviary. The antiphons In illa die etc were sung with the psalms of Saturday. The Office hymn was Creator alme siderum. After the collect of the Sunday a commemoration was sung of the preceding Office of St. Silvester. The Suffrage is omitted during Advent. From this Vespers the Marian Antiphon sung is Alma Redemptoris Mater and it is sung with the versicle Angelus Domini etc and the collect Gratiam tuam etc. At Compline the Dominical preces were omitted because of the occurring double feast.
At Mattins the invitatory is Regem venturum and this is sung in the Dominical and ferial Offices of Advent until the third Sunday. The Office hymn is Verbum supernum. In the first nocturn the antiphons Veniet ecce Rex etc are sung with the usual psalms for Sunday. In the first nocturn the lessons are the Incipit of the prophet Isaiah. In the second nocturn the antiphons Gaude et laetare etc are sung and the lessons are taken from the writing of St. Leo on the fast of the tenth month, the theme of which is preparing for the Coming. In the third nocturn the antiphons Gabriel Angelus etc are sung and the homily is from St. Gregory continuing the theme of Coming with his commentary on St. Luke's Gospel about the end times. A ninth responsory is sung and the Te Deum is omitted in the Office of Advent. At Lauds the antiphons In illa die etc, sung at Vespers, are again sung, with the Dominical psalms. The hymn is En clara vox. As noted above the Suffrage is omitted.
At Prime the first antiphon from Lauds is used with the usual Dominical psalms (117, 118i, 118ii). In the short responsory the versicle Qui venturus es in mundum replaces Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris for all of Advent except when an occuring feast has a proper versicle. The Dominical preces are sung. At the other Hours the remaining antiphons of Lauds are sung in the usual order.
Mass is sung after Terce. During Advent for ferial and Dominical Masses the deacon and sub-deacon do not wear the dalmatic and tunicle but violet folded chasubles, an ancient feature of the Roman liturgy. The Gloria in not sung, the second collect is of the Blessed Virgin in Advent, Deus, qui de beate, the third collect Ecclesiae. The Creed is sung, the preface that of the Blessed Trinity and, as the Gloria was not sung, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino, sung by the deacon facing the altar not turned towards the people.
At Vespers the antiphons In illa die etc are sung again this time with the Dominical psalms. The Office hymn is Creator alme siderum. The Suffrage is omitted. At Compline the Dominical preces are sung.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' so much has been excised from the Breviary that there are only two volumes not four. Advent Sunday marks the beginning of the Pars Prior, which runs until first Vespers of Trinity Sunday. At Vespers there are no commemorations. There are no preces at Compline. Mattins is cut down to just one nocturn of three lessons. At Prime there are no preces. At Mass the deacon wears the dalmatic, and the sub-deacon the tunicle as at other times of the year. Folded chasubles, so ancient and so quintessentially Roman, have been tossed aside. There is only one collect and the dismissal is Ite, missa est. Grim!
Art: Jerome Nadal