Today is Ember Wednesday in Advent and the first of three Ember Days observed this week. The day is a greater, non-privileged, ferial day of simple rite and its liturgical colour is violet.
The Office of the Ember Day begins with Mattins. The invitatory is Prope est and the Office hymn Verbum supernum. In the nocturn the antiphons Speciosus forma etc, from the Psalter for Wednesday, are sung with psalms 44i, 44ii, 45, 44, 481, 48ii, 49i, 49ii & 49iii. Psalm 49 is divided into three rather than two divisi as the second scheme of Lauds will be sung later. The lessons are a homily from St. Ambrose on St. Luke's Gospel. Following the third lesson a third responsory, Modo veniet Dominator Dominus, is sung. At Lauds the second schema is sung and so the antiphons appointed for the Wednesday before the Vigil of the Nativity, Prophetae praedicaverunt etc, are sung with psalms 50, 64, 100, Exsultavit cor meum & 145. The Office hymn is En clara vox. After the antiphon on the Benedictus, Missus est Gabriel, has been sung in full after the Canticle the choir kneels for the singing of the ferial preces. The same set of antiphons are sung with the Little Hours in the usual order. At Prime Pss. 25, 51, 52 & 96 the chapter is the ferial Pacem et veritatem etc. At the Hours the ferial preces are sung, the choir kneeling.
Mass is sung after None. The texts are proper, the introit being Rorate, caeli etc. After the Kyrie there immediately follows the dialogue Oremus sung by the celebrant, Flectamus genua sung by the deacon and Levate sung by the sub-deacon. This is followed by the collect Praesta, quaesumus and an additional OT lesson and gradual. After this the celebrant sings Dominus vobiscum and the collect Festina, quaesumus. The second collect is Deus, qui de beatae and the third collect Ecclesiae. The dismissal is Benedicamus Domino sung by the deacon facing the altar. The ministers, of course, wear violet folded chasubles. With the celebration of the Eucharist the Office of the Ember Day ends.
Vespers is of the Advent ferial day. The Office hymn is Creator alme siderum. The antiphon on the Magnificat is proper to the seventeenth day, O Sapientia, and is sung in full both before and after the Canticle with the choir standing. The choir kneels for the ferial preces and the collect of the previous Sunday is sung. At Compline the Domincal preces are sung, kneeling.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962 Ember Days become of second class rank. At Mattins and Lauds all the antiphons are doubled. Although the preces are sung at Lauds they are omitted at the Hours. Prime has but three psalms and the festal Regi saeculorum as the chapter. Mass is sung after Terce. The ministers wear dalmatic and tunicle. The sub-deacon does not sing Levate. Two of the additional collects are omitted. The dismissal is Ite, missa est. The Office of the Ember Day continues through Vespers. The doubling of antiphons means the singular feature of the Great O antiphons is lost. The collect is of the Ember Day, not of the preceding Sunday.