Friday, 15 August 2008

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

The feast is a Double of the First Class with Octave.

At Mattins the lessons in the first nocturn, taken from the Canticle of Canticles, are particularly rich with vibrant imagery:

"Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine, smelling sweet of the best ointments." (1st lesson)

"Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress trees." (3rd lesson)

As St. John Damascene eloquently preaches in the second nocturn: "This day the holy and animated ark of the living God, she who conceived in her womb her Creatorm rests in the temple of the Lord, which was not made with hands. And her ancestor David leaps, and with him the Angels lead the dance, the Archangels make celebration, the Virtues ascribe glory, the Principalities exult, the Powers rejoice together, the Dominations are joyful, the Thrones keep holiday, the Cherubim utter praise, the Seraphim proclaim her glory. This day the Eden of the new Adam receives the living Paradise, wherein the condemnation was made void, wherein the tree of life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered." (4th lesson)

"Mary truly hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken away from her." (8th lesson)

The quoted texts are from the translation of the Breviarium Romanum by the nuns of Stanbrooke Abbey.

At Lauds and both Vespers six pluvialistae in pariti assist the Hebdomadarius. At Prime and the Hours the hymns are sung to the tone for feasts of the Blessed Virgin and at Prime in the Short Responsory the verse Qui natus es de Virgine is sung. This is followed for the whole octave.

Festal Mass is celebrated after Terce. The Rituale gives a Blessing of Herbs for this day which takes place immediately before Mass with Psalm 64, a series of versicles and responses, three collects, whose florid style, reminiscent of those for the Blessing of Palms, suggests a Gallican origin. The Caeremoniale prescribes six candles on the altar and the Graduale four cantors, if this is possbile.

In the afternoon Second Vespers are sung with a commemoration of the BVM's father, St. Joachim. Compline is again festal.

Gaudeamus omnes in Domino!

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