Monday, 2 February 2009
The Purification of the BVM - Candlemass
The Feast of the Purification of the BVM is a double of the second class. The feast is known in English-speaking countries generally as Candlemass as before Mass candles for use throughout the year ahead are solemnly blessed.
The liturgical colour of the day is white but violet is used for the blessing of candles and procession. The use of violet is based on an ancient Roman procession on this day older than the celebration of the feast. If the feast is transferred the blessing of candles still takes place on the 2nd February e.g. if Septuagesima Sunday falls on that day.
The Office is proper. Mattins has nine lessons and three nocturns. At Lauds the Dominical psalms are used and at the Hours those used on feasts. The hymns of Iambic metre are sung to a melody used for feast of the BVM and have the Doxology, Jesu tibi sit gloria. At Prime in the short responsory the versicle Qui natus es de Virgine is sung and the short lesson is of the feast, Et placebit.
After Terce the blessing of candles takes place. The celebrant is vested in a violet cope and the ministers in folded chausubles. The altar is vested in violet and the organ is silent (as is always the case when folded chausubles are used.) At the Epistle corner the celebrant sings five prayers of blessing in the ferial tone. Incense is then blessed, lustral water sprinkled over the candles whilst the celebrant says Asperges me and then the candle are censed. Candles are then distributed while the antiphon Lumen ad revelationem is sung interpolated into the canticle Nunc dimittis. At the conclusion of this the antiphon Exsurge, Domine is sung with a Doxology. After the distribution the celebrant returns with the ministers to the Epistle corner and chants Oremus. If the feast falls after Septuagesima then the deacon sings Flectamus genua and the sub-deacon Levate. The celebrant then sings the collect Exaudi. The procession then takes place with lighted candles during the singing of three antiphons Adorna thalamum, Responsum accepit Simeon and Obtulerunt. These text are clearly ancient and found, almost verbatim, in the Menaion of the Byzantine rite.
After the Procession the ministers change from violet vestments to white and Mass is celebrated. The Gloria and Credo are sung and the preface is that of the Nativity, the feast being a 'satellite' of Christmas. Lighted candles are held by all during the chanting of the Gospel and from the beginning of the Canon until after the distribution of Communion. Vespers are of the feast. From Compline the Marian antiphon changes from Alma, Redemptoris to Ave, Regina etc.
In the 'extraordinary form' of the modern Roman liturgy whilst mattins and lauds have festal psalmody at the Little Hours psalmody is from the ferial psalter. Although the versicle Qui natus is sung the short lesson at Prime is of the season, rather than of the feast, and the Doxology in honour of the BVM is omitted. At the blessing of candles white vestments are used. The five collects of blessing have the usual 'long conclusion' omitted, the verse Exsurge, Domine is omitted, the command of Flectamus genua is always omitted even in Septuagesima and at Mass Judica me Deus etc is excised as on several other days in the 1962 missal.
The photograph, showing the beginning of the service of blessing of candles (clearly showing the ministers wearing folded chasubles), is one of many on the webpage of St. Clement's Church an Anglican parish clearly more interested in the traditional Roman liturgy than 1962 groups.