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.


Anonymous said...

an Anglican parish clearly more interested in the traditional Roman liturgy than 1962 groups

But not in validity?

Fr Michael Brown said...

I always understood that the feast of Candlemass was introduced into the Roman liturgy by Pope Gelasius I (492-6) to replce the still continuing pagan celebration of Lupercalia. If so the feast that the purple vestments recall must have been very ancient. Do you know what it was?

Anonymous said...

There is a good bit in The Liturgical Year about this.The purple vestments harmonise with the other great blessings,ashes,for instance.It also means that if it falls on Sept.,Sexag.and Quinqua. the blessing in prple will take place on the Sun, tho' the feast is transferred to the next day. Good old Dom Gueranger ! I agree,from my bitter twenty-four years' experience as a convert from Anglicanism, in decency,,[not to mention charity and kindness ; if you don't belive me just look at traditional Catholic Forum-land for two minutes] dignity and splendour,Anglicans put us to shame.I can think of several trad.Catholic places where there is no organist,no singing and little beauty.Few anglican vicars,high low or middle would put up with that.Catholics don't seem to care.I can listen to my cassette tape of Vespers for Candlemas,1992,from the London Oratory,broadcast on Radio 3 : a little bit of joy. Alan Robinson

Rubricarius said...

Hestor - Looking at the large amount of literature available on various traditionalist websites one would have thought that the validiy of the majority of orders of 1962 groups could be questionned either by (a) the hypothesis that the 1968 Ordinale is defective or (b) the 'Lienart' hypothesis. Challenging the validity of other peoples orders is fine until one realises that all orders are challenged by one party or another with the exception of ROCOR. If you want a discussion on orders please do so but not here.

Fr. Michael Brown - Not according to the Catholic Encyclopaedia (1908)."The feast was certainly not introduced by Pope Gelasius to suppress the excesses of the Lupercalia" - referencing Migne, Missale Gothicum, 691. I cannot find the reference I recall to hand (when I do will post more) but looking at Rado, P., Enchiridion Liturgicam, pp1138-1141 it appears the feast originated in the East with Egeria witnessing its celebration on February 14th, forty days after the Nativity when kept on January 6th. When the feast entered the West it was kept forty days after December 25th. Rado suggests there was a Christian procession on that day already to combat a feast kept in honour of a Solar deity. Then came about the fusion. In our English rites white was always used and the blessing more elaborate with a preface (c.f. blessing of Palms).

Canon Gordon Reid said...

We celebrated the rite last night in St Clement's exactly as described. The professional choir of 18 voices was conducted by Dr Barry Rose, O.B.E. from England and sang all the antiphons and propers to the traditional Latin settings. My successor, Fr Rick Alton, preached a fine sermon on the beauty of holiness, and in true Anglican tradition, much champagne was drunk at the reception! If you care about the version of validity that depends on tactual succession, the bishop and seven or eight priests present were all ordained by bishops in Old Catholic as well as Anglican orders, so forget that nonsense.