Monday, 22 June 2009

How to read the Ordo - I

A comment from a reader expressed the view that Ordo-speak is not easily understandable so this is the first of several posts the aim of which is to explain the Ordo entries. It really is not about reading Latin but learning Ordo-speak.

Starting with the left-hand column that is simply the day of the month. The right-hand column gives the liturgical colour of the day, in this case 'A' for albus - white. (Beware that 'V' is for viridis - green but 'U' is for violaceus - violet.)

Reading the central block 'Fer III' is Tuesday. In parenthesis the next piece of information is that it is the Vigil of the feast of St. John the Baptist. The entry is in parenthesis because the Vigil cannot be celebrated in its entirety because there is a higher ranking feast, in this case the fifth day within the Octave of the Sacred Heart. The rank of the Office to be kept is then indicated - 'sd' for semi-duplex - semi-double. A semi-double will be a feast of nine lessons (i.e. three nocturns) at Mattins except for days within the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost.

'Off ut in fest et pr loco' translates as the Office is as on the feast and what is proper to the day. In practice this means that most of the texts come from the actual feast of the Sacred Heart. When looking at the Breviary or Antiphonale this becomes easy to see. The parts proper to the day are the lessons at Mattins.

'Ad Mat L IX Vig et com Vig* in L et M' is telling us that the ninth lesson at Mattins is of the Vigil and that the Vigil is also commemorated at Lauds and at Mass. The asterisk indicates that the name of St. John the Baptist is in the Canon and the celebrant makes a bow of the head when he says that name.

'In M Gl, 3 or Concede nos, Cr, Praef pr, ult Ev Vig.' means that at Mass the Gloria is sung, the third prayer (oration) is Concede nos (we know that the second collect is of the Vigil from the preceding line explained in the paragraph above) that the Creed is sung, the preface is proper, i.e. of the Sacred Heart and that the last Gospel is of the commemorated Vigil rather than In principio.

The next line informs us that 'private' Masses may be of the Vigil (again the asterisk reminds the celebrant that a bow of the head is made at the name of St. John in the Canon) that the Gloria is not said (noted by the omission of 'Gl'), the second collect is of the Octave, the third collect is Concede nos, the preface is of the Sacred Heart and the dismissal is Bendicamus Domino and that the vestment colour is violet.

Vespers are first Vespers of the following feast (note the second colour letter in the right-hand column) and that the Octave is commemorated.

Was this explanation helpful?


Patrick Sheridan said...

We all get confused as to the regulations regarding additional Collects. For example, if there is a Sunday that falls within an Octave, there are only two Collects (of the Sunday, and of the Octave) unless there is a ''recurring commemoration.'' What does this mean? Does that refer to the Proprium Sanctorum?

Rubricarius said...


Yes. If there is a feast that occurs on a Sunday in an Octave then its collect is sung too.

In other words there are only two collects on a Sunday within an Octave when no feast is kept that day. It also means the prayers of the season e.g. A cunctis, Concede nos, Deus qui de beate etc are not said on such a Sunday.

Kevin said...


This is not exactly on topic, but I hope you know the answer.

Prior to the XXth century, many vigils were fasting days. As today is the vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, I was wondering if, in a case where the Mass of the day was of a festal octave day (like today, would the vigil day still be a fast day?

Mulier Fortis said...


This was, indeed, very helpful, thank you.

Are there any plans to put the complete Ordo online, or maybe just the parts for the Office, perhaps for the week ahead?

I'm having to try and put the prayers for the feasts together myself as I'm praying from the Monastic Diurnal, which means that most of the EF feasts are "missing" as well as it being the 1962 calendar.

I wondered whether the Baronius Press breviary would make it easier or harder to follow the Ordo you are publishing: despite the breviary being 1962, presumably I could use the Ordo to work out the missing feasts and octaves...

Any thoughts?

Rubricarius said...


My understanding is that the fast day would not be mitigated by the Octave but only by a 'holiday of obligation'.

There was no distinction as in the Byzantine Rite where an occuring feast might make the day 'fish, wine and oil'. It was fast or feast with no inbetween option.

Rubricarius said...

Mac McLernon

There is already an 'online' Office at that is produced by a friend in the USA.

Historically many of the Ordo users have not been at the forefront of 'online' technology so I would question how useful an onlne version would be.

A 1962 Breviary does not, of course, have a number of feasts and octave but also has the second and third nocturn lessons of Mattins (and their responsories) omitted. Whilst one could say use a 1900 edition of the Breviary and say the the 1962 Office (yikes, I'd rather not) it would be much harder and in some cases impossible to use a 1962 Breviary to say the Office as in 1900.

A few months ago I wrote several posts on how the Office fits together (for the Little Hours, Lauds and Vespers) tagged under 'Practicalities'. Your view on how useful they are would be most welcome.

Kevin said...

Mac McLernon

There is also a site especially for the Farnborough Diurnal here:

She publishes an instructional Ordo on a weekly basis.

Mulier Fortis said...

Rubricarius, thanks, this is really helpful, and I do hope you don't mind me asking so many questions and clarifications... the moment, because I'm using the Monastic Diurnal, I don't pray Matins at all (BTW is it Matins or Mattins?)

My Latin is very minimal (I'm picking up bits from attending EF Mass, typing out the Rossini propers for the choir with musical notation and praying from the Diurnal (English & Latin text side-by-side)) and so I wouldn't be able to follow a pre-1962 Latin breviary.

Aside from Mattins, would the 1962 Breviary be better than the Monastic Diurnal (which is also 1962 and has only the saints observed by the Benedictines)?

BTW, I heard that you might possibly be coming to Blackfen for Fr. Finigan's Jubilee... I do hope so!

Rubricarius said...

Mac McLernon,

The Monastic Diurnal would be the far lesser of the two evils in my opinion.

The Monastic Rite still retained a traditional cursus for the Psalter and the Laudate psalms (Ps.148,149 & 150) for 362 days of the year. These had been chopped from the Roman Rite in 1911.

The Monastic Rite also has the advantage of the pre-Urban VIII hymns. Personally I generally use these as I cannot comprehend what Alto ex Olympi vertice has to do with Christianity (Office hymn for Lauds for the Dedication of a Church post Urban VIII style).

As to Mattins I always like to Anglicise it and have two 't's. Obviously the Monastic Diurnal wouldn't have Mattins but I think it far preferable to the 1962 Breviary.