Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi

Today is Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi and the Second Sunday after Pentecost, it is of semi-double rite. Today the altars and vestments of the traditioal Roman rite are of the finest white in honour of the Octave of the feast of the Sacrament of the LORD's Passion, Death and Resurrection.

At Vespers yesterday the antiphons and psalms were as on the feast of Corpus Christi, the antiphons though not being of course doubled. The chapter was of the Sunday, the hymn of the feast and the antiphon on the Magnificat and collect of the Sunday. A commemoration was then sung of the Octave and of St. Basil the Great.

At Mattins again the antiphons and psalms are as on the feast. In the first nocturn the lessons are from the First Book of Kings. In the second nocturn the lessons are from a homily of St. Chrysostom to the people of Antioch and in the third nocturn a homily of St. Gregory the Great on the Gospel. At Lauds the antiphons and hymn are of the feast, a commemoration of the Octave is sung and of St. Basil.

At the Little Hours on the feast and Octave the hymns are sung to the same tone as on the feast of the Nativity of the LORD (there of course being a deep link between the Incarnation and Corpus Christi) with the Doxology Jesu tibi sit gloria etc. At Prime the versicle in the short responsory is Qui natus es for the feast and Octave, the short lesson is Filioli mei.

Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria is sung, the second collect of the Octave, the third collect of St Basil. The Creed is sung and the preface is that of the Nativity.

In Collegiate and Cathedral Churches on the Sunday within the Octave a Mass of the feast is sung after None with Gloria, second collect of the Sunday, Sequence, Creed, preface of the Nativity and last Gospel of the Sunday. After this a Procession is made as on the feast.

The Caermoniale Episcoporum gives detailed instructions for the Procession (indeed so detailed they forsee the bishop having to excommunicate persons who cannot agree their position in procession!) It also sanctions the practice of Mass and Vespers coram Sanctissimo during the Octave. The screen capture below shows Bishop Dolan celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi this morning at St. Gertrudes. Note how he has moved to the Gospel side to sing Dominus vobiscum so as not to turn his back on the exposed Sacrament.

Vespers are of the Octave, the chapter of the Sunday, with a commemoration of the Octave, St. Basil and SS Vitus and Companions.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the feast of Corpus Christi has been denuded of most of its richness. The links with the Incarnation are gone. The hymn tones are not those of the Nativity, the Doxology has gone, the versicle at Prime has gone as has the preface of the Nativity to be replaced by the common preface. Shamefully on this Sunday green vestments are used and the Octave has of course gone. St. Basil too doesn't get commemorated. A rubric in the 1962 missal does however allow two 'votive Masses II class' where a procession takes place in the 'seven days following the feast'. Ironically, in the 1970-2002 rite in many countries some of the former character of the Sunday within the Octave has been restored where the External Solemnity or feast is observed on this Sunday and white vestments are again used. Today it is easy to spot an enemy of orthopraxis: they will be wearing green!

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