Wednesday, 25 November 2009

How to...Vespers

It is now well over a year since a series of posts about 'how to' say the Roman Office were written for this blog. It seems appropriate to revist the Hours that were discussed, namely Vespers, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext and None and then look at Compline and Mattins.

Anyone new to the Office is best advised to start with Vespers. The Office of Vespers is relatively straightforward and once familiar it is easy to move on to Lauds, the structure of which is essentially the same. Likewise the 'Little Hours' of Terce, Sext and None follow from Vespers and have the advantage of all sharing the same structure which is rather more simple than Vespers.

So to re-visit, Vespers was discussed here , here and here. Applying this to today the Ordo entry reads: V a cap seq, com praec et S Petri Alexandrini EM. This translates as 'Vespers is from the chapter of the following Office of St. Sylvester, with a commemoration of the preceding Office of St. Catharine and a commemoration of St Peter of Alexandria.'

(Note: Unless you have a Breviary or Antiphonale in front of you this post will be pretty much incomprehensible for what follows.)

Aperi Domine etc is said (if None doesn't immediately precede Vespers), then Pater & Ave followed by the usual introduction to the Hours of Vespers, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext and None: Deus in adjutorium, the response Domine, ad adjuvandum, Lesser Doxology and Alleluia.

The antiphons (doubled; i.e. the antiphon is said in its entirety both before and after the psalm) and psalms of 'Wednesday at Vespers' are then said. The chapter, Beatus vir, is from the Common of Confessor not Bishops (for St. Sylvester), the hymn Iste Confessor, the versicle Amavit eum and response Stolam gloriae. The antiphon on the Magnificat is Similabo eum (doubled) and the collect Clementissime Deus.

The commemorations are then made. (In most 'modern' editions of the Breviary this is made much easier as the relevant antiphons, versicles and collects are printed in the Sanctoral - it was not always thus and is indeed still more difficult to when trying to find the items in the Antiphonale or Vesperale.) So for St. Catharine we have Veni, Sponsa Christi, the versicle Diffusa est gratia, response Propterea benedixit and collect Deus, qui dedisti. For St. Peter the antiphon Iste Sanctus, the versicle Gloria et honore, response Constituisti and collect Infirmitatem nostram.

Then follows Benedicamus Domino etc and the closing of Vespers.

I will revisit Lauds and the Hours before Advent Sunday and look at Compline and Mattins next week.

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