Thursday, 3 December 2009

How to...Mattins (I)

This post in the series of 'How to' will look at Mattins. Mattins is one of the three 'Great Hours' and the only Office in the Roman rite still to contain extensive passages of scripture and writings from the Fathers.

Mattins basically consists of units of psalmody and readings. The units were originally called vigils and later nocturns. Mattins can be either of three nocturns or a single nocturn depending on the liturgical day being celebrated. Each nocturn consists of three lessons so often, particularly when looking at pre-Trent liturgy, one sees references to feasts of three or nine lessons (in such times whether a feast had three or nine lessons was used in the classification system then in use, often with the additional qualification of whether the feast was 'ruled' or not). In the modern Roman rite doubles and semi-doubles have three nocturns at Mattins made up of nine psalms and nine lessons (with the exception of the feast of Easter and Pentecost and their Octaves) and simple feasts and ferial days have one nocturn consisting of nine psalms and three lessons.

The greater-double feast of St. Francis Xavier will be our first example. A Breviary will need to be marked in four or even five places: 'Feria quinta ad Matutinum', Thursday of the first week of Advent, the texts for St. Francis Xavier given on December 3rd and the 'Common of a Confessor non-bishop'. Depending on the layout of the Breviary one may need to also refer to the very beginning section Ordinarium divini Offici ad Matutinum (when more familiar with the texts the latter will not need to be referred to).

The prayer Aperi Domine etc is said followed by the inaudible recital of Pater noster, Ave Maria and Credo. Mattins then begins with the versicle Domine, labia mea aperies (with the Sign of the Cross made on the lips) and its response Et os meum annuntiabit laudem tuam. This is followed by the usual introductory rites of Deus in adjutorium, Lesser Doxology and Alleluia (all very familiar of course to those acquainted with Choral Evensong - Abp. Cranmer was very good at 'cut and paste'). Turning now to the Common the invitatory, Regem Confessorum Dominum, Venite adoremus, is said and then repeated. Then the first part of Ps. 94 Venite, exsultemus Domino etc found in the Ordinarium. The invitatory is then repeated. The next section of the psalm is then said Quoniam Deus magnus etc. After that the fragment of the invitatory from the * is said: Venite adoremus (only). Then the next part of the psalm Quoniam ipse est mare etc followed by the entire invitatory. Next Hodie si vocem etc followed by the fragment, then Quadraginta annis followed by the entire invitatory. Then the Lesser Doxology, fragment of the invitatory and, finally, the entire invitatory is said again.

Then the hymn, Iste Confessor, is said.

We now move into the first nocturn. The psalmody comes from the ferial psalter. So, turning to Feria quinta ad Matutinum, we begin with the entire (as it is a double feast) antiphon In Deo salutare meum, et gloria mea: et spes mea in Deo est. Then Ps. 61, Lesser Doxology and the antiphon is repeated. This arragement is repeated for the next psalm-fragment 65(i) and after that 65(ii). After the last antiphon, Audite, omnes...suam a me, is repeated as it is a feast of nine lessons the versicle Non amovit is said with its response Et misericordiam. Pater noster is then said inaudibly followed by Et ne nos inducas in tentationem and its response Sed libera nos a malo. Then is said the absolution Exaudi, Domine Jesu Christi etc. (The full texts of all the absolutions and blessings are found in Ordinarium section.) Then Jube, domne (or Domine in private recitation) benedicere and the blessing before the first Lesson, Benedictione perpetua etc. (When Breviaries were printed most included a separate sheet with the Venite, absolutions and blessings along with the Te Deum which could be moved around for convenience of the user).

The first nocturn, scriptural, lessons are taken from Thursday of the first week of Advent. The first lesson is Et apprehendent septem mulieres (from Isaiah). At the end of each lesson is said Tu autem Domine, miserere nobis and the response Deo gratias. This is followed by the first responsory Suscipe verbum. Then Jube domne, the next blessing Unigenitus, the second lesson Cantabo dilecto etc followed by the second responsory Aspicebam in visu noctis. Then Jube again and the third blessing Spiritus sancti. Then follows the third lesson Et nunc ostendam etc and then the third responsory Missus est Gabriel. That completes the first nocturn.

Now for the second nocturn. We turn back to 'Feria quinta ad Matutinum' and have another three antiphons and three psalm-fragments: Exsurgat Deus...inimici ejus followed by Ps 67(i), Lesser Doxology, Exsurgat Deus...inimici ejus, then Deus noster...exitus mortis followed by Ps 67(ii), Lesser Doxology, Deus noster...exitus mortis, then In ecclesiis...Domino Deus followed by Ps 67(iii), Lesser Doxology, In ecclesiis...Domino Deus. After the psalmody the versicle Mirabilis Deus and its response Deus Israel. Then, as in the first nocturn, a Pater noster inaudibly until Et ne nos etc. The absolution for the second nocturn is Ipsius pietas etc.

Then, turning to the texts for St. Francis Xavier on December 3rd, Jube domne and the blessing Deus Pater etc. The fourth lesson is Franciscus etc, then the responsory Honestum fecit. Then Jube domne and the blessing Christus etc and the fifth lesson Vitae austeritate etc and its responsory Amavit eum. After that Jube domne, the blessing Ignem etc and the sixth lesson Hunc dilatandi etc and its responsory Iste homo. That concludes the second nocturn.

Lastly, to the third nocturn. We turn back again to 'Feria quinta ad Matutinum' and have the last three antiphons and three psalm-fragments: Salvum me fac...animam meam, Ps 68(i), Lesser Doxology, Salvum me fac...animam meam, then Propter inimicos...Domine, Ps 68(ii), Lesser Doxology, Propter inimicos...Domine, and finally Quaerite...anima vestra, Ps 68(iii), Lesser Doxology, Quaerite...anima vestra. Then the versicle Laudabo and its response Et magnificabo. Then, as in the previous two nocturns, a Pater noster inaudibly until Et ne nos etc. The absolution for the third nocturn is A vinculis etc.

Turning back to the texts for St. Francis Xavier. Ignore the short lesson preceded by the rubric Si hoc Festum ad instar Simplicis redigatur etc. The seventh lesson is the Gospel fragment from St. Mark. Jube domne, the blessing Evangelica etc then the Gospel fragment and St. Gregory's homily Potest omnis creaturae etc. After the lesson the seventh responsory Iste est. Then Jube domne, the blessing Cujus festum colimus etc and the lesson Neque etenim etc and its responsory Sint lumbi. Then Jube domne and the final blessing Ad societatem etc followed by the ninth lesson Signa autem etc. After the ninth lesson, as today is a feast, the Te Deum is said instead of a ninth responsory.

In Choral Office Mattins is never separated from Lauds, except as noted above at Christmas. In private recitation, and to complete this example, the hour concludes Dominus vobiscum etc, Domine exaudi orationem meam etc, Oremus followed by the collect of the day, Dominus vobiscum etc, Benedicamus Domino and its response Deo gratias, the versicle Fidelium animae and an inaudible Pater noster.

So that is Mattins for a feast of nine lessons. It looks more complex than it really is and the above took longer to think and type than it would take to say Mattins. With practice the absolutions and blessings become part of liturgical consciousness and the Office less 'fiddlesome' than it at first appears. The next example will be a ferial Office of three lessons.


Anonymous said...

"Turning now to the Common the invitatory, Regem Confessorum Dominum, Venite adoremus, is said then the first part of Ps. 94 Venite, exsultemus Domino etc found in the Ordinarium."


I was taught that the invitatory antiphon was said through twice before starting Ps. 94 - is this incorrect?


Rubricarius said...


You are quite correct.

My inaccurate writing. Corrected now.