Sunday, 3 January 2010

The Holy Name of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and is a Double of the Second Class. It is also the Octave Day of St. John the Evangelist. The liturgical colour is white. This feast takes the place of the second 'vacant' Sunday after the Nativity or, when no Sunday falls between the Circumcision and the Epiphany, it is kept on January 2nd. The feast was granted to the Franciscan Order in 1530 to be kept on 14th January. In 1721 the feast was extended to the Universal Calendar to be kept on the second Sunday after the Epiphany. During the 1911-13 reform the feast was moved to the Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany or kept on January 2nd if no such Sunday occurred. In the Sarum Rite the feast was kept on August 7th - the date still appears in the Calendar of the Book of Common Prayer.

At Mattins the invitatory is Admirabile nomen Jesu etc and the hymn Jesu, Rex admirabilis etc. In the first nocturn the lessons are from the Acts of the Apostles. In the second nocturn the lessons are taken from a sermon of St. Bernard and a homily from St. Bernard on the Circumcision also provides the homily in the third nocturn. At Lauds the antiphons are proper, the hymn Jesu, decus angelicum. A commemoration of the Octave Day of St. John is sung.

At the Hours the psalmody is festal and the antiphons from Lauds are used in sequence as usual. At Prime, as normal on feasts, psalm 53 is sung before the first two divisions of psalm 118. The short lesson is proper, Omne quodcumque. The Doxologies of the hymns at the Little Hours are changed in honour of the Incarnation, Jesu, tibi sit gloria etc.

The Mass is proper, In nomine Jesu, with Gloria, commemoration of the Octave Day of St. John in private Masses, Credo and preface of the Nativity.

Second Vespers are sung without any commemoration of the following simple Octave day.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the feast is second class but gains a first Vespers as it falls on a Sunday. Mattins and Lauds are the same as the Old Rite but there is no Octave day and consequently no commemoration of it. At the Hours the antiphons are from the Sunday Office, not the feast and there is no Doxology in honour of the Incarnation. At Prime psalm 117 is sung in place of psalm 53 and the short lesson is from the season, Ipsi peribunt. Vespers are the same.

In pre-1913 practice the Octave Days of the comites Christi were of double rite and took precedence, like their feasts, over the vacant Sunday. So today would have been celebrated as the Octave Day of St. John with three nocturns and the Te Deum sung at Mattins.


Thomasso said...

Here in the UK, even in the 'Extraordinary Form' Masses, the Mass is of the Epiphany (because our bishops decided to move the celebration of the Feast to the nearest Sunday, and PCED stated that Masses in both forms had to conform to this regulation).

Leaving that on one side, at this morning's Mass (as I say, of the Epiphany), we also had a commemoration of the Holy Name. I can understand that. However, for the Last Gospel, instead of reading the usual one from John 1: 1-14, the priest read the Gospel of the Feast of the Holy Name. I know that the text is changed at the 3rd Mass of Christmas Day (for obvious reasons), but I just wondered what rubrical support the priest would have for doing that this morning.

I personally felt comfortable with it, but I know that some people (if there is no rubrical support for it) would ascribe to the priest the charge of making changes of his own volition - a charge many of us levy, quite correctly, at some priests using the Novus Ordo.

I wonder, Rubricarius, if you are able to comment on this.

Many thanks for all you do on this site.

Anonymous said...

Is this not another kind of clerical bullying, where priests feel able to do "their own thing" and give their version of what they think should be the liturgy of the church (whether Old,New,Older Rites) ? It is another example of modern subjectivism ; I know better and the rules -whatever rules are followed.The liturgical principle [ even in old time anglicanism) was that the priest was the servant of the liturgy and not it's master, which was the anti-liturgical spirit of the Free Churches and others.Alan Robinson

Rubricarius said...


Golly, that's an interesting one.

If they are following PCED the 1962 form of the New Rite is prescribed. In the 'Extraordinary Form' the II class feast of the Holy Name would not be commemorated on a I class feast of the LORD. Mr. Gordon Dimon's Ordo for the Latin Mass Society states this in its Appendix II.

In former times 'External Solemnities' were often kept after the respective feast but there are very few examples of them being kept before the feast.

Under the old rules when a feast was celebrated on the Sunday between the Circumcision and Epiphany that was not a feast of the LORD, and that no commemoration of the LORD is to be made then the Sunday is commemorated with the orations of the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity.

The feast of the Holy Name is a feast of the LORD. However, following the rules of occurrence a double II class would be transferred to the first 'free' day and not commemorated so the Sunday would be commemorated by the orations of the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity as indicated above.

As to the last Gospel the feast of the Holy Name does have a Gospel that is considered 'proper'. Therefore if the feast were impeded and were commemorated then its Gospel would be read as a 'proper last Gospel'. In the Extraordinary Form there is only one 'proper last Gospel' that used in Masses where palms are not blessed on the 'Second Sunday of the Passion'.

So, and to agree with the esteemed Mr. Robinson, it's all made up!

Society of St. Bede said...

The way I read the LMS Ordo, was that these External Solemnities ie Epiphany were optional! At least two Parishes in London celebrated the Feast of the Holy Name today, with Commemoration of the Octave of St. John.

While the bishops of E&W wanted us to be all the same, they forgot that it is not very easy moving Feasts, what are we supposed to do on the 6th? What happens with the Office? Ecclesia Dei, were not very clear in this, and further correspondence has not been published.

So for the time being at least some of us will not have these made up External Solemnities or any of the problems that they bring...

Rubricarius said...


My understanding, not that I must say I am particularly interested, is that PCED asked 'EF' congregations to keep holy days with 'OF' congregations in a particular territorial jurisdiction.

Masses according to the 'EF' would not have a commemoration of the Octave Day of St. John as that was abolished in the 1955 changes.

I would wholeheartedly agree with you that moving feasts like this causes many problems and the easy solution to them is not to cause them in the first instance.

Francis said...

"At least two Parishes in London celebrated the Feast of the Holy Name today, with Commemoration of the Octave of St. John."

How lucky you are in London to find churches which follow the traditional rite! Your American cousins are perhaps not as blessed.

Society of St. Bede said...

"Masses according to the 'EF' would not have a commemoration of the Octave Day of St. John as that was abolished in the 1955 changes."

It is interesting that the EF (1957) Missale Romanum on the Congregation of the Clergy's website still has the Octave day...

Rubricarius said...


The 'EF' specifies the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum.

The 1955 Decree, Cum nostra, abolished the Comites Christi Octaves along with most of the other Octave - Tit.II, 11 "Celebrantur tantum octavae Nativitas Domini, Paschatis et Pentecostes, suppressis omnibus aliis, sive in calendario universali, sive in calenariis particularibus occurentibus."

However, the same Decree ordered that no changes were to be made to the books published:

"Caveant interim Pontificii librorum liturgicorum Editores, ut in novis editionibus Breviarii et Missalis romani forte disponendis, ne quid prorsus innovetur."

Hence the text of the missal in the link you kindly provided still has the texts of the Octave Days but in the 'EF' there is no octave of St. John. (c.f.)Novem rubricarum, #64.