Friday, 26 March 2010

The Seven Sorrows of the BVM

Today, Friday in Passion week, is the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the BVM. It is of greater-double rite. In the Breviary and Missal the texts for the feast are found in the Sanctoral at the end of March. The liturgical colour is white.

This year, because of the Annunciation yesterday, the feast begins with Mattins. The invitatory is proper. The hymn is Stabat mater dolorosa, displaced from the non-celebrated first Vespers. The antiphons and psalms are proper (the first antiphon Astiterunt, of course is the same antiphon sung at Tenebrae of Good Friday). The lessons in the first nocturn are from Isaiah. In the second nocturn the lessons are from a sermon of St. Bernard. In the third nocturn the lessons are taken from a homily of St. Augustine on St. John's Gospel. The ninth lesson is the homily for Friday in Passion week. The Te Deum is sung. At Lauds the antiphons, Vadam ad montem etc, are proper and sung with the Dominical psalms. The Office hymn at Lauds is Sancta mater, displaced from Mattins. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the Passiontide feria.

At Prime and the other Hours the hymns are sung to a special tone of the Doxology: Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui passus es pro servulis, Cum Patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. At Prime the festal psalms are sung (Pss. 53, 118i & 118ii). In the short responsory the verse Qui passus es propter nostram salutem is sung. The short lesson is proper to the feast Generationem ejus etc.

Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria is sung, the second collect is of Friday in Passion week. After the Tract Stabat Mater is sung as a sequence. The Creed is sung, the preface is of the BVM with the clause Et te in Transfixione and the last Gospel is of Friday in Passion week.

Private Masses may be of the Friday in Passion week with a commemoration (and last Gospel) of the Seven Sorrows.

In Cathedral and Collegiate churches the Mass of the Seven Sorrows is celebrated after Terce without a commemoration, or last Gospel of the Friday in Passion week. After None Mass is celebrated of the Friday in Passion week. The liturgical colour is violet and the ministers wear violet chasubles. The second collect is Ecclesiae, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino and the last Gospel In principio.

Second Vespers are celebrated after Mass. All is as otherwise would have been celebrated at first Vespers except the Office hymn is Virgo virginum (displaced from Lauds), the versicle and response and antiphon on the Magnificat are proper to second Vespers. A commemoration is sung of the following Office of St. John of Damascus (with the antiphon for Doctors: O Doctor optime...beate Joannes...) and then a commemoration of the Passiontide feria is sung. At Compline Te lucis is sung to with the tone of the proper Doxology.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the Office of the Seven Sorrows has been reduced to a commemoration in the Office of the Friday of the 'first week of Passion'. However a rubric in the 1962 Missal allows two Masses of the former feast to be celebrated for pastoral reasons here devotion to the feast exists.


Anonymous said...

At Vespers, is there a commemoration of the following feast of Saint John?

Rubricarius said...


Yes, thank you for noticing my typo of omission - I am trying to sort posts out for next week and must be losing the plot.

I have amended the post.

ex_fide said...

What a ridiculous mistake to effectively excise the Seven Sorrows from the liturgical year in the 1962 books.

Rubricarius said...

Ex Fide,


I think the 1962 books were a big mistake period!

Xenophobic hobbledehoy said...

Some fun facts:

In the Monastic Breviary, reformed according to the Bull of Pope St. Pius X, the Feast of the Seven Dolours of Blessed Mary the Virgin ranks as a Memorial, having a commemoration at First Vespers and Lauds only. The Office is therefore of the Sixth Feria.

Before the reforms of Pope St. Pius X, the Feast was kept as in the Roman Breviary, ranking as Double Major. I do not know if this was an Office that had been conceded to the Benedictines in general or if individual Congregations or Abbeys of the Order had to enjoy some particular indult in order to observe the Feast.

The Benedictines seem to have superexalted the Ferial and Dominical Offices when they reformed their Breviary and Missal according to the norms of Pope St. Pius X. For example, in the Monastic Breviary only Feasts of the First and Second Class are observed during Lent, all other Feasts are reduced to Commemorations. Perhaps it was because of this rubric that the Feast of the Seven Dolours of Blessed Mary the Virgin is to be found after the Sanctoral Offices of March as a Memoria.

Rubricarius said...


Thank you for another interesting comment.

Of course in the Ambrosian Rite there are only two feasts kept during Lent, St. Joseph and the Annunciation.

I am not really familiar with the Monastic Breviary. What else was changed following the 1911-13 reforms?

Adulio said...

Some countries such as Malta still commerate the feast.

Rubricarius said...

Thank you Sirian,

God bless the people of Malta!

Francis said...

"Second Vespers are celebrated after Mass."

In Cathedral and Collegiate churches, would the second Vespers be sung after the Mass OF THE FEAST, following Terce, or after the Mass OF THE FERIA, following None ?

Rubricarius said...


After None.

May you have a very blessed Holy Week and Pascha.