Sunday, 25 April 2010

St. Mark the Evangelist - Greater Litanies

Today is the feast of St. Mark the Evangelist and the day of the 'Greater Litanies'. The semi-double third Sunday after Pascha is out-ranked by the Double Second Class rank of St. Mark's feast.

St. Mark was particularly close to St. Peter. He is one of the Four Evangelists and is traditionally represented by a lion (as can be seen in the icon above) as it is one of the four beasts in the Prophecy of Ezechiel. St. Mark preached in Egypt and was martyred in Alexandria. The Greater Litanies, now associated with St. Mark's feast, have no real connection. In ancient Rome a procession was held on April 25th to celebrate the feast of Robigalia. This was later Christianised into the Greater Litanies. The Litany and Procession today is much older than the Rogation Days before the feast of the Ascension and the term 'Greater Litanies', as opposed to 'Lesser Litanies' reflects the greater antiquity and solemnity of the day. When a Procession cannot take place those with an obligation to the Divine Office are required to recite the Litany of the Saints.

At Vespers yesteray afternoon first Vespers of the feast were sung. The antiphons and psalms were taken from first Vespers of Apostles in Paschaltide. Commemorations were sung of the preceding Office of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringa and the Sunday. At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung, the Paschaltide Doxology being sung with Te lucis. The Dominical preces were omitted because of the occurring double feast (and being within an Octave).

At Mattins the invitatory, hymn, antiphon on the psalms of each nocturn are from the Common of Apostles. In the first nocturn the lesson are the Incipit of the Book of the Prophet Ezechiel, Et factum est trigesimo anno etc., from the Common of Evangelists in Paschaltide. The responsories are also from this Common. In the second nocturn lessons four and five are from St. Jerome on ecclesiastic writers, the sixth lesson is from St. Gregory's writing on Ezechiel. In the third nocturn the homily is from the Common of Evangelists along with the responsories. The eighth and ninth lessons may be read as one and the ninth lesson is of the commemorated Sunday. The three lessons of its homily, the Incipit of the Book of the Apocalypse may be read together as the ninth lesson, but only the first suffices for the obligation. The Te Deum is sung.

At Lauds the antiphons Sancti tui etc from the Common of Apostles are sung with the Dominical psalms (Pss. 92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148). A commemoration of the Sunday is sung after the collect of the day.

At the Hours the hymns have the Doxology of Paschaltide. At Prime the festal psalms are sung (Pss. 53, 118i & 118ii).

Mass is sung after Terce. After the Vidi aquam the Mass, Protexisti, is sung. The Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the Sunday, the third collect of the Rogations (from the Mass Exaudivit). The Creed is sung, the preface is of the Apostles and the last Gospel is of the Sunday.

When the Procession takes place (for details read below) and there is only one Mass then the Mass Exaudivit is sung, celebrated in violet vestments. There is no Gloria, the second collect is of St. Mark, the third collect is of the Sunday. There is no Creed. The preface of Paschaltide is sung, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino and the last Gospel is of the Sunday. (If a church is dedicated to St. Mark then the Mass of St. Mark is sung as above).

In Cathedral and Collegiate Churches two High Masses are celebrated today. After Terce has been sung the Vidi aquam is sung and the aspersion take place as usual on all Sundays. Mass is sung of St. Mark, the Mass is proper beginning with the introit Protexisti me etc. The Gloria is sung the second collect is of the Sunday, the Creed is sung, the preface that of the Apostles and the last Gospel that of the Sunday. Sext and None are then sung as usual.

The the altar frontal etc is then changed to violet and the Paschal Candle extinguished. The ministers vest in violet vestments, the deacon and subdeacon wearing dalmatic and tunicle respetively, the celebrant in a violet cope. A procession is formed to the altar. The crucifer and acolytes pass to the Gospel side. As the sacred minister arrive before the altar they make the usual reverence to the altar and choir and then kneel and pray for a short while. When they rise the cantors begin the antiphon Exsurge Domine. The choir continue....adjuva nos, et libera nos, propter nomen tuam. Ps. Deus auribus nostris audivimus patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis. Gloria Patri etc, Sicut erat etc and then Exsurge Domine is repeated. All all kneel (except the crucifer and acolytes who go and stand at the entrance of the choir) and the cantors then begin the Litany of the Saints. This is sung in the full form, and not the shorter form used on Holy Saturday. Each invocation is doubled, i.e. the cantors sing e.g. Pater de caelis, Deus, miserere nobis and this is repeated in its entirety by everyone else. When Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis has been repeated all rise and the Procession sets off.

The Procession goes outside of the Church and may visit other Churches on its route. In this case the celebrant is offered lustral water at the entrance to the church and processes to the High Altar. After a moment for silent prayer the choir signs the antiphon of the patron of the church, its versicle and response (with Alleluia added as it is Paschaltide) and the celebrant sings the collect of the Patron. The Litany is then resumed and the Procession continues. If the Procession has a long route the Litany, from Sancta Maria etc may be repeated or the Seven Penitential Psalms sung to the tonus in directum. When the Procession enters the church where Mass will be celebrated, lustral water is received on entering and the Procession goes to the sanctuary. All kneel as the Litany ends. The celebrant intones Pater noster etc and then the cantors sing psalm 69. After the versicles that follow the celebrant stands to sing the ten collects. He then kneels again as Exadiat nos etc is sung. The ministers then rise and the celebrant changes from a cope to chasuble and all put on their maniples. The Mass Exaudivit is then sung. The chants are those used for ferial Masses. The Gloria is not sung, the additional prayers of the season, only, are sung. There is no Creed. The preface of Paschaltide is sung to the ferial tone, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino. The Paschal Candle is not lit during the Procession and Rogation Mass.

The altar is then changed from violet to festal red and Second Vespers of St. Mark are sung. The antiphons for Vespers of Apostles in Paschaltide are sung with psalms 109, 112, 115, 125 & 138. The Office hymn is Tristes erant Apostoli which is sung of course with the Paschaltide Doxology. Commemorations are sung of the following Office of SS Cletus and Marcellinus and the Sunday. Compline is festal, Te lucis has the Paschal Doxology.

For those requiring more complex rubrics the feast of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, prior to the 1911-13 reform, was celebrated on this Sunday. The rubrics allow all Masses, with the exception of Conventual Masses, to be of the Solemnity of St. Joseph. The Mass Adjutor is sung, the Gloria is sung, the second collect is of St. Mark, the third collect of the Sunday and the fourth collect is of the Rogations. The Creed is sung and the preface is of St. Joseph. The last Gospel is of the Sunday.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Mark gets cut down to a mere commemoration at Lauds and Low Mass. The third Sunday after Pascha is celebrated but that too, of course, is cut down from three nocturns at Mattins to one. At Vespers there was no commemoration of St. Mark or of the preceding Office. At Compline the ferial psalms are used. At the Hours the Paschal Doxology is not sung. At Prime the Dominical psalms are sung. At Conventual Masses the Rogations are commemorated. When the Procession takes place the Litanies are not doubled the cantors sing e.g. Pater de caelis, Deus (only) and the choir responds Miserere nobis. At the Mass following the Procession all of the prayers at the foot of the altar are excised, even if the Mass is not of the Rogations. The Sunday is commemorated, the Creed is sung, the dismissal is Ite, Missa est. In Vespers of the Sunday there is no commemoration of St. Mark or the following Office.

Art: A Coptic icon of St. Mark from Wikipedia.


Peter said...

Why is there no commemoration of the Octave of St Joseph in the Office or Mass?

Rubricarius said...

Because the commemoration of 'Common' Octave is omitted on a D II Cl or a D I Cl under the 1911-13 rubrics.

Capreolus said...

Dear Rubricarius,
Thanks as always for the very interesting and informative notes, in this case concerning the Greater Litanies. I do have one rubrical question: are the three fragments (the Incipit et al.) of the Apocalypse to be recited on Monday at the first nocturn, since they were displaced by those proper to an Evangelist today? With much gratitude, Fr. Capreolus.

Rubricarius said...

Fr. Capreolus,

Yes, indeed. The Incipit displaced yesterday is read on Monday in the first nocturn.

Peter said...

Would the entire chapter assist at both high Masses?

Rubricarius said...



Peter said...

Goodness, canons certainly earned their keep in the old days!

Paul Goings said...

Well, that's what they were being paid to do, for goodness' sake!!!