Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Fourth day within the Octave of the Assumption

The fourth day within the Octave of the Assumption is of semi-double rite. It is the only day now within the Octave to be celebrated as such due to the inclusion of double feasts of saints who had a particular devotion to the BVM.

The Office is as on the Feast itself, but the antiphons and psalms come from the Psalter for Wednesday. All hymns of Iambic metre are sung to the Doxology and tone on the Incarnation.

At Mattins in the first nocturn the lessons are taken as on the feast from the Canticle of Canticles with its exquisite poetry and symbolic language. The responsories of the feast are used. A section of the third lesson illustrates the beauty of the texts (these of course I noted in the preceding post were used as an epistle in the Sarum rite):

Favus distillans labia tua, sponsa, mel et lac sub lingua tua; et odor vestimentorum tuorum sicut odor thuris. Hortus conclusus soror mea sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus. Emissiones tuae paradisus malorum punicorum cum pomorum fructibus, cypri cum nardo.

Thy lips, my spouse, are as a dropping honey comb, honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments, as the smell of frankincense. My sister, my spouse, is like a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up. Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the orchard. Cypress with spikenard. (Translation by the nuns of Stanbrook Abbey)

In the second nocturn the lessons are taken from the Second Discourse of St. John Damascene on the Dormition of the Mother of God and are again beautiful and rich in their didactic content:

An ancient tradition has been handed down to us, that, at the time of the glorious falling-asleep of the blessed Virgin, all the Apostles, who were wandering throughout the world preaching salvation to the Gentiles, were caught up aloft in the twinkling of an eye, and met together in Jerusalem. And when they were all there, a vision of Angels appeared to them, and the chant of the heavenly powers was heard; and so with divine glory she gave up her soul into the hands of God. But her body, which bore God in an effable manner, being lifted up amid the hymns of Angels and Apostles was laid in a tomb in Gethsemane. There for three whole days the angelic song was heard. (Lesson IV)

But after three days, the chant of the Angels ceased, and the Apostles who were present (for Thomas, the only one who had been absent, came after the third day, and wished to adore the body which had borne God) opened the tomb; but they could by no means find her sacred body in any part of it. But when they only found those garments in which she had been buried, and were filled with indescribable fragrance which emanated from them, they closed the tomb. Amazed at this wonderful mystery they could only think that he, who had been pleased to take flesh from the Virgin Mary, to be made man, and to be born though he was God the Word, and the Lord of glory, he who had preserved her virginity without stain after childbirth, should also have been pleased to honour her pure body after her death, keeping it incorrupt, and translating it into Heaven before the general resurrection. (Lesson V)

In the sixth lesson St. John lists those present who had seen the body of the Virgin, including in addition to the Apostles, Timothy bishop of Ephesus (recipient of the Pauline Epistles), Dionysisus the Areopagite and Hierotheus.

The photograph is taken from a fascinating post on The New Liturgical Movement showing Spanish practices for the Assumption and featuring the Mystery of Elche, a mystery play that contains most of the elements that St. John Damascene describes. In this photograph S. John the Apostle is venerating the body of the dead Mother of God prior to her burial procession.

In the third nocturn the lessons are from the 27th Sermon of St. Augustine on the Words of the Lord. The ninth lesson is for St. Agapitus the Martyr.

At Lauds a commemoration of St. Agapitus is sung. At Prime Qui natus es is sung in the short responsory, the lectio brevis is In plateis as on the feast.

Mass is sung after Sext. The Conventual Mass is that of the 'resumed' Mass of Pentecost XII which could not be celebrated due to the occurrence of the Feast of the Assumption on Sunday. According to Additiones I, #6 this Mass is of simple rite without Gloria and without Creed. The second collect is of the Octave and the third collect is for St. Agapitus. As the Gloria is not sung Benedicamus Domino is sung as the dismissal and the colour of the vestments is green.

However, 'private' Masses may be of the Octave. The defintion of 'private' is actually quite complicated and suffice it to say, that a High Mass may be a private Mass. In the Mass of Octave, the glorious Gaudeamus, the Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the resumed Sunday, the third collect is for St. Agapitus, the Credo is sung, the preface is of the BVM. As the Sunday's Gospel was read as a proper last Gospel on the feast itself it is not read as last Gospel today.

Vespers are of the following feast of St. John Eudes with a commemoration of the Octave.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' of course the Octave has been done away with. No proper Doxology is sung at the hymns, no Qui natus es etc. Ferial Vespers are sung.


seminarian said...

"The Conventual Mass is that of the 'resumed' Mass of Pentecost XI which could not be celebrated due to the occurrence of St. Joachim's feast on Sunday."

Don't you mean to say that the Assumption was the feast celebrated on Sunday? St. Joachim this year was on Monday.

Rubricarius said...


Well spotted! Thank you for pointing this out. I was rather rushed for time earlier and 'tweaked' a post from last year but clearly missed that.

Amended now, again thank you.

Paul Goings said...

Is it correct to say that the distinction between the Conventual Mass and a Private Mass only applies if an obligation to the choir exists?

seminarian said...

Based on the question posed by Mr. Goings, would it be correct to say that every Mass offered by a priest in his parish (i.e., not in a cathedral or collegiate church) is thus a "private Mass", so long as it is not a day with the obligation to say a Mass "pro populo"?

Rubricarius said...


The obligation of the rubrics for conventual Masses apply where there are collegiate foundations or religious bound to celebrate the conventual Mass. Personally I think there should be considerably more collegiate foundations - it is really the best way for sustained proper celebration of the liturgy.


Yes, that is the understanding that people like O'Connell held.

Peter said...

Unfortunately, here in the United States there have never been collegiate churches (or cathedral chapters, for that matter). Are there any collegiate or cathedral chapters anywhere in the world today who still sing the whole office every day? Even in Rome, Pius XII had discontinued the choral office in the great basilicas, except on feast days.

For those who read French, here is an interesting article arguing that founding collegiate churches in large cities today would be a most "pastoral" (in the good sense!) thing to do:

Paul Goings said...

In Tuker and Malleson's "Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome" (1900) we learn that there were eighteen Roman Chapters: the four Patriarchal Basilicas and fourteen others. All of these maintained the full round of the liturgy, with more or less grandeur depending on the size and revenues of the church. The service times are recorded as Matins at between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m., depending on the time of year, and Vespers at between 3:00 and 6:15 p.m. I am assuming that in this context "Matins" refers to the Little Hours and the Capitular Mass and "Vespers" refers to Vespers, Compline, Matins, and Lauds. I could be entirely wrong about that, however, as my sources are anecdotal and I have never been able to locate a satisfactory reference that goes into any detail about the times and arrangements of the capitular services in the various churches. I do have an Ordo from S. Mary Major from some year in the late nineteenth century, and that might have some information, although I don't know how generally useful it would be.

To the best of my knowledge, the capitular liturgies were suspended during the Second World War, and afterwards the chapters received permission to dispense with them perpetually, although my evidence for this is also anecdotal.

In any case, I believe that there are no churches (cathedral or collegiate) that observe the entirely of the (new) Divine Office on a regular basis. The Roman Chapters (apart from the Patriarchal Basilicas) have even ceased to appoint new canons, which is somehow, I am told, related to a change in the relationship between the Holy See and the Italian government agreed to by Pope John Paul II. The use of the Divine Office (even in its 1962 form) by traditionalists is virtually non-existent.

I would certainly support the erection of new collegiate foundations, although I think that we would have to be creative in terms of organization. There is no money available to pay a group of beneficiaries, but if volunteers could take this on, each being "on duty" once or twice a week, I think that it could be managed very nicely with about twenty-eight persons (both priests and, ideally, inferior clergy, or at least laymen standing in for them). This would only be practicable in fairly urban situations at first, but we could at least make a start.

Rubricarius said...


Thank you for that link. I agree with the writer: for those of us who are liturgically minded parish churches, even good ones, have their limitations.

I do not know why chapters were not established in the USA as in Europe they were, at one time, very common and the general norm for more important churches.

I fear I cannot think of any chapters that still carry out daily Office in the Roman Church but live in hope that some small Italian town somewhere has a dedicated chapter... Of course my favourite English church, the Collegiate Church of St. Peter in Westminster - Westminster Abbey - is still run as a proper Collegiate body, albeit of course a New Foundation Anglican one but it at least has Choral Evensong every day of the week except Wednesdays, with IMO the finest church choir in London.


In modern times (i.e. from 1903 until Heenan) Westminster Cathedral Chapter celebrated the full Office (monotoned for most of it) with Conventual Mass every day. Their standard times were 10.10 for the Little Hours & Mass; 15:15 Vespers and Compline; and, 18:00 Mattins and Lauds.

I agree entirely with your suggestion too. Having for some years done the entire Liturgy of the Triduum, with limited resources, I know how exhausting a full day's Liturgy can be. Unless you do have duty sides, a Hebdomadarius - and another one to take over for the next week - it is all impractical. Finances are clearly a consideration, the whole system of endowment and benefices recognised the highly practical necessity that putting on a daily cycle of Liturgy has to be funded. What does one do today - look for wealthy widows or philanthropists?

Andre' said...

"I do not know why chapters were not established in the USA as in Europe they were, at one time, very common and the general norm for more important churches."

I believe, according to one of the Baltimore Councils, that they canons of cathedrals were not allowed to be erected. Supposedly, they feared that they would be a threat to the power of the Ordinary. That's what I've heard.

ex_fide said...


I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Spanish passion play of the Virgen Dormida and custom of the catafalque of Our Lady. Perhaps you could do a post one day and that and other theatrical, prosaic practices in liturgy, such as rose petals or a descending dove on Pentecost. That is, if you're interested enough in it!


Rubricarius said...


I'll give it some thought, as long as you don't want me to go up and down on the rope!