Saturday, 14 August 2010

Vigil of the Assumption

The Vigil of the Assumption is of simple rite. Traditionally, it has been a day of fasting and abstinence in the West; in the Byzantine rites a far stricter 'Dormition fast' of preparation takes place from the beginning of August.

At Mattins the psalms are of Saturday. At the single nocturn three, proper, lessons from St. Chrysostom are sung. At Lauds the Second Scheme of psalms is used (based on the original ferial psalms before the 1911-13 reform), the ferial preces are sung, with the choir kneeling, followed by a commemoration of St. Eusebius M and the Suffrage of the Saints in the form used for feasts of the BVM. At Prime and the Hours the ferial preces are sung, again with the choir kneeling. At Prime the fourth psalm is added (i.e. Pss 93i, 93ii, 107 & 149 - a 'praise' psalm at Prime!), as is the case when the Second Scheme of Lauds is sung, and the chapter is the ferial Pacem .

Mass is sung after None. Violet vestments are worn, the ministers wearing dalmatic and tunicle not folded chasubles. The Mass is proper, Vultum tuum, the Gloria is not sung. The second collect is of St. Eusebius and the third collect is Deus, qui corda, of the Holy Ghost. As it is a 'kneeling day' all in choir kneel for the orations and from the Sanctus to the response after Pax Domini. As is the rule when the Gloria is not sung Benedicamus Domino is chanted as the dismissla by the deacon facing the altar rather than Ite, missa est.

A colour change from penitential violet to festive white takes place and First Vespers of the feast are sung with the dulcid and stunningly beautiful hymn Ave, Maris stella. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of the Sunday follows (the antiphon Omnis sapientia is sung). The Doxlogy of the Incarnation, Jesu tibi sit gloria, Qui natus es de Virgine, Cum Patre et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula, is sung at hymns of Iambic metre to the special tone for the entire Octave.

In parts of Southern Italy mimetic burial processions take place in honour of the Virgin's repose very similar to the more widespread burial processions of the Lord on Good Friday. In contempory Byzantine praxis a burial procession for the Mother of God is becoming increasingly common within the celebration of an All-Night Vigil (Vespers, Mattins, Lauds & Prime) that spread from Jerusalem to Russia, with strong parallels to the Epitaphios processions on Good Friday. (The image above is from one such procession in Russia)

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' as usual much has been lost. At Lauds the ferial preces are omitted as is the Suffrage. At Prime only three psalms are sung, the chapter is the festal Regi saeculorum and the ferial preces are omitted. The ferial preces are omitted at the other Hours too. At Mass the collect for the Holy Ghost is omitted and in sung Masses the collect for St. Eusebius is omitted too. The dismissal is Ite, missa est and the period of kneeling at Mass has been shortened. There really is little, apart from the violet colour, to indicate the penitential nature of the Vigil.


Andy said...

Dear Rubricarius,

As I was praying Prime this morning, I happened to think of a question: the ferial and dominical preces are only omitted if an Octave has been commemorated at Lauds, correct? Because right now we are actually IN the octave of St. Lawrence, but the Octave is only commemorated on the Feast and on the Octave day.

There was no commemoration of the Octave at Lauds either today or yesterday (as neither day was the Feast or Octave Day), so the Dominical Preces were said at Prime yesterday, an Office of Simple Rite, and the Ferial Preces are said today, an Office of a Vigil, even the we are technically IN the octave, correct?

God bless you,

Andy Hoxie

Seminarian said...

It was a rare treat yesterday to recite ferial Vespers - given the simple feast followed by the Vigil. This must have been charming in the old days: removing the red frontal after None to put up green for Vespers and then putting up violet after Compline.

Does the Pius XII office of the Assumption have a proper hymn or is it still the Ave maris stella?

Also, are flowers allowed at the altar today?

Rubricarius said...


Before the 1911-13 reform preces etc were omitted during Octaves. Post-1913 they were said within Simple Octaves. The historical idea, was that in the Romany system the Octave Day of a feast was celebrated but not days in the Octave. I remain not totally convinced but that was the basis for creating the 'Simple' Octaves.

Seminarian - Keep the sacristans on their toes with all the colour changes (and numbers of candles if one is following C.E. correctly)! An unpleasant creation, O prima Virgo prodita, appeared in 1951, banal and very inferior to Ave, maris stella.

Flowers are not really appropriate for Vigils - best kept for the feast.

Anonymous said...

Also, are flowers allowed at the altar today?

Flowers are not really appropriate for Vigils - best kept for the feast.
And what about flowers for daily and Sunday Mass?

Anonymous said...


Check out the flowers used for the ordinations at SSPX Zaitzkofen and let your imagination flow!

Rubricarius said...

Anonymous & Anonymous,

Fortescue comments in 'Ceremonies' that "Flowers on the altar are not necessary. They are not used in the great churches of Rome." He goes on to mention that custom sanctions their use in England.

The general principle is that when flowers are used they are not on the altar on Vigils or during Lent(c.f. how flowers are often put on the altar during the singing of the Litany on Holy Saturday when the change from violet to white takes place).

Anonymous 2nd: I'd rather not!