Today is the feast of the Annunciation of the BVM. It is a double of the first class. Today was also kept in England, and some other realms, New Year's Day. The Good News that the Archangel Gabriel brought to the Virgin was considered the dawn of the age of Redemption and a fitting date on which to celebrate the New Year. The English tax year, beginning on April 6th, marks the 'old' New Year's Day of March 25th when the difference between the Gregorian and Julian Calendars are taken into account.
This great feast began with first Vespers yesterday morning. The liturgical colour of the day is white. The antiphons, Missus est Gabriel Angelus ad Mariam etc., are proper to the feast and were sung with the psalms from the Common of the BVM (Pss.109, 112, 121, 126 & 147). The chapter was proper to the feast, the Office hymn, Ave Maris stella, from the Common. The antiphon on the Magnificat and collect are again proper to the feast. After the collect of the feast the Thursday of the second week in Lent was commemorated with the antiphon Dives ille etc. Where resources permit six pluvialistae assist the Hebdomadarius at both Vespers and Lauds this day. At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung. The hymn, Te lucis, was sung with the Doxology in honour of the Incarnation, Jesu tibi sit gloria etc, with the hymn sung to the melody used with that Doxology.
At Mattins the invitatory is Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum. The hymn, antiphons and psalms (with the exception of the ninth antiphon, Angelus Domini etc) are from the Common. In the first nocturn the lessons are from the Prophet Isaiah. The responsories are proper to the feast and are paricularly beautiful. In the second nocturn the lessons are taken from the second sermon on the Nativity by St. Leo. In the third nocturn the ninth antiphon is Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae etc. The lessons are from a homily by St. Ambrose's second book on St. Luke' Gospel. The ninth lesson is of the commemorated Lenten ferial day, a homily of St. Ambrose: its three lessons may be joined and read as one. The Te Deum is sung. At Lauds the antiphons are those that were sung yesterday at Vespers. These are sung with the Dominical psalms. Again the chapter and antiphon on the Benedictus are proper, the Office hymn is from the Common. A commemoration of the Lenten ferial day is sung after the collect of the day.
At Prime the hymn is sung with the Doxology of the Incarnation. In the short responsory the verse Qui natus es is sung and the short lesson is proper to the feast, Egredietur virga de radice Jesse etc. The antiphons of Lauds are used throughout the Little Hours. At all the Little Hours the hymns are sung to the melody and Doxology of the Incarnation.
Mass is sung after Terce. At Mass the Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the Lenten feria. The Gospel pericope is from St. Luke and the account of the Angel Gabriel's visit to the Virgin. The Creed is sung, the preface is of the BVM, with the clause Et te in Annuntiatione, the last Gospel is that of the commemorated Lenten feria.
Vespers, even of this great feast, are sung before midday. The antiphons and psalms are those sung as at first Vespers. The antiphon on the Magnificat is proper. A commemoration of the Friday of the second Week of Lent is sung. At Compline again the Dominical psalms are sung and Te lucis is sung to the tone and Doxology of the Incarnation.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the hymns of the Little Hours do not have the Doxology of the Incarnation. At Prime the short lesson is of the season not proper to the feast. At Mass there is no last Gospel of the Lenten feria.