Sunday, 17 April 2011

Palm Sunday - Part II

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the magnificent rites described above have been mutilated almost beyond recognition. It is as though a deluded psychopath with a chainsaw attempted cosmetic surgery on a once beautiful face, the result being repulsive and repugnant.

Palm Sunday has its very name re-branded as the 'Second Sunday of the Passion or Palm Sunday' - what was wrong with the name Dominica in Palmis? At Vespers yesterday there were no commemorations. At Compline the Dominical preces are never said. Mattins is slashed down to a single nocturn of three lessons. At Lauds there are never commemorations. At Prime there are but three psalms and the preces are always omitted. However, this is all relatively minor compared to the catastrophe that has wrecked the Solemn Blessing of the Palms.

At the blessing of Palms red becomes the liturgical colour - of course extended in the 'Ordinary Form' of the 1962 liturgy for the entire day. The Asperges is omitted. Why one might ask? Of course yet another example of the pernicious nature of the 1950s deforms - how often does one see an Asperges ceremony even according to the rubrics of MR2002? The ministers wear dalmatic and tunicle, along with the celebrant's chasuble of red colour for the blessing, what remains of it, and procession. An additional subdeacon may carry the, unveiled Processional Cross.

The blessing of Palms takes place at a table facing the people in the sanctuary or may take place at another place, facing the people. The people may hold, unblessed, palms from the beginning.

The above is from J.B.O'Connell's 'The Ceremonies of Holy Week', Burns Oates, 1960. O'Connell mentions that the table may be placed on the footpace of the altar to facilitate the people's view. In that case he says, the celebrant kisses the table, ft.nt. 5, p.20 - kitchen tables in the sanctuary here we go!

In practice this parody of the former rite looks like the photographs below from the FSSP.

The ministers process in to stand at their kitchen table whilst the antiphon Hosanna filio David is sung with the omission of the 'O' in O Rex Israel for some peculiar reason. At the table, facing the people the collect Deus, quem diligere is suppressed, the Epistle Venerunt filii Israel in Elim is supressed, the 'gradual' Collegerunt is suppressed, the 'gradual' In monte Oliveti is suppressed, the collect Auge fidem is suppressed, the preface of blessing is suppressed, the Sanctus is suppressed, the collect Petimus, Domine is suppressed, the collect Deus, qui dispersa is suppressed, the collect Deus, qui miro is suppressed, the collect Deus, qui, per olivae is suppressed. The collect Benedic, quaesumus survives! The celebrant then sprinkles the palms with lustral water, not saying Asperges me etc. Then he puts incense on the coals of thurible and censes the palms. Here the stupidity of the wreckovators shows through. In the traditional rite incense was put on, then the Palms were aspersed and then incensed so that the incense would have a little time to fume! The palms are then distributed with the two Pueri Hebraeorum antiphons interpolated with the Bea version of psalms 23 and 46. There is no mention in the rubrics of the usual ceremonial oscula when receiving the palms. The Gospel follows, the ceremonies of Mass are not followed. The collect Deus, qui Filium is suppressed, the collect Omnipotens sempiterne Deus is suppressed.

The procession follows. In another break with tradition an additional subdeacon, as mentioned above, rather than the subdeacon of the Mass, carries an unveiled Cross. The first three antiphons of the Old Rite are suppressed. The first antiphon sung is Occurunt turbae (with its former constituent Hosanna in excelsis suppressed), then Cum angelis and Turba multa. Then a new antiphon Coeperunt omnes followed by the Gloria laus. However, vernacular hymns in honour of Christ the King may be sung. Then Lauda, Jerusalem, Fulgentibus palmis, Ave, Rex noster and Ingrediente. There is no ceremonial re-entry, although as noted below a considerable amount of cheating and dishonesty goes on with followers of the perverted rite. When the ministers reach the sanctuary they reverence the altar then turn, versus populum, to sing a collect introduced to the rite Domine Jesu Christi, Rex ac Redemptor noster. This collect is found in many medieval uses as a collect said at the Rood.

The sacred ministers then change in schizophrenic style from red to violet. No folded chasubles of course, but dalmatic and tunicle. The prayers at the foot of the altar are suppressed and the celebrant merely kisses the altar and censes it. In the Ordinary Form of the 1962 rite this omission goes several stages further and everything is omitted until the collect. The deacons of the Passion receive a blessing, rather than the deacon of the Mass, and sing a cut down version of the Passion. The Passion text is Matthew 26: 36-75; 27: 1-54. (Actually largely restored in the Ordinary Form). The former Gospel is omitted both textually and ceremonially. Palms are not held during the singing of the Passion. The dismissal is Ite, missa est and the last Gospel is suppressed.

Of course the more intelligent supporters of the 1962 rite are all too aware of its painful inadequacies so one sees the development of 'tweaking' to use a positive term or, if one prefers 'cheating' to make it more palatable. Rather than have the table, versus populum, for the 'blessing' of the Palms the creation of a 'Palm Altar' appears in some places (largely inspired by some less than satisfactory rubrics from the 'Ordinary Form'). An example below from here.

The rubrics of the 'Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae Instauratus' and the 1962 liturgical books are quite clear that the Processional Cross is unveiled today. However, that does not stop the FSSP, in the heart of Rome, quietly doing their own thing:

The ceremonial re-entry into the church after singing Gloria laus et honor, with a choir inside the church was supressed in the 1956 deforms along with the knocking on the door with the foot of the Processional Cross. Following the rubrics of the deformed rite one is supposed to have Gloria laus et honor sung antiphonally with the people before the procession even approaches the church door. However, why be obedient to what one purports to follow if one likes something else? 'WVL' or 'What the Vicar Likes' has always been a characteristic of a certain 'high' churchmanship after all.

Wouldn't it be so refreshing if the supporters of the 'liturgical books of 1962' had the honesty and decency to actually use them rather than cheating if they think they are so wonderful?

One can only reflect on this formerly magnificent day on the sheer wickedness of old Pius XII's actions. The new form, a classic of inorganic committee work created liturgy, tried to give the Procession greater prominence but rather like a Victorian architect 'restoring' a medieval church mutilated it in the process. There is something intrinsically odd about wearing red vestments - a festive colour in the Roman rite - and then changing to a penitential colour for the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In the Roman rite this is an inversion of received praxis and hitherto whilst Processions may have been in violet penitential vestments the Mass afterwards, if there was a colour change, was always festive eg. Candlemass (violet to white), St. Mark as titular (violet to red). As on other days in the 'restored' Holy Week the opportunity was taken to make changes that would be later extended to the entire liturgical year e.g. the obsession with versus populum, introduction of the vernacular, the suppression of the preparatory prayers at the altar steps, the suppression of the last Gospel etc. Holy Week was used as a type of 'trial run' for some of the worst of the later reforms.

We will see more cheating as we progress through Holy Week.


Paul Goings said...

Why do you suggest that everyone who uses the '62 books thinks they're wonderful? I assure you that such isn't the case.

Rubricarius said...


It would at least be a start if these people would have the honesty to admit the total inadequacy of the pernicious rubbish they dish up in the name of supposed 'Tradition'.

Juventutem London said...

My experience is that they do? Many realise that 1962 is an unfortunate compromise. Those that use it do so because they want to go along with the Holy Father, whilst hankering after a better year.

Davus_Carolus said...

I attended Mass today at the Institute of Christ the King, hopeful that I might actually see the full pre-Pius XII Palm Sunday. Instead, I saw a hybrid that I had never seen before. The blessing of palms was the 1956 form, preceded by the asperges. The old form of kissing the palm and the priest's hand was observed. The priest was incensed at the end of the gospel. The subdeacon himself carried an unveiled cross, and at the end of the procession the ceremony at the door of the church was performed exactly as the ancient rite with the double choir Gloria Laus, knocking on the door, and the re-entrance antiphon sung.

The Mass had the following "tweaks":
- prayers at the foot of the altar were said
- The passion began at the truncated point in the 1956 form, however there was the Munda Cor by the deacon, incense of the gospel book, and Altera autem die portion sung to the ancient melody
-Second Confetior
-Benedicamus Domino sung instead of Ite Missa Est
-Last Gospel

Now if you are going to go this far, why not go all the way? I know the Institute priests know all the background of these reformed rites...why do they not just use the old Holy Week?

I love your website and read the blog as often as I can. Verry well done and informative. Have you ever considered doing a form of the ordo for the Monastic Breviary?

André said...


You ask why these people "cheat" and don't use the complete old Holy Week. The answer is Rome. The "experts" at the Ecclesia Dei commission only want to see 1962 because for them that is the traditional Mass in its pure form. First, these "experts" do not know how to say the 62 mass correctly. These "experts" are ignorant of the changes; and if they do admit that they existed, it was for the better.

They are also some in the traditional communities who think that only Holy Week was touched and that the Breviary and the other parts of the Mass only underwent minor changes.

May God deliver us from these people and free the traditional Mass!

Patrick Sheridan said...

I agree. I find it utterly distasteful that RC ''traditionalists'' (and some Papalist Anglicans) have the audacity to render obeisance to Pacelli and his damnable innovations and yet fondly suppose that they are more traditional than the rest of their church. Even worse when this tendency is in reverse, and you find Traddies celebrating Old Holy Week under the supposed protection and ratification of Papal authority.

Paul Goings said...

I know any number of '62 "adherents" who are more than willing to talk about the inadequacies of the liturgical books that they find themselves having to use, more or less. However, if by "total inadequacy" you mean to say that they should prefer to stay home on Sundays, then I'm going to disagree with you.

Tomas said...

Thank you Rubricarius. This was a wonderful piece!

I have to wonder why there is not only such distaste of those using the 1962 books but also those striving to bring back the Old Rite while being reconciled to following the Holy See. Under what circumstances would use of the Old Rite be lauded? After breaking communion with Rome?

The consensus of the Church Fathers is that schism should never be sought. Paul himself teaches to eschew factionalism. Both he and Christ discuss admonitions of single individuals which may lead to breaking communion, but I to extrapolate these teachings is to do violence.

I cannot say I have had the opportunity to experience anything older than the Novus Ordo save for a 1962 Low Mass - not an experience which ingratiated a great love of what came before. I am indebted to individuals like yourself to help paint me a picture of the beauty of the past ages, but the vitriol I find continuously leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Can we not let the Liturgy of the past speak for itself?

Rubricarius said...


Much in the NO is actually older, in its origins at least, than the 1962MR.

I do empathise with your balanced and considered comment. However, one only has to to look at some 'TLM' people rant - one thinks of a certain end of the English alphabet person who likes using red characters - who promote the 1962 books and tear anyone who doesn't share their view to shreds. There is a saying about sauce for the goose being sauce for the gander.

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

The pre-1955 blessing of palms makes more sense to me: having the Gospel BEFORE the blessing of palms seems to signify that this is not merely historical re-enactment but a mystical-sacramental-here and now "making present the Mystery"; the beautiful prayers of blessing and the intricacy of the rite, especially how the form is tied to the Easter Vigil (as you note) is truly a work of art. I pray restoration will take place in the 1962 form. I'll probably be dead by then!

Fr. John Mary, ISJ said...

Sorry: I meant to write "Epiphany" instead of "the Easter Vigil" re: the solemn preface.

Acolytus said...

I wanted to ask you about the responsibility and motivation (and indeed identity) of those involved in the 1956 changes to the Holy Week rites that many ‘traditionalists’ will be forced to endure this coming week.
I have been interested for some time in what Pius XII thought he was doing in promulgating such bizarre and far–reaching changes. It has been alleged that he was hood-winked by the writers – including Bugnini or not? – so that he never really appreciated what they were planning. Really?

I have said before now that the curious, though picturesque, colour change in the 1956 Palm Sunday rite was inspired by the nearly similar colour change in the Byzantine rite that occurs on Palm Sunday for completely different reasons.
Furthermore, I have read elsewhere that Pius said of his intentions for holy week, I think before the changes were made, that he wished the new (time, at least, of the) Easter Vigil would mean the faithful of the West would become more like those of the East. That they would all celebrate the first mass of Easter ONLY at the night time vigil, then somehow ignore the immemorial custom (at least of the West) in attending mass on the Sunday morning, but later become interested again to the extent that they would return to their churches only for Vespers in the evening. (Which I don’t think the Orthodox do too much, and is in any case a view that ignores the identity of the midnight celebration Byzantines attend. Just as in the Western rite of the day, the Byzantines celebrate the ‘vesperal liturgy’ of vigil and Pascha, with another colour change, this time to white, in the day of Holy Saturday. The Xpistos Aneste rite at midnight is, wait for it, the Paschal Mattins, as formerly celebrated here late that day, and THE MORNING MASS OF EASTER DAY ITSELF moved forward to the early hours in the night).

He seems to have been so dazzled by the customs of the East, at the expense of his own jurisdiction, that I say the pope was actively involved and not merely a spectator.
He may not have written or contributed to the writing of each new rite, but he would therefore appear to be actively in favour in view of his professed interests. I find his views extraordinarily naïve. The tinkerings seem not to have been directed to any purpose except that of experimenting with change for its own sake, or else paving the way for the novus ordo as the next stage.

Anonymous said...

I originally said some of this on the Liturgical Notes blog of Fr John Hunwicke, now of the Ordinariate of OLW.

If nothing else, 1956 is v odd.

On Palm Sunday there is an extra collect that appears to be an orphan final stational collect.

The most noticeable change must be the colour change – a new idea to have two different shades of a penitential colour in one office. Pius (or his advisers - "it is not our king, it is his evil cousellors") seems to have been trying to copy a feature of the Byzantine rite of the same day. Because the Lenten colour for the Greeks is (or should be) red, they were wearing red for the Liturgy, after which follows the first service of Holy Week, the so-called Bridegroom service, (if memory serves this is an abbreviated as well as anticipated form of next day’s mattins, the vespers of the Sunday having gone astray). The services of Holy Week are all conducted in black. Thus there is a change of colour in the functions of the day, from red to something darker. This seems to have been something that the Roman authorities tried to emulate, but for artificial reasons. In the East, two different functions that were later moved together accounted for the change. In the West, functions that had been part of the same office for centuries were artificially marked off for no reason other than emulation.

The blessing of palms before the gospel is very odd, sits wrongly and I have known it to lead to an organist mistaking the Palm Gospel procession for the beginning of the palm procession itself. Its abbreviations are all pure twentieth century invention. Comparison with other, simpler, gallican rites shows there is no precedent for what Pius did. The loss of the great (and, yes, complicated) Roman rite of blessing is a very regrettable loss and a poor example of human vandalism.

The Good Friday ceremonial is noticeably simpler, without double changes of vesture, and no need for the cope. Pius XII would seem to have been thinking of the ordination rite in having the ministers perform the prostration ceremony at the beginning in albs without vestments. The original tradition is otherwise. The Sacrament is also carried back to the high Altar with the (white) humeral veil over the black chasuble of the priest. There is no especial difficulty in the performance

Fr Swain, at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in NY city also publishes nice pictures of his pre-1955 Holy Week rite.

Rubricarius said...


Very interesting points. Very quickly, as I am - as usual, running out of time for preparation for the Triduum - I too never fail to be amazed by the general ignorance in the West about the Byzantine services. Fifteen years ago the Provost of the Brompton Oratory asked me if I had 'enjoyed the Vigil' at the Russian Cathedral. I replied that I was extremely fond of the Vesperal Liturgy on Holy Saturday morning as it reminded me of an old friend. 'No' he responded 'the Vigil at midnight.' He, like so many others fail to realise that Paschal Mattins is followed by the Hours and the equivalent of Resurrexi.

I do not believe for a moment Pius XII was hoodwinked or unaware of what he was doing. Indeed some of those closest to him were actively involved with the 1948 Commission.

I would like to make some further observations when time allows - in about a week or so!

Paul Goings said...


That's something I've heard any number of times from various liturgical enthusiasts, lay and clerical. All of these ingénues seem to believe that the midnight service celebrated in Oriental churches is the Vigil, and are invariably resistant to the idea that the Vigil was actually celebrated about nine o'clock on Saturday morning! They love to think that the Oriental rites preserved some sort of apostolic liturgical purity, which the decadent West only returned to in 1955.

Rubricarius said...


Quite. So much of it is what I would describe as a form of cultic sentimentalism mixed with ignorance. An example is the Mass on Mandy Thursday evening. No one bothers to look and see that when there was at least two Masses in Rome the Eucharist was reserved from the main papal Mass in the morning and not the one for the Reconciliation of Penitents.

A blessed Pascha to you and Mrs. Goings and to you all at St. Clements.