Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Solemnity of St. Joseph - Greater Litanies

The Solemnity of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin and Patron of the Universal Church, is a Double of the First class with an Octave. The feast was introduced into the Universal Kalendar by Pius IX in 1847 as the 'Patronage of St. Joseph' as a Double of the Second class to be celebrated on the third Sunday after Easter. In 1870 the feast was raised to a Double of the First class and given an Octave with 'Patron of the Church' added to the title. In 1911 the feast was renamed the Solemnity of St. Joseph and became a primary Double of the First class. In 1913 the celebration was moved to the Wednesday after the second Sunday after Easter. Although relatively modern the feast is a fine example of typology with the Patriarch Joseph being used as a 'type' of the foster-father of the LORD.  This year the feast falls on the day of the Greater Litanies.  The feast of St. Mark is transferred to Thursday.
At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons Jacob autem etc were sung with psalms 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The chapter was proper, the hymn, Te Joseph celebrent agmina Caelitum.  At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung, Te lucis had the Paschal Doxology.
At Mattins the invitatory is Laudemus Deum nostrum In veneratione beati Joseph, protectoris nostri, alleluia. The antiphons of the nocturns are proper and, as at Vespers, rather beautiful:
Angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph, dicens: Surge, et accipe Puerum et Matrem ejus, et fuge in Ægyptum; et esto ibi, usque dum dicam tibi, alleluia.

Angelus Domini apparuit in somnis Joseph, dicens: Surge, et accipe Puerum et Matrem ejus, et vade in terram Israel; defunct sunt enim qui quaerebant animam Pueri, alleluia.

Consurgens Joseph, accepit Puerum et Matrem ejus, et venit in terram Israel; et habitavit in civitate, quae vocatur Nazareth, alleluia
In the first nocturn the lessons are from the book of Genesis and are extended in comparison to those for St. Joseph's 19th March feast. In the second nocturn the lessons are from a sermon on St. Joseph by St. Bernardine of Siena and in the third nocturn the homily is from St. Augustine on the Gospel fragment from St. Luke. At Lauds the antiphons from Vespers are sung with the Sunday psalms (92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148).
At Prime the festal psalms (53, 118i & 118ii) are sung under the first antiphon of Lauds. At Prime and the Hours the hymns are sung with the Paschaltide Doxology.  
Mass follows Terce and is proper, with the introit Adjutor.  The second collect is a commemoration of the Greater Litanies. The Gloria and Creed are sung and the preface is that of St. Joseph.

In Cathedral and Collegiate Churches two High Masses are sung.  The first, after Terce, is of St. Joseph but without any commemoration of the Greater Litanies.  After None the Paschal Candle is extinguished and the antependia changed to violet.  The celebrant, vested in violet cope, assisted by deacon and subdeacon in violet dalmatic and tunicle reverence the altar then kneel and pray for a short while. They rise and 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, there are the additional prayers of the season. There is no Creed. The preface of Paschaltide is sung to the ferial tone, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino

Where only one Mass is sung and the Procession takes place after the Procession the celebrant and ministers change their violet vestments to white vestments and the Mass for St. Joseph is sung with a commemoration of the Greater Litanies under one conclusion with the collect of the feast.
In second Vespers a commemoration is made of the following, transferred, Office of St. Mark and of SS Cletus and Marcellinus. Again at Compline the Domincial psalms are sung.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the Solemnity of St. Joseph simply does not exist as this beautiful feast was shamefully supressed in 1956. The feast of St. Mark is celebrated as a II class feast.  The feast loses first Vespers.  At the Hours the antiphons and psalms of the feria are sung.  Where the Procession takes place vernacular may be used, the petitions are not doubled and the preparatory prayers are omitted at Mass.

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