Saturday, 29 December 2012

St. Thomas of Canterbury

The feast of St. Thomas of Canterbury is of double rite. The liturgical colour of the day is red.  St. Thomas of Canterbury, or St. Thomas Becket, fell foul of the political machinations of King Henry II and was slain by the King's soldiers in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29th, 1170.  The liturgical celebration of his feast entered Western calendars almost immediately after his canonisation. Apart from Vespers the Office is taken mostly from the Common of Martyrs.

At Mattins the invitatory is Regem Martyrum Dominum, Venite adoremus and the Office hymn is Deus, tuorum militum sung, of course, with the Doxology of the Incarnation. The antiphons and psalms are taken from the Psalter for Saturday. In the first nocturn the lessons are the Incipit of the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans. In the second nocturn the lessons are hagiographical and in the third nocturn the lessons are from a homily of St. Chrysostom on St. John's Gospel. The Te Deum is sung. At Lauds the antiphons and psalms are from the ferial psalter. The Office hymn is Invicte Martyr unicum, again sung with the Doxology of the Incarnation. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the Octave of the Nativity.

At the Hours the hymns are sung with the Doxology of the Incarnation but the antiphons and psalmody are ferial. At Prime the lectio brevis is Justus cor suum.

At Mass the Gloria is sung, the second collect is a commemoration of the Octave of the Nativity, the Creed is sung and the preface and communicantes are of the Octave of the Nativity.

Vespers are of the Octave of the Nativity but from the chapter of the following Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity with a commemoration of St. Thomas Becket and of the Octave of the Nativity.

Following the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Thomas is reduced to a commemoration in the fifth day within the Octave of the Nativity. The liturgical colour of the day is white. However, festal psalmody is used at Mattins and Lauds, as on the feast of the Nativity (this contrasts with the previous practice for third order Octaves when a double feast falls within them). Mattins is reduced to one nocturn of three lessons. The verses of Ps. 88 are curtailed. At the Hours the hymns are not sung with the Doxology of the Incarnation, the antiphons and psalmody are ferial, at Prime the lectio brevis is of the season. Mass is of a day within the Octave, with Gloria, commemoration of St. Thomas (at read Masses only), Creed, preface and communicantes; of the Nativity.  Vespers are of the Nativity without any commemorations.


Anonymous said...

Where has S Thomas the Martyr gone?

If one wishes to attend a reasonably traditional low mass in this country one can go to the Society of S Pius or official masses of the Church. Both providers will use the 1962 rite, so I suppose it is necessary to understand how that 'rite' works.

The unhappily named publication of the Latin mass society, 'Mass of Ages', contains a kalendar - well more a list of days, that calls 29. December the Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas. I didn’t think an office for such a thing could have existed in anything like a traditional form since the 12th century.

I must ask what is supposed actually to happen in a church inside England. Is this now different from the 'universal' provision of 1962?

I do not possess a 1962 missal - even supposing there were only one - I am reliant for anything like a formal rubric on editions of the Liber Usualis dated 1961 and 1963, but, - and I ask if this is crucial - they use the terminology of doubles, simples, etc., and declare that the comites all have simple octaves. Even in 1963 - that is my printed edition with English proper (only one) in the last appendix in the back - they say that.

Somewhere I think I have the same edition with Latin rubrics but this has English. The 1961 is online and has US propers (lots of them).

The Sunday in the Octave (rather than the 29th., unfortunately) contains the note or rule that clearly implies that for 29. December not to be S Thomas the Martyr, one must be outside England and it must be a Sunday. Both conditions need to be fulfilled. In all other cases the celebration of S Thomas is universally ordered.

P 433. "If the Feast of S Thomas or of S Sylvester falls on a Sunday, the Office is of the Sunday, with a commemoration of the occurring feast and of the Octave of the Nativity. [You have to do it abroad if it's not Sunday]

In England, however, if the Feast of S Thomas falls on a Sunday, the Sunday, the Office is of the Feast with commemorations of the Sunday and of the Octave of the Nativity" [It's mandatory in England].

My 1963 Liber bears an "IMPRIMATUR, Tornaci, die 6 augusti, 1963. J. THOMAS, vic gen." but it is copyright 1961 by Desclee and it is of course edited by the Solesmes Benedictines.

The American edition of 1961 is identical except for the date of the IMPRIMATUR (by the same vicar general). These are the last /current editions that I see the good followers of 1962 singing out of.

So, I need first to ask if either my own or else the online Liber is in fact not 1962-compliant. It would be rather interesting if they weren't.

Anonymous said...

Turning to the more informal matter of books for the hands of the laity :
[I have one pew missal from 1960 that was described by an old anglican vicar as 'the last decent one Rome did'. It has all the Sundays marked as doubles, according to the 'new' Pian system and actually has everything in both languages unlike plenty of later ones that leave out the words to be said.
But of course no octaves. ]

I do have a pew missal from 1961 called 'The New Roman Missal' that is 'by' Fr James Daniel O'Connor, C.SS.R., published by 'Irish Art Publications Ltd., Dublin' "IMPRIMATUR, Mechliniae, 4 octobris 1961 /P. Theeuws, vic. Gen. // De licentia Superiorum / PRINTED IN BELGIUM."

Apart from the order of mass, everything is in English. [It contains the curiosity of the prayer for the government of Ireland, "…the unity of our country restored…" but I rather like
'O Light of the World, in this menacing time for Christianity and peace [the sixties?] give them counsel and illumine the devious paths before them to enable them to choose the right one and follow it with confidence in Thee. … S Patrick,…pray for them.]

The fifth and last page of the preface mentions the Motu Proprio 'Rubricarium instructum' and then states 'The new legislation involves no textual changes and scarcely any ceremonial changes and consists almost entirely of eliminations.' Well, quite.

I bring this up because the text has

'December 29. Fifth Day Within the Octave of Christmas. Second class.' [No texts are offered]

'The Same Day S Thomas of Canterbury, Bishop and Martyr. Memory. [very ample texts are offered]

Is this the first rearing of the ugly head of the Optional memoria?

It would seem likely that something that is said to be second class [thoughts of Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe for some reason: we certainly seem to need perseverance] must always outrank something called a 'memory' (does that mean=fourth?).

But the higher has no mass and the lower has. There is no rule present about which you do. Can it be up to the Celebrant at will? But then what about the clergy bound to recite the office?

Is it supposed to be obvious that it must be S Thomas in England? (But, for that matter, where else?)

There is a list of diocesan celebrations and provision for the masses, and these include places where S Thomas BM is patronal. None mention 29 December. They used not to need to.
It WAS the case that 29 Dec was of universal observance, so there was no question of omitting it.

I have been using an old Christmass octaves book [from Spain].
S Thomas the Martyr is semidouble. The old rule is the Sunday replaces him 'except where the feast is double'. I assume this includes the whole of England since no diocesan rite mentions any additional status of the December date.

So was there some derogation in the 1962 rite allowing the non-observance of S Thomas, or is the 'Mass of Ages' wrong? (Specifically in this case, rather than in its general assumptions).

Does the 1962 'rite' offer a single rule for dealing with the feast of S Thomas BM?

If the feast may be superseded by another 'day in the octave' how could it ever be celebrated? If it cannot be celebrated (anywhere), why is it present?

I hate 1962. It is ghastly and should be banned.

Rubricarius said...


In English dioceses, in the 1962 rite, St. Thomas is a I class feast so takes precedence.

The terminology of doubles, semidoubles and simples ceased with effect from 1st Jan 1961. Printer often added summaries of the changes to their books rather than resetting the whole text - far harder in the days before DTP.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rubricarius,

Many thanks for this confirmation. I had understood something like this was SUPPOSED to be the case, but was at a loss to find any definite reference from either the offficial Church or the Society SPX, the users of 1962.

This has rather put the 'Latin Mass Society' in its place.
On a full perusal of the contents of the 'Mass of ages' magazine, I see that it is an entirely British publication, devoted to the English and Welsh dioceses.
Therefore, its publication of a list of liturgical days said to be based on universal observances of ‘the Missale Romanum’ that ignores national changes is worse than pointless. I know of at least one church devoted to 1962 which has been led astray by this.
[One fears that in their zeal to show they don't have any truck with what went before it, they have ignored its actual provisions for national calendars.]

One wonders what the advertised LMS 'ordo' is likely to say. Perhaps it might be worth getting one just to see the mistakes.

Please find my order for YOURS in the post.

With my best wishes for the New Year.