Saturday, 16 February 2013

Saturday before the First Sunday in Lent

Vespers this morning mark the ancient beginning of Lent in the Roman liturgy and also the beginning of the Pars Verna, or Spring, volume of the Breviarium Romanum. The Office for Ash Wednesday and the following days being the Office of Quinquagesima week with additional Lenten features, notably the ferial preces at the Hours and the use of folded chasubles at Mass. Today, and for the rest of Lent with the exception of Sundays, Vespers are not sung at the usual time in the afternoon but are sung before lunchtime.

Vespers have the antiphons, Benedictus Dominus, etc and psalms of Saturday from the Psalter. The chapter, Fratres: Hortamur vos, is proper to the Sunday and the Office hymn is Audi benigne Conditor. After the collect of the Sunday the Suffrage of the Saints is sung. The ferial preces are not sung as the Office is of Sunday. The Marian antiphon after Vespers, Ave Regina caelorum, is said standing as is the noon Angelus. At Compline, sung at the normal time the Dominical preces are sung, the choir standing.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' so much has been cut out of the Office that the Breviary only has two volumes for the entire year, 'Pars Prior' and 'Pars Altera'. The ferial preces, a characteristic feature of the penitential Office are said only on Wednesdays and Fridays of Lent. Vespers are sung at the same time as any other day in the year. The Suffrage has been abolished. At Compline there are never Dominical preces.


The Rad Trad said...

Dr Shaw of Una Voce has published a rather short commentary on Rorate Caeli on the old Holy Week, including a short discussion of the timing of the old Masses. Might be worth a comment on your part, if only to impart a little learnedness to the debate.

Rubricarius said...

Rad Trad,

Dr. Shaw did, kindly, invite my comments on the paper a little while ago but I felt on reflection I could not in good conscience.

It is interesting to see the quote from the then (and soon to be again?) Cardinal Ratzinger about no Alleluia on Holy Saturday. As I pointed out to Dr. Shaw Holy Saturday has three Alleluias after the epistle; three before Laudate Dominum; three after it; one in the antiphon both before and after the Magnificat and four in the dismissal.

+DM said...

After reading the first installment of Dr. Shaw's work, I think it will not be a source of educating; several points which are simply incorrect.

Rubricarius said...


Dr. Shaw is the editor, the paper is composite and has a number of contributors to it.

It is significant that the subject is even being discussed in my view.

Anonymous said...

Rubricarius, would you please explain why Vespers are anticipated before noon on the weekdays of Lent?

Novian said...

Does the Lenten fast end with Vespers on Saturday, or does it continue to midnight?

Rubricarius said...


The standard answer is that it is related to fasting discipline (long since gone) and that Offices were anticipated in order that the main meal might be eaten earlier. My own view is that this is too simplistic and argument as, in the Roman liturgy, this is not the praxis at other penitential seasons when fasting was prescribed such as Advent, Ember Days and Vigils. Interestingly, the praxis in the Byzantine rite is to anticipate Vespers on some of those days too. One must bear in mind that there are strong links between the celebration of Vespers and the Liturgy in Lent - in the Roman rite not the correspondence between the Oratio super populum and collect for Vespers on a weekday. Other Western rites often had an even closer linking of texts - the only example of that left in the Roman rite is Holy Saturday. My own view is that it is the development of praxis that reflects the Lenten Agon. It is rather wonderful IMO and marks Lent as a special season - lost in the flatness of the new rite.


No, it continues to midnight. Holy Saturday was an exception with the fast ending at Noon - until that was changed.

Johannes Faber said...

What was the conscientious objection, Rubricarius?

The Rad Trad said...


What will become of him? Rather odd to go from Pope to Cardinal. Gregory XII did it, but he got a bishopric, too.

Perhaps the quote from the then-cardinal is primarily concerned with anticipation, no? As the Holy Saturday Mass is a Vigil of sorts (as your own Dr Glover notes, not a "midnight Mass" Christmas-style) perhaps the alleluias are meant to be a joyful awaiting of the resurrection, in full confidence that it will come, although it has not yet happened in liturgical time with the lack of candles at the Gospel, no Agnus Dei, and no pax. We would carry this anticipation of the resurrection until Matins and Lauds of Easter in the evening.

I wish the paper and comments discussed this more, but one of the greater losses in the Pian Holy Week is the timing of the office and the wholesale absence of the main office of the year. This is a point where the Pauline liturgy has something the Johannine liturgy lacks. Must every time we are in church be a Mass?