Thursday, 25 April 2013

St. Mark the Evangelist - Greater Litanies

The feast of St. Mark the Evangelist is a Double of the Second Class. The liturgical colour of the feast is red. Today is also the celebration of the Greater Litanies: the Litanies more ancient than those sung on the Rogation days and ones, traditionally, sung with greater solemnity. St. Mark was particularly close to St. Peter. He is one of the Four Evangelists and is traditionally represented by a lion (as can be seen in the icon above) as it is one of the four beasts in the Prophecy of Ezechiel. St. Mark preached in Egypt and was martyred in Alexandria.

At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons Sancti tui etc were sung with psalms 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The chapter was Stabunt justi. After the collect of the feast commemorations were sung of the preceding Office of the Octave Day of the Solemnity of St. Joseph and of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringa.

At Mattins the invitatory, hymn, antiphon on the psalms of each nocturn are from the Common of Apostles. In the first nocturn the lesson are the Incipit of the Book of the Prophet Ezechiel, Et factum est trigesimo anno etc., from the Common of Evangelists in Paschaltide. The responsories are also from this Common. In the second nocturn lessons four and five are from St. Jerome on ecclesiastic writers, the sixth lesson is from St. Gregory's writing on Ezechiel. In the third nocturn the homily is from the Common of Evangelists along with its responsories. The Te Deum is sung.

At Lauds the antiphons Sancti tui etc., from the Common of Apostles, are sung with the Dominical psalms (Pss. 92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148).

At the Hours the hymns have the Doxology of Paschaltide. At Prime the festal psalms are sung (Pss. 53, 118i & 118ii) and the lectio brevis is Scimus quoniam etc.

Mass is sung after Terce. The Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the Greater Litanies. The Creed is sung and the preface is of the Apostles.

In Cathedral and Collegiate Churches two High Masses are sung.  The first, after Terce, is of St. Mark 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 Exaudiat 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 without any commemoration of St. Mark. 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 the Procession takes place and there is only one Mass then that Mass is of the Greater Litanies (except in churches whose titular is St. Mark) with a commemoration of St. Mark.

Vespers are second Vespers of the feast of St. Mark. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the following feast of SS Cletus and Marcellinus.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Mark's feast loses first Vespers and Vespers yesterday were of St. Fielis of Sigmaringa without any commemoration of St. Mark. At the Hours the hymns do not have the Paschaltide Doxology or tone and the antiphons and psalms are from the ferial Psalter. At Prime the lectio brevis is of the season. At Masses other than that following the Procession a commemoration of the Greater Litanies is made under one conclusion with the collect of St. Mark. The Rogation Procession may be replaced by another suitable service at the discretion of the Ordinary. During the Procession the petitions of the Litany are not doubled and the collects at the end of the Litany have the short conclusion. At the Mass following the Procession the preparatory prayers, Judica me Deus etc, are omitted. The dismissal is Ite, missa est. At Vespers there are no commemorations.

Art: A Coptic icon of St. Mark from Wikipedia.

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