Saturday, 8 March 2014
Time for Vespers!
It is not unknown that one of my own favourite customs is the praxis of having Vespers before lunch in Lent. The practice is so counter-cultural to the modern world that it instantly appealed to me when I first found out about it nearly thirty years ago. Today, and for the rest of Lent with the exception of Sundays, Vespers are not sung at the usual time in the late afternoon but are sung before lunch. The Office of this Vespers marks 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 consist of the Office of Quinquagesima week with additional Lenten features, notably the ferial preces at the Hours and the use of folded chasubles at Mass.
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 commemorations are sung of the preceding Office of St. John of God and of St. Frances of Rome. Thhe Suffrage of the Saints is omitted due to the double feasts. 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 omitted due to the double feasts commemorated at Vespers.
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'. Vespers are sung at the same time as any other day in the year. There are no commemorations or Suffrage.