Sunday, 6 January 2019
The Epiphany of the LORD
The feast of the Epiphany is a Double of the First Class with a privileged Octave of the Second Order. The liturgical colour of the feast and its Octave is white. The Epiphany was kept in the East from the third century, or earlier, and spread to the West a century later. Originally, it seems, in the East at least, that this 'manifestation' of the LORD was the same celebration as the Nativity and so to this day the Armenians celebrate the single feast of Theophany on January 6th.
The feast is preceded by a Vigil. At Vespers on Saturday afternoon the antiphons Ante luciferum genitus etc were sung, doubled, with Pss. 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The chapter, from Isaiah was Surge, illuminare, Jerusalem and the Office hymn was Crudelis Herodes. For the feast and its octave a Doxology in honour of the LORD's manifestation is sung at all hymns of Iambic metre: Jesu, tibi sit gloria, Qui apparuisti Gentibus, Cum Patre, et almo Spiritu, In sempiterna saecula. At Compline Te lucis was sung with the Doxology and tone of the feast. The Blessing of the Waters traditionally took place after Compline or later after the ninth lesson of Mattins.
The antiquity of the feast can be clearly seen in the structure of the Office of Mattins, unique to this day. The, historically later, Domine labia me, invitatory and hymn are omitted and the Office begins after te usual Pater, Ave & Credo with the first antiphon Afferte Domino etc sung, doubled, with Ps. 28. Two further antiphons are then sung with Pss. 45 & 46 in the first nocturn. The lessons in the first nocturn are from Isaiah. In the second nocturn the antiphons Omnis terra adoret te etc are sung with psalms 65, 71 & 85 and the lessons are from a sermon on the Epiphany by St. Leo. In the third nocturn the antiphons Venite adoremus eum etc is sung with Ps. 94, Venite , the usual invitatory psalm, in a responsorial manner. Psalms 95 and 96 are also sung in the third nocturn. The homily on St. Matthew's Gospel if from St. Gregory. The Te Deum is sung. At Lauds the antiphons sung at Vespers yesterday, Ante luciferum genitus etc., are sung with the Dominical psalms. The chapter is Surge, illuminare from Isaiah and the Office hymn is O sola magnarum urbium.
At the Little Hours the antiphons from Lauds are sung with the festal psalms. At Prime (Pss. 53, 118i & 118ii), in the short responsory, the versicle Qui apparuisti hodie is sung today and during the Octave, the short lesson is Omnes de Saba. The Doxology Jesu, tibi sit gloria, Qui apparuisti gentibus etc is sung at the hymns of the Little Hours.
Mass is sung after Terce. The Mass, Ecce advenit, is proper. The Gloria is sung and, traditionally after the Gospel the Announcement of Moveable Feasts for the coming year is sung. The Creed is sung and the preface and communicantes in the Canon are proper to the feast.
At Vespers the antiphons Ante luciferum genitus etc are again sung with psalms 109, 110, 11, 112 & 113. The Office hymn is Crudelis Herodes Deum. The antiphon on the Magnificat is Tribus miraculis.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' the only textual changes today are the abolition of the Doxology in honour of the Epiphany at the hymns of the Little Hours and the duplication of antiphons at the same. The feast has been stripped of its Vigil and Octave.