The fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday after the opening words of the Introit at its Mass Laetare, Jerusalem - Rejoice Jerusalem - and is also known as 'mid-Lent' Sunday and is also 'Mothering Sunday' in many countries including Britain and Ireland. It is a semi-double Sunday of the first class. The distinguishing feature of this Sunday is the permitted, though not obligatatory, use of rose-coloured vestments. Rose is perceived as a lighter shade of violet and the use of rose vestments developed from the older praxis of a golden rose being given to female monarchs by the Pope on this day. Cardinals of the Court of Rome wore rose watered-silk choir dress on this Sunday along with the corresponding Gaudete Sunday in Advent. For the rest of Lent Cardinals wore their 'winter violet' merino cassock, mantelletum and mozzeta (not the violet watered silk of their 'summer' violet). This practice disappeared at the Papal Court towards the end of the nineteenth century but continued with Cardinals at their titular churches until the 1920s.
At Vespers yesterday morning the antiphons and psalms of Saturday were sung. The Office hymn was Audi benigne conditor. After the collect of the Sunday the Suffrage of the Saints was sung. At Compline the Dominical preces were sung.
At Mattins the invitatory is, as on the previous Sundays of Lent, Non sit vobis and the Office hymn is Ex more. The antiphons given in the Psalter for Sundays are sung. In the first nocturn the lessons are from Exodus and the story of Moses and the Burning Bush. In the second nocturn the lessons are from the writings of St. Basil the Great on fasting and in the third nocturn the lessons are a homily of St. Augustine on St. John's Gospel. At Lauds the antiphons, Tunc acceptabis etc., are proper to the Sunday and the second scheme of Psalms sung (50, 117, 62, the canticle Benedictus es, 148). The chapter is proper to the Sunday and hymn is O sol salutis. After the collect of the Sunday the Suffrage of the Saints is sung.
At Prime and the Hours the antiphons, Accepit ergo etc., are proper to the Sunday. At Prime the psalms are 92, 99 (displaced from Lauds) and 118(i) & 118(ii). The Dominical preces are sung and the short lesson is Quaerite Dominum.
Mass is sung after Terce. As folded chasubles are not worn the organ may be played. The ministers wear violet, or rose, dalmatic and tunicle. The Gloria is not sung. The second collect is A cunctis, the third collect Omnipotens. A Tract is sung after the Gradual, the Credo is sung, the preface is of Lent and the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino, sung by the deacon facing the celebrant and altar.
Vespers are of the Sunday. Pss. 109, 110, 111, 112 & 113 are sung. The Office hymn is Audi benigne Conditor. After the collect of the Sunday the Suffrage of the Saints is sung. At Compline the Dominical preces are sung.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' Vespers were sung yesterday in the afternoon as at any other time of the year. The Suffrage of the Saints has been abolished. The Dominical preces have been abolished. Mattins is cut down to a single nocturn of three lessons. At Prime the psalms are 53, 118(i) & 118(ii) as on feasts. At Mass there is a single collect. The dismissal is Ite, missa est.
Art: Jerome Nadal