Sunday, 25 April 2021
Saint Mark the Evangelist - Greater Litanies
The feast of St. Mark the Evangelist is a Double of the Second Class and 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 the 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 at Alexandria. The third Sunday after Pascha is commemorated in the Office and at Mass. It is also Sunday within the Octave of the Solemnity of St. Joseph but the rubrics do not admit of the commemoration of a common Octave on a Double of the Second Class although a privileged votive Mass of the feast may be celebrated as noted below.
At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons Sancti tui etc were sung, doubled, with psalms 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The Office hymn was Tristes erant Apostoli. The chapter was Stabunt justi. After the collect of the feast a commemoration was sung of the preceding Office of St. Fidelis of Sigmaringa and of the Sunday. Hymns of Iambic metre have the Paschaltide Doxology and tone. At Compline the Dominical psalms were sung and the preces were omitted.
At Mattins the invitatory, the hymn is again Tristes erant Apostoli, and the antiphon on the psalms of each nocturn are from the Common of Apostles. In the first nocturn the lessons 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 ninth lesson is of the Sunday. The Te Deum is sung.
At Lauds the antiphons Sancti tui etc., from the Common of Apostles, are sung, doubled, with the Dominical psalms (Pss. 92, 99, 62, Benedicite & 148). The Office hymn is Paschale mundo gaudium. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of the Sunday is sung.
At the Hours the hymns have the Paschaltide Doxology. 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 Sunday, the third collect is of the Greater Litanies. The Creed is sung, the preface is of the Apostles and the last Gospel is of the Sunday.
In Cathedral and Collegiate Churches two High Masses are sung. The first, after Terce, is of St. Mark, with commemoration and last Gospel of the Sunday, 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 commences.
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 with the second collect Concede nos and the third collect Ecclesiae or Deus omnium. There is no Creed - even on a Sunday. 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, or a Double of the First Class is to be celebrated) with a commemoration of St. Mark and of the Sunday.
As before the reform of 1911-13 the third Sunday after Pascha was the feast of the Solemnity (olim Patronage) of St. Joseph today all Masses except the Conventual Mass may be of the feast. The Mass Adjutor is sung in white vestments with Gloria, the second collect is of St. Mark, the third collect is of the Sunday, the fourth collect is of the Greater Litanies. The Creed is sung, the preface is of St. Joseph and the last Gospel is of the Sunday.
In the afternoon second Vespers of the feast of St. Mark are sung. The antiphons Sancti tui etc are sung, doubled, with psalms 109, 112, 115, 125 & 138. The Office hymn is Tristes erant Apostoli. After the collect of the feast commemorations are sung of the following Office of SS Cletus and Marcellinus and of the Sunday.
In the 'liturgical books of 1962' St. Mark's feast is superceded by the Sunday. At Vespers, of the Sunday, there are no commemorations. At Compline the ferial psalms are sung. At the Hours the hymns do not have the Paschaltide Doxology. At Lauds, only, a commemoration of St. Mark is made. At Prime the lectio brevis is of the season. At Masses other than those following the Procession a commemoration of the Greater Litanies is made. The Rogation Procession may be replaced by another suitable service at the discretion of the Ordinary. When the Procession takes place the petitions of the Litany are not doubled and the collects at the end of the Litany have the short conclusion. Where the Litany or another service takes place in the vernacular those with an obigation to the Office are not bound to say the Litany in Latin. At the II class votive Mass following the Procession the preparatory prayers, Judica me Deus etc, are omitted. The second collect is of the Sunday, the Creed is sung - being a Sunday (R.G. 343(a) - and the dismissal is Ite, missa est. At Vespers there are no commemorations.
Icon: St. Mark from Emmanuel Tzanes