Sunday 3 December 2023

First Sunday of Advent

The first Sunday of Advent is a semi-double Sunday of the first class and its liturgical colour is violet. As with all the Sundays in Lent no feast may displace this Sunday. The liturgy of Advent is probably the most exquisite of the entire liturgical year with layers of meaning for both the first and second Comings of the LORD. There is a weave of both expectant joy and penance to be found throughout the liturgical texts. The eschatalogical theme of last Sunday's Gospel continues with St. Luke's Gospel today and the Coming of the Divine Judge. During Advent bishops of the Roman rite exchanged their violet choir cassocks for black ones (with train) which are worn with either a black mozzeta or black mattelletum with violet linings. Cardinals of the Court of Rome wear their 'winter' violet merino apparel (in contrast to their summer mourning dress of violet watered-silk) in place of their scarlet watered-silk. Vespers on Saturday before Advent Sunday mark the beginning of the Pars Hiemalis or Winter volume of the Breviary. With the first Sunday of Advent falling as late as it can the shortest Advent follows with the Vigil of the Nativity of the LORD occurring on the fourth Sunday.

At Vespers yesterday afternoon the antiphons In illa die etc were sung, not doubled, with the psalms of Saturday. The Office hymn was Creator alme siderum.  After the collect of the Sunday commemorations were sung of the preceding Office of St. Bibiana and of St. Francis Xavier. The Suffrage of the Saints is omitted during Advent. From this Vespers, until the end of None on the Vigil of the Nativity of the LORD, the antiphon Alma Redemptoris etc is sung with the versicle Angelus Domini etc and the collect Gratiam tuam. At Compline the Dominical preces were omitted.

At Mattins the invitatory is Regem venturum and this is sung in both the Dominical and ferial Offices of Advent until the third Sunday. The Office hymn is Verbum supernum. In the first nocturn the antiphons Veniet ecce Rex etc are sung, not doubled, with the usual psalms for Sunday. In the first nocturn the lessons are the Incipit of the prophet Isaiah. In the second nocturn the antiphons Gaude et laetare etc are sung and the lessons are taken from the writing of St. Leo on the fast of the tenth month, the theme of which is preparing for the Coming. In the third nocturn the antiphons Gabriel Angelus etc are sung and the homily is from St. Gregory continuing the theme of Coming with his commentary on St. Luke's Gospel about the end times. A ninth responsory is sung and the Te Deum is omitted in the Office of Advent. At Lauds the antiphons proper to the first Sunday In illa die etc, are sung, not doubled, with the Dominical psalms. The Office hymn is En clara vox. After the collect of the Sunday a commemoration of St. Francis Xavier is sung.

At Prime the first antiphon from Lauds, In illa die, is sung, not doubled, with the usual Dominical psalms (117, 118i, 118ii). In the short responsory the versicle Qui venturus es in mundum replaces Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris for all of Advent except when an occurring feast has a proper versicle. The Dominical preces are omitted. At the other Hours the remaining antiphons of Lauds are sung in the usual order.

Mass is sung after Terce. During Advent for both ferial and Dominical Masses in the Roman rite, with the exception of the third Sunday Gaudete, the deacon and sub-deacon do not wear the dalmatic and tunicle but violet folded chasubles, an ancient feature of the Roman liturgy. The Gloria in not sung, the second collect is of St. Francis Xavier. The Creed is sung, the preface that of the Blessed Trinity and, as the Gloria was not sung, the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino, sung by the deacon facing the altar.

At Vespers the antiphons In illa die etc are sung, not doubled, with the Dominical psalms. The Office hymn is Creator alme siderum. After the collect of the Sunday commemorations are sung of the following feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, of St. Francis Xavier and of St. Barbara. At Compline the Dominical preces are omitted.

In the 'liturgical books of 1962' Mattins is cut down to a single nocturn of three lessons. There are no commemorations at either Vespers. At Mass the there is the novelty for the the Roman rite of the deacon wearing the dalmatic and the sub-deacon the tunicle in a penitential Mass of the season. Folded chasubles, so ancient and so quintessentially Roman, have been cast aside. There is but a single collect and the dismissal is Ite, missa est.

Art: Jerome Nadal

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