Tags

, , , , , ,

St Mary Charleston.jpg

The Nativity of the Lord, Saint Mary’s, Charleston SC

As we have already mentioned, the winter Ember Days having moved from their traditional position in the third week of Advent, Divine Worship: The Missal makes available certain Mass formularies proper to the weekdays from 17 to 24 December. In this article we will consider how these days are commemorated in Divine Worship and what we might gain from their inclusion in the liturgical life of the personal ordinariates.

Brief Overview of the Minor Propers

To understand the nature of these days in Divine Worship, it is helpful to first consider the sources for the minor propers provided in the missal. Although the post-conciliar liturgy also makes provision for these late Advent ferias, the minor propers given in Divine Worship do not conform to those given in the 2002 Missale Romanum, but rather in the 1974 Graduale Romanum. It is also worth noting that, as in the Ordinary Form, these provisions do not usurp Sundays, and so if a Sunday of Advent falls on one of these days (as it must each year), the propers specific to that date are omitted.

The Graduale Romanum provides for these weekdays of Advent not (on the whole) by assigning texts to specific dates, but by creating sets of propers to be used together. These are given as “ferias” (II-VI and Sabatto), and so may or may not fall on the same dates each year. As we will see, this rather complicated approach is simplified in Divine Worship, whilst still maintaining the texts in the order and “sets” given by the Graduale Romanum. 

Let us now consider the days themselves, and the text prescribed by Divine Worship:

  • On 17 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Feria Secunda in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Sapientia.
  • On 18 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Feria Tertia in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Adonai.
  • On 19 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Feria Quarta in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December, with the specific Introit provided in the Graduale Romanum for this date, Ne Timeas. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Radix Iesse.
  • On 20 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Feria Quinta in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December, with the specific Offertory and Communio provided in the Graduale Romanum for this date, themselves taken from the Fourth Sunday of Advent: Ave Maria and Ecce virgo. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Clavis David.
  • On 21 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Feria Sexta in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Oriens.
  • On 22 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from those set for Sabbato in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Rex Gentium.
  • On 23 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship return to the Feria Secunda in the Graduale Romanum for the days from 17 to 24 December. There is no Alleluia in the Graduale Romanum for this date, but Divine Worship employs the proper Magnificat antiphon O Emmanuel.
  • At the morning Mass on 24 December, the minor propers in Divine Worship are taken from the Fourth Sunday in Advent in the Graduale Romanum, with the exception that the Alleluia is replaced by the ancient English antiphon for the Magnificat, O Virgo Virginum, thereby avoiding the repetition of the Sunday Alleluia verse.

The advantage of the sequence of texts found in the Graduale Romanum, which (as we have said) does not tie the propers to dates but collates them into sets of texts, is that the repetition of the propers on Feria Secunda, given on 23 December in Divine Worship, is avoided. However, not only does Divine Worship simplify the rather complicated schema provided in the Graduale Romanum, it also avoids the complete repetition of the Feria Secunda propers by employing the Vespers antiphon as the Alleluia verse. By adopting the date-specific schema, Divine Worship conforms to the practice of the 2002 Missale Romanum, albeit using the texts given in the Graduale Romanum. 

Alleluias

In the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite an Alleluia verse is provided for each day from 17 to 24 December. These mirror, but do not entirely replicate, the texts of the proper Magnificat antiphons for these days. On 24 December, the Alleluia verse in the Ordinary Form is replaced by the text Oriens splendor. In the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as in the Anglican missal tradition, the Alleluia is omitted on the weekdays of Advent and no proper Mass formularies are given for these final days of the Advent season.

In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 62, a), we read that “The Alleluia is sung in every time of year other than Lent.” In the Rubrical Directory of Divine Worship we find that this omission is extended to the pre-Lenten season of Septuagesimatide, but not to the season of Advent. However, in accord with the provision of the General Instruction (n. 63, c) it is noted that “the Alleluia or the Verse before the Gospel, if not sung, may be omitted.” Thus, Divine Worship provides for those pastoral contexts where either custom is prevalent.

Antiphons

As we have already noted, during these days Divine Worship makes use of the antiphons assigned to the Magnificat in the Liturgy of the Hours, to provide an appropriate text for the Alleluia verse in the propers of the Mass for each day. The medieval English use, following the practice at Salisbury and other centres of English medieval liturgical life, introduced these antiphons to the Office on 16 December, and included a text additional to the Roman use, O Virgo Virginum, on 23 December. These texts remained significant for English Christians, even following the Reformation, and evidence of this may be found in the fact that The Book of Common Prayer designated 16 December as O Sapientia, the first of the O Antiphons, even though the antiphons were omitted.

Divine Worship adopts the Roman numbering of the texts, starting on 17 December, but nevertheless retains the texts, including the English variation, O Virgo Virginum. It is noteworthy that recent Anglican liturgical revisions, such as Common Worship, have simply conformed to the Roman use in number, and date, and text.

The use of the antiphon O Virgo Virginum in Divine Worship: The Missal is itself instructive. The text is  employed as the Alleluia verse for the morning Mass on 24 December, but is not included in the list of “The Advent Anthems: Great O Antiphons” in the missal itself. The inclusion of these non-Eucharistic texts as a distinct section of the missal (not simply in the texts of the propers) is somewhat unusual, but may be seen as a means of bringing about a certain textual unity to the use of these antiphons, which stand out as having a particular importance in the liturgical life of the communities of the personal ordinariates. Indeed these texts represent, as a set, a singular example of pre-Reformation texts from the Liturgy of the Hours that retained some special place in the Anglican liturgical tradition. The inclusion of O Virgo Virginum, albeit only in the place of the Alleluia verse, permits the inclusion of this ancient tradition of the English spiritual and liturgical patrimony, whilst maintaining the overall integrity of the wider Roman Rite. A further note, perhaps helpful from the perspective of liturgical catechesis, is that the reverse acrostic, Ero cras (“I shall [come] tomorrow”), created by the completion of the Latin names of these antiphons in the Roman use (Emmanuel, Rex Gentium, Oriens, Clavis David, &c) becomes Vero cras (“Verily, I shall [come]”), with the inclusion of O Virgo Virginum.

Prefaces

Although the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite does not provide a preface for the season of Advent, these were not unheard of before the reforms of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Nine prefaces for Advent, for example, are given in the older form of the Ambrosian rite, and there is a preface for Advent given in the 1738 Parisien Missal (about which a fascinating article is found here). The Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite provides two prefaces for Advent, one for the first weeks of Advent (The Two Comings of Christ), and one for the final days of the season (The Twofold Expectation of Christ) coinciding with the dates we have discussed here. Divine Worship provides a single preface, which is neither of the prefaces from the Ordinary Form, but rather a lightly altered version of that found in the Book of Divine Worship and the 1979 (ECUSA) Book of Common Prayer.

Thus a further unique characteristic of these days, as found in Divine Worship, is that, although they are kept in a manner that distinguishes them from the rest of Advent in a general sense, the difference is not so great as that found in the Ordinary Form. Divine Worship conforms to the post-conciliar practice of adopting an intensification of preparation for the coming feast of the Nativity of the Lord, whilst preserving something of both the textual and quality of the more ancient observance—one that is, indeed, familiar to the classical Anglican liturgical tradition.

Prayers

For the sake of completeness, it is also worth noting the orations found in Divine Worship during these days. These are texts taken from the 2002 Missale Romanum, though translated in such a way as to be in harmony with the overall register of the language of Divine Worship and the classical Anglican tradition. The single exception to this is the morning Mass on 24 December, which combines the minor propers for the Fourth Sunday of Advent with the orations given for that day in Divine Worship. These texts are a centonized version of those found in the Anglican Missal (Gavin).

Concluding Thoughts

The character of these final days in the season of Advent in Divine Worship is at once distinctive, drawn from the texts and general practice of Anglicanism and the English liturgical tradition, and also respectful of the integrity of the ancient and contemporary expressions of the one Roman Rite. The preservation of texts from the Anglican tradition, and the integration of these texts within the post-conciliar pattern and schema, illuminates these intensified days of Advent for the faithful of the ordinariates, whilst also highlighting certain practices and customs, retained by Anglicanism, as an enrichment for the whole Church.

Furthermore, and secondarily, the adoption of the propers for these days as found in the Graduale Romanum rather than the 2002 Missale Romanum, also offers a useful point of consideration for those concerned with the ongoing enrichment of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, and may represent an intelligent means by which the liturgical books of the personal ordinariates might present a contribution to the renewal of the Roman Rite.

Please do not reproduce this text elsewhere without permission of the author.