Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The armour of light...

A welcome sight. The Sacred Ministers vested for the celebration of Mass at the church of St Magnus the Martyr nigh to London Bridge on the First Sunday in Advent. A truly splendid way to begin the liturgical year!

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen. (Collect for the First Sunday in Advent in the Book of Common Prayer). You will look in vain to the Sarum liturgical books for this. The Collect for the First Sunday in Advent in Sarum is much the same as the ''modern'' (you know what I mean) Roman books; it seems that the Collect above is a 16th century composition, not wholly inappropriate, it must be said; although the Collect prescribed for next Sunday is less good, and bethought of protestantism. The Officium in Sarum for this Sunday, and the next, and the next, correspond to the Roman Introits; for the First Sunday, even so:

Ad te levavi animam meam: Deus meus in te confido, non erubescam: neque irrideant me inimici mei: etenim universi qui te expectant non confundentur. Ps. Vias tuas, Domine, demonstra mihi: et semitas tuas edoce me. Ad te levavi. Gloria Patri, &c.

The Introit Rorate Cæli, for the Fourth Sunday in Advent, is not found in the Sarum liturgical books, and in its place is the Officium:

Memento nostri, Domine, in beneplacito populi tui: visita nos in salutari tuo: ad videndum in bonitate electorum tuorum, in laetitia gentis tuae, ut lauderis cum haereditate tua. Ps. Peccavimus cum patribus nostris: iniuste egimus, iniquitatem fecimus. Memento nostri. Gloria Patri, &c.

A rather loose, albeit beautiful, translation is given by Coverdale. Remember me, O Lord, according to the favour that thou bearest unto thy people; O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the felicity of thy chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of thy people, and give thanks with thine inheritance. We have sinned with our fathers: we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly. Remember me. Glory be to the Father, &c.

The Epistle and Gospel pericopes correspond across all three for the First Sunday, although in Sarum there is, of course, a Sequence (Salus Aeterna), which is peculiar (as are all the Advent Sunday sequences) since all lines of each verse end with the letter a, and do not seem to follow any strict poetic cursus. There is a goodly translation by Pearson (1871), which renders it almost Tolkienian, since it is laden with the sorrow of mortal men, but typical of Advent, with expectation, by which the season is enriched. I wonder if Tolkien knew of these Sequences? As a mediaevalist, it is not unlikely.

The Missal of Robert of Jumièges contains a proper Preface for this Sunday. I was hoping against hope that this would correspond to the ad libitum proper Preface for Advent in the 1962 Missal, but no. The preface in the 1962 Missal is, interestingly, derived from the Lyonese Missal, a curiosity considering that most else in that dread reform had no source in the Tradition of the Church.

(Domine sancte Pater omnipotens aeternae Deus), cui proprium est ac singulare quod bonus es. Et nulla umquam a te es commutatione diversus. Propitiare quaesumus supplicationibus nostris, et Ecclesiae tuae misericordiam tuam quam deprecamur ostende. Manifestans plebi tuae Unigeniti tui et Incarnationis mysterium, et adventus admirabile sacramentum: ut in universitate nationum constet esse perfectum quod vatum oraculis fuit ante promissum, percipiantque dignitatem adoptionis quos exornat confessio veritatis. Per quem...

Or as found in the 1962 books and the Lyonese Missal (to be used on all Dominicae and feriae even up to the Vigil of the Lord's Nativity inclusive):

(Domine sancte Pater omnipotens aeternae Deus): per Christum Dominum nostrum. Quem perdito hominum generi Salvatorem misericors et fidelis promisisti: cuius veritas instrueret inscios, sanctitas iustificaret impios, virtus adiuvaret infirmos. Dum ergo prope est ut veniat quem missurus es, et dies affulget liberationis nostrae, in hac promissionum tuarum fide, piis gaudiis exultamus. Et ideo...

It would be interesting to see how many traditionalists, accustomed to using pre-Pius XII liturgical books, use the ad libitum Preface for Advent - it's quite traditional. It is one of those rare things in the modern Roman Rite where you can have catholicity in variegation, rather than uniformity, which is not now nor ever desirable.

A blessed Advent to you all. Watch ye for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.


  1. We use the Gallican Advent Preface at S. Clement's, despite generally using the pre-'55 books. (Although for how much longer...)

  2. Thank you very much, Patrici, for the information on the Lyonese Advent Prerace, which was allowed for optional use in 1962. I have never sung this Preface, not only because I use the pre-Pius-XII Missale Romanum, in which this Preface is not found, but also because i wrongly assumed that the optional Advent Preface allowed in 1962 were a creation ''ex nihilo'' of SRC. Now that you tell us that the Preface is traditional, i shall see about finding a text of it with notes. Thanking you again for this information, I wish you a blessed Adventtide.

  3. Fr. Albertus,

    I have that preface as some JPEG images. If you would like them please email me.

  4. Thank you very much for your kind offer, Rubricarius. I should like them and shall email you forthwith.

  5. “Watch ye for ye know not when the master of the house cometh.”

    As my girlfriend wrote to me recently, late at night,

    Се Жених грядет в полунощи
    и блажен раб егоже обрящет бдяща
    недостоин же паки егоже обрящет унывающа
    блюди убо душе моя
    да не сном отяготися
    да не смерти предана будеши и царствия не затворишися,
    но воспряни зовущи: Свят Свят Свят еси Боже! Богородицею помилуй нас.

    This may be translated as:

    Behold! The Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night; and blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching; but unworthy is he whom He shall find in slothfulness. Beware, then, O my soul, and be not overcome by sleep, lest thou be given over to death and shut out from the Kingdom. But return to soberness and cry aloud: Holy, holy, holy art Thou, O God: through the Mother of God, have mercy upon us.

  6. You may be interested to know that the (old) Dominican rite retains the Officium of Dom IV Adv as "Memento nostri" and not "Rorate Caeli" as in the Roman Graduale. However the psalm is "Confitemini Domino" rather than that noted above.