Saturday, February 11, 2006

1st Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday

The traditional Roman Rite takes the first of its baby steps toward Lent today when the sun sets and First Vespers of Septuagesima Sunday is celebrated.

From the old Catholic Encyclopædia:

Septuagesima is today inaugurated in the Roman Martyrology by the words: "Septuagesima Sunday, on which the canticle of the Lord, Alleluja, ceases to be said". On the Saturday preceding, the Roman Breviary notes that after the "Benedicamus" of Vespers two Alleluias are to be added, that thenceforth it is to be omitted till Easter, and in its place "Laus tibi Domine" is to be said at the beginning of the Office.

Formerly the farewell to the Alleluia was quite solemn. In an Antiphonary of the Church of St. Cornelius at Compiegne we find two special antiphons. Spain had a short Office consisting of a hymn, chapter, antiphon, and sequence. Missals in Germany up to the fifteenth century had a beautiful sequence. In French churches they sang the hymn "Alleluia, dulce carmen" (Gueranger, IV, 14)* which was well-known among the Anglo-Saxons (Rock, IV, 69). The "Te Deum" is not recited at Matins, except on feasts. The lessons of the first Nocturn are taken from Genesis, relating the fall and subsequent misery of man and thus giving a fit preparation for the Lenten season. In the Mass of Sunday and ferias the Gloria in Excelsis is entirely omitted. In all Masses a Tract is added to the Gradual.

*From the page in Dom Gueranger referenced above:

Alleluia dulce carmen,
Vox perennis gaudii
Allelluia laus suavis
Est choris cœlestibus,
Quam canunt Dei manentes
In domo per sæcula.

Alleluia læta mater
Concivis Ierusalem:
Alleluia vox tuorum
Civium gaudentium:
Exsules nos flere cogunt
Babylonis flumina.

Alleluia non meremur
In perenne psallere;
Alleluia vox reatus
Cogit intermittere;
Tempus instat quo peracta
Lugeamus crimina.

Unde laudando precamur
Te beata Trinitas,
Ut tuum nobis videre
Pascha des in æthere,
Quo tibi læti canamus
Alleluia perpetim.

The translation of Dom Laurence Shepherd, O.S.B.:

The sweet Alleluia-song,
the word of endless joy,
is the melody of heaven's choir,
chanted by them that dwell forever
in the house of God.

O joyful mother,
O Jerusalem our city,
Alleluia is the language
of thy happy citizens.
The rivers of Babylon,
where we poor exiles live,
force us to weep.

We are unworthy
to sing a ceaseless Alleluia.
Our sins bid us interrupt our Alleluia.
The time is at hand when it
behooves us to bewail our crimes.

We, therefore, beseech thee
whilst we praise thee,
O blessed Trinity!
That thou grant us to come
to that Easter of heaven,
where we shall sing to thee
our joyful everlasting Alleluia.

Of course, it isn't Septuagesima Sunday tomorrow in the Pauline Rite, just the umpteenth Sunday in Common or Garden Variety Time. O.K., cheap shot. But they didn't have to call it "ordinary time". The Latin uses the perfectly traditional term "per annum" which has none of the mundane connotations of "ordinary time. The ICEL absolutely searches for mischief.