Saturday 7 April 2012

March 25th - The Annunciation - Old New Year's Day MMXII

The great feast of the Annunciation this year falls on the Saturday before Holy Week. Today is the feast of the Annunciation of the BVM. Today was also kept in England, and some other realms, as New Year's Day. The Good News that the Archangel Gabriel brought to the Virgin was considered the dawn of the age of Redemption and a fitting date on which to celebrate the New Year. The English tax year, beginning on new-style April 6th, marks the 'old' New Year's Day of March 25th when the difference between the Gregorian and Julian Calendars are taken into account. The feast is of double rite and the liturgical colour is white.

This great feast began with first Vespers yesterday morning. The antiphons, Missus est Gabriel Angelus ad Mariam etc., are proper to the feast and were sung with the psalms from the Common of the BVM (Pss.109, 112, 121, 126 & 147). The chapter was proper to the feast, the Office hymn, Ave Maris stella, from the Common. The antiphon on the Magnificat and collect were proper to the feast. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of Friday in Passion Week was sung. At Compline the hymn, Te lucis, was sung with the Doxology in honour of the Incarnation, Gloria tibi Domineetc.

At Mattins the invitatory is Ave Maria gratia plena Dominus tecum. The hymn, Quam terra, antiphons and psalms (with the exception of the ninth antiphon, Angelus Domini etc) are from the Common. In the first nocturn (Pss. 8, 18 & 23) the lessons are from the Prophet Isaiah. These are the same as in the modern editions of the Breviary. The responsories are proper to the feast and are paricularly beautiful. In the second nocturn (Pss. 44, 45 & 86) the lessons are taken from the second sermon on the Nativity by St. Leo. Again, these are the same as those found in the post-Clementine books. In the third nocturn (Pss. 95, 96 & 97) the ninth antiphon is Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae etc. The lessons are from a homily by St. Ambrose's second book on St. Luke' Gospel. These are longer than those found in the post-Clementine books. The ninth lesson is of the commemorated Saturday in Passion week, a homily of St. Augustine on St. John's Gospel. Its three lessons, the same as those in the modern books, may be joined and read as one. The Te Deum is sung.

At Lauds the antiphons Missus est etc are sung with psalms 92, 99, 62-66, Benedicite & 148-149-150. The Office hymn is O gloriosa Domina. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of the Saturday in Passion Week is sung.

At Prime and the Hours the hymns are sung with the Doxology of the Incarnation. In the short responsory at Prime the verse Qui natus es is sung and the short lesson is proper to the feast, Egredietur virga de radice Jesse etc. The antiphons of Lauds are used in the normal order at the Little Hours.

Mass is sung after Terce. At Mass the Gloria is sung, the second collect is of the Saturday in Passion Week. The Gospel pericope is from St. Luke and the account of the Angel Gabriel's visit to the Virgin. The Creed is sung, the preface is of the BVM, with the clause Et te in Annuntiatione, and the last Gospel is that of the commemorated Saturday in Passion Week.

Vespers, even of this great feast, are sung before midday. The antiphons and psalms are those sung as at first Vespers. The antiphon on the Magnificat is proper. After the collect of the feast a commemoration of Palm Sunday is sung. At Compline the Dominical preces are omitted.

To those keeping it: A very happy and blessed 2012!

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