Wednesday 20 March 2013

March 7th - Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a privileged greater feria. No feast can be celebrated on this day whatever its rank. The liturgical colour of the day is violet. The feast of St. Thomas Aquinas is transferred to tomorrow.

The Office of Ash Wednesday begins with the chanting in Quire of the Gradual Psalms before Mattins of the day and after Mattins and Lauds of the Officium Parvum. The fifteen Gradual Psalms are divided into three sections. The choir chants Pss. 119, 120, 121 & 122 without any antiphon and without the Doxology at the end of any of them. Psalm 123 follows and after its last verse Requiem aeternam etc and the respond Et lux perpetua etc are sung. Then the choir kneels and the Hebdomadarius intones Pater noster and all then say the prayer secreto. A short series of versicles and their responses follow and the collect Absolve, quaesumus Domine etc. The choir stands and Pss. 124, 125, 126, 127 & 128 are chanted without antiphon but with the Doxology at the end of each psalm. After the last Doxology the choir again kneels for a short series of versicles and their responses and the collect Deus, cui proprium etc. The choir rises and chant Pss. 129, 130, 131, 132 & 133, again without any antiphon but with the Doxology at the end of each. For a third time the choir then kneels for a series of versicles and their responses and the collect Praetende Domine etc. The Office of Mattins then follows.

The invitatory is In manu tua Domine, Omnes fines terrae and the Office hymn is Rerum Creator optime both from the ferial Office per annum for Wednesday. In the nocturn the twelve psalms 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 65 & 67 are sung in pairs under the six antiphons Avertit Dominus etc. The lessons in the nocturn are from a homily of St. Augustine reflecting on the Sermon on the Mount from St. Matthew's Gospel. The second and third lessons are slightly longer than those found in the modern editions of the Breviary. The responsories are taken from the third nocturn of Quinquagesima Sunday. The Te Deum is not sung.

At Lauds the psalmody is ferial, Pss. 50, 64, 62-66, Canticle of Anna, 148, 149 & 150. The antiphon on the Benedictus and collect are proper to the day. Before the collect the choir kneels and the ferial preces are sung. After the collect of the day a commemoration of SS Perpetua and Felicity is sung followed by the Suffrages of the Cross Per signum Crucis etc (the Office being ferial), the BVM Sancta Maria succurre etc, the Apostles Gloriosi principes etc, of the Patron and lastly for peace Da pacem Domine etc are sung.

At the Hours the ferial antiphons are sung. At Prime the psalmody is Pss. 53, 25, 118i and 118ii. Both the Dominical and ferial preces are chanted kneeling, the chapter is the ferial Pacem et veritatem. At the other Hours the short set of ferial preces are chanted with the choir kneeling.

The blessing of Ashes and Mass follows None. (Where the Expulsion of Penitents takes place the Ashes are blessed and imposed on the Pentitents followed by the Seven Penitential Psalms and Litany and the Expulsion of the Penitents.) The celebrant vests in a violet cope with the deacon and subdeacon wearing violet folded chasubles. The organ is silent following the general rule when folded chasubles are worn. The Ashes, made from the preceding year's Palms, are blessed with four collects of blessing. The short conclusion of these prayers probably indicates the blessing was separated by the Expusion of Penitents from the Mass which follows. The Ashes are imposed whilst two antiphons are chanted Immutemur habitu and Inter vestibulum. These are followed by the poignant responsory Emendemus in melius. The Mass that now immediately follows is proper. The Gloria is not sung. The second collect is of SS Perpetua and Felicity, the third collect is A cunctis. The preface of Lent is sung. The ferial tones are used for the orations, preface and Pater noster. The choir kneels for the Orations and from the Sanctus until Pax Domini. After the last collect the deacon sings Humiliate capita vestra Deo and the celebrant sings the Oratio super populum. The dismissal is Benedicamus Domino, sung by the deacon facing the celebrant and altar.

Vespers are first Vespers of the transferred feast of St. Thomas Aquinas with a corresponding colour change to white. ferial. The antiphons Domine quinque talenta etc are sung with Pss. 109, 110, 111, 112 & 116. The Office hymn is Iste Confessor. After the collect of the feast a commemoration is sung of the Lenten feria. At Compline the Dominical preces are omitted because of the double feast.
Art: Jerome Nadal

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