Brush up your rubrics - what changes and what doesn't on major feasts

One of the things that can trip people up when saying the office is which parts of the Office do and don't change on feast days.

Levels of days

The first thing you need to know is that in the 1963 calendar used in the Ordo on this blog there are basically four levels of days - Class I (class one), Class II (class two), Class III (class three) and Class IV (class four).

Class IV means an ordinary day, with no feasts on it, so the Office is said as set out in the psalter section of the Diurnal, using any texts appropriate for the day/season/time of year.

Days that are Class III or higher will displace some or all of the normal day of the week/season texts used.  Which texts are affected and used instead depends on the hour of the Office being said, and the level of the feast.

Days vs feasts

A key distinction to be aware of is between 'days' (ferias) and feasts.  This coming Friday and Saturday for example, are Ember Days and are Class II, however only the collect (at the day hours other than Prime and Compline) and NT canticle antiphons change.

By contrast, on a second class feast like that of St Matthew on Wednesday, many more of the texts will change at some of the hours.

Chant tones vs texts

The other thing to note is that if you are listening to a podcast of the Office, or attending it in person in a monastery, it might all sound different even when the texts are actually mostly not changed.

At Prime, for example, the only text that changes on a feast is the antiphon.  However, where it is sung using Gregorian chant (rather than just recto tono, or on one note), a different hymn tune will normally be used to reflect the level of the feast, and the psalm tone used will reflect the antiphon for the feast.

What changes and what doesn't on Class I&II feasts?

The table below summarises whether or not the relevant part of the Office changes on a Class I or II feast.  In general:

  • the opening and closing prayers (other than the collect) do not change (but the opening prayers might have a more elaborate chant tone);
  • Compline is not affected by feasts (except that the solemn tone for the Marian antiphon might be used);
  • at Prime, the only thing that changes is the antiphon for the psalms.

Affected by Class I&II feasts?

Matins
Lauds
Prime
Terce,
Sext &
None
Vespers
Compline
Opening prayers

                                                    No
Hymn

Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
No
Antiphon(s)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Not applicable
Psalms

Yes
Some
No
No
Yes
No
OT canticle(s)
Yes
Yes (optional festal)
na
na
na
na
Chapter

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Versicle

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Responsory

Yes
Yes
No
na
Yes
na
Antiphon for NT
canticle

na
Yes
na
na
Yes
na
NT canticle

Yes
No
na
na
No
na
Reading(s)

Yes
na
na
na
na
No
Collect

Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
Closing prayers other than collect
                                                     
                                                          No



Hope this helps a bit, but do ask if you have any questions, or let me know if I've made a mistake!

5 comments:

Michael Demers said...

A Fr Gregory Bellarmine, SSJC, publishes a bi-monthly edition of the Roman Breviary on Kindle reader. Have you ever considered doing the same for the Monastic Breviary?

Kate Edwards said...

The short answer is no.

I'm not quite sure what the kindle reader edition includes? Is it an Ordo or the actual text of the Office?

If the Ordo, not sure what advantage a kindle edition would have, but if people thought it was useful could consider it. If the actual Office, needs to be done by the monks of Farnborough as holders of the copyright.

Kate Edwards said...

PS Had a quick look - he seems to be an Anglican not part of the Ordinariate, publishing an entirely English version of the Roman Office (not obvious which version it is). This is clearly not approved for liturgical use by Catholics. Fine if you are an Anglican, but otherwise...If you are looking for something purely for devotional use, I'd suggest the Divinum Officium website, or for the 1962 Roman Office, the iphone version of the Roman Breviary put out by the Friars of the immaculate.

Michael Demers said...

A Kindle edition of the Monastic Diurnal would be great.

Anonymous said...

The Kindle edition of the monastic diurnal would be a great help