Friday, April 17, 2009

The season of Eastertide in the Benedictine Office

As we now officially move into the 'Ordinary' of Eastertide I thought I'd provide a few notes on just what that means to help you saying the Office.

If you are using the Farnborough Monastic Diurnal, most of this is set out on pages 346*, and indicated in the text of the psalter by the abbreviation 'T.P' or 'Tempore Paschali'.

The Ordinary of the Season - the minor hours

The monastic office basically follows the seasonal calendar of the traditional mass - but it has a few more moving parts! What I've set out below is what happens on an ordinary day, a feria. If there is a third class feast or higher, some or all of the Ordinary is likely to be displaced depending on the rubrics for the particular feast (and of course for memorials a few extra bits are added in at Lauds).

The easiest hour to deal with is Compline - because, give or take an alleluia or two, apart from the Marian antiphon nothing ever changes in it, even for feast days, except during Holy Week (well, unless you are singing it, when the psalm tone and tune for the hymn vary). The Marian antiphon from Easter up until Pentecost is Regina Caeli (MD 267).

If you were in a monastery, the custom is normally to sing the antiphon on the simple tone during the week, and use the solemn tone for Saturday and Sunday.

The next simplest is Prime. The psalms set for Prime vary each day - but the only other thing that changes is the antiphon said before and after the three psalms, and for Eastertide that is very easy - Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia (MD 348). And if you forget, it is noted each day in the psalter anyway (MD 3ff).

The little hours - terce, sext and none - are also very straightforward. The antiphon is always the triple alleluia. The chapter and versicle are set for the season, and shown on page 348*ff, but are also noted in the relevant places in the psalter, so again fairly straightforward.


The main quirk in the monastic version of Matins for those saying it (or interested) is that, consistent with the Rule (RB 10) the readings during the week are generally curtailed to one very short chapter verse for summer, in order to allow the monks to get enough sleep. Hmmm, what does one do in the Southern Hemisphere, follow the Roman Office readings?

Lauds and Vespers

These are the trickiest of the hours, and a particular trap as the Diurnal does not include all of the moving parts in the psalter section. Instead you have to flick between MD 346* and the relevant day of the week. On the plus side the antiphons for the psalms are easy to remember - its always the triple alleluia.

Vespers is fairly straightforward - the rubrics for weekdays are set out on page 349* - essentially only one antiphon for all of the psalms, and use the chapter, versicle and hymn for Eastertide.

Lauds is the most complex (though not as bad as it looks!). Note that the festal psalms are used on a Sunday (ps 92 ff, not Ps 50&117) and the structure goes like this:

Deus in adjutorium..alleluia (MD 37)

Psalm 66

On Sundays: Alleluia x3 - Psalm 92, 99, 62 (MD44ff) - Alleluia x3
On weekdays: Alleluia x3 - Ps 50, two psalms of the day - Alleluia x3

On Sunday: Surrexit Christus (MD 46) - Benedicite - Surrexit
On weekdays: Canticle antiphon with alleluia - canticle - antiphon

Alleluia x3 - Ps 148, 149, 150 - Alleluia x3

Chapter and short responsory - of the day for Sunday, or page 346* for weekdays

Hymn - Aurora lucis 348*

Antiphon for the Benedictus (of the day) - Benedictus - Antiphon

Concluding prayers (as per p57)

Hope that helps!


expat said...


I have only been using the MD for about 2 months, (after having spent too many years using LOTH with its clunky language).

This is a tremendous help for a newbie like myself; I don't have a community to pray with and learn from, and the written rubrics often confuse me.

This clear, step-by-step explanation is wonderful. I look forward to following this blog and learning how to correctly pray this magnificent Office.

Thanks again.

Victimae Paschali Laudes said...

My Monastic Diurnal has four Alleluias for the Prime, Terce, Sext, and None! So is it three or four?