Saturday, January 26, 2013

The season of Septuagesima

From 1 Vespers on Saturday, 26 January this year, we enter the season of Septuagesima, or Shrovetide.

Septuagesima was abolished in the Ordinary Form calendar, and indeed isn't mentioned in St Benedict's Rule either, but it has a long history, dating back to the reforms of Pope Gregory the Great.

The original concept was to form something of a bridge between the joyful season of Christmastide (which covered the forty days up to February 2), and the penitential season of Lent.

The main liturgical feature of Septuagesima is that the alleluia is no longer used. Indeed, tonight at Vespers it is solemnly 'buried' with a double alleluia added to the  closing versicle to the hour.  Thereafter, it is replaced by 'Laus tibi Domine, Rex aeternae gloriae' in the opening prayers for each hour.

The liturgy also becomes a little more solemn with the addition of a Magnificat canticle proper to each day.


Emily C. Hurt said...

Don't know if you might know the answer to this question: how long does it take to chant each hour of the Divine Office? I'm an author, writing about a monastery, and I need to know the length for each hour of the Office; I've tried consulting monasteries' websites without much luck. Thanks for your time!
You can contact me at

Kate Edwards said...

The amount of time the Office takes varies considerably between monasteries. It depends firstly on which version of the Office thy use (trad vs LOTH), which hours they chant in part or full, which are sung on one note (recto tono), and whether or not they join some together.

The duration also varies quite a bit from day to day - in the trad Benedictine office Tuesday is by far the shortest; Sunday and major feasts have a much longer Matins in particular.

You can get a feel for the time for the trad office by looking at the websites that provide online versions of the hours, eg Norcia and Le Barroux links are on the page.