Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Brush up your rubrics for Advent - The antiphons for the psalms Part II

In the last part of this series aimed at preparing for Advent I gave a bit of an overview on the antiphons, and ended on where to find them in your Office book.

Today I want to say a bit more about their use in general, as well as cover the antiphons for the particularly tricky period of Advent between December 17 and 23.

The Lauds antiphons as the core

The first thing to keep in mind not only for Advent, but also for feasts and seasons throughout the year is that 'core' set of antiphons are usually those for Lauds.

During the first part of Advent for example, the antiphons for Sunday Lauds are also used (omitting the fourth) at I Vespers of Sunday (ie Saturday Vespers) and at Prime to None.

So during the first week of Lent, the antiphon 'In illa die' is the first antiphon sung for Advent, at Saturday Vespers (MD 1*/AM 187), is repeated at Lauds (MD 4*), and then used at Prime throughout the week (MD 6*).

Which antiphon at which hour?

Office books will sometimes simply refer to you the antiphons of Lauds (or in the case of Prime, just expect you to know!), without spelling out which is for which hour. 

An important example of this is the antiphons used between December 17 and 23, which can be found on page 37* of the Monastic Diurnal, or page 212 of the Antiphonale Monasticum.

In these cases, the basic principle you need to remember is that on feasts and during Advent, the antiphon for Prime is the first antiphon of Lauds (either of the feast itself or from the Common of the type of feast or saint); the second antiphon of Lauds is used at Terce; the third antiphon of Lauds is used at Sext; and the fifth is used at None.  The table below provides a summary.

Hour of the Office
Antiphon for the hour

1st antiphon of Lauds
The antiphon is the only thing that changes at this hour for most feasts and seasons

2nd of Lauds
Chapter, versicle and collect (but not hymn or psalms) also change for seasons and feasts

3rd of Lauds
5th of Lauds

(Sunday) Vespers
1st of Lauds=1st of Vespers
2nd of Lauds=2nd of Vespers
3rd of Lauds=3rd of Vespers
5th of Lauds=4th of Vespers
Some feasts have their own sets of Vespers antiphons.

Psalms and chapter, responsory and rest of texts other than canticle may change for feasts and seasons.

No antiphons used with psalms

The antiphons for December 17 to 23

The most important application of this during Advent is the special sets of antiphons for the day of the week during the second part of Advent.

As noted earlier, from December 17 onwards, Advent becomes much more intense, with antiphons for the day of the week.

In 2017, December 17 is a Sunday, so the antiphons are for the (Third) Sunday of Advent.  On Monday December 18, though, you use the set for Monday (or feria secunda in the Antiphonale or a breviary).

That means 'Ecce veniet Dominus' to start Lauds, Prime and Vespers.

Note that these antiphons are used with the normal psalms that are said on the particular day of the week.

Antiphons at weekday Lauds and Vespers during Advent

The other key point to note is that while Lauds and I&II Vespers of Sunday use the antiphons for the first week of Advent, on weekdays in the first part of Advent, the antiphons (and psalms) at Lauds and Vespers are just the usual ones used throughout the year.

It is only from December 17 onwards that the Advent psalms are used at all the hours.

Antiphons for Matins

For those who say Matins, there is one set of Advent antiphons, noted in the psalter, for use on Sundays during Advent; the normal antiphons are used on all other days.

Want to learn to sing the Advent antiphons by ear?

And for those wanting to sing the Office, you can find some of the antiphons via Youtube - the recording above being the first of the set), but these may not be available in some regions (for copyright reasons). 

But a very useful resource to be aware of is the archive function of the site the Chant of Le Barroux - provided you know the date of the relevant feast from last year, you can retrieve many of the hours there.

So if you can't read music (or even if you can but want to check you are doing it correctly), just go to the recording of Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent made on 26 November 2016 and go over it until you know the antiphons for the first week. 

You can then move forward until you have the whole set learnt (NB I have only checked for the first Saturday of Advent - if recordings are missing for the later Saturdays, try Sunday Lauds or Vespers).

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