Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Octave Office

The Office of the Easter Octave is very simple and straightforward.

All hymns, little chapters and short responsories are omitted.  A versicle is only used at Matins (as are the usual two long responsories each day, and the long-awaited return of the Te Deum of course).  (Prime and Compline still have their short lessons.)

Matins, after the Venite with Easter invitatory Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluja, has only one Nocturn of three psalms - Psalms 1, 2 and 3 - each with an appropriate antiphon drawn from the words of each psalm: Our Lord is heard saying "I am Who am...", " Father... gave me the nations... as an inheritance..." and "I slept... and rose again...".  What a joy indeed, that for these days alone Matins is reduced from nine to but three short psalms, those that begin the whole Psalter and in a special manner give witness to its Christocentric themes.  The three versicles alternating through the week refer to the Lord arising, He Who was crucified and appeared to Simon Peter, and to the joy of the disciples beholding the Lord again.  Each day, a homily upon the day's Resurrection Gospel is appointed, divided into three lessons (mainly from Pope St Gregory the Great; St Ambrose and St Jerome contribute a homily each).  The Easter Octave responsories deserve a whole entry for themselves...

Lauds and Vespers have the psalms of Sundays and feasts, naturally: for this whole week is Sunday, the Day of Resurrection.  While for the rest of Eastertide, the psalmody of each Hour will be recited under one antiphon, Alleluia, for the Octave, each psalm has an antiphon, all of them drawn from that part of the Vigil Gospel accounting the apparition of the angel at the Tomb (St Matthew xxviii, 2-5); each day, the Gospel Canticles have an appropriate antiphon from the Gospel of the day; but (at least insofar as the General Rubrics would have it), each day, and indeed at every Day Hour, the little chapter, hymn and versicle is replaced by the Hæc dies, the Easter cry of joy par excellence from Psalm 117, verse 24: "This is the day the Lord hath made, let us rejoice and be glad".  The Collect follows in the usual manner; to be noted is the addition - at Lauds and Vespers only - of the double Paschal Alleluia to the Benedicamus Domino.

The Little Hours begin with the Deus in adjutorium, Gloria Patri and Alleluia again; but the psalms (those of Sundays and feasts: Psalm 53 and successive portions of 118 for Prime and the rest, while Compline has the traditional trio of 4, 90 and 133) are the same every day, and are recited without any antiphon (at Compline, to be sure, a quadruple Alleluia is inserted after them and before the Nunc dimittis immediately following).  Instead, after the Hæc dies, the usual Dominus vobiscum (Domine exaudi in solitary recitation or when there is no one present who is a deacon at least), Oremus, Collect, repeated Dominus/Domine, Benedicamus and Fidelium follow.  (As normally, the Collect is that of the day, except at Prime and Compline, which have their own fixed Collects.)

Prime again has its usual Chapter Office appended, and Compline its prefatory penitential rite and final Marian Anthem - now the Regina cæli.

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