Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Royal Hours

Of old time the Eastern Emperor assisted at the Hours of Prime, Terce, Sext and None on certain great days, and among them, on the Vigil of Christmas; hence they were styled Royal Hours, which name they retain in the Byzantine Rite.

On this day, then, special extra-long services are held - or rather, just one super-long service, by concatenation - during which, not only are three proper psalms read at each of Prime, Terce, Sext and None, but at each are read a Prokeimenon (answering to a Gradual), then a Lesson, Epistle and Gospel. These amplifications of the normal Hours are celebrated with solemnity.

Those wishing to consult the texts, follow this link to the Royal Hours of Christmas.

There is also a Catechesis of St Theodore the Studite for the Nativity of Christ that is read at Byzantine Rite Prime this day: a beautiful patristic passage.


Mark M said...

It would be amazing, if Catholic Monarchs began to assist again. Someone in the news recently said that HM The Queen may convert to Catholicism.... but that wouldn't change the Royal family, just Her... that is, unless, they fixed the Act of Succession, and converted the family en-masse.

Anyway, there's still something in the British Royal family that would agree with this kind of public observance. We can but hope, we can but hope!

Mark M said...

...and what I meant to say (am I going senile?), was this might become a reality. I say this because I've noticed things changing for the better.

For example, the BBC - normally virulently anti-Catholic, in a covert way - is broadcasting the Westminster Midnight Mass (yes, the Catholic one) for the second year running, on BBC1, its flagship channel.

I know RC is the biggest religion in the country (that is, until the Moslems overtake), but I wonder if we're increasingly granted concessions larger than our share. Not that I complain, but I wish the Hierarchies would be more 21st Century than 1960s!

Joshua said...

I get what you mean...

Here in Australia, there are two related Christmas TV highlights: the Pope's Midnight Mass "live from St Peter's" and The Queen's Christmas Message, broadcast in the evening. While I'm the only one to keep an ear to the Papal sermon while we get ready for family Christmas dinner at 1 pm, we all watch HM later in the day.

While this year the ABC (equivalent to the BBC) broadcast carols and lessons from St George's Anglican Cathedral in Perth, W.A., last year it was televised from St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral in Melbourne, and the service concluded with Archbishop Hart giving Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament! I wondered whether I should kneel before down...