Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breviarium O.Dorm.

Liturgical purists (some would call them other names) agree that Pope St Pius X, as well as mucking up the order of the Sacraments by putting First Communion before Confirmation, rather ruined the traditional cursus of the Holy Roman Church, by redistributing the Psalms in a manner wholly different to that previously used in the Divine Office.  It will therefore glad strict hearts to learn that (thanks to their extremely infrequent General Chapters, only held once all who were in holy religion at the last such had died) the Canons Regular of the Dormition, alone of all the Orders in the Church, maintain the pre-Pian weekly arrangement of the Psalter; well, more or less.

As is the case with the Order of Preachers, adherence to any and all lesser rules may be dispensed by a superior, that a given religious without hindrance may the better attain the goal of the Order: in the case of the Dominicans, preaching; in the case of the Dormitionists, sleeping.  But granted that all but the most proficient sleepers cannot remain the entire day and night unconscious, those who have withdrawn from the world may as well pray in their cells (there being little else to do), and therefore the Breviary exists.  Furthermore, as all men know, long prayers engender much sleepiness, and this  is accounted a godly virtue by these Canons Regular.  Thus, reading the Hours materially assists in advancing one's proficiency in the following of  the Regula Patrum Soporificum.

Now those Soporific Fathers three, back at the end of the twelfth century, already noted that the ancient Roman ferial Office, while satisfyingly, stupefyingly lengthy, unfortunately varied materially in length from day to day.  Therefore, while drawing up the plan of all the observances for their novus Ordo, duly approved by the then Pope, they made certain wise modifications in the rite of both Mass and Office, yet in a most traditional spirit.

The Fathers most wisely reordered the distribution of the Psalms, that each day’s Office have very nearly an equal length of psalmody.  They achieved this above all by swapping Tuesday’s Matins psalms with those of Thursday, and Wednesday’s with Saturday’s.  Other minor changes were made, and in particular Psalm 9 was divided into two parts, according to the Hebrew (perhaps to be attributed to those holy Canons' sojourn in Outremer, where many religious traditions interacted more readily).  

For the benefit of the curious, the exact disposition of the psalms is as follows: 
  • Sunday: Pss 1-3, 6-8, 9A-17, 19-20;
  • Monday: Pss 27-38;
  • Tuesday: Pss 68-79;
  • Wednesday: Pss 97-108;
  • Thursday: Pss 39-41, 43-49, 51-52;
  • Friday: Pss 80-88, 93, 95-96;
  • Saturday: Pss 53-61, 63, 65, 67. 
It will be seen that this admittedly drastic-seeming rearrangement is in fact far truer to the immemorial Roman Office than that made in 1911, above all by retaining the Matins psalms at Matins, avoiding the use of divisi, and keeping to the hallowed number of twelve psalms for this Hour, just as commended by an Angel to the Desert Fathers in the first ages of the Church.  (It is a Roman peculiarity to sing eighteen on Sunday, doubtless due to the relative brevity of most of those psalms compared to the average.)

Furthermore, to prevent the festal Office being all too short in comparison with the ferial, the Dormitionist Breviary took up the judicious arrangement of the Monastic Breviary, which provides twelve psalms for all feasts – although without adopting its other peculiarities.

Lauds, named for the famous Laudate psalms, the last three in the Psalter, has a fourth such: Psalm 116 (doubtless an echo of the Ambrosian Rite – one of the Fathers had returned from the East via Milan).  Another curious detail: Psalm 117 is sung at Lauds on Sundays, in place of Psalm 99 (which however takes its usual place on feasts), and not at Prime.  Otherwise, the psalms and canticles used at this Hour are the same as those of the Use of Rome.

Prime has a unique variant: not Psalm 53, but Psalm 18 is the first psalm, being therefore an exordium, as it were, to the great Psalm of the Law, of the contemplative life, Psalm 118, Beati immaculati in via.  Given the redistribution of the Matins psalmody undertaken at the foundation of the Order, it will be unsurprising that Psalms 21 to 25, plus also Psalm 26, are disposed somewhat differently to their manner of use in the post-Tridentine Roman Breviary: true, as is most appropriate, that great psalm of the Passion, 21, is used on Friday, and the Eucharistic 22 on Thursday (as in the Roman), but 23 is also allotted to Thursday, 24 is used on Monday, 25 on Saturday and 26 on Sunday – with none for Tuesday nor Wednesday!

Vespers, lacking Psalm 116, is supplied with the requisite five psalms per evening by the device of Psalm 113 being divided into two, as in the Hebrew: Psalm 113A, In exitu, is the last psalm of Sunday, while 113B, Non nobis, is the first of Monday Vespers.

Nothing need be said of Terce, Sext or None, as they simply employ the remainder of Psalm 118; and of course Dormitionist Compline has previously been surveyed in extenso.

In passing, it is right to note that, at Lauds and Vespers in their cells, these Canons Regular do read each day six commemorations or memorials, the better to adhere to the great exemplars of their peculiar charism, and – with the Collect of the Day – to mystically cleave to the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer:
  1. Of the Most Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord Jesus Christ;
  2. Of the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary;
  3. Of St Lazarus Redivivus;
  4. Of the Seven Sleepers;
  5. For Rest;
  6. For the Living and the Dead.
It will be recalled that the Founders of the Dormitionists were Canons of the Holy Sepulchre ere they were as it were inspired to found a new Order, and rightly maintained their devotion to Christ's sacred repose for three days in the Tomb; and of course to this superadded like piety – in honour of His Mother's Dormition or falling asleep, under whose mantle they sought to rest; in honour of St Lazarus, resting for four days in his tomb; and in honour of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.  A prayer for the grace of sinless sleep, and a long survival from the Gallican Rite, imploring the saints' intercession for all the living and the dead foreknown to be elect, rounds out this set of six antiphons, versicles and collects.

Unusually (to post-mediæval minds) these are read after the Benedicamus Domino, or rather after the first Benedicamus; since after them, there is a second.  As in the Dominican Use, while the last Collect (in common with that of the day) has the full conclusion, the intervenient orations have the shorter (in the Roman Rite, the equivalents have none).

Herewith, their texts (again, as the Brev. O. Dorm. was last revised in the late eighteenth century, it employs the long ess, be it noted):
Aña. Qui expectant mortem et non venit, quaſi effodientes theſaurum, gaudentque vehementer, cum invenerint Sepulchrum.
V/. Factus eſt in pace locus ejus.
R/. Et habitatio ejus in Sion.
AD LAUDES: Or. Deus, qui per depoſitionem ſanctiſſimi Corporis Filii tui in Sepulchro, idem Sepulchrum ſanctificaſti, concede quæſumus, ut in hoc Sepulchro anima et corde habitemus. Per eumdem Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
AD VESPERAS: Or. Deus, qui nos ſancti Sepulchri Filii tui lætari facis honore, præſta quæſumus, ut in eodem ſepulti, mundo moriamur, et tibi ſoli vivamus. Per eumdem Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. In omnibus requiem quæſivi, et in hereditate Domini morabor.
V/. Et ſic in Sion firmata ſum.
R/. Et in civitate ſanctificata ſimiliter requievi.
Or. Veneranda nobis, Domine, illius diei memoria opem conferat ſalutarem, in qua ſancta Dei Genitrix mortem ſubiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quæ Filium tuum Dominum noſtrum de ſe genuit incarnatum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat per omnia sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Lazarus amicus noſter dormit: Eamus et nos, ut moriamur cum eo.
V/. Domine, ſi dormit
R/. Salvus erit.
Or. Deus, reſurrectio et vita, qui beatum Lazarum quatriduanum a monumento ſuſcitaſti: erige nos de tumulo peccatorum, ut mereamur adipiſci conſortia electorum. Qui vivis et regnas per omnia sæcula sæculorum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Dormierunt ſomnum ſuum.
V/. Dormitaverunt omnes.
R/. Et dormierunt.
Or. Concede, quæſumus, omnipotens Deus: ut ad meliorem requiem beatorum ſeptem Dormientium Epheſi exempla nos provocent; quatenus, quorum memoriam agimus, etiam ſomnum imitemur. Per Chriſtum Dominum noſtrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Veniat pax; requieſcat in cubili ſuo qui ambulavit in directione ſua.
V/. Inſuper et caro mea
R/. Requieſcet in ſpe.  
Or. Omnipotens Deus, qui mundo creato ab univerſo opere tuo requieviſti et diem requiei pro omnibus creaturis ſanctificaſti: concede nobis ut, ab omnibus curis terreſtribus nos ſeponentes, tempora ſint tua protectione tranquilla, et requies hac in terra nos paret ad æternam requiem plebi tuo promiſſam in cælo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R/. Amen.
Aña. Retribuere dignare, Domine, omnibus nobis bona facientibus propter nomen ſanctum tuum requiem æternam.
V/. Exſultabunt Sancti in gloria.
R/. Lætabuntur in cubilibus ſuis.
Or. Omnipotens ſempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris ſimul et mortuorum, omniumque miſereris, quos tuos fide et opere futuros eſſe prænoſcis; te ſupplices exoramus; ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quoſque vel præſens ſæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore ſuſcepit, intercedentibus omnibus ſanctis tuis, pietatiæ tuæ clementia, omnium delictorum ſuorum veniam conſequantur. Per Dñm.

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