Musically, it’s a Garden of Arcane Delights kind of morning.
Liturgically, I’m wondering about canticles… M suggested—wisely—that periodically we do the Offices from Rite II just to maintain currency with that way of doing things. My basic principle is that when I do Rite I, I follow the rubrics as interpreted through the 1662 book; when I do Rite II, I follow the intentions of the editors of the ’79 book. Thus, for MP, I use the table in the Additional Directions section (I just can’t bring myself to use it for EP, though…).
Anyway, in reading through it the past few mornings, I’ve been wondering why we have the canticles that we do. As you recall, the original intention of MP is that it is Cranmer’s collation of the Night Office (Matins + Lauds) + Prime—so, the first three Hours. Matins on Sundays and feast days always ends with the Te Deum; Lauds always incorporates the Benedictus. Hence, these are the master canticles for MP. The 1662 rubrics direct the use of the Te Deum outside of penitential seasons for the first reading and the Benedictus daily. Thus, this is fully in line with the original intention. During penitential seasons, though, the Benedicite is utilized. Now—where did this come from? In the old system, an OT canticle was said daily at Lauds slipped in between the fourth and fifth (and final) psalm. The Benedicite was the canticle for Sundays. So, the canticles retained in the 1662 book for MP mirrored certain selected elements of Sunday practice.
To complicate things a little, there were, in the old system, two forms of the Lauds office—one for penitential days and one for non-penitential days. The Benedicite was (if I remember right) the Sunday canticle in the non-penitiential; the one in the penitential version was the Benedictus es. Flip to Rite I for a second…yep, there they are… So, even the ’79 book through the influence of earlier books retains the elements of the old system.
Now, the major difference between Rite II and all predecessor rites is the great multiplication of options. Clearly this appears in the canticle options. I understand the desire to include more biblical materials and I have no problem with that. But…why not go back to the original source? Why not bring in the canticles from Lauds 1 and 2 in the old system? Hatchett (the main commentator on the ’79 book) gives no insight here.
I’m really not against liturgical change—but if we are going to change something and there’s a good historical precedent that accomplishes what we’re trying to do, why not use it?