I have more to say on this topic that I have the time for now but will direct your attention to a recent posting by Fr. Hunwicke on commemorations. While he’s speaking principally concerning masses—and masses conducted according to a rite with a Last Gospel, the topic he raises has implications for the Office as well.
The explosion of liturgical occasions promulgated by Holy Women, Holy Men, exposes one of the issues with both post-Vatican II principles and the rubrics of the ’79 BCP. A common goal of the Cranmerian Prayer Book reforms and Vatican II reforms is the cultivation (I won’t say “recapturing” as it’s historically tenuous…) of a “noble simplicity” both in the liturgy and in the celebration of sanctoral occasions. I agree with both to a point. However, sometimes simplicity of aim must be balanced with the complexities of life.
The ’79 BCP does not allow for commemorations, that is, a system of principles for acknowledging that one day can have more than one meaning given to it by the Church. To maintain a unitary focus on one-and-only-one theme, the options are to transfer an occasion or to suppress it. Commemoration is the third way and, I believe, more adequately captures the complications within which we dwell.
Practically, functionally, most former commemoration rules meant adding prayers and “prayer-packets” anchored by collects to the proper place for collects in the liturgy. In order to keep these from getting out of hand, there were further rules as to how many collects could be said during a liturgy. Needless to say, the liturgical powers-that-be(were) saw the whole discussion as getting too complicated and unnecessary, and axed them all.
I think that it’s time that we looked at these again…