Marian Pondering

When it comes to supplementing my BCP Offices, my inclination is to trend towards the English Office. It’s a great little supplement book but has a few issues. My major one, of course, is that it’s on the pre-conciliar kalendar which means there are a quite a number of items that don’t match up.

The first edition of the English Office was published in 1956. Reforms were just getting underway, particularly in the kalendar department. As a result, we find this note in the quite brief General Rubrics:

THE OFFICE. The Office of the day is either double or simple. Doubles of the First and Second Class have a first Evensong; other Offices begin at Mattins. The observance of simple feasts ends before Evensong.

Ok—so, the shape of the day envisioned here is still the old version where feasts begin at Evensong or liturgical sunset the night before. Simples conclude after Nones, before the start of the next Evensong. However, the kalendar rules had already shifted more towards the natural day pattern which became much more rigid after Vatican II. The sign of this move is that First Vespers are only granted to Doubles of the First and Second classes. For most feasts this wasn’t a problem. (In a sly to move to decrease the weekly psalm allotment) Most feasts in the General Roman Kalendar by the 1920 reforms of Pius the Xth were Doubles. Only 30 days out of the whole year had simple feasts. However, in the English Office these days only get a Mattins and no Evensong.

The Saturday Office of the BVM is always reckoned as a Simple. Thus, as far as the English Office is concerned—no Evensong on Friday. Saturday’s Evening is always the First Evensong of Sunday. As a result, the Saturday Office only ever ends up being a Mattins of the BVM.

In places that recognize the Saturday Office is this how you do it or are there other alternatives in play?

4 thoughts on “Marian Pondering

  1. Scott

    I shouldn’t even be chiming in, because while our parish does observe open Saturdays with a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it may as well be a feria as far as the Office is concerned, because the BVM observance doesn’t get even a nod at MP and EP…strictly whatever the BCP 79 provides. The Angelus concludes each office as always (except when it’s the Regina Coeli).

    I don’t mind that too much: it’s consistent with our pattern of having the Office not be affected unless the BCP has provisions for an observance, so unless it’s a Major Holy Day, the Office remains ferial.

    Not what you’re looking for, I know! :) If I want to pray a Marian-oriented Office on a Saturday, I’ll generally look to the Monastic Diurnal Revised, which provides:

    – A Marian antiphon on Venite: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. [Alleluia.]
    – A Marian Matins hymn: Quem terra, pontus, aethera/The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
    – A Marian-ish or Incarnation-related short lesson at Matins and another at Lauds
    – A Marian antiphon on Benedictus: How blessed is she who believed that the Lord’s promise would be fulfilled. [Alleluia.]
    – A selection of six collects with seasonal suggestions (p. 524)

    The Little Hour for Saturdays provides nothing particularly Marian, so the BVM observance affects only Matins and Lauds (which the MDR regards as a unity and calls Matins, but I prefer to recognize it as Matins and Lauds said together).

  2. Michael S

    Myself, I use the Sarum books put out last century by Palmer et al., so I give all simples a 1st evensong, and restrict *second* evensong to doubles. All feasts get a full day! Ferias of course start at matins.

  3. Derek Olsen

    Hmmm—which Sarum books are those, Michael? I’m familiar with Palmer’s chant books, the Little Hours of the Sarum Breviary, and the Breviary Offices from Lauds to Compline—are there other English Sarum works of which I’m unaware?

  4. Michael S

    The main one I use for daily prayer is:
    “The Diurnal
    after the use of the
    Illustrious Church of
    By the Rev. G.H. Palmer

    I use his antiphoner for Evensong, and his Compline as well.

    The Diurnal seems to square pretty well with the Lesser Hours, but diverges a greater deal from Breviary Offices, which is rather altered from Sarum, it seems. I also tend to follow the Rule called Pie, (hastily translated from latin each week!) to note what gets evensongs, what gets memories, etc.

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