On Transference

There are two major reasons why feasts are transferred according to the Book of Common Prayer; Holy Days are transferred if they fall within the two week period that encompass Holy Week and the following Easter week, or they may be transferred if their fixed day falls on a Sunday.  The use of “may” in the second case is used advisedly. A transference must occur when a Major Feast falls on Sunday in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Easter, or Lent, or when a Feast of Our Lord falls on a Sunday in Advent, Easter, or Lent. When a Holy Day falls on a Sunday in the Ordinal times after Epiphany and after Pentecost, it may be observed on the Sunday rather than transferred.

Transference due to Season

In the case of the Holy and Easter Week “blackout” period, only four feasts may be affected however: The Feasts of St Joseph, the Annunciation, St Mark, and Sts Philip and James. The first two and the second two are grouped together, the first set around Easter’s earliest dates, the second two around its latest.

These transferences may be charted as follows. These charts are based on two key principles:

1)      Since all Holy Days receive Eves the first open day in a week is a Tuesday so that the Eve is not impeded by a Sunday Evening Prayer. Likewise, the dates of St Mark sometimes fall after Sts Philip & James so as to avoid the Eves of either days being impeded by the other.

2)       Following the directions on BCP, p. 17, feasts are transferred in the order of their occurrence, not in order of their dignity.

Date of Easter Feast of St Joseph The Annunciation
3/22 3/31 4/2
3/23 4/1 4/3
3/24 4/2 4/4
3/25 4/3 4/5
3/26 4/4 4/6
3/27 3/19 4/5
3/28 3/19 4/6
3/29 3/19 4/7
3/30 3/19 4/8
3/31 3/19 4/9
4/1 3/19 4/10
Date of Easter Feast of St Mark Feast of Sts Philip& James
4/18 4/27 5/1
4/19 4/28 5/1
4/20 4/29 5/1
4/21 5/3 5/1
4/22 5/3 5/1
4/23 5/3 5/1
4/24 5/3 5/5
4/25 5/5 5/6

Transference due to Sundays

The next set of charts would follow a basic straight-forward pattern but for the case of the Christmas season. Three Major Feasts follow the Feast of the Nativity one after the other. Unlike Feasts of Our Lord in Christmas (i.e., the Feast of the Holy Name), Sundays in Christmas have precedence over the Major Feasts. Thus, when a Sunday falls on any of the three days after Christmas, it transfers the feasts in order. Because they always fall back to back, there are no Eves for these feasts, so they may be moved to Mondays rather than the first open Tuesday.

Otherwise, the charts follow the Dominical Letter of the year. When a Leap Year occurs, the proper procedure is to jump from one letter to the next letter in the sequence. Thus, for the year 2012, the first two months of the year follow the chart for Dominical Letter A, the remaining months follow the chart for Dominical Letter g.

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is A:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Feast of the Holy Name 1/1 The feast supersedes the Sunday
St Joseph 3/22 Always falls in Lent; see above for additional transference in case of Holy Week
St Barnabas 6/11 or 6/13 The feast may supersede a Proper Sunday but never Pentecost or Holy Trinity
Transfiguration 8/6 The feast supersedes the Sunday

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is b:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Sts Philip & James 5/3 Always falls in Easter; see above for additional transference in case of Easter Week
St James of Jerusalem 10/23 or 10/25 The feast may supersede the Sunday
The Feast of the Nativity: Christmas Day 12/25 The feast supersedes the Sunday

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is c:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
St Mark 4/27 Always falls in Easter; see above for additional transference in case of Easter Week
Independence Day 7/4 The feast may supersede the Sunday; if not celebrated on the Sunday, the feast is not transferred
St James the Apostle 7/25 or 7/27 The feast may supersede the Sunday
St Mary 8/15 or 8/17 The feast should supersede the Sunday
St Stephen 12/27
St John 12/28
Holy Innocents 12/29

*Note: Years when Easter falls on April 11th or leap years when Easter falls on April 10th and the Dominical Letter is c, the Feast of St Matthias will be transferred to 2/26. This won’t happen again until 2066…

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is d:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Confession of St Peter 1/18 or 1/20 The feast may supersede the Sunday
Conversion of St Paul 1/25 or 1/27 The feast may supersede the Sunday
Visitation of the BVM 5/31 or 6/2 The feast may supersede a Proper Sunday but never an Easter Sunday  or Holy Trinity
St Luke 10/18 or 10/20 The feast may supersede the Sunday
All Saints’ Day 11/1 The feast supersedes the Sunday
St John 12/28
Holy Innocents 12/29

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is e:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Feast of the Presentation 2/2 The feast supersedes the Sunday
Sts Peter & Paul 6/29 or 7/1 The feast should supersede the Sunday
St Bartholomew 8/24 or 8/26 The feast may supersede the Sunday
Feast of the Holy Cross 9/14 or 9/16 The feast should supersede the Sunday
St Matthew 9/21 or 9/23 The feast may supersede the Sunday
St Andrew 12/2 The feast must be transferred as  the Sunday will either be Last after Trinity or Advent 1
St Thomas 12/23
Holy Innocents 12/29

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is f:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Feast of the Epiphany 1/6 The feast supersedes the Sunday
St Matthias 2/24 or 2/26 The feast may supersede a Proper Sunday but never the Last after Epiphany or a Lenten Sunday
St Michael & All Angels 9/29 or 10/1 The feast should supersede the Sunday

Feasts falling on Sundays when the Dominical Letter is g:

Feast Celebration Date Notes
Feast of the Annunciation 3/27 Always falls in Lent or Easter; see above for additional transference in case of Holy or Easter Week
Nativity of John the Baptist 6/24 or 6/26 The feast should supersede the Sunday
St Mary Magdalene 7/22 or 7/24 The feast may supersede the Sunday
Sts Simon & Jude 10/28 or 10/30 The feast may supersede the Sunday

Since over half the Sundays of the year fall into Ordinal time, there are a number of may’s and should’s here that reflect the permissions in the BCP to celebrate Holy Days on Ordinal Sundays. The decision as to whether a feast or the Sunday should be celebrated ought to be decided before the start of the liturgical year and be applied consistently. As all other decisions of this sort, the choice is a theological one and will have theological implications for the parish.

Celebrating the feasts of the biblical saints—and all of the Holy Days are either Feasts of Our Lord or celebrate biblical saints—provides an opportunity to express liturgically what the church teaches  about our ecclesiology and, ultimately, our Christology. The Christian message is not fundamentally a literary endeavor; it is not solely encapsulated in the words of the Bible. Rather, the Bible reaches its fullest expression when it is embodied in the lives of those who saturate themselves in it. Pointing to the  examples of the saints and martyrs who first spread the word of Jesus, his resurrection, and his offer of living into the divine life of God is a means of proclaiming this message. Personally, I find feasts like Sts Simon and Jude and St Matthias to be pedagogically useful—even the Scriptures don’t say much about them—and, in that sense, they reflect the largely anonymous mass of saints who have aided in the spread of the Gospel through the centuries.

5 Replies to “On Transference”

  1. One should note in this that All Saints “may” (which in my experience “is”) celebrated on the first Sunday in November whatever the date.

  2. That’s a good point about All Saints. The same often seems to happen with regard to Epiphany even though it’s technically not allowed.

  3. …and the latter makes less sense as Epiphany 1 has its own readings (at least it did before the RCL mucked things up) which are proper to the day and really ought not to be preempted.

  4. Let us then speak to Fr. about observing St. Mary the Virgin on Sunday this year!

Comments are closed.