On Transferences and “Open Days”

There was a discussion a little earlier concerning the feasts transferred due to occurrence with Sundays or Privileged Octaves like Holy Week and Easter Week. Here’s a brief historical note which some may find of interest.

While browsing through the Ordinale Sarum for Primum E (one of the earliest possible dates for Easter) I noted the following entries:

  • After March 16th (Palm Sunday) it states: “Festa Sanctorum Edwardi, Cuthberti, et Benedicti differantur vsque ad eorum translationes” (The feasts of Sts Edward [3/18], Cuthbert [3/20], and Benedict [3/21] should be delayed until [the feast of their] their translations [which celebrate the moving of their relics and which fall respectively on 6/20, 9/4, and 7/11]). (St Joseph isn’t on March 19th in the old Sarum kalendar—he won’t show up for a while…)
  • After March 23rd (Easter Sunday) it states: “Festum Annunciationis differatur in terciam feriam post octaua Pasce.” (The Feast of the Annunciation should be delayed until Tuesday after the Octave of Easter.)

I find the first very interesting as it explains a few feasts that I’d noticed but not understood such as the Feast of the Ordination of Gregory the Great on September 3rd.  (As ordination dates for popes aren’t typically feted.) Gregory’s usual Sarum feast day is March 12th. Thus, it’s one of the days that will always fall within Lent (March 10th-21st). These unusual extras allow for a full celebration of these Lenten saints who might otherwise get suppressed altogether.

The second confirms that the English 1662 BCP’s Rule 1 on transferring bumped feasts to Tuesdays and Thursdays does seem to be a continuation of medieval practice.

2 thoughts on “On Transferences and “Open Days”

  1. Vicki McGrath

    I find it interesting that the Annunciation was to be transferred until after the octve of Easter (especially since to day is the day!). The whole question of Annunciation during Lent came up as the major liturgics question when I took GOEs. The situation posed in the question was that the Church of the Annunciation was going to celebrate its parish feast day in Lent and how should that be handled. The answer the Board of Examining Chaplains was looking for was to treat the day as “time out of time,” and basically ingrnore that it was Lent (or at least that is how my memory serves me.

    At our 7 am Eucharist this morning we used the Annunciation Old Testament, Psalm and Gospel and the Epiphany proper preface. I wore a white stole but we did not change altar hangings, nor did we say the Gloria or Alleluia – all keeping within the frameowrk of Lent. Not changing the hangings has a mundane reason, also. In a small parish with an enthusatic but limited altar guild I’ve chosen to change altar hangings mid-week only when we have a large evening service. Most often this is a case of having green altar hanings and then needing to wear a red or white stole. Perhaps not the best solution, but one that at least makes some liturgical and theological sense to me in our setting.


  2. Derek Olsen

    Vicki, in this case it is transferred because it fell within the Privileged Octave (here it fell on Easter Tuesday).

    Even according to our current rules, the Annunciation is to be transferred if it falls during Holy Week or Easter Week. If it falls earlier in Lent, it should be celebrated with full honors on its day—unless it falls on a Sunday. The Sunday gets the observation and the feast is transferred (to the next Tuesday). The sticking point where the Examiners must be careful is that most parishes celebrate their Feast of Title as a Solemnity. That is, they transfer it to the nearest Sunday—and this is not allowed in Advent, Lent, or Easter.

    So yes, the feast is celebrated as “time out of time” and as a little bit of the Christmas season in Lent, but always on a weekday…

    I think the stole vs altar hangings/paraments makes a lot of sense given your situation.

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