The Liturgical Year
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year:
Finally, the ‘Liturgical Year,’ the plan of which we have been explaining, will bring continually before us the sublimest poetry that the human mind has conceived. Not only will it enable us to understand the divine songs of David and the prophets, on which mainly the liturgy has formed her own; but the cycle will elicit from the Church, according as the different seasons and feasts come round, canticles and hymns the finest, the sublimest, and the worthiest of the subject. We shall hear the several countries, united as they are in one common faith, pouring forth their admiration and love in accents, wherein are blended the most perfect harmony of thought and sentiment with the most marked diversity of genius and expression....but the productions of liturgical genius, no matter of what age in the Church, are profusely admitted; from Sedulius and Prudentius, down to Adam of Saint Victor and his contemporaries, for the Latin Church; and from Saint Ephrem, down to the latest Catholic Byzantine hymnologists, for the Greek Church. A rich vein of poetry will be found as well in the prayers which have been composed in simple prose, as in those which are presented to us in the garb of measure and rhythm. Poetry, being the only language adequate to the sublime thought which is to be expressed, is to be found everywhere in the liturgy, as it is in the inspired writings; and a complete collection of the formulæ of public prayer would be, at the same time, the richest selection of Christian poetry, of that poetry which sings on earth the mysteries of heaven and prepares us for the canticles of eternity.
Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.
The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.
We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.
We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.
This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.
Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.
For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.
Introduction to the Season of CHRISTMAS
- Chapter 1: The History of Christmas
- Chapter 2: The Mystery of Christmas
- Chapter 3: The Practice During Christmas
- Chapter 4: Morning and Night Prayers for Christmas
- Chapter 5: On Hearing Mass During Christmas
- Chapter 6: On Holy Communion During Christmas
- Chapter 7: On the Office of Vespers for Sundays and Feasts During Christmas
- Chapter 8: On the Office of Compline for Sundays and Feasts During Christmas
Introduction to the Season of Septuagesima
- Chapter 1: The History of Septuagesima
- Chapter 2: The Mystery of Septuagesima
- Chapter 3: The Practice During Septuagesima
- Chapter 4: Morning and Night Prayers for Septuagesima
- Chapter 5: On Hearing Mass During Septuagesima
- Chapter 6: On Holy Communion During Septuagesima
- Chapter 7: On the Office of Vespers for Sundays and Feasts During Septuagesima
- Chapter 8: On the Office of Compline for Sundays and Feasts During Septuagesima
From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.
This Office, which concludes the day, commences by a warning of the dangers of the night: then immediately follows the public confession of our sins, as a powerful means of propitiating the divine justice, and obtaining God’s help, now that we are going to spend so many hours in the unconscious and therefore dangerous state of sleep, which is also such an image of death.
The lector, addressing the priest, says to him:
V. Jube, domne, benedicere.
Pray, father, give me thy blessing.
The priest answers:
Noctem quietam, et finem perfectum concedat nobis Dominus omnipotens.
May the almighty Lord grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
The lector then reads these words, from the first Epistle of St. Peter:
Fratres: Sobrii estote, et vigilate: quia adversarius vester diabolus, tamquam leo rugiens circuit quærens quem devoret: cui resistite fortes in fide. Tu autem, Domine, miserere nobis,
Brethren, be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist ye, strong in faith. But thou, O Lord, have mercy on us.
The choir answers:
R. Deo gratias.
R. Thanks be to God.
Then, the priest:
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Qui fecit cœlum et terrain.
R. Who hath made heaven and earth.
Then the Lord’s Prayer is recited in secret; after which the priest says the Confiteor; and, when he has finished, the choir says:
Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.
May almighty God have mercy on thee, and, forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.
The priest having answered Amen, the choir repeats the Confiteor, thus:
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, sanctis apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus sanctis, et tibi, pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelein archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes sanctos, et te, pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed; through my fault; through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, father, to pray to the Lord our God for me.
The priest then says:
Misereatur vestri omni* potens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.
May almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
V. Converte nos, Deus, Salutaris noster.
R. Et averte iram tuam a nobis.
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri, etc.
Laus tibi, Domine, Rex æternæ gloriæ.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.
V. Convert us, O God, our Saviour.
R. And turn away thy anger from us.
V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
Praise be to thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory.
Ant. Have mercy.
The first psalm expresses the confidence with which the just man sleeps in peace; but it also rebukes those tepid Christians, whose dull hearts are but too often enslaved to vanity and lies, and exhorts them to examine, at the close of the day, the thoughts of their hearts, and be sorry for them at that time of stillness and repose.
Cum invocarem exaudivit me Deus justitiæ meæ: * in tribulatione dilatasti mihi.
Miserere mei: * et exaudi orationem meam.
Filii hominum, usquequo gravi corde: * ut quid diligitis vanitatem, et quferitis mendacium?
Et scitote quoniam mirificavit Dominus sanctum suum: * Dominus exaudiet me, cum clamavero ad eum.
Irascimini, et nolite peccare: * quæ dicitis in cordibus vestris, in cubilibus ve~ stris compungimini.
Sacrificate sacrificium justitiæ, et sperate in Domino: * multi dicunt: Quis ostendit nobis bona?
Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui Domine: * de disti lætitiam in corde meo.
A fructu frumenti, vini et olei sui: * multiplicati sunt.
In pace in idipsum: * dormiam et requiescam.
Quoniam tu, Domine, singulariter in spe: * costituisti me.
When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me.
Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.
O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?
Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy One wonderful: the Lord will hear me, when I cry unto him.
Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.
Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, who showeth us good things?
The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.
By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they are multiplied.
In peace, in the self-same, I will sleep, and I will rest.
For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.
The second psalm gives the motives of the just man’s confidence, even during the dangers of the night. The description here given of peace of mind should make the sinner long for a reconciliation with his God, that so he, too, may enjoy that divine protection, without which there can be no security or happiness in this life of peril and misery.
Qui habitat in adjutorio Altissimi: * in protectione Dei cœli commorabitur.
Dicet Domino: Susceptor meus es tu, et refugium meum: * Deus meus, sperabo in eum.
Quoniam ipse liberavit me de laqueo venantium: * et a verbo aspero.
Scapulis suis obumbrabit tibi: * et sub pennis ejus sperabis.
Scuto circumdabit te veritas ejus: * non timebis a more nocturno.
A sagitta volante in die, a negotio perambulante in tenebris: * ab incursu, et dæmonio meridiano.
Cadent a latere tuo mille, et decem millia a dextris tuis: * ad te autem non appropinquabit.
Verumtamen oculis tuis considerabis: * et retributionem peccatorum videbis.
Quoniam tu es, Domine, spes mea: * Altissimum posuisti refugium tuum.
Non accedet ad te malum: * et flagellum non appropinquabit tabernaculo tuo.
Quoniam angelis suis mandavit de te: * ut custo diant te in omnibus viis tuis.
In manibus portabunt te: * ne forte offendas ad lapidem pedem tuum.
Super aspidem et basiliscum ambulabis: * et conculcabis leonem et draconem.
Quoniam in me speravit, liberabo eum: * protegam euro, quoniam cognovit nomen meum.
Clamabit ad me, et ego exaudiam eum: * cum ipso sum in tribulatione, eripiam eum, et glorificabo eum.
Longitudine dierum replebo eum: * et ostendam illi salutare meum.
He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven.
He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
Of the arrow that flieth in the day: of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil.
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast said: Thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.
There shall no evil come to thee, nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
For he hath given his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
God will say of thee: Because he hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
He will cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
I will fill him with length of days: and I will show him my salvation.
The third psalm invites the servants of God to persevere, with fervour, in the prayers they offer during the night. The faithful should say this psalm in a spirit of gratitude to God, for raising up, in the Church, adorers of His holy name, whose grand vocation is to lift up their hands, day and night, for the safety of Israel. On such prayers depend the happiness and the destinies of the world.
Ecce nunc benedicite Dominum: * omnes servi Domini.
Qui statis in domo Domini: * in atriis domus Dei nostri.
In noctibus extollite manas vestras in sancta: * et benedicite Dominum.
Benedicat te Dominus ex Sion: * qui fecit cœlum et terram.
Ant. Miserere mihi, Domine, et exaudi orationem meam.
Behold now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord.
Who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless ye the Lord.
Say to Israel: May the Lord out of Sion bless thee, he that made heaven and earth.
Ant. Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, and hear my prayer.
Te lucis ante terminum,
Rerum Creator, poscimus,
Ut pro tua dementia
Sis præsul et custodia.
Procul recedant somnia,
Et noctium phantasmata;
Hostemque nostrum comprime,
Ne polluantur corpora.
Præsta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne sæculum.
Before the closing of the light,
we beseech thee, Creator of all things!
that in thy clemency,
thou be our protector and our guard.
May the dreams and phantoms of night
depart far from us;
and do thou repress our enemy,
lest our bodies be profaned.
Most merciful Father!
and thou, his only-begotten Son,
coequal with him,
reigning for ever with the holy Paraclete,
grant this our prayer!
Tu autem In nobis es, Domine, et nomen sanctum tuum invocatimi est super nos; ne derelinquas nos, Domine Deus noster.
But thou art in us, 0 Lord, and thy holy name has been invoked upon us forsake us not, 0 Lord our God.
R. In manus tuas, Domine: * Commendo spiritum menni. In manus tuas.
V. Redemisti nos, Domine Deus veritatis. * Commendo.
Gloria In manus tuas.
V. Custodi nos, Domine, ut pupillam oculi.
R. Sub umbra alarum tuarum protege nos.
Ant. Salva nos.
R. Into thy hands, 0 Lord: * I commend my spirit. Into thy hands.
V. Thou hast redeemed us, 0 Lord God of truth. * I commend.
Glory. Into thy hands.
V. Preserve us, 0 Lord, as the apple of thine eye.
R. Protect us under the shadow of thy wings.
Ant. Save us.
The canticle of the venerable Simeon—who, whilst holding the divine Infant in his arms, proclaimed Him to be the light of the Gentiles, and then slept the sleep of the just—admirably expresses the repose of heart which the soul that is in the grace of God will experience in her Jesus; for, as the apostle says, we may live together with Jesus, whether we are awake or asleep.
Canticle Of Simeon
(St. Luke ii.)
Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine: * secundum verbum tuum in pace.
Quia viderunt oculi mei: * salutare tuum.
Quod parasti: * ante faciem omnium populorum.
Lumen ad revelationem Gentium: * et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, etc.
Ant. Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes; ut vigilemus cum Christo, et requiescamus in pace.
Now dost thou dismiss thy servant, 0 Lord, according to thy word in peace.
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation.
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Ant. Save us, 0 Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep; that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.
V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo. Credo in Deum, etc.
V. Carnis resurrectionem.
R. Vitam æternam. Amen.
V. Benedictus es, Domine Deus patrum nostrorum.
R. Et laudabilis et gloriosus in sæcula.
V. Benedicamus Patrem et Filium cum sancto Spiritu.
R. Laudemus, et superexaltemus eum in sæcula.
V. Benedictus es, Domine, in firmamento cœli.
R. Et laudabilis, et gloriosus, et superexaltatus in sæcula.
V. Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus. R. Amen.
V. Dignare, Domine, nocte ista,
R. Sine peccato nos custodire.
V. Miserere nostri, Domine.
R. Miserere nostri.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos,
R. Quemadmodum speravimus in te.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Lord have mercy on us.
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy on us.
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil. I believe in God, etc.
V. The resurrection of the body.
R. And life everlasting. Amen.
V. Blessed art thou, 0 Lord God of our fathers.
R. And praiseworthy and glorious for ever.
V. Let us bless the Father and the Son, with the Holy Ghost.
R. Let us praise and magnify him for ever.
V. Thou art blessed, 0 Lord, in the firmament of heaven.
R. And praiseworthy, and glorious, and magnified for ever.
V. May the almighty and merciful Lord bless us and keep us. R. Amen.
V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night,
R. To keep us without sin.
V. Have mercy on us, 0 Lord.
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Let thy mercy be upon us, 0 Lord,
R. As we have hoped in thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto thee.
After these prayers (which are omitted if the Office be of a double rite), the priest says:
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R, Et cum spiritu tuo.
Visita, quæsumus, Domine, habitationem istam, et omnes insidias inimici ab ea longe repelle: angeli tui sancti habitent in ea, qui nos in pace custodiant, et benedictio tua sit super nos semper. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. Benedicamus Domino.
R. Deo gratias.
Benedicat et custodiat nos omnipotens et misericors Dominus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us Pray.
Visit, we beseech thee, 0 Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let thy holy angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
May the almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless and preserve us.
Anthem to the Blessed Virgin
Ave Regina cœlorum,
Ave Domina angelorum:
Salve radix, Salve porta,
Ex qua mundo lux est orta;
Gaude, Virgo gloriosa,
Super omnes speciosa:
Vale, O valde decora,
Et pro nobis Christum exora.
V. Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata.
R, Da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos.
Concede, misericors Deus, fragilitati nostræ præsidium: ut, qui sanctæ Dei Genitricis memoriam agimus, intercessionis ejus auxilio, a nostris iniquitatibus resurgamus. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum.
V. Divinum auxilium maneat semper nobiscum.
Hail Queen of heaven!
Hail Lady of the angels!
Hail blessed root and gate,
from which came light upon the world!
Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
that surpassest all in beauty!
Hail, most lovely Queen!
and pray to Christ for us.
V. Vouchsafe, 0 holy Virgin, that I may praise thee.
R. Give me power against thine enemies.
Let us Pray.
Grant, O merciful God, thy protection to us in our weakness; that we who celebrate the memory of the holy Mother of God, may, through the aid of her intercession, rise again from our sins. Through the same Christ our Lord.
V. May the divine assistance remain always with us.
 According to the monastic rite, as follows: Te lucis ante terminum, Rerum Creator, poscimus, Ut solita dementia Sis præsul ad custodiam. Procul recedant somnia Et noctium phantasmata; Hostemque nostrum comprime Ne polluantur corpora. Præsta, Pater omnipotens, Per Jesum Christum Dominum, Qui tecum in perpetuum Regnat cum sancto Spiritu.
 1 Thess. v. 10.
 In the monastic rite, this response is as follows: R. Et cum fratribus nostris absentibus. Amen. V. And with our absent brethren. Amen.