Paschal Sale on the Traditional Roman Compline Booklet

We are happy to announce that for the duration of Eastertide we are offering our Traditional Roman Compline booklet for the discounted price of US$8. It contains musical notation and accompanying English translation for the Office of Compline as codified by the Tridentine Breviary of 1568, including the special offices for the Holy Triduum and Octave of Easter. Moreover, it features a ceremonial guide to the celebration of Compline in choir, as well as a meditation on the mystical significance of this Office from a 15th-century prayer book.

The Traditional Roman Compline booklet is available through the US, UK, Canadian, Australian, Spanish, French, and Italian Amazon stores.

We also offer a Latin/Spanish edition of the same book which can be purchased through Amazon as well.

Almsgiving is Good with Fasting: Honorius Augustodunensis on the Second Sunday of Lent

Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him.[1] This life we live, dearly beloved, is like a way by which we press on to the fatherland, and each day we dwell here is, as it were, a stage of our journey. Our adversary in this way is the divine speech. For when we begin to burn with wrath or hatred, he says to us: Thou shalt not kill.[2] When we lust to drink our fill of the flesh’s  impurity, he says: Thou shalt not commit adultery.[3] When we covet another’s property, he says: Thou shalt not steal.[4] When we work wickedness against our neighbors, he says: Thou shalt not bear false witness.[5] So he stands athwart us in all our desires, accompanying us on the way like an adversary. Let us be in agreement with him betimes, lest perchance he accuse us before Christ the Judge, and the Judge hand us over to the bailiff, that is, the devil, that he might put us in jail, that is, in hell, for we shall not go out from thence until we pay the last farthing,[6] that is, until we have been punished for the least of our sins. Since we are composed of four elements, we must pay God four farthings. From fire we owe the fervor of charity, from air clarity of thought, from water the cleansing that comes from baptism and tears, and from earth the devotion of our bound service. But this last farthing perverts the other senses with carnal impulses and leads them astray into unlawful deeds. Earth, forsooth, brings anger from fire, pride from air, the flood of lust from water, and attachment to worldly pleasures from itself. We are bound to pay back this farthing in prison, when we are made to atone for our worldly deeds through everlasting punishments. 

And so, dearly beloved, it behoves you during these days to come together frequently in church, to hear salutary admonitions with an attentive ear, to pray for yourselves and for the entire people, and to refrain from gossiping and empty chatter, especially in church, since for every idle word that men shall speak, they shall render an account for it in the day of judgment.[7] For many frequent churches—’tis with pain that I am bound to say it—who would have done much better to remain at home. 

When Our Lord was preaching, crowds flocked together to him with divers intentions. Some for the doctrine of heavenly life which sweetly flowed from his mouth. Others for the sake of healing, since he cured all infirmities. Others because of want, since he easily sated five thousand men with five loaves of bread. Others because of the grandeur of his miracles, since he gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, walking to the lame, and life to the dead. Others because of envy, that they might mock his words and twist his deeds to appear evil. Likewise today many come to church, some to hear the divine office and the words of life, other to confess their sins and pour forth their prayers to God, others to chatter with their friends, others to ambush their enemies, others to be seen in glamorous garments, others to parley with pretty girls, others to mock God’s words and disrupt the divine service. These come at the devil’s bidding, for while he is otherwise occupied he sends forth these men to impede God’s work. But just as Christ did not halt his preaching of heavenly things to Peter and the apostles, even though he knew that it tormented Judas and the Pharisees, so we must needs preach eternal joys to the sons of God who yearn for their fatherland, even though we know that this will harrow the heralds, nay, the sons of the devil. 

There was a commandment under the Law that little bells should be woven into the priestly garment,[8] so that as the priest entered the tabernacle a sound should be heard and he should not die. The garment adorned with bells is the life of priests, dedicated to preaching. For if they proclaim God’s kingdom and his justice to the people, they save their souls. But if they should conceal his justice, and the people should perish in their iniquity, their blood shall be required at the priests’ hand, as if they had killed them.[9]

There is a beautiful, multicolored beast called the panther.[10] It enters the woods and feeds on divers herbs. Then it stands upon a rock and cries out, and the entire throng of beasts gathers hastily around it, except the dragon who alone takes flight. Then the panther belches out a sweet smell that heals every infirmity. This beast signifies the priests, particolored with many virtues, who ought to enter the forest of Scripture and each their fill of various verses like so many herbs. Then they should stand upon the Rock that is Christ through their good works, summon the people from all parts with their preaching, and then breathe out the healthful odor of Scripture, curing the sick of their diseases with the medicine of their tongue and driving the dragon, which is the devil, away from them.

The Panther as depicted in a 13th-century English bestiary (Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS. 764, fol. 7v).

During these days, dearly beloved, we omit the Alleluia, which is a joyful strain, and sing the Tract, a song of sadness, since it behoves us here below to be saddened on account of our sins so that we might be permitted someday to rejoice with the angels. Hence, too, a veil is now suspended in the churches which hides the secrets of the sanctuary from the people, since heavenly things are concealed from us on account of our sins, but they shall be disclosed to us through penance. 

We read that Jerusalem was surrounded by a triple wall. Nabuchodosonor assaulted and seized it with the help of six kings, killing some of the inhabitants and hauling the others off to Babylon. Some who fled to the tower in the midst of the city were saved. 

Jerusalem is the faithful people, surrounded by a triple wall, to wit, by faith, hope, and charity. Nabuchodonosor—that is, pride, the chief vice—attacks it with the other six vices—that is, envy, hate, vainglory, avarice, gluttony, and lust—and destroys its walls—that is, faith, hope, and charity. He kills the inhabitants when he crushes the faithful with mortal sins. He hauls the others off to Babylon when he carries off to the underworld those who are dead in their sins. Let each of the faithful, then, when once the walls of virtue have been destroyed,  flee forthwith to the tower of confession, lest the Chaldeans—that is, the demons—slay them. 

We also read today[11] that when our Lord withdrew into the parts of Tyre, a woman of Canaan cried out to him for the sake of her daughter, who was grievously troubled by a demon, and begged him insistently for her health. Tyre is this world, into whose parts our Lord retired when he put on our flesh. The woman who came out of those coasts is the Church, gathered from the Gentiles. Her daughter, troubled by a demon, is what soul soever has been seized by vices. She is cured at her mother’s entreaties when the soul, converted by the Church’s prayers, is cleansed of her vices. For the merciful Lord comes to seek the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel, that is, of the assembly of the angels, and, having found them, to restore them to their company. 

Christ and the Canaanite woman, with the Second Sunday of Lent’s Introit. From the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1410.

Wherefore, dearly beloved, sanctify ye a fast[12] in order that you might merit to rejoice in the eternal banquet with the angels in the pastures of life. Honor your prelates and elders, support your parents in their old age or poverty out of your own resources. 

The examples of the birds admonish us to carry out these good works. We read that when the eagle grows old,  its chicks feed it until it is reborn and its youth restored. Likewise, too, it is said that the bee-eater, when it grows old, is nourished by its chicks.[13] And when the stork is weighed down by old age and bereft of its feathers, its chicks envelop it with their wings and restore it with plentiful food.[14] If the birds do such things, how much more meet is it that men do the same?

Redeem yourselves with alms from the peril of punishment for your sins, for almsgiving is good with fasting.[15] It delivereth from death and purgeth away sins,[16] and does not suffer the soul to go into darkness,[17] but obtains for it life everlasting. Yea verily, Tabitha, full of good works and almsdeeds,[18] was raised back to life amidst the weeping of widows and orphans, for when they showed Peter the garments she had made for them, he forthwith restored life to her. Dearly beloved, behold the value of almsgiving. Not only does it free souls from death, but it even raises bodies from death. Tobias, too, who lost the light of his eyes for four years, received it again when an angel visited him thanks to his almsdeeds and fasts.[19]

St. Peter raises Tabitha (13th century French psalter, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.729, fol. 303r).

We read about a certain toller who never gave alms to any poor beggar.[20] One day, the beggars were comparing their haul of goods which various people had given them and noted how the toller, although exceedingly rich, never gave them anything. Then one of the beggars said that he would get alms from him presently. After each of the other beggars promised to give him their shares of alms if he could wring even a penny from the toller, he ran forthwith to his house and begged for alms with importunate cries. At that moment, the stewards were placing bread on the table. The toller, full of wrath, looked around to see if mayhap any wood or stone offered itself to him to throw in the face of the yeller. Finally out of anger he grabbed a loaf of bread and cast it into the mouth of the beggar as he cried out. Taking it, he returned happily to his companions and showed them the loaf which he told them he received from the toller.

Not much later the same toller was struck by a serious illness and was near his end. Demons immediately gathered around him, reviewing before him all his evil deeds. Angels then arrived and required of the toller’s guardian angel his good deeds, but he replied that the toller had never wished to assent to his encouragements to do good, except that one day he wrathfully threw a loaf of bread at a beggar which he had brought with him now. The angels took the loaf from him and broke it into tiny crumbs, and as the demons put the heavy weights of the toller’s sins on the scales, the angels placed a crumb, which proved heavier. They continued doing so until the crumbs were heavier than the devil’s weights. But the demons roared that an injury had been done to them, crying out that they would drag their servant away with them by force. The matter was given over to God’s judgment, but at the angel’s prayers the toller was permitted to return to life. As soon as he recovered from his illness, he gave thanks to the immense clemency of God, and thenceforth distributed countless alms to all the destitute. 

One day, he met a beggar on the road and forthwith dressed him with the precious garment he was warning. The beggar, however, wished to sell it. When the toller saw the garment hanging in a market, he was saddened, and returned home weeping and thus fell asleep on account of his sorrow. Our Lord Jesus appeared to him clad in that same garment and asked him why he wept. He replied, “Because what I, all unworthy, give your servants, they scorn to wear.” But Jesus showed him the garment and said, “Behold, I am wearing the garment you gave me.” The toller awoke and declared that blessed are the poor, among whose number the Lord counts himself. He immediately sold all his belongings and distributed them to the needy. Moreover, he commanded his servant to sell him and pay out the money he made among the poor.  With difficulty he compelled the servant to do so, but the servant finally sold the toller to traders and bestowed the money on the destitute, as he had asked. After being sold, the toller served his lord faithfully and daily gave his lunch to the indigent, contenting himself with bread and water. At last he merited the starry kingdom and shone with glorious miracles.

Therefore, dearly beloved, since alms thus free us from every evil and so powerfully exalt man to the heavens, distribute them frequently according to your means, and hasten to stow away your belongings as heavenly treasures. Let no one say that he has nothing to give, since the Judge promises a reward for a cup of cold water.[21] And he who has no possessions to give can offer good will. Make, therefore, paupers to be your friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings,[22] where there are joys which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, &c.[23]

St. Laurence distributing alms.

Esto consentiens aduersario tuo cito, dum es cum illo in uia. Vita ista, karissimi, qua uiuimus est quędam uia qua ad patriam tendimus. Quot enim dies hic ducimus, quasi tot dietas currimus. In uia hac noster aduersarius est sermo diuinus. Cum enim iram uel odium perficere exardescimus, dicit nobis: Non occides. Cum carnis inmundiciam explere concupiscimus, dicit: Non mechaberis. Cum alienis rebus inhiamus, dicit: Non furaberis. Cum proximis[24] mala molimur, dicit: Non falsum testimonium dices. Ergo quia in omnibus desideriis nostris nobis aduersatur, quasi aduersarius in uia nos comitatur. Huic aduersario consentiamus cito, ne forte accusando tradat nos iudici xpo, iudex uero ministro, id est diabolo, qui mittat nos in carcerem, id est in infernum, quia inde non exibimus donec nouissimum quadrantem reddamus, id est pro minimo peccato penas recipiamus. Ex iiii.or namque qualitatibus subsistimus, et ideo iiii.or quadrantes Deo persoluere debemus. Ex igne enim caritatis feruorem, ex aere ingenii perspicacitatem, ex aqua baptismi et lacrimarum abolitionem, ex terra debitę seruitutis debemus deuotionem. Sed hic quadrans nouissimus peruertit cęteros sensus per carnales impetus, et pertrahit eos ad illicitos actus. Et de igne quidem furorem, de aere elationem, de aqua libidinis fluxum, terra de se reddit mundanorum desideriorum appetitum. Hunc quadrantem cogimur in carcere persoluere, dum terrena opera in ęternis pęnis compellimur luere.

Vnde, karissimi, decet uos frequenter istis diebus ad ęcclesiam conuenire, monita salutaria intenta aure audire, pro vobis et pro omni populo orare, fabulas et inania colloquia ubique, sed maxime in ęcclesia declinare, quia de omni uerbo ocioso quod locuti fuerint homines reddent Deo racionem in die iudicii. Multi etenim[25] frequentant ęcclesias, quod cum gemitu cogor dicere, quibus multo melius esset domi residere.

Predicante Domino, turbę ad eum diuersa mente confluxere. Quidam ob celestis uitę doctrinam, quę dulcis de ore ipsius manabat; quidam ob medelam, quia omnem languorem curabat; quidam ob inopiam, quia facile quinque panibus v. milia hominum saciabat; quidam ob signorum magnitudinem, quia cecis uisum, surdis auditum, claudis gressum, mortuis uitam dabat; quidam ob inuidiam, ut uerba ejus irriderent et opera eius ad malum peruerterent. Ita hodie plurimi ad ęcclesiam confluunt, quidam ut diuinum officium et uitę uerba audiant, quidam ut peccata sua confiteantur et preces Domino fundant, aliqui ut amicis confabulentur, alii ut inimicis insidientur, quidam ut preciose vestiti uideantur, alii ut mulierculis colloquantur, alii ut uerba Dei irrideant et operi[26] Dei impedimento fiant. Hii ueniunt missi a diabolo, quia dum ipse alias occupatur, premittit hos ut opus Dei per eos impediatur.[27]Sed sicut xpc non cessauit Petro et apostolis celestia nunciare, quamuis sciret hoc[28] Iudam et Phariseos cruciare, ita oportet nos filiis Dei patriam suam desiderantibus gaudia sempiterna preloqui, quamuis nouerimus nuncios, immo filios diaboli inde torqueri.

Erat namque preceptum in lege, ut tintinnabula essent intexta in sacerdotali ueste, ut ingrediens[29] tabernaculum sonitus audiretur, et non moreretur. Vestis tintinnabulis intexta, est uita sacerdotum predicatione subnixa. Si enim populo regnum Dei et iusticiam eius annuntiant, animas suas saluant. Si autem iusticiam absconderint, et populus iniquitate mortuus fueritsanguis eius de manu sacerdotum requiritur, quasi eum occiderit.

Est bestia nomine panthera, uariis coloribus decora. Hęc siluam ingreditur, diuersis herbis uescitur, et deinde in petra stans uocem emittit, et omnis turba bestiarum[30] in circuitu accurrit, solus draco fugit. Tunc suauem odorem eructat, et omnes languores sanat. Per hanc bestiam significantur sacerdotes multis uirtutibus discolores, quos conuenit siluam Scripturę ingredi, uariis sententiis ut herbis repleri, deinde in petra xpo bonis operibus stare, populum undique predicando[31] conuocare, et tunc salubrem Scripturę odorem efflare, et egros morbis lingu​​ę medicamine curare, draconem diabolum ab eis effugare.

Istis diebus, karissimi, Alleluia quod est melos laeticię intermittimus, et Tractum, cantum tristicię, canimus, quia pro peccatis nostris oportet nos hic tristari, ut liceat nobis quandoque cum angelis letari. Ideo etiam nunc uela in ecclesiis suspenduntur, quo populo secreta sanctuarii absconduntur, quia cęlestia nobis ob peccata celantur quę ob penitentiam nobis reserantur.

Legitur quod Ierusalem[32] triplici muro circumdata fuerit, quam Nabuchodonosor auxilio vi. regum expugnando cepit, inhabitantes quosdam occidit, quosdam in Babylonem duxit. Aliqui qui in turrim in medio ciuitatis sitam fugerunt, saluati sunt.

Ierusalem[33] sunt fidelium populi, triplici muro scilicet fide, spe, caritate circumdati. Quos Nabuchodonosor, id est superbia, principale uicium, cum aliis vi. uiciis, id est inuidia, odio, uanagloria, auaricia, crapula, luxuria, pugnans inuadit, muros, id est fidem, spem, caritatem destruit. Inhabitantes occidit dum fideles peccatis mortis obruit. Alios in Babylonem duxit, dum in peccatis mortuos ad tartara rapit. Turris uero civitatis, est protectio confessionis. Quisque ergo fidelium, destructis muris uirtutum, ad turrim[34] confessionis festinanter fugiat, ne a Chaldeis, id est a demonibus, pereat.

Legitur etiam hodie, cum Dominus in partes Tyri secederet, quod mulier Chananea ad eum pro filia sua clamaret, quam demonium male uexabat, et protinus salutem filię impetrabat. Tyrus est hic mundus, in cuius partes Dominus secessit, dum carnem nostram induit. Mulier, a finibus illis egressa, est Ecclesia de gentibus congregata. Cuius filia quę a demonio uexatur est quęlibet anima quę a uiciis occupatur. Hęc matre orante curatur, dum conuersa anima per orationem Ęcclesię[35] a uiciis purgatur. Venit enim pius Dominus ut querat oues[36] quę perierunt domus Israel, id est cetus angelorum, et inuentas reducat ad societatem eorum. 

Vnde, karissimi, sanctificate ieiunium, ut pascuis uitę[37] mereamini cum angelis habere ęternarum epularum gaudium. Prelatos uestros et omnes maiores honorate, parentes uestros in senectute uel egestate consumptos rebus uestris sustentate. Ad hec enim exercenda, monent nos auium exempla. Nam legitur quod aquila senescens a pullis suis pascatur, usque dum in pristinam iuventutem renascatur. Similiter etenim[38] fertur quod merops senescens, a pullis suis nutriatur. Cyconia quoque, senectute grauata et plumis nudata, a pullis alis circumuelatur et cibo assiduo recreatur. Et si talia exercent uolucres, quanto magis decet ut ea expleant homines? 

Elemosinis redimite uos a peccatorum[39] penarum periculo, quia bona est ęlemosina cum ieiunio. Hęc a morte liberat et hęcpeccata purgatet in tenebras ire non patitur, sed uitam ęternam per eam dabitur. Thabita quippe, plena operibus bonis et ęlemosinis, ad uitam resuscitatur, uiduis et orphanis flentibus. Cum enim uestes ostenderent quas illis faciebat, mox eam Petrus uitę restituebat. En, karissimi, quantum ęlemosinę ualent. Non solum enim a morte animę[40] liberant, sed etiam a morte corporis suscitant. Tobyas quoque, qui quadriennio lumen oculorum amiserat, per ęlemosinas et ieiunia angelo uisitante receperat.

Legitur de quodam theloneario, quod nunquam ęlemosinam prebuerit alicui pauperculo. Quadam die dum pauperes inter se conferrent[41] quanta bona illi et illi eis impendissent, ille uero thelonearius, quamvis ditissimus, nunquam aliquid boni eis exhibuisset, unus illorum intulit quod ad presens elemosinam ab eo accepturus sit. Cui dum unusquisque prout habuit deposuisset, si ab eo saltim[42] minimum quid acciperet, ille protinus ad domum thelonearii cucurrit, elemosinam importunis uocibus petiit. Ea uero hora panis a ministris mensę inponebatur. Cumque thelonearius furore repletus circumspiceret, si forte lignum uel lapis se furenti offerret, quod in faciem uociferantis iactaretur, pre ira cuneum arripuit, in ora clamantis pauperis proiecit. Quem ille amplectitur, letus ad socios regreditur, cuneum demonstrat, quem se ab eo accepisse memorat. 

Non multo post idem thelonearius est graui infirmitate tactus, et ad extrema perductus. Ad quem mox demones convenerunt, cuncta eius male gesta eo uidente recensuerunt. Cumque et[43] angeli adessent, et ab eius custode bona eius requirerent, dixit quod nunquam sibi assensum ad bonum prebere uoluerit, nisi quod quadam die cuneum iratus in pauperem iactauerit, quem ipse nunc secum adtulerit. Angeli uero cuneum ab eo acceperunt, et in minimas micas diuiserunt. Et cum demones grauia pondera peccatorum in statera ponerent, angeli micam imponebant, quę preponderabat. Hoc tamdiu fecerunt usque dum micę ponderibus demonum preponderabant. Demones uero iniuriam sibi factam uociferabant, proprium suum seruum per uim sibi tolli clamitabant. Res in iudicium Dei differtur, sed angelis orantibus ad uitam redire permittitur. Qui mox de infirmitate conualuit, gratias immensę clementię Dei retulit, infinitas elemosinas omnibus egenis deinde cottidie exhibuit. 

Quodam die pauperem obuium habuit, quem protinus ueste preciosa, qua ipse utebatur, induit, pauper uero eam uendere uoluit. Postquam ille uestem in uenalium rerum loco pendentem uidit, mestus factus, domum rediens fleuit, et ita pre tristicia obdormiuit. Cui Dominus ihc eadem ueste indutus apparuit, cur fleret inquisiuit. At ille: « Quia inquit, quod tuis famulis a nobis indignis datur, portare dedignatur. » Ille uero uestem pretulit. « En, inquit, quam dedisti uestis me tegit. » At ille euigilans, pauperes beatos predicat, de quorum numero se Dominus affirmat. Protinus omnem substantiam suam uendidit, egenis cuncta distribuit. Insuper seruo suo precepit ut se uenderet et acceptam pro eo pecuniam pauperibus erogaret. Quem vix ad hoc compulit quod eum negociatoribus uendidit et pecuniam, ut petiit, miseris impertiit. Ipse uero uenditus domino suo fideliter seruiuit, annonam suam cottidie indigentibus tribuit, ipse pane et aqua contentus fuit. Tandem gloriosis miraculis claruit, qui iam syderea regna promeruit. 

Igitur, karissimi, dum ęlemosina ita ab omni malo liberet et sic potenter ad celestia hominem exaltet, hanc omnes pro modulo vestro frequentate, res uestras in cęlestes thesauros recondere festinate. Nemo dicat quod quid det non habeat,[44] cum iudex pro calice aquę frigide premium repromittat. Et cui deest substantia quę detur, ab eo bona uoluntas accipitur. Facite ergo uobis pauperes amicos de iniquitatis mammona, ut cum defeceritis, recipiant uos in ęterna tabernacula, ubi sunt gaudia quę oculus non uidit, nec auris, &c. 


[1] Matthew 5:25.

[2] Exodus 20:13.

[3] Exodus 20:14.

[4] Exodus 20:15.

[5] Exodus 20:16.

[6] Matthew 5:26.

[7] Matthew 12:36.

[8] Cf. Exodus 39:23, 34.

[9] Cf. Ezechiel 3:18–21. ​​Gregory makes use of this and the next biblical passage in his discussion of a pastor’s burden in Letter 34 (PL 77:488).

[10] See Physiologus (CPL 1154), “On the Panther.” Eng. trans. by Michael Curley (Austin, 1979), 42–45. Honorius draws the connection between the panther, the virtues, and priestly vestments most explicitly in a passage from the Sacramentarium 29 (PL 172:762–763): “The panther is a beast of seven colors: black, white, gray, gold, green, bronze, red. The panther feeds on various herbs and, perched on a rock, cures with its breath the sick animals who come to it. The panther stands for the priest, who has seven vestments and seven virtues. The color black signifies humility, white chastity, gray prudence, gold wisdom, green faith, bronze hope, and red charity. The various herbs are the various verses of Scripture; the rock is Christ, and the sick beasts are men sick with sin. The priest cures them when he recites them verses from Scripture. When the priest vests, he as it were begins a duel with the devil on the Church’s behalf. He puts the amice, i.e. hope, on his head for a helmet; he dons the alb, i.e. faith, as a breastplate; the cingulum, i.e. chastity, for a swordbelt; the subcingulum, i.e. the witness of Scripture or the examples of the saints, as a bow and arrows; the stole, i.e. obedience or justice, for a lance or sling; the maniple on his hand, i.e. good works, for a war-club; the chasuble, i.e. charity, for a shield; the Gospel book, i.e. God’s word, for a sword; sandals, i.e. preaching, for his knightly shoes.” See also Gemma animae 1.83, on the priest’s armor. On the history of color interpretation from early Latin sources through the medieval encyclopedic tradition, see the exhaustive study of Christel Meier and Rudolf Suntrup, Lexikon der Farbenbedeutungen im Mittelalter: Pictura et Poesis (Cologne, 2011).

[11] The Gospel pericope Honorius expounds here is Matthew 15:21–28, which was read in a number of medieval Transalpine uses. The Tridentine pericope, however, is the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17:1–9.

[12] Joel 

[13] See Pliny, Natural History X, 33; and St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies XII, 94; and Physiologus 10 (Curley 14–15).

[14] See Pliny, Natural History VIII, 41; and St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologies XII, 7.

[15] Cf. Tobias 12:8

[16] Tobias 12:9.

[17] Tobias 4:11.

[18] Acts 9:36.

[19] Cf. Tobias 11.

[20] The story of Peter the Toller, famously recorded in the Golden Legend in the entry of St. John the Almsgiver, is told in Leontius’ life of this saint (ch. 31), translated into Latin by Anastasius Bibliothecarius in the 9th century (PL 73:356–359). 

[21] Matthew 10:42.

[22] Luke 16:9.

[23] 1 Corinthians 2:9.

[24] nostris add. PL

[25] enim PL

[26] operae PL

[27] insidiatur PL

[28] haec PL

[29] ingrediente PL

[30] herbarum A in margine

[31] omit. PL

[32] Hierosolyma PL

[33] Hierosolyma PL

[34] turrem PL

[35] omit. PL

[36] omit. PL

[37] passionis eius consortes PL

[38] omit. PL

[39] et add. PL

[40] differrent PL

[41] different PL

[42] saltem PL

[43] omit. PL

[44] Ab eo bona voluntas accipitur add. PL

Seek Ye the Lord, While He May Be Found: A Sermon for Ash Wednesday

Honorius Augustodunensis’
Sermon
On Ash Wednesday

Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found: call upon him, while he is near.[1] Dearly beloved, in this life we must seek God, in this life we must call upon him. Those who seek him through faith and good works in this life will find him in the life to come, and will rejoice and be glad. But he is not found there by anyone who does not seek him in this life through holy living. In this life he is night unto all that call upon him in truth;[2] there he will be far from all who walk in vanity.[3] How we are to seek him, the Lord himself teaches through the prophet: Let the wicked forsake his way, namely an evil life, and the unjust man his thoughts, namely his evil intentions, and let him return to the Lord, by confessing and doing penance, and he will have mercy on him, by absolving him, and to our God, by living a better life, for he is bountiful to forgive, exempting us from punishment and giving the reward of eternal life. To seek the Lord is to forsake evil designs and do good works. To persevere in good works unto the end is to find God, who is eternal life.[4]

How we are to call upon him, the Lord also teaches through the same prophet: Deal thy bread to the hungry, bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house, cover the naked,[5] and forgive those who sin against you. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I am’.[6]  Dearly beloved, seek the Lord at all times, but especially in the coming days, by living well, and your soul shall live.[7] Call upon him by frequent prayer, and he will grant you eternal joys. 

How we are to call upon him, the Lord also teaches through the same prophet: Deal thy bread to the hungry, bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house, cover the naked,[8] and forgive those who sin against you. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I am’.[9]  Dearly beloved, seek the Lord at all times, but especially in the coming days, by living well, and your soul shall live.[10] Call upon him by frequent prayer, and he will grant you eternal joys. 

Missal of Eberhard von Greiffenklau, fol. 28r

Scripture cries out, spurring us to future goods: Be mindful from whence thou art fallen, and do penance.[11] In paradise we were amidst all manner of delights, but, alas! through the devil’s cunning we fell into this pit of misery.[12] Soon we were hit by the sad sentence, which—oh, the pain!—compelled us to undergo death and return to dust. So today, humbled by penance, we impose ashes on our heads, grieving that we have been reduced to the dust of death. And since we earned death for ourselves by tasting forbidden food, now we afflict ourselves with fasts so that abstinence might open up a way for us to the tree of life, which has been closed off because of our coveting for the prohibited tree. Yea, miserable is the human heart, plagued by many miseries, and in its misery it became numb, hardened, insensible to pain. Therefore our merciful and gracious God,[13] the Father of mercies,[14] had compassion on our wretched heart, and nursed it with the many remedies of the Scriptures. Even today he comforts our benumbed heart and soothes it with this admonition:

Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of evil.[15] Now let us hear him teach us how we ought to be converted: Sanctify a fast.[16] How? You must abstain from not only others’ but also your own wives and from meats; be free of hatred and envy; distribute what surplus food and drink you have among the poor; persevere in continual prayer; do not take revenge for injuries but pray for your enemies instead; obey all God’s precepts; and do not go against his commands by any evil action. However, one who fasts from wrangling and bickering, then after lunch gives himself to drunkenness and lechery imitates the devil as one of his members, who eats no physical food but ever grazes on malice and iniquity. For as it is written in Tobias:  Fasting and alms are worth much,[17] for fasting casts out the devil from the soul, but almsgiving redeems the soul from death.[18] For a kind of demon can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.[19] And as water quencheth a flaming fire, so alms sins.[20] It also delivers the soul from death, and will not suffer it to go into darkness.[21]

St. Louis distributing alms, Luis Tristán, 1615

Once man had gone out from paradise he fell into the pit of death. Therefore, the Son of God left his palace in heaven and suffered exile for his sake, waking us from the sleep of indifference with signs and miracles, and then restored us to life by his death. Thus it is written: Thy eyes shall see thy teacher, and thy ears shall hear the word of one admonishing thee behind thy back.[22] Our teacher was Christ, who gave us the teachings of life. The blessed eyes of the apostles saw this teacher and heard with their ears the words of life that were made known in those days through his preaching, and in our days in the Scriptures. But we lazy and useless servants turn our backs on our Lord’s face when by our scorn and neglect we trample upon his teachings. Though we rebel he warns us behind our backs, calling to us as we rush to our destruction, coaxing us when we do not want to return, holding out the promise of eternal life, grasping those who return in a loving embrace, and forgiving us as his sons. And so, dearly beloved, as he is our Father and Lord and we are mud, let us return to him as servants to a most indulgent master, let us return as children to a most affectionate father.

Therefore, dearly beloved, fast diligently throughout these days, so that you might overcome the devil when he tempts you with vices and concupiscence. Redeem your sins with almsgiving, merit the reward of eternal life with your prayers. Wash the stains of sin from your baptismal garment with your tears, and stay clean by holy works. Cease at last to do perversely, learn to do well, namely relieve the oppressedjudge for the fatherless justly in court, defend the widow and the stranger,[23] rescue the poor and needy from the hand of their oppressor.[24] And you shall be the Lord’s people: and he will be your God.[25]

When we were cast out of paradise, we were told:  Dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return.[26] So that we might go back, we do penance today in sackcloth and ashes. For we are dust and ashes, man is rottenness and the son of man is a worm.[27] As we hasten to go back to our fatherland, we know that the demons lie in wait for us along the way of salvation, and so we take up the spiritual weapons of prayer, humiliation, and affliction, that we might fight against the spiritual forces of evil and quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.[28] Today when we process with crosses, we go out as it were armed to meet our enemies in battle. That is why in the Litany we call the saints to our aid, so that we have the strength to fight manfully and hold our triumph in the palace of heaven.[29]

In the world’s fourth age, Solomon built the Lord a temple in the space of seven years.[30] When it was destroyed by the Babylonians it was rebuilt by the priest Jesus in forty-six years. Solomon is Christ, the temple the Church. Solomon’s temple took seven years to build because Christ edifies the Church with the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Babylonians destroy it because the demons undermine the Church with various vices. But it is rebuilt by Jesus in forty-six years because throughout these forty-six days the Church is built up into God’s temple. From this day, indeed, until Easter there are forty-six days. The temple of Christ’s body, to which the Church is joined, is also built in forty-six years. For Mary was twelve years old when she gave birth to Christ,[31] and Christ was thirty-four years old when he collapsed, undone by death. These years when added together give forty-six, the same as the number of days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, when Christ restored the temple of his body which the Jews had broken up with their attack. Now we begin the fast on Wednesday because we believe that Christ began his fast on a Wednesday after being baptized on a Monday. [32] We desire to be joined to him through our fasting and we imitate Solomon who built a temple in the world’s fourth age as a figure of the Church, in which we now yearn to be built up by Christ. We fast for the next four days because the Church is gathered from the four corners of the world into the structure of God’s Temple. Then we fast for another forty days because through the four Gospels and the Ten Commandments of the Law this temple is brought to completion in Christ, who did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.[33] The letter X, the first in Christ’s name, signifies ten, and stands for the Decalogue, and expresses the form of the Cross, by hanging on which Christ paid all our debts to God the Father.

The building of Solomon’s temple, from
Petrus Comestor’s Historia Scholastica (MS Den Haag, MMW, 10 B 23.)

Therefore, dearly beloved, let us imitate Christ like cherished sons. Let us follow his footsteps, that we might see him in glory. Because Scripture says, Man storeth up, and he knoweth not for whom he shall gather these things;[34] because the senseless and the fool shall perish together, and they shall leave their riches to strangers, and their sepulchers shall be their houses for ever;[35] and because he shall inherit serpents, and beasts, and worms,[36] let us spurn all earthly things and seek the heavenly; disciplining our flesh with fasts, vigils, and prayers now, that in the coming resurrection we might reign forever with the Lord of glory, where eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. [37]


In capite jejunii

Querite Dominum, dum inueniri potest, inuocate eum, dum prope est. Karissimi, in hac uita est Deus querendus, in hac uita inuocandus. Qui in hac uita querunt eum fide et operatione, post hanc uitam inuenient eum in leticia et exultatione. A nullo autem ibi inuenitur, a quo hic sancta conuersatione non queritur. Hic prope[38] est omnibus inuocantibus eum in ueritate; ibi longe erit omnibus qui hic ambulant in uanitate. Qualiter autem sit querendus per prophetam[39] docet ipse Dominus: Derelinquat impius uiam suam, id est malam uitam, et uir iniquus cogitationes suas, id est malas uoluntates, et reuertatur ad Dominum, per confessionem et penitentiam, et miserebitur eius, per indulgentiam, et ad Dominum nostrum per melioris uitę inmutationem, quoniam multus est ad ignoscendum,[40] liberans a penis, dans uitę ęternę remunerationem. Mala incepta derelinquere, et bona opera facere, est Dominum querere. In bono opere usque in finem perseuerare, est Deum qui est uita ęterna inuenire. 

Qualiter autem sit inuocandus, docet per eundem prophetam idem Dominus: Frange[41] esurienti panem tuumegenos induc in domum tuamnudum operi, dimitte in te peccanti. Et tunc inuocabis et Dominus exaudiet. Clamabis, et dicetEcce assum.[42]Omni tempore, karissimi,[43] sed maxime istis diebus, querite Dominum bene uiuendo, et uiuet anima vestra. Inuocate eum assidue orando, et dabit uobis ęterna gaudia.

Clamat Scriptura, excitans nos ad bona futura: Memento unde excideris et age penitentiam. In paradyso in omnibus deliciis fuimus; sed, heu! astucia diaboli inde in hunc lacum miserię excidimus. Moxque[44] tristis sententia perculit nos, quę omnes—proh dolor!—mortem subire et in puluerem reuerti compulit. Vnde penitentia hodie afflicti, cinerem nostris capitibus imponimus, quia nos in puluerem mortis redigi gemimus. Et quia per gustum uetiti cibi mortem incidimus, ideo nunc ieiuniis nos affligimus, quatenus abstinentia nobis aditum ligni uitę aperiat, quę concupiscentia interdictę arboris clauserat. Miserum quippe humanum cor, multis miseriis infectum, in miseria[45] obstupuit, obduruit,[46] sensum doloris amisit. Idcirco misericors et miserator Dominus, pater misericordiarum, misero condoluit, multis medicaminibus Scripturarum[47] ei consuluit. E quibus hodie medicamento penitentię stupidum cor demulcet, sicque blandiens admonet:

Conuertimini ad me in toto corde uestro, in ieiunio et fletu et planctu, et conuertimini ad Dominum Deum uestrum, quia benignus et misericors est, paciens et multum misericors, et prestabilis super malicia. Sed qualiter conuerti debeamus, ipsum docentem audiamus: Sanctificate ieiunium. Qualiter? Non solum ab extraneis, sed[48] a propriis uxoribus et a carnibus[49] debetis istis abstinere diebus; odio et inuidia carere; quę uobis in cibo et potu superfuerint pauperibus distribuere; orationi iugiter insistere; illatam iniuriam non uindicare, sed potius pro inimicis orare; preceptis Dei in omnibus obedire, nulla praua actione eius monitis contraire. Porro qui ad lites et contentiones ieiunat, et post prandium ebrietati et luxui uacat, diabolum ut puta[50] membrum ipsius similat,[51] qui nullo corporali cibo uescitur, sed malicia et nequicia semper pascitur. Vt autem scribitur in Tobya: Multum valet ieiunium cum elemosina, quia per ieiunium diabolus[52] ab anima expellitur; per elemosinam uero anima a morte redimitur. Genus enim demoniorum in nullo potest exire nisi cum ieiunio et orationeEt sicut aqua extinguit ignem, ita elemosina peccatum, et hanc liberat a morte, et non patitur ire in tenebras

Ideo, karissimi, hos dies cum omni diligentia ieiunate, ut possitis diabolum uicia et concupiscentias persuadentem superare. Elemosinis peccata redimite, orationibus ęternę uitę premia acquirite. A sordibus peccatorum uestem baptismatis lacrimis lauate; in sanctis operibus mundi estoteQuiescite iam aliquando peruerse agere, discite nunc benefacere, scilicet oppresso subuenite, pupillo iuste in iudicio iudicate, uiduam et aduenam defenditeegenum et pauperem de manu tribulantis eripiteEt[53] eritis Domino in populum, et ipse erit uobis in Deum.

Quia enim homo de paradyso exiens in lacum mortis corruit, Filius Dei de aula celi egrediens pro eo exilium subiit, signis et miraculis nos de somno desidię excitauit, demum morte sua ad uitam reparauit. Vnde scriptum est: Erunt oculi tui uidentes preceptorem tuum, et aures tuę audientes uocem post tergum monentis. Preceptor noster xpc erat, qui nos precepta uitę docuerat. Hunc preceptorem beati oculi apostolorum uiderunt, et auribus suis uerba uitę audierunt, quę tunc mundo predicationibus, nobis autem scriptis innotuerunt. Sed nos pigri et inutiles serui terga in faciem Domini nostri damus, cum precepta ejus contempnendo calcamus. Ipse autem nos rebelles post tergum monet, ut ad interitum properantes reuocet; reuerti nolentibus blanditur, uitam pollicetur, reuersos benigne amplectitur, ut filiis miseretur. Vnde, karissimi, quia ipse Pater et Dominus noster est et nos lutum, reuertamur ut serui ad dominum clementissimum, reuertamur ut filii ad patrem piissimum.

Cum de paradyso expulsi sumus, dictum est nobis: Puluis es et in puluerem reuerteris. Vt ergo redire possimus, penitentiam hodie in cinere et cilicio agimus. Puluis quippe sumus et cinis, uermis et putredo filius hominis. Et quia repatriare contendimus, hostes id est demones iter salutis nobis obsidere nouimus; ideo arma spiritualia quae sunt oratio humiliatio afflictio sustollimus, ut contra spiritualia nequicię[54] pugnare et omnia tela ignea nequissimi hostis extinguere possimus.[55] Cum enim hodie processionem cum crucibus facimus, quasi hostibus armati ad pugnam obuiam imus. Vnde et per letaniam sanctos in adiutorium nostrum inuocamus, quatenus uiriliter decertare et in aula celesti triumphare ualeamus.

Quarta etate mundi ędificauit Salomon Domino templum, vii. annis, quod destructum a Babyloniis reedificatum est a ihu sacerdote xl.vi annis. Salomon est xpc, templum Ęcclesia. Hoc templum vii. annis a Salomone edificatur, quia Ęcclesia vii. donis Spiritus sancti a xpo informatur. A Babyloniis destruitur, quia a demonibus uariis uiciis subruitur. Sed iterum ab ihu xl. et vi. annis reedificatur, quia his xl. et vi. diebus Ęcclesia in templum Dei coedificatur. Ab hodierna quippe die usque in Pascha xl. et vi. dies computantur. Templum quoque corporis xpi xl. et vi. annis edificatur, cui Ęcclesia incorporatur. MARIA quippe xii. annorum extitit, quando xpm genuit. Xpc uero[56] xxx. et iiii.or annorum fuit, dum morte solutus corruit. Qui anni simul iuncti xl. et vi. fiunt; totque dies a capite ieiunii usque in Pascha existunt. Qua die xpc corporis sui templum restituit, quod prius impulsio Iudeorum soluit. Ideo ergo iiii. feria ieiunium inchoamus, quia xpm suum ieiunium iiii. feria inchoasse predicamus; quem ii. feria baptizatum non ignoramus, cui per ieiunium incorporari desideramus, et Salomonem qui quarta etate mundi templum in figura Ęcclesię construxit similamus, in qua nunc coedificari a xpo optamus. Ideo istis iiii.or diebus ieiunatur, quia Ęcclesia a quatuor plagis mundi in edificium templi Dei congregatur. Deinde xl. diebus ieiunatur, quia per iiii.or Ęuangelia et decem legis precepta hoc templum in xpo consummatur, qui non uenit soluere legem, sed implere. Ideo x. littera quę prima est in nomine xpi decem significat, et decalogum legis insinuat, et formam crucis exprimit, in qua xpc pendens cuncta debita nostra pro nobis Deo Patri soluit. 

Ergo dilectissimi, imitemur xpm ut filii karissimi. Sequamur eius uestigia, ut uideamus illum[57] in gloria. Et quia Scriptura dicit: Thesaurizat homo et ignorat cui congregabit ea, quia insipiens et stultus peribunt et relinquent alienis diuicias suas et sepulchra eorum, domus illorum in ęternum, quia hereditabit homo uermes, bestias, serpentes, cuncta terrena despiciamus, celestia appetamus; ieiuniis, uigiliis, orationibus corpus nostrum nunc maceremus, ut in resurrectione futura cum Domino glorię perenniter regnemus, ubi oculus non uidit nec auris audiuit quę preparauit Deus diligentibus se


[1] Isaiah 55:6.

[2] Psalm 144:18

[3] Ephesians 4:17.

[4] Cf. Matthew 10:22.

[5] Isaiah 58:7, short chapter at None during Lent, and also read at the Mass of the Friday after Ash Wednesday.

[6] Isaiah 58:9

[7] Psalm 118:175.

[8] Isaiah 58:7

[9] Isaiah 58:9

[10] Psalm 118:175.

[11] Apocalypse 2:5.

[12] Psalm 39:3.

[13] Passim.

[14] 2 Corinthians 1:3

[15] Joel 2:12, 13; short chapter at Terce during Lent.

[16] Joel 2:15.

[17] Cf. Tobias 12:8

[18] Cf. Tobias 12:9.

[19] Matthew 27

[20] Ecclesiasticus 3:33.

[21] Cf. Tobias 4:11

[22] Cf. Isaiah 30:21-21.

[23] Isaiah 1:16-17.

[24] Cf. Psalm 81:4.

[25] Jeremiah 30:22.

[26] Genesis 3:19

[27] Cf. Job 25:6.

[28] Ephesians 6:12, 16.

[29] Cf. the oration at the conclusion of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday, Concede nobis…praesidia militiae.

[30] The most important precedents for the elaborate allegories of this passage are Augustine,  Enarratio in Psalmos 95, Tractatus in Ioannem 9.14 and 10:10–13. Cf. Elucidarium (PL 172:945). The observation that Mary’s age at Christ’s conception and Christ’s at his death also equal thirty-six may be Honorius’s own creation. Christ died in the course of his thirty-fourth year, making him thirty-four at death if counting inclusively. 

[31] The Protoevangelium of James tells how Mary dwelt in the Temple at Jerusalem until her twelfth year, when she left to marry Joseph.

[32] Cf. Gemma animae 3.41.

[33] Matthew 5:17.

[34] Psalm 38:7.

[35] Psalm 48:11-12

[36] Cf. Ecclesiasticus 10:13.

[37] Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9

[38] quippe PL

[39] prophetiam PL

[40] Isaiah 55:7

[41] inquit add. PL

[42] Ibid.

[43] dilectissimi PL

[44] Mox PL

[45] miseriis PL

[46] duruit PL

[47] Scripturae PL

[48] etiam add. PL

[49] et a carnibus omit. PL

[50] puto PL

[51] simulat PL

[52] diabolum PL

[53] tunc add. PL

[54] nequicia PL

[56] namque PL

[57] eum PL

De Can. Observ. 18: Saints’ Feasts of Nine and Three Lessons

In Proposition 18, Radulph addresses the difference between saints’ feasts of nine and of three lessons. He argues that the former should imitate the Sunday office and the latter the ferial office, criticizing uses which drew up sub-categories of feasts of three lessons. Radulph defends the simplicity in this matter followed by orders such as the Carthusians and the Teutonic Knights.


Proposition XVIII

The office of saints’ feasts of nine lessons is kept like a Sunday, that of three readings like a feria

“The disciple is not above the master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.”[1]

Let the servant be glad to be in his lord’s family; it does not suit him to be honored above his lord. God’s saints, therefore, who are the Lord’s servants, are happy when their days are kept in a manner proportional to those of Christ their Lord. So saints’ days of nine lessons, which are called festivals (festivitates), should have an office like Sunday’s, running from Vespers to Vespers. St. Benedict prescribes as much in chapter 33, saying:

On the festivals of saints, and all other solemnities, let the Office be ordered as we have prescribed for Sundays: except that the psalms, antiphons, and lessons suitable to the day are to be said. Their quantity, however, shall remain as we have appointed above.[2]

Thus far there. 

Likewise when we observe saints of three lessons we ought to follow the structure of a private day of the ferial office, as set forth below.  It is part of the beauty of the divine office that festivals are kept with features of the Sunday office and saints’ days of three lessons like the ferial or private office. And if the prerogatives of Sunday and the privileges of nine lessons be applied to private days, it would spoil the office and undo the order itself. For the Holy Fathers were studiously careful to preserve harmony in ecclesiastical services and prohibit all dissonance. 

Nine-lesson feasts in the kalendar of the 1302 Breviary of Metz (Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0107, fol. 103).

So festivals are kept on the pattern of Sunday with both Vespers, and at these offices and at Lauds the [proper] antiphons, when they exist, are by all means to be sung over the psalms always and everywhere, as stated in proposition 10. For first Vespers the ferial psalms and ferial antiphons, unless proper ones exist. With respect to the Vespers responsory of a double office, it is a widespread custom to sing a responsory at both Vespers. And if the people celebrate the festival, let it be sung at first Vespers. Suffrages should be said as on Sunday, but abbreviated on solemnities. The Invitatory should be solemn and the hymn should, of course, be sung at Nocturns, in which the nine antiphons over nine psalms are not to be omitted. Let the lessons and responsories be authentic, and sing nine responsories. Te DeumGloria in excelsis, and Ite missa est are said in seasons when they can be said on the Sunday; otherwise, let not the servant be greater than his master, without the Lord’s special dispensation. It is customary to celebrate the Mass of the festival as a community. At second Vespers all the antiphons from Lauds are said over the ferial psalms, unless the festival has special ones, such as of the Apostles and, according to a widespread custom, of several others. But if two festivals of nine readings or a festival and a Sunday or a feast of three readings fall on the same day, both of which demand per sea full office, let the more important be kept in full and only a commemoration made of the other. But if it seems good to celebrate both in full, let one be deferred to the following day, just as Pope Gregory celebrated the feast of St. Paul after the feast of St. Peter. For the other practice, which lumps together two offices for celebration on the same day, keeping one nocturn of one feast and the rest of the other, is not allowed by the authority of the holy Fathers, who always instructed us to maintain harmony in the offices, as said above, for when we strain to perform both on the same day, we find that we have celebrated neither with the reverence due to the divine offices. 

The festal office will be discharged most fittingly if it is made proportionately equal to the Sunday office, as far as the given office permits.

When two festivals occur back to back, they should not share a common Vespers in full, as the Minors do it today abusively. Instead observe what Micrologus says in chapter 35:

All the authentic antiphonaries grant St. Stephen a full second Vespers. Following this example, therefore, we grant all festivals of the year a second Vespers in full, even if a major feast falls on the next day. For it is not reasonable to sing only the vesperal psalms from the previous feast but the rest of the office from the subsequent feast. The Holy Fathers have left us no examples of this, and they taught us above all to preserve the harmony of the offices with particular diligence. Nevertheless, when a high feastival follows a lesser one, it is not unreasonable if it claims for itself the previous feast’s second Vespers in whole, as the Octave day of Christmas takes the Second Vespers of St. Sylvester. First we complete the Vespers of one feast in its entirety then, if necessary, commemorate the next one after the Benedicamus Domino, as we do for St. Stephen and St. John.[3]

Precisely the same principle holds for feasts of three reasons. Just as nine-lesson feasts are kept on the model of Sundays, so three-lesson feasts are kept on the model of ferias. The Carthusian monks and the aforementioned Teutonic lords keep this custom admirably. Thus in the office of saints of three readings there are prostrations whenever they would be done in the ferial office of the season. When there is first Vespers, the ferial antiphons and psalms are said, and the short chapter, hymn, verse, Magnificat antiphons and collect of the saint, and suffrages, as in the ferial office. Compline and Prime in full and with the psalm Miserere, as in the ferial office. The Invitatory is sung in the ferial tone. After the saint’s hymn, a ferial Nocturn is sung, as shown in Proposition 10. Let the lessons from Sacred Scripture be read, according to all the doctors; the responsories, versicles, verse, Lauds antiphons, and the rest are of the saint. Let Vigils and Vespers of the Dead and the gradual and penitential psalms with what follows them be observed just as in the ferial office. Te Deum and Gloria in excelsis should never be said, just as they are not in the ferial office. So it is written, as shown above in Proposition 13. So, therefore, we should do and sing.

At Terce, Sext, and None, according to the widespread custom, let the antiphons of the Holy Trinity be said. But the Mass must be of the saint, if there is a proper one, without Gloria in excelsis and with Benedicamus Domino. And just as on saints’ days of three lessons at the preces of Compline and Prime we add Miserere mei Deus, the Carthusians, who have preces at every hour, add the same psalm to every hour on these days, and in this respect on these days these monks diverge from our custom.

Thus for one who desires to respect the ferial office, it will be easy to keep saints’ days of three lessons. It is true, however, that in both the monastic and our own usage, when these days fall within Eastertide or major octaves, the preces and the rest are omitted, since throughout Eastertide they are omitted. 

But the office of saints of three readings should end with the Mass, for as Micrologus says in chapter 44: 

The Roman custom is that no mention of a saint of three responsories is made after the Mass, whether it be sung at Terce or at Sext. Rather, mention of the saint ends at the Mass,” and we say the rest as a ferial office. “But on a feast of nine lessons the office is festal until Second Vespers.[4]

Thus far the Micrologus.

The Carthusians end feasts this way. This is, therefore, the simple observance of three-lesson feasts, such that they are proportional to the ferial office, as said above. But many alter and corrupt this observance in various ways. For some people distinguish saints’ days of three lessons by various names, entitling them “of three responsories,” etc.[5] Others call them “said on any feria, including (or excluding) Sunday.”[6] Others have it as a “Collect” or without one, as a “Mass,”[7] as “three readings” and a Te Deum or, if it falls on a Sunday, nine readings. Others say them with a Te Deum or without it, or various other ways.[8] In the abusive practice of others, a three-lesson saint’s day cancels the ferial and other particular offices on certain days, just as if they were nine lesson feasts. 

The complex ranking of three-lesson feasts in the Kalendar of the 1492 Utrecht breviary, p. 13.

[1] Matthew 10:24–25.

[2] Actually Benedict, Rule 14. Translation by Justin McCann.

[3] Micrologus 35.

[4] Micrologus 49.

[5] Cf. Breviarium Camaracense (1497), which uses various titles: III lec., III ℟ cum nocturno, III ℟. cum missa.

[6] Breviarium Traiectense (1492), which uses titles such as Missa de hoc omni feria sed non in dominica or simply De hoc omni feria.

[7] Cf. Missale Leodiensis Eccleisae (1502), which uses various titles: III lec, Collecta, Missa

[8] A marginal notation reads “at Groenendael,” an Augustinian house mentioned above. We could not find any books for comparison.

De Can. Observ. 13: On the Hymns, Short Chapters, and Orations

Having discussed in Proposition 12 what antiphons and responsories are to be sung at Mass and hours of the Divine Office and at what moments, Radulph of Rivo now turns to the hymns, short chapters, and orations. 

Radulph’s discussion of the metrical hymns of the Divine Office are especially interesting. Unexpectedly, he neglects to mention that the Roman Church long resisted the introduction of metrical hymns into the hours, even as the Ambrosian, Hispanic, and monastic rites enthusiastically adopted them, supported by the authority of the holy doctors Saints Hilary and Ambrose. Rome instead remained loyal to the discipline codified by the Council of Braga in 563: Nil poetice compositum in ecclesia psallatur, sicut et sancti praecipuunt canones (Let no poetic composition be sung in Church, as the holy canons prescribe). The Roman ordines do not mention the singing of hymns in the Office, and neither do Amalarius of Metz or the Micrologus.

The first Urban book to mention metrical hymns is the 12th-century antiphonary of St. Peter, which states that the Te lucis is to be sung and Compline and the Nunc sancte at Terce. But the monastic office had by then established certain fixed hymns to be said at all the minor hours as well as both ferial and seasonal hymns for Vespers, Lauds, and Matins. Across the Alps many uses of the Roman rite had adopted these and other metrical compositions.

Faced with the absence of an authoritative list of what hymns should be sung, and to oppose certain idiosyncratic practices like splitting up the festal hymns to distribute them across the minor hours, Radulph provides his readers with a list of the “authentic” hymns for ferial and seasonal Vespers, Matins, and Lauds which he found in “ancient hymnaries” at Rome (but exactly how ancient, it is impossible to know; one wonders if any precede the 12th century) or in the Ambrosian books. It is fascinating to see that Radulph includes many hymns that do not appear in the Tridentine breviary. 

The same lack of a clear Roman authority is even more evident in the short chapters said in the Office, and Radulph states what chapters are said depends on the use, for there is little overall agreement between them. Our liturgist in fact berates those who wax scrupulous about what chapters ought to be said while abridging the number of psalms to be said at certain hours. Radulph’s concern for liturgical authenticity, therefore, does not imply a desire for liturgical uniformity. He is happy to allow for variety in the limited situations when no ancient authority exists; where it does exist, withal, it must be followed rigorously. 

The Compline hymn Te lucis as it appears in the 12th-century Antiphonary of St. Peter’s (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Arch. Cap. S. Pietro B.79, fol. 48r).

Proposition XIII

Ecclesiastical hymns, short chapters, and orations used in the Office must be authentic

a) Hymns

“With respect to singing hymns, we have the example of our Savior and the apostles,” de consecratione dist. 1, cap. de Hymnis.[1] “For the Lord himself is said to have sung hymns, as the Apostle Matthew says: And a hymn being said, they went out unto mount Olivet.”[2] The Apostle Paul wrote about singing hymns to both the Ephesians and the Colossians, as above in propositions 8 and 12.

“A hymn is a praise of God with music,”[3] such as the hymn Gloria Patri said at the end of psalms, and the hymn Gloria in excelsis which the angels sang when Christ was born, and the hymn Te Deum laudamus, composed by Ambrose and Augustine, as declared in the proëm to the Milleloquii,[4] and the other metrical hymns, “which the most blessed doctors Hilary and Ambrose composed,” according to cap. de Hymnis.

Pope Saint Telesphorus established that three masses should be celebrated on the night of our Lord’s Nativity, and in them that the angelic hymn Gloria in excelsis should be said, de Consecrat. dist. 1, cap. Nocte sancta.[5] The Pope Symmachus, a Sardinian, and Stephen III, also a Sicilian, established that on every Sunday and on feasts of apostles and martyrs, the aforesaid angelic hymn Gloria in excelsis should be sung at Mass. The authority of the holy Fathers, therefore, has assigned this hymn only to feasts; in the seasons of sadness—Advent and Septuagesima—it should be omitted. Pope Leo IX does not exempt any feasts from this omission, de consecratione, dist. 1, cap. Hi duo hymni.[6] Since the hymn Te Deum laudamus resounds the praise of the Holy Trinity just as the hymn Gloria in excelsis, the Roman observance introduced the rule that the hymns must be sung together—one at Lauds and the other at Mass—or omitted together, as Pope Innocent III lays down in Extra, de celebratione Missae, cap. Concilium, near the end.[7] In the same passage, this Pope lays down another authoritative rule: just as on our Lord’s and saints’ feasts falling within the specified seasons these two hymns should be sung, within those same seasons, in diebus profestis, i.e., outside of feasts, namely on diebus privatis, when three lessons are said, the two hymns must not be sung “in order to make clear the difference between a commemoration and a solemnity.” Whoever  loves the beauty of God’s house must so observe[8] For just as it is becoming to say them on feasts, it is becoming to omit them on private days. For when we suppress these glories on private days, we take them up the more joyously on feasts. And this seems to befit your Order, for many religious orders do likewise. And if it is written that they should not be sung outside of Sundays and feasts, let them not be sung, following the precept of the Rule.

With respect to metrical hymns, much care must be taken that you sing only those approved and promulgated, as said above. The spurious ones may be recognized for the most part because either they are not in general use or their meter is corrupt.

According to the Roman custom, the usual hymns at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None do not change and in smaller communities should be sung to a simple tone. As a general rule, the five minor hours should be sung with lesser solemnity and the three major ones more festively. For this we have the authority of Saint Benedict, who allowed the psalms of the minor hours to be said directanee in smaller congregations.[9] Some communities, however, sing the hymns of the [minor] hours to the melodies of feasts and sing an alternate final verse, and other uses have the hymn Agnoscat at Prime, Terce, Sext, and None during Christmastide, which is found in Roman hymnaries. But those who omit the customary hymns on feasts and at the minor hours divide the festal hymn do so on no authority or example, but commit a grave abuse. Your humble community must, therefore, not imitate them, but rather sing what is most humbles.

The hymn Agnoscat, marked to be sung at Terce on Christmas in a 12th-century antiphonary from St. Mary’s Church in Utrecht (Universiteitsbibliotheek, Ms. 406, fol. 24v).

Those who at Compline say the hymn after the chapter act contrary to Roman authority and the order of Saint Benedict, in which offices it is placed immediately after the psalms, just as in the other four minor hours the hymn is said before the psalms. In the Ambrosian rite it is said before the psalms at both Compline and the rest of the minor hours.

Moreover, in the Ambrosian office two hymns are always said at Matins, one at the beginning and the other at the end. Likewise, in the Roman and Benedictine offices one hymn is said at Nocturns and another at Lauds, and all religious observe this, as well as the Italians, the French, and the English. The Germans, however, have fallen away with respect to this, for they say no hymn at Nocturns and seldom one at Lauds. From the aforegoing, it is plain whom you must follow.

You would do well by observing the following hymns: in Advent, at Vespers, Conditor; at Nocturns, Verbum; at Lauds, Vox clara; and at Compline, according to some, Veni Redemptor, which is an Ambrosian hymn for our Lord’s Nativity.

Likewise on Christmas, at Vespers, A solis; at Compline, Fit porta; at Nocturns, Corde natus; at Lauds, Christe Redemptor; at the minor hours, Agnoscat, as said above.

On Epiphany, at Vespers and Lauds, Hostis Herodes; at Nocturns, A patre unigenitus or the Ambrosian Illuminans altissimus.

On ordinary Sundays, at first Vespers on Saturday, Deus creator, which is the daily Ambrosian vesperal hymn, as Augustine mentions in book 7 of his Confessions, when sleep cured him of the anguish and grief his mother’s death had caused him.[10] The Friars Minor and many others wrongly omit this hymn, which is authentic and very beautiful. At Nocturns in winter, Primo dierum, and at Lauds, Aeternae rerum conditor, which in the Ambrosian office is said every day at the beginning of Matins. Likewise, at summer Nocturns, Nocte surgentes, and at Lauds, Ecce iam noctis. At second Vespers on Sunday, Lucis creator.

On Monday, at the Nocturn, Sermo; at Lauds, Splendor paternae, which is the Ambrosian temporal [hymn] at the end of Matins; at Vespers, Immense.

On Tuesday, at the Nocturn, Consors; at Lauds, Ales diei; at Vespers, Telluris.

On Wednesday, at the Nocturn, Rerum creator; at Lauds, Nox et tenebrae; at Vespers, Coeli Deus.

On Thursday, at the Nocturn, Nox atra; at Lauds, Lux ecce; at Vespers, Magnae Deus.

On Friday, at the Nocturn, Tu Trinitatis; at Lauds, Aeterna coeli; at Vespers, Plasmator.

On Saturday, at the Nocturn, Summae Deus; at Lauds, Aurora iam spargit.

All of these ferial hymns have a single simple melody in the Roman use. Some of our Germans, however, omit the nocturnal hymns, such as the church of Cologne; others omit the proper hymns of Lauds and sing the nocturnal hymn at Lauds, such as the church of Liège; others omit all the ferial hymns and repeat the summer Sunday hymns during the ferias, such as the Preachers. The safer policy is to follow the Roman custom.

During Lent, the hymns are: [at Vespers], Audi benigne; at the Nocturns, Ex more; at Lauds, O Nazarene.

On the second fortnight: at Vespers, Nunc tempus; at the Nocturn, Clarum decus; at Lauds, Iam Christe; at Compline for the entire month, Christe, qui lux, which is Ambrosian. Different Lenten hymns are found in other uses, since uses seldom accord among themselves over hymns.

In Passiontide, at Vespers, Vexilla; at Compline, Cultor Dei; at Nocturns and Lauds, Pange lingua, since it has a division.

On Easter, the hymns are: [at Vespers], Ad coenam agni; at Compline, Iesu nostra; and Aurora lucis with verses, which can be split between Nocturns and Lauds, as the Preachers do. The Romans have [the hymn Rex aeterne] at the Nocturn and at Lauds they say the hymn Aurora in its entirety. There is also the Ambrosian hymn Hic est dies verus.

On the Ascension, Festum nunc celebre, Aeterna caeli gloria, and Hymnum canamus, and the Ambrosian Optatus votis.

On the Holy Ghost, Veni creator; at the Nocturn, Iam Christus astra, which is Ambrosian; at Lauds, Beata nobis.

On the Holy Trinity, at Vespers, O lux beata; at the Nocturn, Tu Trinitatis; at Lauds, O nate de nullo.

On John’s Nativity, Ut queant laxis, which is long and can be split up between Nocturns and Lauds; in the Ambrosian office, Almi prophetae.

For the apostles Peter [and Paul], Aurea luce and Felix per omnes, of which the Minors have some verses, cutting out the rest; the Ambrosian is Apostolorum passio.

For Saint Laurence there are many: En martyris; Martyris Christi, which is Sapphic; and the Ambrosian Apostolorum.

On the Assumption, O quam glorifica and Gaude visceribus. And for any [Marian] feast, at Vespers, Ave maris stella; at the Nocturn, Quem terra, and at Lauds its section O gloriosa; and the Ambrosian Mysterium Ecclesiae.

For Saint Michael, at Vespers and Lauds, Christe sanctorum; at the Nocturn, Tibi Christe; and the Ambrosian Mysteriorum.

For Saint Martin, you have many local hymns. The Ambrosian office has Bellator armis.

For the Dedication of a church Urbs beata is commonly used, and can be divided. The Ambrosian office has Christe cunctorum.

For the apostles, at Vespers, Exsultet; at the Nocturn, Aeterna Christi munera, a long Ambrosian hymn which the Romans split between the Nocturn of apostles and the Nocturn of martyrs; on the apostles, at Lauds, Ortu Phoebi.

For one martyr, at Vespers and Lauds, Martyr Dei; at the Nocturn, Deus tuorum, which is Ambrosian. But since it is long some prefer to say the other two: for martyrs, at Vespers, Sanctorum meritis; at the Nocturn as above; at Lauds, Rex gloriose.

For one confessor, Iste confessor. There are two others, Jesu Redemptor omnium and Jesu corona celsior, which is Ambrosian.

For one virgin, at Vespers and Lauds, Jesu corona virginum, which is Ambrosian; at the Nocturn, Virginis proles.

All the aforesaid hymns and many others are found at Rome in the ancient hymnaries and some in the Ambrosian office. The necessary and authentic hymns must be said, and it is a sounder policy to take hymns from the commons rather than to say local and apocryphal compositions. We shall speak below in Proposition 14 about where at Lauds and Vespers the hymns should be sung.

b) Short chapters

Now let us discuss short chapters. Long lessons are read at the night Vigils, but at Lauds and Vespers and at the five minor hours short lessons or lectiunculae are read.[11] In his Rule, Saint Benedict calls them lectiones,[12] and they are often so-called in many sources. In common secular usage, however, they are called capitula. But in the Ambrosian office and in some ancient books the short versicles, which are taken from the psalms, are called capitella, as in De consecratione, distinction 5, ch. Convenit.[13]

Taking the former acceptation of the term, the usual Roman custom on Sundays and feasts is to have only three proper short chapters, i.e., at Terce, Sext, and None, the first of which is repeated at both Vespers and at Lauds. This custom is taken from Ambrose, who assigns proper short chapters of this sort—albeit few—to Terce, Sext, and None only. And this manner of saying and repeating short chapters is very common around the world among Italian, French, and English religious orders. And just as the nocturnal lessons are not the same everywhere, likewise agreement about these short chapters is rare, for different places use different short chapters. But these chapters are everywhere taken—as well they should be—from Holy Writ, and, according to Saint Benedict, they ought to be recited from memory.

In Germany, however, many do the chapters another way. For many German churches have six proper short chapters and orations in their offices, namely at both Vespers, Lauds, Terce, Sext, and None. A prime example is the Capitulary of Stephen, bishop of Tongres [† 920].[14] This bishop, as Sigibert says in his book De viris illustribus, “wrote a book of chapters for Robert, bishop of Metz,” where he was brought up; in it he brought together short chapters and orations for each Sunday and feast in the course of the entire year. Many churches in these parts use these short chapters and orations, some integrally, but others with variations, such as the church of Maastricht.[15] Others are content with a single oration and only took from it the short chapters, such as your brethren in Groenendael.[16] And because the universal custom is to use the short chapters found in the books of the local church, nor is there uniformity in them, as there is not with respect to the Matins lessons, it seems that your brethren from Eymsteyn might, legitimately and without scruples, have retained the Capitulary of Groenendael, whose author we have just mentioned.[17] For it seems an indiscriminate scruple to inform one’s conscience about which chapter, responsory, verse, and the like one should say—as long as they are Roman and authentic as explained above—while omitting sometimes the integral psalter without shame, as treated above in Proposition 10. For I have seen it often in monastic and less frequently in secular books that several short chapters are provided for a single Sunday or festal office, with none of them assigned to any hour in particular. Many Germans, too, say a single chapter at every hour, just as in the Roman office a single oration is said. Nevertheless, this manner of doing the chapters lacks both authority and example.

Breviary of Metz, 1302 (Verdun, Bibl. mun., ms. 0107, fol. 103).

c) Orations

It remains to discuss orations, with respect to which the general custom is to use the same one at all the hours. The Ambrosian office says many orations, including many proper ones in the office. The monks likewise have many, and the Germans even more. Regarding the authority of the orations, a certain short Rationale called the Micrologus (ch. 5) speaks in these terms:

Moreover, they rarely admit orations other than the ancient Gregorian ones, favoring especially the ones they find in the more ancient and corrected sacramentaries. For the eighth council of the province of Africa, attended by Augustine and 214 fathers, established the following in chapter 12: “Let no prayers or orations or missae or prefaces or commendations or impositions of hands be said except those approved in council.” Likewise the third council of Carthage, which Augustine also attended, in chapter 23: “Let no one at the altar name the Father in place of the Son or the Son in place of the Father, but let him always direct the oration to the Father and use only approved orations. Indeed, our Lord himself commanded us to direct our prayer to the Father. Thus he instructed his disciples when they asked him how they should pray, saying “When you shall stand to pray, say ‘Our Father.’”[18]

Thus far the Micrologus.

In the Capitulary mentioned above, Stephen of Tongres assigned one oration to each of the short chapters, and took very many of them from the Ambrosian and the monastic offices. At Rome, moreover, I saw books with the orations Veneranda nobis and Supplicationem servorum tuorum for the collecta at Saint Hadrian’s,[19] as well as many others which the Friars Minor omit. I say this lest it be believed that the Franciscans keep the whole Roman Office. More on this point in proposition 22.

Regardless of the use in question, however, all orations about which there is no certitude are to be rejected as apocryphal according to the aforementioned councils. Fewer orations suffice, as I shall explain in Proposition 23.


[1] CIC, Decr. III, 1.54 — Frdbrg. I, 1308.

[2] Matthew 26:30.

[3] Durandus, Rationale, lib. V, c. 2, nr. 23

[4] The Milleloquium veritatis S. Augustini is a collection of excerpts from the works of St. Augustine arranged in an alphabetical list of over 1000 subjects. Its author was the fourteenth-century Augustinian Hermit, Bartholomew of Urbino (d. 1350).

[5] CIC, Decr. III, 1.48 — Frdbrg. I, 1306.

[6] CIC, Decr. III, 1.55 — Frdbrg. I, 1309.

[7] CIC, Decr. Greg. III, 41.4 — Frdbrg. II, 636.

[8] Ps. 25:8

[9] Benedict, Rule ch. 17.

[10] Augustine, Confessions 9.12 (PL 32:777).

[11] Cf. Durandus, Rationale 5.2.50: “Diurnae vero lectiones a quibusdam, eo quod breves sunt, ‘lectiunculae’ nuncupantur, a pluribus vero capitula…”

[12] Benedict, Rule 13, 17.

[13] CIC, Decr. III, 5.15 — Frdbrg. I, 1415.

[14] Bishop Stephen’s lost work and its prefatory letter to the bishop of Metz are discussed in Mohlberg, Spuren eines verlorenen Liturgiebuches, des “Liber capitularis” Stephanus von Tongeren, in Mélanges d’histoire offerts à Charles Moeller, 1, 1914, p. 350-360.

[15] Like Tongres, Maastricht belonged to the diocese of Liège, a city 30 km away.

[16] On 7 May 1413, this important Augustinian house, of which John of Ruysbroeck was a founding member, was absorbed into the Windesheim congregation.

[17] Founded in 1382, Eymsteyn was a house of Augustinian canons to which the first sixth Brothers of the Common Life were sent to learn the canonical way of life. Apparently these founders had at first used the Capitulary of Groenendael, but put it aside for scrupulous reasons.

[18] Bernold, Micrologus 5 (PL 151:980c).

[19] Pope Sergius I appointed the church of St. Hadrian as the place of the collecta for the procession before Mass on the four feast of our Lady (Candlemas, Annunciation, Assumption, and Nativity). Cf. Proposition 23 for his complaint that the collect Veneranda nobis is used as the collecta for the Assumption in the oldest Roman books but omitted in the Franciscan books.