A Mediæval Sequence for the Transfiguration

The Sequence Fulget mundo celebris (Analecta hymnica 53, № 85) for the feast of the Transfiguration makes its first appearance in a 12th century troper from Catania, Sicily. Thence it made its way to France, where it is found in mostly monastic manuscript missals and graduals from houses such as Saint-Martin-des-Champs (Paris) and the orders of Fontevraud and the Knights Hospitaller. It also appears as an addition to a 15th-century manuscript gradual from Salisbury. After the emergence of printing, it is found in missals from Séez, Évreux, Lisieux, Bayeux, and Ainay Abbey, making its last appearance in a Missal of Cluny published in 1550. 

The version reproduced below is taken from an eclectic collection of chants edited by Dom Joseph Pothier entitled Variae preces ex liturgia tum hodierna tum antiqua collectæ aut usu receptæ (Sundry Prayers Gathered from Modern and Ancient Liturgy or Common Use), which our esteemed readers are invited to

Fulget mundo celebris lux hodierna:
Digne mundus celebret diei festa:

Quo legis et prophetarum concinere dicta.

Quis decor sit domus Dei, et quae eius gloria,

Quae formae dignitas humanae sanctis maneat in saecula,

Demonstrat hodie Christi Transfiguratio adoranda.

Assumpsit Petri, Iacobi et Ioannis testimonia.
Ascendit in montem assistente Moyse et Helya.

Transfiguratur corporis humani forma.
Videtur transformati splendor et gloria.

Circumfulsit subito lux immensa.

Facies eius fit ut sol splendida.

Fiunt vestimenta sicut nix candida.
Obstupescunt qui haec vident miracula.

Obumbravit eos nubes lucida.

Intonuit de caelo vox paterna:

Hic est Filius, in quo dilectio michi unica:

In quo michi complacui, et placent michi omnia.

Gaude fidelis credens in Deum contio christiana!

Compatiendo eris regnans cum Christo in saecula.

Abstergetur ab oculis sanctorum omnis lacrima.

Laetabuntur iusti, et fulgebunt luce sempiterna.

Non erit luctus, non erit dolor, non erit molestia.

Pax erit summa et iocunditas inierit perpetua.

Iam cum Deo regnabunt in gloria:

In qua secum regnare in saecula

Nos eius concedat omnipotens gratia. Amen.
The solemn light of this day shineth upon the world:
Let the world worthily celebrate today’s feast:

Whereof the Law and the Prophets spake together in song.
What be the beauty of God’s house and its glory:

What dignity the human form retains in the saints world without end:
Christ’s adorable Transfiguration today doth shew.

He brought Peter, James, and John as witnesses.
He went up into the mount, with Moses and Elias in attendance.

The form of His human Body is transfigured.
The splendour and glory of the transformed Body are seen. 

Suddenly an immense light flashes all around.
His face becomes splendid as the sun.

His garments become white as snow.
Those who see this miracle are struck dumb.

A luminous cloud envelops them,
The Father’s voice thunders from heaven:

This is the Son in whom is my special love,
In whom I am well pleased, and all things are rendered pleasing to me.

Rejoice O Christian assembly who believe in God!
By suffering with him, ye shall reign with Christ for aye.

From the saints’ eyes every tear shall be wiped away.
The just shall rejoice, and shine with light everlasting.

There shall be no more mourning, nor dolour, nor vexation.
Peace shall be supreme, and joy perpetual.

They shall then reign with God in glory:
Therein to reign with Him forever

May His all-powerful grace to us vouchsafe. Amen.

“Boil not the kid in its mother’s milk”: A Mediæval Sermon on St Mary Magdalene

From Honorius Augustodunensis’ Speculum Ecclesiae, a sermon on the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. We have based the Latin text on a collation of the Patrologia Latina (172:979) and the following MSS:

Admont, Benediktinerstift, cod. 131, f. 107v
Graz, Univ. Bibl., Cod. 173, f. 106r
St. Gall, Stiftsbibl. 1075, p. 170
Göttweig, Benediktinerstift, Cod. 104 (rot) / 47 (schwarz), f. 96v
Lilienfeld, Stiftsarchiv und Stiftsbibliothek, HS 140, f. 83v (=images 172)

Read the English below or download a PDF with the English and Latin texts.

The relic of the head of St Mary Magdalene, and below in the crystal tube, the piece of skin our resurrected Lord touched with His finger while saying, “Noli me tangere.” To either side thereof are small relics of Sts Lazarus and Martha. Relics kept in the Royal Basilica of St Maximin, France.

On the Feast of St Mary Magdalene

I came not to call the just, but sinners to penance.[1] Forsooth, dearly beloved, our loving Lord proclaimed by deeds what he preached with words. For He called not the Pharisees and others who contumaciously averred themselves just, but the publicans who humbly pronounced themselves sinners. And so publicans and harlots entered the Kingdom of God before those who called him a friend of publicans. And so He reproached the Pharisee who arrogated good deeds to himself in the Temple, but justified the publican who accused himself of his misdeeds,[2] for He on whom the angels of heaven desire to look[3] came into this world to save sinners. He who is come to seek and to save that which was lost[4] brought many out of the pit of misery and the mire of the dregs[5] of sins. Out of all these, he set the Saint Mary Magdalene before us as the exemplar of his clemency, as today’s Gospel told us. 

We are told she was the sister of Lazarus, whom the Lord raised up from the grave after four days, and of Martha, who often welcomed the Lord into her home. It is said that this Mary was betrothed to a man in the town of Magdalum, but fled from him and settled in Jerusalem, where, heedless of her noble birth and forgetting God’s law, she became a tawdry prostitute. And after she willingly made herself a brothel of ignominy, she became by right a shrine of demons, for seven demons entered her together and constantly harassed her with unclean desires. Her sister took her to the Lord, who expelled the seven demons forthwith, and thus healed she joyfully returned home with her.

Martha reproves Mary for her vanity, Guido Cagnacci, 1660.

Later, the Lord was invited to meat in the house of a certain Pharisee, whose leprosy he had once expelled. When he sat down, Mary, at the instigation of her sister, went up to Him barefoot and bareheaded, carrying precious ointments she had once bought for sordid purposes. She laid herself at the Lord’s feet, grieving that she had lain with so many paramours. Her eyes sent forth springs of water, because they had not kept God’s law.[6] With tears she washed the filth from the feet of Him who washed her, and merited to be cleansed from the filth of her offenses. She wiped the Lord’s feet with tresses she had once braided with gold to allure young men. She devotedly imprinted upon His feet the kisses she had once bawdily offered up to rakes. She anointed the feet of Him who saved her with the ointment she once smeared on her flesh to attract the stench of those basely besotted with her. All she once voluptuously gave up to the service of the flesh she now dolefully turns into a gift for the Lord. And since she once did not blush to wallow in a slough of filth like swine, now she does not fear being embarrassed before the dinner guests. And since there she came upon the very Fount of Mercy, she departed cleansed from all stain. 

Supper at Simon’s house, after Tintoretto

But the poor host is offended that our Lord lets himself be touched by a sinful woman. Now he rebukes not only the sick woman but the doctor as well in his heart, and swiftly the wretch is stricken with the fever of false judgment. But our Lord points out the good he has neglected, and returns the good she has poured out, to teach us thereby that He will take vengeance on all the good we neglect to do, but will reward us for our good efforts. Confuting the malevolent host, he absolves the guilty woman who punishes herself, and True Peace lets her go in peace. She returns rejoicing to her sister, and with the greatest zeal she pours out the rest of her life in chastity. Finally, when our Lord stopped by the house of her sister Martha, who was all abustle in preparing the table, she humbly clove to His feet, and drank His sweet words with a thirsty heart. For amongst the Jews women were permitted to go around with religious men and use their means to serve them in their needs.

Later, as the Lord was hastening to His Passion for the salvation of the world, He reclined at table in the house of the aforesaid Pharisee, where Lazarus was one of the dinner-guests, and Mary poured precious ointment upon His head, signifying that the Church, whom He had anointed with the ointment of the Holy Ghost, came to him with the perfume of virtues. Verily, Judas reproved her action, but the Lord praised it, for the works of the Church are horrible to the reprobate, but acceptable to Our Lord.

As the Lord hung on the cross and the flock of disciples, bereft of their shepherd, fled hither and thither, Mary stood fearlessly by Him and visited him with spices after He was laid in the sepulchre. Hence she merited to see the angel, and the resurrected Lord publicly appeared to her first of all. He sent her as an apostle to the apostles, and just as the first woman gave death to man, so now a woman heralds everlasting life to men. 

Noli me tangere, Veronese

There is another story about her, that after she and the others saw our Lord ascend into heaven, and received the Holy Spirit with them, for the sake of his love she never wished to see a man again, but went into the desert and lived in a cave for several years. Once, a certain priest who had lost his way came unto her, and asked who she was. She responded that she was the sinful Mary, and that he had been sent to bury her body. No sooner had she finished speaking, when dying full of glory she departed the world she had long abhorred. While angels sang a hymn, she went to the Lord she loved much, and who absolved her of much and allowed her to gather lilies in the garden of spices with gleaming white maidens.  

The Passing of Mary Magdalene, José Claudio Antolinez, 1672.

Now as for us, dearly beloved, let us go back and see what is to be done about our trespasses. For the offences of the saints and their penance are written for this reason, that we who have imitated their fall of weakness by rushing into evil, might by their example do penance and, giving up evil, return to the good. But alas! we wretches would fain imitate them in sins, yet shrink from following their example in good deeds. And if, my best beloved, we have hitherto perspired from our evildoing, at least today by the example of this woman let us strive to hide what we have done with the good we will do. For blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.[7] Through baptism original sin is forgiven, whereas by penance actual sins are covered. For what makes us blush in our nakedness, we cover up with an overspread blanket.  

Mary Magdalene by a Lamp, Georges de la Tour, 1644

And so, my best beloved, let us blush to think that the ugliness of our unclean lives is seen by God and His angels, and cover it up with the lamentations of penance and good works. For our sins and trespasses let us offer a sacrifice to God, a broken spirit and a contrite and humbled heart,[8] and beget worthy fruits of repentance. Let us wash away lesser sins with many prayers, and castigate graver sins with weeping, fasts, vigils, and alms. For the Law commands that no kid shall be boiled in its mother’s milk. To boil a kid in its mother’s milk is to assign a light penance to one who, on account of grave sins, has been placed on the left with the goats. We do not cook a kid in its mother’s milk if when condemned by our sins we afflict ourselves with harsh and severe punishments. For we are commanded to deliverourselves to Satan for the destruction of the fleshthat we may be saved in spirit in the day of the Lord[9]Furthermore the people of Israel, when they had gone out of Egypt, conquered their enemies in the very place where they were previously conquered, because when we return to our fatherland out of this world, we can defeat the devil in the same vice by which we were formerly defeated. For a man becomes the slave of the one who defeats him. We must beware lest the devil find us slaves of sin and claim us as if by perpetual right. Yea verily, the Law commanded that if any should sell himself into slavery to another out of necessity, he should go free in the seventh year. But if he refuses to leave his servitude, his master is to puncture his ear with an awl, and thus possess him by perpetual right.

When we, having been vanquished, succumb to concupiscence, we sell ourselves to another as if driven by necessity, since we make ourselves slaves of sin. For whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin.[10] But we will be able to go free in the seventh year, because by the gift of the septiform Spirit we will be freed from the devil’s dominion. If any refuses to go free his master shall pierce his ear with an awl because whoever once sold under sin will not freely go out of this servitude to God through penance the devil shall pierce with the sting of death, and owning him as a slave by perpetual right, shall wrack him with everlasting torments.

Therefore, my best beloved, let us imitate Saint Mary Magdalene, cast off the harsh yoke of the devil’s servitude, and take up our Lord’s sweet yoke of true liberty.[11] Let us serve Him to serve whom is to reign[12] in holiness and justice[13] that we may one day be born into that liberty of glory that belongs to God’s sons, which eye hath not seen &c.[14]

Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy, Caravaggio, 1606.

[1] Luke 5:32.

[2] See Luke 18.

[3] 1 Peter 1:12.

[4] Luke 19:10.

[5] Psalm 39:3.

[6] Psalm 118:136.

[7] Psalm 31:1.

[8] Psalm 50:19.

[9] 1 Corinthians 5:5

[10] John 8:34.

[11] Matthew 11:30.

[12] Postcommunion, Mass for Peace, Deus, auctor pacis, cf. Apocalypse 5:10, 22:3-5.

[13] Cf. Luke 1:75.

[14] 1 Corinthians 2:9. Honorius ends all the sermons in this collection with an evocation of eternal glory, culminating invariably in this verse from St Paul.

Pre-’62 General Rubrics of the Roman Missal

We are pleased to offer our readers the first English translation (aside from a sorry Anglican effort) of the General Rubrics of the Missal promulgated by His Holiness the Lord Clement VIII, which remained in force (with amendments by the Lord Benedict XV) until the reign of John XXIII. Download the PDF below. May it prove useful to all those devoted to the ancient traditions of the Roman Church! Ante mori quam novitatibus consentire!

REPOST: Crusader Liturgy: The Feast of the Liberation of Jerusalem

Jerusalem 1
Taking of Jerusalem 1099. In the background the Passio Christi (Source)

When, on the Ides of July of the year of the most fructiferous Incarnation of Our Lord 1099, after nearly four years of bellicose pilgrimage and a month-long exhausting siege, the Crusaders finally broke through the inner ramparts of Jerusalem and poured into the holy city, freeing it from centuries-long occupation by the Mohammedan horde, their surpassing joy could only find liturgical expression in the office of Easter Day, which was celebrated, however out of season, in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Hæc dies quam fecit Dominus, exsultemus et lætemur in ea—the words of the Gradual resounded in that venerable basilica, as Raymond of Aguilers, chaplain of the Lord Raymond of Saint-Gilles, Count of Toulouse and later Count of Tripoli, recounts in his Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem. The mediæval mind easily understood the deliverance of Jerusalem from the infidels as a type of the deliverance of mankind in Our Lord’s glorious Resurrection; a new day, demanding a canticum novum. Raymond’s fond memories of the event wax exuberant in his chronicle:

A new day, a new joy, and new and perpetual delight! The fulfilment of labour and devotion: new words, new songs were sounded forth by all. This day, I say, which shall be celebrated for centuries to come, transformed our pains and travails into joy and exultation. This day, I say, was the harrowing of all heathendom, the consolation of Christendom, the renewal of our faith. “This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein”, for therein the Lord illumined and blessed His people. […] This day, the Ides of July, shall be celebrated to the praise and glory of God’s name […] In this day we sang the office of the Resurrection, for on this day, He Who arose from the dead by His power, uplifted us by His grace. 1  

In the ensuing octave, the triumphant knights roamed around the holy places of the city, venerating the relics, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, and they solemnly celebrated the Octave Day on 22 July, choosing the worthy Godfrey of Bouillon as their ruler. They thenceforth established 15 July as a liturgical feast day to commemorate the liberation of the holy city, as the chroniclers attest, among them William of Tyre, e.g.:

In order that the memory of this great deed might be better preserved, a general decree was issued which met with the approval and sanction of all. It was ordained that this day be held sacred and set apart from all others as the time when, for the glory and praise of the Christian name, there should be recounted all that had been foretold by the prophets concerning this event. On this day intercession should always be made to the Lord for the souls of those by whose commendable and successful labours the city beloved of God had been restored to the ancient freedom of the Christian faith. 2  

Early in Godfrey’s reign, a canonical chapter was established in the church of the Holy Sepulchre, and a proper liturgical use slowly developed, especially after that body was reformed and placed under the Augustinian rule in 1114. The use of the Holy Sepulchre was based, as one would expect given the origin of its immigrant churchmen, mostly on northern French uses, especially those of Chartres, Bayeux, Évreux, and Séez. This use would in turn form the basis of those of the religious orders that emanated from the Holy Land, including the Carmelites and the Knights Templar and Hospitaller. 

Screen Shot 2018-06-15 at 12.18.23

The liturgical sources variously dub the feast of 15 July the Festivitas sancte hierusalem, or Festivitas hierusalem quando capta fuit a Christianis (or a Francis), or In liberatione sancte civitatis Ierusalem (de manibus turchorum). The admirable victory of the First Crusade was thus fixed into the framework of the history of salvation, being both the fulfilment of prophecies, as William of Tyre states in the aforesaid excerpt, and the anagogical harbinger of the ultimate victory: the Christians’ entry into the heavenly Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem 2
John of Patmos watches the descent of New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry (Source)

The Mass opens with the famous introit borrowed from the Fourth Sunday of Lent: Letare Iherusalem et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam, gaudete cum leticia, qui in tristicia fuistis, ut exultetis, et saciemini ab uberibus consolacionis vestre, with the verse from the eminently apposite psalm 121. Preaching on this feast day shortly after the reconquest, Fulcher of Chartres repeated these verses from Isaias, and gave the continuation of the prophecy, concluding with the declaration that the Crusader triumph was its fulfilment: Hec omnia oculis nostris vidimus. Ekkehard of Aura agreed that the prophecy applied to the epic of the Crusaders, writing (rather abstrusely):

These, and a thousand other prognostics of the sort, albeit that they refer through anagogy to what is above—our mother Jerusalem—encourage the weaker members, who have drunk from the breasts of the consolation of those things written and to be written, to undergo dangers even historically by an actual journey because of such a contemplation or partaking in joy3.

William of Tyre, too, claimed the reconquest of Jerusalem was the literal fulfilment of Isaias’ oracle: ita ut illud prophete impletum ad litteram videretur oraculum «letamini cum Ierusalem et exultate in ea omnes qui diligitis eam».

But by fulfilling the ancient prophecy, the victory of 15 July itself became the type of a more lasting kind of victory. The very use of an Advent introit points to the Second Coming, and the collect, secret, and postcommunion emphasize this eschatological theme:

Collect: Almighty God, who by thy marvellous strength hast torn thy city Jerusalem from the hands of the paynims and restored it to the Christians, help us in thy mercy, we beseech thee, and grant that we who with yearly devotion celebrate this solemnity may deserve to attain the joys of the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord, &c. (Omnipotens Deus, qui virtute tua mirabili Ierusalem civitatem tuam de manu paganorum eruisti et Christianis reddidisti, adesto, quesumus, nobis propitius, et concede ut qui hanc sollennitatem annua recolimus devotione, ad superne Ierusalem gaudia pervenire mereamur. Per Dominum.)

Secret: Mercifully accept, O Lord, we beseech thee, this host which we humbly offer thee, and make us worthy of its mystery, that we who celebrate this day when the city of Jerusalem was freed from the hands of the paynim may at last deserve to become fellow-citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord, &c. (Hanc, Domine, quesumus, hostiam quam tibi supplices offerimus dignanter suscipe, et eius misterio nos dignos effice, ut qui de Ierusalem civitate de manu paganorum eruta hunc diem agimus celebrem, celestis Ierusalem concives fieri tandem mereamur. Per Dominum.)

Postcommunion: May the sacrifice we have received, O Lord, profit to the salvation of our body and soul, so that we who rejoice in the liberty of thy city Jerusalem may deserve to be counted heirs of the heavenly Jerusalem. Through our Lord, &c. (Quod sumpsimus, Domine, sacrificium ad corporis et anime nobis proficiat salutem, ut qui de civitatis tue Ierusalem libertate gaudemus, in celesti Ierusalem hereditari mereamur. Per Dominum.)

The orations for the “Missa de Jerusalem” in a sacramentary of the Holy Sepulchre written in the second quarter of the 12th century.

The Epistle pericope is Isaias 60, 1-6 (“Arise, be enlightened, O Jerusalem: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” &c.), the first line whereof forms the verse of the Gradual, Omnes de Saba, taken from the feast of the Epiphany. Ekkehard mentions this passage together with that of the introit as one of prophecies that the Crusaders’ feat had made “visible history”4. The Alleluia responsory, which seems to have fluctuated between Te decet hymnus and Qui confidunt, both lifted from Sundays after Pentecost, are taken from psalm verses germane to the liberation of Jerusalem. This was followed by a brash sequence, Manu plaudant, which will have to be discussed in a future post.

The Gospel lesson comes from Matthew 21, 1-9: Our Lord’s glorious entry into Jerusalem before His Passion, acclaimed as the Son of David by the Hebrew children. The pugnacious Offertory of the Third Sunday after Epiphany, Dextera Domini fecit virtutem, was chaunted thereafter and, during communion, the antiphon from the Second Sunday in Advent: “Arise, O Jerusalem, and stand on high: and behold the joy that cometh to thee from God.”

As the church of the Holy Sepulchre grew too small for the needs of the new Crusader Kingdom, and as it merited embellishment in any case, a considerable rebuilding was undertaken which concluded with the re-dedication of the church on 15 July 1149, the quinquagenary of the liberation, by the Lord Fulcher of Angoulême, Patriarch of Jerusalem. This prelate seems to have undertaken some revision of the Latin Jerusalemite liturgy, which especially affected the 15 July, now the bicephalous celebration of both the liberation and the dedication of the church of the Holy Sepulchre—Liberatio sancti civitatis Iherusalem de manibus Turchorum et Dedicatio ecclesie domnici sepulcri—with two Masses and Offices. In the basilica itself, the Dedication seems to have been celebrated exclusively, except for the morrow-mass, which was that of the Liberation. The collect of the Liberation, however was changed: “Almighty and everlasting God, builder and guardian of the heavenly city of Jerusalem, protect from on high this place with its inhabitants, that it might be in itself an abode of safety and peace”4; this was borrowed from a preëxisting collect. The change of focus of this new collect is also evinced by the introduction of antiphons into the Office borrowed from the office of the Dedication that tended to refer to the dignity of the church of the Holy Sepulchre rather than the glorious liberation of the city.

The ordinals indicate that in the basilica a festive procession took place after the morrow-mass of the Liberation; whether this was introduced with the 1149 revisions or was a continuation of an earlier practice is unknown. The procession set out from the church of the Holy Sepulchre to the Temple, and upon arriving at its entrance they sang prayers taken from the office of the Dedication. They then set forth to the “place where the city was captured”, i.e. the place where the wall was breached on 15 July 1099, and held another station, a sermon was preached, and a blessing given; perhaps the sermon by Fulcher of Chartres mentioned above was delivered in these circumstances. Thus the procession connected the Old Testament (the Temple) with the New (the Holy Sepulchre) and with the Crusader victory (the city wall). Finally the canons and the faithful returned to the Holy Sepulchre for Tierce. The rest of the office in the basilica was composed mainly from elements taken from the office of the Dedication according to the use of Chartres. One presumes, however, that in the other churches of the diocese of Jerusalem the Mass and Office of the Liberation were celebrated instead.

Jerusalem 3
The Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem. Fresco by St. Theophan of Crete. Meteora, Church of St. Nicholas (Source)

Alas, Christian rule of Jerusalem did not last the century. In 1187, the city fell to Saladin, and, although the liturgical use of the Holy Sepulchre survived in the remainder of the Crusader states and within certain religious orders, the celebration of the feasts of the Liberation of Jerusalem and the Dedication of the Holy Sepulchre seem to have been mostly abandoned. It only reappears in one manuscript after 1187, which dates from the odd episode when Jerusalem briefly returned to Christian hands thanks to the machinations of the excommunicate Emperor Frederick II. In this manuscript, the Mass is entitled Missa pro libertate ierusalem de manu paganorum, and the Gospel pericope from Matthew 21 has been replaced with the verses in Luke 19 wherein Our Lord weeps for Jerusalem. It has therefore been argued, with undeniable verisimilitude, that the old Liberation Mass was transformed into a Mass to ask for the recapture of Jerusalem. But in any case, even this proved short-lived.

Jerusalem 4.jpg

Although notices marking the liberation of Jerusalem on 15 July appear in the kalendars of several Western liturgical books, few Western churches adopted the feast as it was celebrated in Jerusalem. It does appear in a 14th century missal from the Hospitaller priory in Autun, under the title In festo deliberacionis Iherusalem. Liturgical books from Tours, Nantes, and the Abbeys of St Mesmin (near Orléans) and Beaulieu (near Loches) feature a feast of the Holy Sepulchre on 15 July, although it does not make explicit reference to the Liberation, and its propers antedated the First Crusade. A feast for the Liberatio Iherusalem appears with a Mass and Office in liturgical books from the cathedral of St Étienne of Bourges dating from the 13th to the 15th centuries. Its propers are composed of elements from office of the Dedication and also from the Easter liturgy: a fascinating reminder of the Paschal joy that seized the Crusaders on those happy Ides of July 1099.

Our hearty acknowledgements to the reader who provided us with some of the necessary bibliographic material for this post. 


1. Nova dies, novum gaudium, nova et perpetua leticia; laboris atque devotionis consummatio, nova verba nova cantica, ab universis exigebat. Hęc, inquam, dies celebris in omni seculo venturo, omnes dolores atque labores gaudium et exultationem fecit. Dies hęc, inquam, tocius paganitatis exinanicio, christianitatis confirmatio, et fidei nostrae renovatio. Hęc dies quam fecit Dominus, exultemus et letemur in ea, quia in hac illuxit et benedixit Dominus populo suo […] Hęc dies celebratur Idus Iulii, ad laudem et gloriam nominis Christi. […] In hac die cantavimus officium de resurrectione, quia in hac die ille qui sua virtute a mortuis resurrexit, per gratiam suam nos resuscitavit. 

2. Ad maiorem autem tanti facti memoriam ex communi decreto sancitum omnium voto susceptum et approbatum est, ut hic dies apud omnes solemnis et inter celebres celebrior perpetuo haberetur, in qua, ad laudem et gloriam nominis christiani, quicquid in prophetis de hoc facto quasi vaticinium predictum fuerat, referatur: et pro eorum animabus fiat ad Dominum intercessio, quorum labore commendabili et favorabili apud omnes predicta Deo amabilis civitas et fidei christiane et pristine restituta est libertati. 

3. Hec et huiusmodi mille pesagia licet per anagogen ad illam quę sursum est matrem nostram Hierusalem referantur, tamen infirmioribus membris ab uberibus consolationis prescriptę vel scribende potatis pro tanti contemplatione vel participatione gaudii periculis se tradere etiam hystorialiter practica discursione cohortantur. 

4. Versis in hystorias visibiles eatenus mysticis prophetiis.

5. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, edificator et custos Iherusalem civitatis superne, custodi locum istum cum habitatoribus suis: ut sit in eo domicilium incolumitatis et pacis. Per Dominum.

Some Peculiarities of the Lyonese Use

Between offices, Aelredus and I have been busy in the scriptorium with our translation of the Voyages Liturgiques hoping to see it published eventually. In response to a question raised by one of our loyal readers struck by the curious sight of a Subdeacon leaning on a misericord to read the Epistle at the High Mass in the Lyonese use recently celebrated by the FSSP on the feast of St Irenæus, herein we provide a relevant except from Voyages’ description of Mass in the Cathedral of Lyon.

Images courtesy of FSSP Lyon

At the beginning of the collect, the Major Subdeacon [there were also two minor subdeacons] goes bare-headed [at certain times he, being a canon, wore a mitre] to the raised third stall of the first row in the front of the choir on the right-hand side. He leans on the misericord and rather reads than sings the Epistle in a moderate tone. The misericord is a wooden board the size of about two hands, over which the canons and cantors lean while they sing the psalms and hymns, and this position is considered equivalent to standing.

After the end of the Collect, the Celebrant goes to sit together with the Assistant Priests and Deacons, half on each side. The Celebrant reads the Epistle and what follows on a small iron stand by his side.

The two choir-boys set their candles on the ground by the foot of the râtelier [a candelabra] after the Collect and go up to the altar to fetch the silver tablets upon which is set a parchment with the Gradual and Alleluia. They present them to a Canon and three Perpetuals [a special rank of Canons] who had just taken their places at the first high chairs of the right side near the Great Rood. Leaning on their stalls they sing the Gradual and then give their places and the tablets over to four others who sing the Alleluia and its verse and return to their places in choir. They call this singing per rotulos. The precentor is at the first place of the Epistle side and the cantor at the first place of the Gospel side near the Great Rood.

Since the recent Mass of St Irenæus was not celebrated by the Canons of Lyon at Cathedral, it did not feature the practices described in the last paragraph. Instead, towards the end of the Alleluia, the choir-boys acting as acolytes go stand towards the back of the choir (near the nave) and hold their hands over their breast while the incense is prepared. Once the Deacon picks up the book and asks for the Celebrant’s blessing, the choir-boys go fetch their candles. This manner of holding the hands is not mentioned in the Voyages, but is described in later ceremonials. The readers of the prophecies during Holy Week also hold their arms crossed while they wait for other ceremonial actions to be completed.

Another aspect of the Lyonese use that has arrested people’s attention is the vestment used by the thurifer. It is called the orfrois de tunique, or “tunicle orphreys.” As the name suggests, it is a remnant of the full subdeaconal tunicle, since in the Cathedral, only subdeacons were allowed to be thrufiers. Hence, the 19th century ceremonial states that the thurifer is to wear the orfrois on the greatest feasts, and the Subdeacon during the short Vespers attached to the end of Holy Saturday, while assisting the Celebrant as he incenses the altar during the Magnificat. In the Voyages, Le Brun des Marettes reports that on Corpus Christi and the feast of St John the Baptist in the Cathedral, a Subdeacon clad in a mitre and orfrois led the procession after Benediction to carry the Blessed Sacrament to the neighbouring parish church, where it was reserved. Note that the Canons of the Cathedral of Lyon had the privilege of wearing a mitre, even in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.