Farced Introits: A Prologue for Christmas Day Mass

Hodie cantandus est nobis puer, quem gignebat ineffabiliter ante tempora pater, et eundem sub tempore generavit inclita mater.

Interrogatio:
Quis est iste puer, quem tam magnis præconiis dignum vociferatis? Dicite nobis, ut collaudatores esse possimus.

Responsio:
Hic enim est, quem presagus et electus symnista Dei, ad terras uenturum preuidens, longe ante prenotavit sicque predixit:

Aña:
Puer natus est nobis…

To-day we must sing of that child, Whom His Father ineffably begot afore time, and Whom His glorious Mother bore in time.

Question:
Who is this child, whom you proclaim worthy of such great acclamations? Tell us, that we too might praise Him.

Response:
For He is Whom the soothsayer and chosen companion of God, foreseeing that He should come to earth, foreshewed and foretold:

Antiphon:
A child is born unto us…

hodie
The Hodie cantandus est verses, diastematic notation from Nevers (PA 1235), East-Frankish neumes (Minden Be 11). Click to enlarge. (Source)

Farced introits represent the largest repertory of tropes after Kyrie tropes 1, and one of the most fascinating. Like sequences, they had their origin in that hotbed of liturgical creativity that was the Abbey of St Gall in modern-day Switzerland.

The earliest account of their composition in found in the continuation of the Casus sancti Galli, a chronicle of the abbey written by Ekkehard IV. Towards the end of the ninth century, a precocious young monk (plane iuvenis acutissimus) named Tuotilo wrote introductory verses for the introit of the Mass of Christmas Day—Puer natus est—which begin Hodie cantandus est. These verses proved popular, like the sequences that Tuotilo’s confrère and close friend Notker had invented some years earlier, and Tuotilo went on to write several other tropes throughout his life. Although he was nowhere near as prolific a composer as Notker, Tuotilo’s pieces were much admired; one of those who delighted therein was Emperor Charles the Fat:

The melodies Tuotilo composed are distinctive and easily recognisable, for his music is sweeter, whether on the psaltery or the rotta, at which he excelled, as is manifest in Hodie cantandus and Omnium virtutum gemmis. Indeed, he presented these tropes to Charles to be sung at the offering the king himself would make [i.e. during the offertory of the Mass, when the king would present his offerings]. When Tuotilo had composed the offertory Viri Galilæi 2, the king even bade him to add verses, [which were,] as they say, Quoniam Dominus Jesus Christus cum esset, Omnipotens genitor, fons et origo, with the following: Gaudete et cantate, and others indeed; but we mention these, so that, if you be a musician, you might know how different his music is from that of others.3

The Hodie cantandus est trope itself is an example of the melodic peculiarity that characterises Tuotilo’s compositions: the trope is in the first mode, whereas the subsequent introit is in the seventh mode; a striking modulation in the third phrase of the trope allows it to conclude in G to match the first note of the introit. 

Howsoever idiosyncratic the melody of this trope may be, its text a classic example of exegesis one expects of a trope. Its dialogical structure, reminiscent of Psalm 23, is almost catechetical—Statement, Question, Response. The statement is a dogmatic proclamation of the mystery about to be celebrated in the Mass, and it elicits the question that allows the announcement of Christ’s birth to be tied into the words of the Prophet Isaias (presagus et symnista Dei) that form the introit antiphon. And at the same time the initial proclamation is a scholium on the words Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis: this son is born in time of the blessed Virgin, but is given to us by the Father, who begot him before all ages. 

The Hodie cantandus est trope enjoyed great popularity throughout the Middle Ages, and is found in liturgical books as late as the 15th century, well after the general decline in the popularity of tropes.

Tuotilo’s example, moreover, proved influential in the composition of introit tropes in the succeeding centuries. In particular, there arose an entire genre of chant verses to be sung before the introit which served almost as introductions to the feast commemorated in the Mass of the day, often labelled Tropi ad processionem in northern French manuscripts and Versus ad officium in English ones. Since they were part of the procession before Mass, or even sometimes of a pre-Mass ritual, some scholars have rather pedantically decided to argue they are not true tropes. Howbeit, in some instances they do seem to have acquired a life beyond that of a mere trope, taking advantage of the dramatic possibilities inherent in the dialogical structure of the Hodie cantandus est verses. Such is the case of the Quem quæritis dialogue on Easter, whereon we hope to dedicate a future post. 

cambrai trope
In this version of the Hodie cantandus est trope, from an 11th-century gradual from the Abbey of St-Vaast d’Arras (Cambrai, F-CA 75 [76]), the original verses have become part of a larger pre-introit ritual with the heading “ad processionem”. This sort of chanted dialogue would eventually develop into so-called “liturgical dramas”.

Notes

1. By way of example, in volumes I and III of the Corpus Troporum, which contain tropes for Christmastide and Eastertide respectively, one finds 1,044 introit trope verses, against 250 trope verses for offertories and 113 for communions.

2. This offertory responsory is different from the one preserved in the Tridentine missal, and can be found on pp. 4-5 here (without the added verses).

3. Que autem Tuotilo dictauerat, singularis et agnoscibilis melodie sunt, quia per psalterium seu per rotham, qua potentior ipse erat, neumata inuenta dulciora sunt, ut apparet in Hodie cantandus et Omnium uirtutum gemmis, quos quidem tropos Karolo ad offerendam quam ipse rex fecerat, obtulit canendos. Qui rex etiam Viri Galilei offerendam cum dictasset, Tuotiloni versus addere iniungit, ut aiunt: Quoniam Dominus Ihesus Christus cum esset, Omnipotens genitor, fons et origo; cum sequentibus: Gaudete et cantate, et alios quidem; sed istos proposuimus, ut quam dispar eius melodia sit ceteris, si musicus es, noris. (Ekkehard IV, Casus sancti Galli).

Ad Mariæ Gloriam: A Trope for Our Lady

Gloria in excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. Spiritus et alme orphanorum Paraclite. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris. Primogenitus Mariæ Virginis matris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecatiónem nostram, ad Mariæ gloriam. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, Mariam sanctificans. Tu solus Dominus, Mariam gubernans. Tu solus Altissimus, Mariam coronans, Jesu Christe. Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen. Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will. We praise Thee. We bless Thee. We adore Thee. We glorify Thee. We give Thee thanks for Thy great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son. O Spirit and kind comforter of orphans. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father. First-born of the Virgin Mother Mary. Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer, to the glory of Mary. Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For Thou only are holy, sanctifying Mary. Thou only art the Lord, ruling Mary. Thou only art most high, crowning Mary, O Jesus Christ. Together with the Holy Ghost in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
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Click here to download the sheet music for the Gloria with the Sanctus et alme trope.

As we mentioned in our introductory post on tropes, these were never explicitly banned by any decision taken by the Council of Trent or appearing in the liturgical books produced in its wake, with one exception: the 1570 Roman Missal includes a rubric insisting that the Gloria in excelsis must always be said as written in the Missal, even in Masses of Our Lady. This was a reaction to one of the most enduringly popular of all liturgical farcings, viz. the Spiritus et alme trope, which adorns the Gloria with sundry acclamations praising the marvels God has wrought in Our Lady.

Our exploration of the rich world of tropes has been heretofore confined to tropes on the Kyrie and, as we have seen, these are almost always melogene tropes: i.e. additional text has been added to the preëxisting melody. The melismatic character of the Kyrie obviously favours this sort of farcing, but tropes on most other parts of the Mass are generally logogene: new verses—comprising both text and melody—have been interspersed between the phrases of the original chant, a practice that makes the nature of tropes as sung commentaries especially manifest.

This is the case for tropes on the Gloria in excelsis. The earliest recorded Gloria tropes date back to the 9th century, and through the course of the following centuries over a hundred examples thereof have been catalogued; it constitutes one of the largest trope repertoires after the Kyrie and Introit tropes. They were, howbeit, obsolescent by the 13th century, with one notable exception: the Spiritus et alme trope.

This set of verses grafted onto the Angelic Hymn is a relatively late composition, being first attested in Rouen MS. 1386 (U. 158), from Jumièges in Normandy, which dates to around 1100. These verses were associated with the melody of Gloria IX in the Vatican edition from the very beginning; indeed, this melody rarely appears in the earliest sources without the trope, which might indicate that it was originally composed for the Gloria thus farced. Indeed, this would explain why this particular melody has always been associated with Our Lady. Most Gloria trope verses were prone to melodic promiscuity, withal, and there are a few instances of the Spiritus et alme verses attached to other melodies, including Gloria IV, XIV, and XV.

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Part of the Spiritus et alme trope in the Codex Sangallensis 546 (f. 15r).

From its birthplace in northern France, the Spiritus et alme trope spread to Aquitaine, England, and Italy, where it is attested in 12th century sources. In the following century, even as other Gloria tropes were falling into general disfavour, the Spiritus et alme verses continued to propagate relentlessly throughout Christendom, showing up in manuscripts from Spain, Portugal, Germany, Bohemia, Scandinavia, and Yugoslavia, where it even entered into the Old Slavonic use. The trope also appears in the liturgical books of various religious orders, including, fascinatingly enough, in ten Cistercian sources. The Order of Cîteaux’s approach to liturgy, as in other matters, was marked by an austere simplicity—one might even say by a certain Puritanism—wholly noxious to the flights of exuberant fancy that gave rise to tropes. Nevertheless, as Joaquim Bragança notes in his study of one of these sources, mediæval devotion to Our Lady—what Henry Adams called the “highest creative energy ever known to man”—was so powerful it could even vanquish the dour Cistercian hostility towards liturgical ornamentation.

tornacensis-gloria
Missale Tornacense (Tournai), 1498

salzburg-gloria
Missale Salisburgense (Salzburg), 1507.

vienne-gloria
Missale Viennense (Vienne), 1519.

The Gloria farced with the Spiritus et alme verses was the subject of polyphonic settings as well, including one for three voices with the Gloria IX melody as a tenor in the 12th-century Las Huelgas Codex (another Cistercian source, despite attempts by the Order to prohibit polyphony in its monasteries), two by Johannes Ciconia, and one by Guillaume Dufay. The composers of these works delighted in musically highlighting the Marian tropes, to the greater exaltation of Our Lady.

By the 15th century, then, the Spiritus et alme trope had become an established part of the Gloria in Masses on feasts and Saturdays of Our Lady nearly everywhere in Europe, featuring also in the pre-Tridentine printed editions of the Missale Romanum.

roman-gloria
Missale Romanum, 1543

Alas, however, the Spiritus et alme trope fell afoul of the reforming humanist spirit that arose during this age, with its “tendency towards rationalism and desire for sobriety in Catholic worship” [1], and this would lead to its outright prohibition. On 20 July 1562, during the 22nd Session of the Council of Trent, a commission of seven prelates was appointed to examine the question of liturgical abuses. Among the Postulata nonnullorum patrum circa varios abusus in missis subinductos (Petitions by certain Fathers about various abuses introduced into Mass), one finds the following: “Let those additions Mariam gubernans, Mariam coronans be removed from the hymn Gloria in excelsis; they seem an unbefitting insertion” [2]. The members of the commission agreed that farcing the Gloria to extol Our Lady was unbefitting, and the memoir they presented to the papal legate Hercules Cardinal Gonzaga on 8 August 1562, under the heading Abusus, qui circa venerandum Missæ sacrificium evenire solent, partim a Patribus deputatis animadversi; partim ex multorum Prælatorum dictis, et scriptis excerpti (Abuses, which often occur during the venerable sacrifice of the Mass, in part noted by the delegated Fathers, in part taken from the sayings and writings of many Prelates), lists the “added words about the Blessed Virgin” as one of the abuses that had crept into the celebration of the Mass [3]. The commission called for the production of reformed missals purged of such putatively abusive accretions [4].

As a result, the Missale Romanum promulgated by Pope St Pius V in 1570 included a rubric forbidding the farcing of the Gloria, even in Masses of Our Lady [5]. The Spiritus et alme trope was therefore abandoned in all dioceses that adopted the Tridentine missal, and, having been smirched as an abuse, it also soon disappeared in those dioceses that kept their local uses as they reformed their books following the Tridentine model. The Parisian Missal ad formam Sacrosancti Concilii Tridentini emendatum, for example, expunged the farced Marian Gloria and added the rubric Sic semper dicitur Gloria in excelsis.

The trope survived for a while in the extremely conservative Lyonese use, until its missal was reformed by Archbishop de Rochebonne in 1737 to bring it closer to the Tridentine model. It also remained in the use of Braga. In 1779, Archbishop Gaspar de Bragança, seeking to bring the Bragan use closer to the Roman, proposed, inter alia, the suppression of the Gloria de Domina, but was rebuffed by the chapter. The canons did deign to discuss the elimination of the Marian Gloria on 7 April 1780, but they finally decided to inform the subcantor and master of ceremonies that the Gloria was to be sung “according to the use of Braga”, thus preserving the trope. But finally, in 1924, a new edition of the Bragan Missal, approved by Pius XI, was promulgated which no longer included the farced Gloria, and thus disappeared its last vestige.

lyons-gloria
Missale Lugdunense (Lyons), 1620

The Spiritus et alme trope represents a fascinating instance where the use of a trope was so popular and universal it nearly became an established part of the Roman rite. It raises intriguing questions about what ought to be considered a legitimate and organic development of the liturgy, and what constitutes an illegitimate accretion and abuse. Whatever the terse declarations of the Tridentine liturgical commission, it is hardly obvious that the Marian Gloria is a case of the latter, and one might be excused for considering its disappearance a matter for regret.

Notes

[1] Chadwick, Anthony J. “The Roman Missal of the Council of Trent” in T&T Clark Companion to Liturgy, ed. Alcuin Reid, 2016, p. 107.

[2] Ab hymno: Gloria in excelsis, tollantur illa additamenta: Mariam gubernans, Mariam coronans: quæ videntur inepte inculcari. 

[3] Item forte essent animadvertenda in hymno Angelorum verba illa addita de Beata Virgine, Mariam gubernans, Mariam coronans ec.; videntur enim illa omnia inepte inculcari. 

[4] Missalia secundum usum et veteram consuetudinem S. R. E. reformentur, omnibus iis, quæ clanculum irrepserunt, repurgatis, ut omni ex parte eadem pura, nitida et integra proponantur.

[5] Sic dicitur Gloria in excelsis etiam in missis beatę Marię. This rubric was dropped in the editio typica of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Easter Gift: Supplement to the Kyriale

As an Easter gift to readers, we are happy to offer this Kyriale supplement published in 1934.

[Download here: Supplementum ad Kyriale.]

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Monitum

Anyone who studies the Troparia of the Spanish archives comes across a number of chants that are commendable for both their antiquity and their elegant melody, but which are lacking from the “Ordinary of the Mass” of the Roman Graduals according to the Vatican typical edition.

The perspicacity of our brother Dom Casiano Rojo [1] discovered this and, in order to supply this defect, he edited a small appendix to the Kyriale for Spain.

But the edition of this booklet having already been depleted, we now offer this more ample supplement, so that just as studies of Spanish codices have recently multiplied, so also the number of melodies which in Spain were once more copious, may be increased.

We have decided to omit from this edition, however, certain chants that are found in many German, French and Italian codices, in all likelihood because they were composed already in the 10th or 11th century by the monastic masters of melody working in the Abbey of St. Martial of Limoges.

When the same melody appears with several variations, we have seen fit to choose the one that excels the others in both elegance and antiquity.

[1] Dom Casiano Rojo Olalla (1877-1931)​, prior of Santo Domingo de Silos.

saint_Martial_-_Remise_du_bâton_de_saint_Pierre_(détail)_-_Voûtain_est
La vie de saint Martial – Remise du bâton de saint Pierre (détail) – Voûtain est. Chapelle de saint Martial, Palais des Papes, Avignon, Vaucluse, France. (Source)

 

Music for the Maundy

maundyTo-day we offer our readers this booklet containing the music for the Mandatum as it was celebrated before Pius XII’s reforms of Holy Week, according to the musical norms followed by the Antiphonale monasticum. The latter, published in 1934, reflected the advances that Gregorian chant scholarship had made since the publication of the Graduale romanum in 1908 and the Antiphonale romanum in 1912 (this explains the differing melodies of the same antiphons in the Roman and monastic uses).

Unhappily, a full official version of the Graduale reflecting these developments has never been produced, even after the promulgation of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which in article 117 states that “the typical edition of the books of Gregorian chant is to be completed; and a more critical edition is to be prepared of those books already published since the restoration by St. Pius X” [1]. Two privately-produced editions—the Liber gradualis and the Graduale novum—are in the course of being published, although it is regrettable that they are designed for use in the Novus Ordo Missae rather than the traditional Mass (even if it is easy enough to adapt them).

[1] Compleatur editio typica librorum cantus gregoriani; immo paretur editio magis critica librorum iam editorum post instaurationem sancti Pii X.

The History of the Folded Chasuble (Part 1)

We are much obliged to Henri de Villiers and the Schola Sainte Cécile for permission to publish this translation of “Les chasubles pliés: Histoire et liturgie.” Also published today on the New Liturgical Movement, which has previously posted other articles on folded chasubles here, here, and here and on the short phelonion here.

Folded chasubles are the vestments used by the deacon and subdeacon during penitential seasons instead of the dalmatic and tunicle. Their use dates back to the earliest years of the Church, when all the clergy used the chasuble.

HISTORY. The chasuble was originally a civil garment used already by the Etruscans, and became widespread in the Roman Empire beginning in the first century of our era, to the point that it became an elegant article of clothing in common use. It was a round garment with a hole in its centre to pass the head through, and covered the upper body down to the knees. It is known under different names, the principal ones being: pænula, the most common name in ancient Rome; casula, literally “little house” because it was a sort of little tent (this term has resulted in the English “chasuble”); planeta, the term later used by the Roman liturgical books, whereas the rest of Western Europe has always preferred to use casula; and amphibalus, mainly employed by the Fathers of the Church of Gaul.

Etruscan pænula (particularly rolled up over the arms), 4th century B. C.

The chasuble then tended, at the start of our era, to replace the old toga, which was too heavy and less practical, to the point where Roman orators began to insist on using them instead of togas when pleading cases, in order to have more freedom in for oratorical gestures [1]. Under the Emperor Trajan (98-117), the tribunes of the people wore chasubles, and Commodus (180-192) ordered that those assisting public spectacles should do so in a chasuble and no longer in a toga. The chasuble became the senatorial vestment in 382.

Christians naturally used this garment [2] and at the start of the 3rd century Tertullian chastised the faithful who took off their chasubles during liturgical prayers for reasons that he labelled superstitious [3]. As the chasuble became a vestment of honour for high officers of the Empire, Christians sought to give their own tribunes and senators—bishops, priests, and deacons—a similar mark of honour.

In Christian writings, the first mention of the chasuble as a properly liturgical vestment is relatively late: it is found in the second of the two letters written by St Germain of Paris († 576), which contains a famous description of the mass according to the ancient Gallican rite:

Casula quam amphibalum vocant, quod sacerdos induetur, tota unita per Moysem legiferum instituta primitus demonstratur. Jussit ergo Dominus fieri dissimilatum vestimentum, ut talem sacerdos induerit, quale indui populus non auderetur. Ideo sine manicas, quia sacerdos potius benedicit quam ministrat. Ideo unita prinsecus, non scissa, non aperta ; quia multae sunt Scripturae sacrae secreta mysteria, quae quasi sub sigillo sacerdoti doctus debet abscondere, et unitatem fidei custodire, non in haerese vel schismata declinare.

The chasuble, which is known as amphibalus and which the priest wears, shows the original unity of all that was instituted by Moses the Lawgiver. Now, the Lord commanded that diverse vestments be made, so that the people might not dare wear what the priest wears. Hence it has no sleeves, since the priest’s duty is to bless rather than to minister. Hence from the start it has been of one piece, and not split or opened, since many are the hidden mysteries of Holy Scripture, which the learned priest must conceal under a seal, as it were, and preserve the unity of the faith, nor to fall into heresy or schism.

Nevertheless, well before this first mention, numerous frescoes, mosaics, and miniatures from the 4th century onward show beyond doubt the chasuble was largely adopted during this era as a liturgical vestment, in the East as well as the West.

Chasuble-de-saint-Ambroise-à-Milan
St Ambrose of Milan wearing a chasuble. Note the cut that facilitates the movements of the right arm. Mosaic dated 375 from the chapel of San Vittore in Ciel d’Oro in the basilica of St Ambrose.

At this time, the chasuble was the general vestment of all the clergy, not only that of bishops and priests, but also of deacons, subdeacons, and—according to Alcuin (c. 730-804)—in certain circumstances even of acolytes! Amalarius of Metz (775-850) tells us that the chasuble was still worn in his time by all clerics without distinction. He calls it the generale indumentum sacrorum ducum [4]. t was still employed by acolytes in certain regions into the 11th century [5].

For the celebrating bishop or priest, this vestment did not create any discomfort in carrying out the sacred ceremonies, as St Germain of Paris notes: “Hence it has no sleeves, since the duty of the priest is to bless rather than to minister”. But the ministers—deacons and subdeacons—had to adapt the chasuble for their purposes: they rolled back the front part of the vestment, so that the arms of the ministers would be free to handle the sacred vessels. And thus they were dubbed “folded chasubles”, or planetæ plicatæ ante pectus, as the Latin liturgical books say.

In order to better understand the form taken by this folding, below are some photographs taken from the journal L’Art d’Église (n. 4, 1948), which show a very successful attempt to recreate the ancient shape of the folded chasuble by the monks of the St Andrew’s Abbey in Belgium:

The subdeacon’s folded chasuble.

From the singing of the Gospel until the end of the Mass, the deacon, in order to be freer in his movements, rolled up his chasuble and slung it across his shoulders over his stole:

The deacon’s chasuble: rolled and slung over the shoulder or simply folded, depending on the different moments of the Mass.

The celebrant’s chasuble did not need to be folded [6] precisely because the deacon and subdeacon would help him by lifting up its edges at certain times during the incensings and at the elevations. This beautiful gesture was faithfully kept by the Roman liturgy, even when it ceased to be necessary after celebrants’ chasubles began to be clipped and reduced in shape.

In fact, the folded chasubles worn by deacons and subdeacons were a clear symbol of their proper function as sacred ministers, i.e. of their role as servants of the celebrant.

Deacons’ and subdeacons’ folded chasubles were later replaced, beginning in the 5th century, by two new vestments: the dalmatic and the tunicle, vestments endowed with sleeves that it more manageable to carry out their liturgical and ministerial functions.

Still, Rome took a long time to adopt this novelty, and the Ordines Romani that describe the Roman liturgy at the time of St Gregory the Great and a bit thereafter (7th century) still name the chasuble as the vestment worn by the pope, the deacons, and the subdeacons. Moreover, John the Deacon (c. 825-880), the biographer of St Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), in his Vita Gregorii Magni, designates the rest of the clergy that accompanied the Pope on processions with the term planeti (“those wearing planetæ“, i.e. chasubles).

When Rome finally accepted the use of dalmatics and tunicles, she nevertheless kept the use of folded chasubles for the deacon and subdeacon during Lent and penitential seasons, following the generally observed liturgical principle that the seasons considered the most holy are also those that are spared from liturgical innovations.

Furthermore, the dalmatic and tunicle are sumptuous vestments that symbolize joy and innocence. For a long time, their colour had to be white, and ancient dalmatics were also adorned with the two bright purple vertical bands (lati claves) that adorned the senatorial garb of old. During the ordination of a deacon, the bishop imposes the dalmatic upon him with these words: “May the Lord attire thee in the garment of salvation, and the vestment of joy (indumento lætitiæ), and ever surround thee with the dalmatic of justice”. The equivalent prayer for clothing the subdeacon with the tunicle also speaks of a vestimento lætitiæ. The use of the dalmatic and tunicle was consequently entirely inappropriate for penitential seasons, during which the old folded chasuble was hence preserved.

The distribution of candles during the Feast of the Purification.

RULES FOR LITURGICAL USE. Folded chasubles are therefore used in the Roman liturgy during penitential seasons. The exact extent of these seasons is described in chapter XIX, §§ 6 and 7 of the rubrics of the Roman Missal of St Pius V (De qualitate paramentorum) [7]:

“In cathedrals and major churches, chasubles are used folded before the breast on fasting days (except on the vigils of the saints), and on the Sundays and ferias of Advent and Lent, and on the Vigil of Pentecost before Mass (except on

  • Gaudete Sunday, and when its Mass is repeated during the week,
  • on Lætare Sunday,
  • on the Vigil of Christmas,
  • on Holy Saturday during the blessing of the candle and during Mass, and
  • on the Ember Days of Pentecost)

also during the blessing of candles and procession on the day of the Purification of Our Lady, and during the blessing of ashes and the blessing of palms and the procession.

“In smaller churches, however, on the aforesaid fasting days (the deacon and subdeacon) minister only with the alb; the subdeacon with the maniple, and the deacon also with the stole hanging from his left shoulder under his right.”

Ordinations on Ember Saturday: the deacon and subdeacon, ministers of the bishop, wear folded chasubles.

We shall here explain certain aspects of this rubric in greater detail. Despite its apparent complexity, it follows some simple and logical principles:

1. Folded chasubles were only used on penitential seasons, and hence only in violet or black. They were not used (even if the above rubric does not make it explicit) for the Mass on Maundy Thursday, celebrated in white, but were for the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday, celebrated in black. Before the reforms of the 1950s, the Vigil of Pentecost was like a second Paschal Vigil, and comprised six prophecies before the beginning of the Mass. This fore-mass was celebrated in violet and hence folded chasubles were used. The subsequent Mass was in red. Likewise, on Holy Saturday, the deacon blessed the Paschal candle in a white dalmatic, then put on the folded chasuble again for the Fore-Mass in violet (which comprised twelve prophecies and the blessing of the font). The Mass following this Fore-Mass was in white vestments.

2. Sundays of Advent and Lent are not fasting days (one never fasts on Sundays, which always celebrates Christ’s resurrection) but are still included as part of penitential seasons because they are celebrated in violet. Nonetheless, the rubric of the Roman Missal does not mention Sundays of Septuagesima, which are also celebrated in violet. With some exceptions, medieval commentators did not recommend the use of violet chasubles during the season of Fore-Lent. (To follow the rubric rigorously, one should not use them on Sundays during Septuagesima, but one could consider using them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays on the three weeks of this season, since they were formerly fasting days).

3. The two Sundays of Gaudete and Lætare are breaks in the middle of Advent and of Lent, days of joy when the Church gives the faithful a foretaste of the rejoicing that awaits them at the end of these two penitential seasons: the vestments are rose-coloured instead of violet, altars are adorned with flowers, and the organ and other musical instruments are played. The Mass of Gaudete Sunday can be celebrated again during the week that follows, and is endowed with the same privileges (the Mass of Lætare Sunday cannot be repeated during the following week, since each feria of Lent is provided with a proper mass).

4. The Ember Days of Pentecost are the sole Ember Days without fasting, because they are included in the Octave of Pentecost. Hence, unlike the Ember Days of September, Advent, and Lent, folded chasubles are not used during these masses.

5. By “major churches”, the rubric means cathedrals, collegiate churches, and also parish churches. This was confirmed by a decision of the Sacred Congregation of Rites dated 11 September 1847 addressed to Nicholas Wiseman, bishop of London, who was then reestablishing the Catholic hierarchy in England and whose entirely new parishes were still often bereft of vestments. The same decision counseled him to celebrate Mass in his cathedral without sacred ministers rather than have deacons and subdeacons without folded chasubles. This decision must have seemed a bit inflexible because it was suppressed in later collections of decrees of the S. C. R.: a major church lacking folded chasubles can always have ministers serve without folded chasubles, wearing only with alb, stole, and maniple.

6. Smaller churches seems to have been dispensed from using folded chasubles not so much because they lacked them but because it was more difficult to have three perfectly matching chasubles, two of which were folded.

7. Another response by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (n. 5385, 31 August 1867) specifies that folded chasubles must be used before the exposed Blessed Sacrament during the Forty Hours Prayer taking place in Advent or Lent.

8. The use of folded chasubles was linked to an idea of liturgical time, for they were not used during Requiem masses, which are not tied to any particular season:  black dalmatic and tunicle are used instead.

LITURGICAL USE. For the ministers to assist the celebrant, it suffices that the front of their chasubles be folded; but when the deacon or subdeacon must carry out those tasks proper to them, they entirely remove this vestment or fold it still further.

Thus, the subdeacon takes off his folded chasuble before singing the epistle, and puts it on again immediately thereafter [8].

The proper office of the deacon begins with the singing of the Gospel and continues until the end of communion; during this time, he does not remove his folded chasuble entirely, but wears it folded and strung over his left shoulder, attached under the right arm with thin cords (or even by making a knot), over his stole. After communion, he unrolls the fabric and wears the chasuble folded as before.

Deacon wearing his chasuble rolled up for the singing of the Gospel.

To simplify this procedure, the custom arose of folding another chasuble in advance, which the deacon put over his shoulder at the appropriate time. Later on, this folded chasuble was often replaced by a simple band of the same fabric, commonly dubbed a broad stole [9].

Evolution of the transversed chasuble to the broad stole: on the left, a rolled chasuble on a mediæval stature of Wells Cathedral in England; on the right, the broad stole in its modern shape: a simple band of fabric without trims on the edges.

During Pontifical Mass, the assistant deacons put on their vestments—viz. a chasuble folded in front, over a cotta or rochet—towards the end of Terce, before the bishop sings the collect [10].

The cross-bearer subdeacon also wears a folded chasuble [11].

Chasuble pliée & stolon de la basilique Sainte-Marie-des-Anges à Rome.
Folded chasuble and broad stole from the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome.

EVOLUTION OF THE SHAPE. From the folded chasuble to the cut chasuble.

The use of actually folding the front part of the chasuble and keeping it folded with cords or hooks has persisted to our days.

In the 17th century, Pisacara Castaldo notes that folded chasubles must not be different from that of the celebrant [12]. In the 18th century, Merato, commenting on Gavantus, further specified that the hooks that keep them folded must be removed between ceremonies lest the chasubles be damaged, and in order that priests might comfortably use them in low masses [13].

A folded chasuble is therefore exactly what its name suggests: a chasuble like any other, worn with the front part folded from within up to the level of the elbows, and often held in place by two steel clips.

New Jersey - USA - FSSP.
Mater Ecclesiæ Church, New Jersey, USA

Nevertheless, over the centuries, as chasubles for celebrants became clipped on the edges for convenience’s sake, the folds of chasubles for deacons and subdeacons became definitively stitched up, and finally the excess fabric was entirely cut off (one might therefore speak of “cut chasubles”, but common use has kept the term “folded chasubles.)

Formes classiques romaines : stolon du diacre, chasuble du célébrant et chasuble pliée du sous-diacre - Londres
Classical Roman shapes: deacon’s broad stole, celebrant’s chasuble, and subdeacon’s folded chasuble. Juventutem London.

Notes

  1. Cf. De Oratoribus chap. XXXIX, attributed to Tacitus (58 – c. 120)
  2. There are many chasubles that are said to have belonged to St Paul.
  3. Tertullian, De Oratione, chap. XV.
  4. Amalarius of Metz, De ecclesiasticis officiis, II, 19 (PL 105, 1095).
  5. A. King, Liturgy of the Roman Church, London-New York-Toronto, Longmans, 1957, p. 130.
  6. Even if some celebrants’ chasubles sometimes have folds or cords; this was the use in the cathedral of Rheims.
  7. De qualitate paramentorum tit. XIX, n. 6, 7. “In diebus vero ieiuniorum (præterquam in vigiliis Sanctorum) et in Dominicis et feriis Adventus et Quadragesimæ ac in vigilia Pentecostes ante Missam (exceptis Domi‐ nica Gaudete, si eius Missa infra hebdomadam repetatur, et Dominica Lætare, Vigilia Nativitatis Domini, Sabbato Sancto in benedictione Cerei et in Missa, ac quatuor temporibus Pentecostes) item in benedictione Candelarum et Processione in die Purificationis Beatæ Mariæ, et in benedictione Cinerum ac benedictione Palmarum et Processione, in Cathedralibus et præcipuis Ecclesiis utuntur Planetis plicatis ante pectus ; quam planetam Diaconus dimittit, etc. In minoribus autem Ecclesiis, prædictis diebus ieiuniorum Alba tantum induti ministrant : Subdiaconus cum manipulo, Diaconus etiam cum stola ab humero sinistro pendente sub dextrum.”
  8. “If the ministers are wearing the folded chasuble, the first acolyte rises during the last collect before the Epistle and takes the folded chasuble from the sub-deacon, then the latter takes the book, chants the Epistle, and kisses the hand of the celebrant. After returning the book, he revests again in the folded chasuble—either by the altar or at the credence—and transfers the Missal from the Gospel side with its cushion or book-stand.” Pio Martinucci, Manuale sacrarum Caerimoniarum, chap. VI, n. 14.
  9. “After the celebrant has begin reading the Gospel [in a low voice], the deacon descends from the altar by the side, as has been said. At the credence he deposits the folded chasuble and puts on the broad stole; then he takes the Gospel book, carries it to the altar, and completes the rest of his functions.” Pio Martinucci, Manuale sacrarum Caerimoniarum, chap. VI, n. 15.
  10. Caerimoniale Episcoporum, Book II, chap. XIII, n. 3.
  11. Pierre Jean Baptiste de Herdt, Pratique de la liturgie selon le rite romain, p. 213.
  12. A. Pisacara Castaldo, Praxis caeremoniarum, Neapoli, Scoriggium, 1645, p. 178.
  13. B. Gavantus—G.M. Merato, Thesaurus Sacrorum Rituum, Venetiis, Balleoniana, 1792, I, p. 48.