Questions about the Breviary

In the comments some good questions were raised and I think they are important enough to be answered in a blog-post rather than simply in a comment. I would like to thank the reader who has brought up the following questions, and I hope I will be able to answer them satisfactorily.

– When the rubrics of the Propers say of Compline “Commemoration of feria”, that means then that the Psalms to be said are of the feira, correct?

In the Office of Compline no commemorations are made. The commemorations, if any, are made in Lauds and Vespers (sometimes as a ix Lesson in Matins). If a commemoration is ordered of the feria it depends upon the feast whether or not the ferial psalms are said. For Simples, Semi-doubles, Doubles (sometimes called Lesser Doubles) and Greater Doubles the Psalms are often ferial but the Antiphons to the Psalms are of the feast. This is so since the rubrical reforms of Pius X. Up until 1911, therefore, any Double would have its own proper Psalms thereby preventing the ferial Psalms from ever being said. The Anglican Breviary – following Benedictine Use – also prefers Sundays over almost all Doubles except I and II Class Doubles so that the Sunday Office almost always prevails over a feast.

In short, yes, very often the ferial Psalms are said when the feria is commemorated. But the ferial Psalms are not said because the feria is commemorated but in spite of the feria being commemorated!

– I’ve yet to encounter a case where the rubrics of the Propers indicate different a Hymn for Compline other than the Te Lucis. The rubrics for it, though, seem to indicate that there are such cases. Are there really?

The Hymn for Compline is not subject to variation. What can happen, however,  is that the Hymn is omitted but not replaced:

The same Hymn is always used, unless the Proper order its omission.

The above Rubric is phrased a little clumsily, but it does not instruct ever replacing the Hymn Te lucis but merely allows for its being dropped from the Office if the Proper so demands.

– My greatest confusion is with the Preces. I still don’t know when they’re to supposed to de ferial or dominical (though I am aware that it is related to Vespers).

The rubrics concerning the Preces are confusing. The question of dominical or ferial Preces only arises with Prime. On normal feria’s the dominical (abbreviated) are said as well as on Simples and Semidoubles (this would have to be so or the Preces could never be said on Sundays which are usually of Semi-double rite). If the abbreviated or dominical Preces have been said there will be no Preces at Lauds and Vespers. In such cases the Preces are said in an abbreviated form (dominical) at Prime and entire at Compline. On Greater Ferias (such as in the Season of Lent) the Preces are said entire at Prime – the Ferial Preces. When these Ferial Preces are said there will also be Preces at Lauds, the Little Hours, Vespers and Compline. The Preces are said entire at all Hours (they are only ever abbreviated at Prime). If a Lesser Double or a higher ranking feast is commemorated in the Office (on a Sunday for example) there are no Preces on behalf of the feast commemorated. On days of Lesser Double or higher ranking feasts – the Office of the Feast being celebrated – the Preces are never said.

– As Lent is a penitential season I take it that the Preces are to be said always even when the feast is a double (as ferial preces)? Are they said on Sundays?

On normal Sundays, which are of Semi-double rite, the Preces are said in their abbreviated (dominical) form. The Preces would not be said if the Office of the day is of a Lesser Double or higher ranking Feast. The Preces are said if the Office is Simple, or Semi-double – and of course of the Office is of the Ember or Greater Feria (in the case of Greater Ferias – the feria’s in Lent are Greater Ferias – the Preces are ferial). I hope this has become a little more clear …

Please ask if there are still questions, or correct me if you find a mistake!

Fr. Gregory Wassen +


About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
This entry was posted in Anglican Breviary, Ordo, Rubrics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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