All Souls & The Office of the Dead

A Complete Office

We are only a few weeks away from All Souls Day. Anciently this would be celebrated by letting the Vespers of the Dead follow the Office of the Day, and by having Matins & Lauds of the Dead follow immediately on the Lauds of the Day. St. Pius X changed this radically. Under his papacy the Office of the Dead for All Souls Day received its own complete Office. Anciently we only had Vespers, Matins & Lauds of the Dead but under St. Pius X we now have Vespers, Compline, Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, and None of the Dead for All Souls. Because it now has a complete Office the Office of the Dead should not be added to the Office of the Day as was previously done. November 2nd now has its own propers belonging specifically to it.

The Anglican Breviary (AB) simply presumes that the changes introduced by St. Pius X will be followed, including those using the Simple Kalendar. No instructions are given for an alternative office as we do find at other times in the AB for the Simple Kalendar.

Matters Liturgical

Fr. Joseph Wuest explains the Office as introduced by St. Pius as follows:

On All Soul’s Day the Divine Office of the Dead is recited in the following manner:

After the Second Vespers of All Saints, i.e. after Benedicamus Domino and its Response, the Vespers of the Dead are said according to the Rubrics of the Breviary.

  • If All Souls’ Day is transferred to November 3, the entire Vespers are said either of the Sunday or of the Feast superseding the Sunday, and then the Vespers of the Dead follow in the manner indicated.

The Compline is the said – the Compline of the Feast, or Sunday, being omitted – according to the disposition of the New Psalter, with its own special Psalms.

Omitting the entire Office of the day within the Octave of All Saints’, the Office of the Dead is said as it is given in the latest edition of the Breviary, namely:

At Matins: everything is said as given in the Office of the Dead, at the end of the Breviary, except the Lessons, which are Proper. The Ninth Responsory is Libera me … de morte etc.

At Lauds: everything is said as given in the Breviary, but Psalms 66, 148, 149 are omitted.

At Prime: the Psalms assigned in the new Breviary are said without any Antiphon. At the conclusion of the Psalms the Pater Noster, etc. as given in the new Breviary, are said kneeling (i.e. if said in Choir). In Choir the Martyrology is read, beginning with Hac die etc., given in the appendix of the Psalter. The rest iss aid as it is given in the same place.

At Terce, Sext, and None the special Psalms given in the new Breviary are said. After the Psalms, a Pater Noster is recited, and the rest as given in the respective places. The Office of the Dead terminates with None.

The Psalm numbers mentioned in Matters Liturgical do not perfectly match those given in the Anglican Breviary. This is not an oversight but this is due to the difference between the way the Masoretes and the Septuagint number the Psalms.

Gregory +


About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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