17 December 2013

RORATE CAELI DESUPER

There is a Western custom of having a look at the Annunciation (and often also the Visitation) in the run-up to Christmas. The instinct for this is an obvious one, and led to the special celebration of our Lady in the Ambrosian Rite on the last (sixth) Sunday of Advent. Similarly, the Roman postconciliar 'reforms' made Advent IV a Marian celebration; not unintelligently, once you have conceded the everything-into-the-mixing-pot model of liturgical 'reform'. For, although in one sense it is rational to make the Annunciation precede the Nativity by nine months, in another sense the mind naturally groups together events which are inextricably bound together, and wishes to revisit the Annunciation while its thoughts are occupied with the ventura sollemnia of the Birth. I will attempt the briefest summary of what the Roman Tradition has to offer.

Old Rite EMBER DAYSThe December Ember days, originally apparently associated with the Olive Harvest, were soon transformed into preparations for Christmass. The old mass for the Wednesday in the week before Advent IV, beginning Rorate, has the Annunciation for its theme (the Friday mass commemorates the Visitation). Slightly adapted, this became, in the Old Rite, the Advent Votive of our Lady.

Appendix pro aliquibus locis

The old nineteenth century Supplement under this name has a feast Expectatio Partus BMV on December 18. It combines Advent elements (such as the Rorate introit) with things from March 25. Incidentally, England was one of the very many countries where it was on the local calendar, back in the days when the Holy See had granted a Calendar for England and before it replaced it with different Calendars for the respective RC dioceses (I wonder when that was?).
This feast, which one might have assumed to be an agreeable piece of Hispanic baroquery, is in fact quite old; it is said to date back to the Xth Council of Toledo in 656, when the Spanish bishops ordered a Feast of the Annunciation just before Christmas. This was partly because of its inherent thematic suitability, partly because the feast on March 25 is either overshadowed by Lenten themes or (when transferred) confuses the days after Low Sunday. The Spanish feast had an Octave leading up to Christmas itself, during which there was a daily High Mass attended by expectant women.

New Rite WEEKDAYS
The Roman Revisers who created the Weekday Eucharistic Lectionary (which is also authorised for use in the Church of England) made the Gospels for December 20 and 21 the Gospels respectively of the Annunciation and the Visitation (vide also the Collectio of Marian Masses). Additionally, they provided Votive Masses for our Lady, a different one for each season. The Advent votive begins with a translation of the Introit Rorate. If you used, from the selection offered, the Reading from Isaiah 7 and the Gospel of the Annunciation, you would have a close modern approximation of the ancient Mass for the Ember Wednesday.

"THE RORATE MASS"A beautiful custom arose in Germany and Eastern Europe of saying an Advent Votive Mass of our Lady in the darkness just before dawn, entirely by candlelight. As well as being very ancient and very suitable to the few days before Christmass, it also comes round about the time (in the Northern hemisphere) of our shortest day. It thus has pastoral potential just when the human frame and psyche need to be cheered up by the prospect of lengthening days and the return of Light.

This is an earlier post, modified. I include the old thread; what Quality Comments I used to get ...

12 comments:

Fr. Yousuf said...

There may not be a direct connection, but the East Syriac rite is parallel to the Spanish tradition, and does Annunciation in Advent. I think they later adopted the March 25 feast from outside.

Fr Yousuf Rassam

Pastor in Valle said...

The Diocese of Toledo still maintains the December Annunciation tradition. In fact, it is the one day of the year when the entire diocese is required to celebrate the Mozarabic Mass.

Joshua said...

I've just had a moment of stupefied amazement when trying to imagine all the local priests being required to celebrate the Mozarabic Rite even once a year!

They would be, as the saying is, As confused as a Jesuit in Holy Week...

Pastor in Valle said...

It's done in Spanish these days, and though heavily 'reformed', it is still massively different from the Roman rite. There is a special missal with just the texts for this day which, I assume, most parishes use.
If you read Spanish, there is a site with lots of stuff, including videos here:
http://www.arquired.es/users/mrgreyes/ermita/index.htm

Joshua said...

Thank you, Father, for the reference - though I know that site well! The reform of which you speak appears to be fairly reasonable, stripping back late mediæval Romano-Toledan interpolations to reveal the pre-Conquest Spanish Rite. (To remove mediæval accretions from the Roman Rite I consider reprehensible, but it is a different matter when sundry such were inserted into another Rite entirely.) I had been under the impression from what is there that the Rite has no official Spanish translation, and is still done in Latin, but I may well be mistaken. As it is, suffice to say that I hope to visit Toledo and assist at Mass in the Capilla Muzarabe one day.

Joshua said...

For those interested, the proper of the Mass in the Mozarabic Rite for the 18th of December is available at:

http://personales.ya.com/mrgreyes/ermita/Liturgia/Renov/mis-dic-18.htm

(It appears the Spanish is not an official translation, according to the endnote.)

Pastor in Valle said...

Joshua: The site I quoted was simply something I found when trying to find you a pointer to the Spanish translation. I bought a copy in the little religious shop attached to Toledo Cathedral: it is an altar copy certainly for liturgical use. Alas I don't have it with me (I am away from base for a few months). I expect that it would be too much to expect all priests in a diocese to celebrate in Latin these days (sigh!).

Pastor in Valle said...

I did assist at Mass in the Mozarabic chapel of Toledo Cathedral a few years ago. It was done facing the people, in Latin. There were very few worshippers (though, to be fair, it was a weekday in July, in a city where there were probably hundreds of other Masses). The celebrant gave me an amused tolerant glance ('another liturgist nut!')

Joshua said...

Thanks again, Fr!

I think I prefer the term "liturgy tragic" (on the model of "cricket tragic")...

Glad to hear that the Mozarabic Mass is used throughout Toledo at least once a year, even if - I might be daring and say especially if - it is in the local vernacular; since from what I recall reading, the Spanish translation of the Roman Rite Mass is actually quite good, and one may expect similar quality. (I suppose it would be easier, all things considered, to render Latin into a Romance language than into a less closely related tongue.)

Pax--Tecum said...

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the Rorate Mass in honour of our Lady on the Ember Wednesday is also called "Gulden Mis", i.e. "Golden/gilded Mass", because of the great importance which the faithful attached to Mary's intercession in this Mass.

PseudonymousposterJohn said...

I left this question back on the 5 Dec. with a VERY amusing joke about Greek and Brigadoon!

But in case of loss....

Back in the summer I was forced to pick up the third volume in order to have something to read before Lauds on Fisher-More (on the 9th July, obviously). The single proper lection for both great martyrs, the brightest lights in the darkness of their schismatic days of persecution, was a letter from S Thomas More to Margaret Roper. Nice and homely, but not very theological. Nothing about, still less by, S John Fisher. Would you mind satisfying my curiosity about the Latin original’s contents at this point? I recall it is a ‘memorial’ in the universal section, to which the duplicated reference in the national proper refers you. My point is that the reading in the English translation is an original English document; I think it reproduced at least some of the original spellings, but maybe not the capitalization. So which is the original, here? The translated volume is not translating the Latin book at this point, but, is it simply printing the best English version of a text also present in the Latin – you know that I suspect not – OR is it making a substitution? Does the Latin original have a reading that actually, either,
a). contains any theology, or
b). mentions the martyred bishop on his feast day?

I shall try not to make any further value judgments until I can access this information. And, sorry to be unseasonal, but this has really been bugging me.

Figulus said...

If Fr Hunwicke will pardon PseudonymousposterJohn's diversion from the subject, perhaps he will also pardon my reply. Since I do not have my Volumen III Liturgia Horarum with me, I consulted a relatively reputable on-line source at almudi.org to find answers to your question. According to the text for 22 June, the answers to your questions are (a.) no, and (b.) no.

A snippet from the lection altera:

Ex Epístola sancti Thomæ More ad Margarítam fíliam in cárcere conscrípta (The English Works of Sir Thomas More, London, 1557, p. 1454)

Quamvis, mea Margaríta, bene mihi cónscius sim, eam fuísse vitæ meæ anteáctæ pravitátem, ut plane mérear a Deo déseri, tamen non désinam in eius imménsa bonitáte semper confídere, optiméque speráre, quod quemádmodum háctenus sanctíssima eius grátia mihi vires subministrávit ómnia ánimo contemnéndi, opes, rédditus ac vitam ipsam, potiúsquam reluctánte consciéntia ut iurem; ipsíque regi benígna mente suggéssit, ut háctenus sola me libertáte priváret (qua certe una in re sua maiéstas maius mihi benefícium cóntulit, propter spiritálem ánimæ meæ profectum, quem inde me cónsequi spero, quam in ómnibus illis honóribus et bonis sic ántea mihi accumulátis) sive éadem grátia vel regis ánimum ita moderábitur, ut nihil in me grávius státuat, vel mihi eas perpétuo vires dabit, ut quantumcúmque grávia patiénter (fórtiter et libénter) feram.

...

R/. Cum essent in torméntis mártyres Christi, cæléstia contemplántes dicébant: * Adiuva nos, Dómine, ut perficiámus opus tuum sine mácula.
V/. Réspice in servos tuos et in ópera tua. * Adiuva.