25 March 2015

ANGELUS DOMINI

There are customs surrounding the Angelus, familiar to those of the Anglican Patrimony, which I do not see in 'diocesan' Catholic churches.

(1) The use of the Angelus immediately after the main Sunday morning Mass;
(2) the singing of the Angelus;
(3) genuflexion at Et Verbum caro factum est; and
(4) the sign of the Cross at per passionem eius et cru+cem ... .

Can anyone throw any light on these customs (particularly their origins), which seem to me thoroughly admirable?


I rather incline to the narrative according to which the Angelus was instituted by Pope John XXII, who certainly did institute the Solemnity of Corpus Christi as we have it today. He 'provided' that great pontiff and builder and liturgist John de Grandisson to the See of Exeter, and I have long wondered whether that can possibly have anything to do with the fact that Grandisson's patron is commemorated in Avignon by a fine tomb of English manufacture.

24 comments:

Joshua said...

I am familiar with (3) the genuflection at Et Verbum caro factum est, which I learnt along with the prayer some decades ago; I suspect that, as genuflection (and the Last Gospel) went rather out of fashion for a while, its use has declined; but it certainly not restricted to Ordinariate circles.

As for (1) and (2), they strike me as very much Patrimony, as does (4) - the making of such sign at that point in the prayer makes sense, but I learnt instead to end the Angelus, after the Collect, with the versicle Divinum auxilium maneat simper nobiscum and the response Et fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. Amen.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I am a cradle Catholic and find 3 & 4 quite normal

David Swyer said...

My Parish has the Angelus before the 6pm Vigil Mass on Saturday. No genuflection or bowing that I can see in Et Verbum caro factum est. No singing or crossing oneself either. The hardest thing for me is the prayer is a different translation to the one I am used to.I am used to the English version by Cranmer of the Lady Day Collect (Happy Feast Day btw)We all say it together and I can't help lapsing into Cranmer's felicitous language.

davidforster said...

According to the Raccolta of 1856, originally the indulgences for the Angelus prescribed that it should be said kneeling, and at the sound of the bell. (Benedict XIII, 1724). Later it was prescribed that it should be said standing on Saturday evening, and on Sundays. (Benedict XIV, 1742).

Apparently these conditions were relaxed by Leo XIII in 1884, taking away the requirements for the bell and the particular posture.

I agree that 3+4 seem to be common in Catholic circles in this country, not restricted to Anglican converts.

Titus said...

I've never heard of saying the Angelus after Mass: you say it in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Nor have I noticed (4).

But, like Joshua, all the references I've seen reflect the genuflection. I don't know why one wouldn't sing it, if one were able. But, alas, how few of us are!

Matthew Roth said...

In America, and also in parts of Europe (Dublin, certainly) it seems that everyone kneels for Et habitavit in nobis, which makes not one iota of sense. I think part of this has to do with the suppression of the Last Gospel from where I suspect it came (as well as on the Gospel of Christmas Day, of course) and the fading memory of it on the part of most Mass-goers.

I have never heard it sung other than in Biebl's setting of the Ave Maria. We always say the Angelus at 6, 12, and then again at 6 in the evening, and even then, we don't always say it before a noon Mass on Sunday. Most places with daily Mass at noon do pray it before Mass. I think it's neat that people make the sign of the Cross at the end of the prayer.

Terry Pearson said...

Dear Father, All the things mentioned by Joshua, including the versicle, were familiar to Catholics before Vatican 2, and are still usual at the Traditional Mass. It was only with the advent of the novus ordo that we lost them, and much more besides. Terry.

austin said...

In my now three years as a Catholic in the US I have seen the Angelus only on television. My children in parochial school have never heard of it. But our parish church still rings the chimes at noon and six from old habit.

All the practices Father mentions were common in the Anglo-Catholic parishes I went to, though some spoke the prayer and at others genuflection was not universal. One of the things I most miss in the RC world -- though, to be fair, none of the Episcopal churches I frequented had it after mass either.

Perhaps it was never especially popular as a devotion in the USA. A wiser man might know.

Paul Goings said...

Father, this is something that we've always done at S. Clement's during my time there (the last twenty-five years). It was said to be an emulation of what is/was done at S. Mary's, Bourne Street, but I don't know how it started there.

I have a theory, however, that the custom is of fairly recent vintage, and only dates from the suppression of the Last Gospel (in 1965/1969) as a way to retain a "commemoration" of the Incarnation at the end of Mass. This may be entirely incorrect, of course, but I am aware of no evidence (service leaflets or parish magazines) that supports or disproves my theory.

Chatto said...

Father, I know the Oratorians in Manchester do 1, 2, and 3, though the Angelus is in English in their case. Something worthy of (re)introducing far and wide!

Romulus said...

This American cradle Catholic has always seen #3 and till now assumed it was the norm.

Mike Hurcum said...

If you find a missal with the Tridentine Mass in before the 1960's you will find various icons that suggest we bless ourselves at every mention of the Trinity. During the silent canon we used to beat our breast when the priest said loudly Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus. We blessed ourselves at the through Him and in Him, the minor consecration before the Pater Nostro. We blessed ourselves at the Pax Domine. we beat our breast at the end of each part of the three agnus dei's
we blessed ourselves when the priest said Indulgentionem Absolutem the only place in the mass when sins were forgiven venial sins that is. there were other parts like we always knelt at the last blessing. we blessed ourselves at the beginning of the homily. Many of us blessed ourselves at the end of the homily. we always stood during the mass when the priest stood and not before him, we sat when he sat during the epistles and gospels. we bowed our heads at the words Jesus Christ and the priest if at that time was listening he removed his biretta. The Byzantines have 37 places where the Trinity is mentioned and the bless themselves

Mike Hurcum said...

If you find a missal with the Tridentine Mass in before the 1960's you will find various icons that suggest we bless ourselves at every mention of the Trinity. During the silent canon we used to beat our breast when the priest said loudly Nobis Quoque Peccatoribus. We blessed ourselves at the through Him and in Him, the minor consecration before the Pater Nostro. We blessed ourselves at the Pax Domine. we beat our breast at the end of each part of the three agnus dei's
we blessed ourselves when the priest said Indulgentionem Absolutem the only place in the mass when sins were forgiven venial sins that is. there were other parts like we always knelt at the last blessing. we blessed ourselves at the beginning of the homily. Many of us blessed ourselves at the end of the homily. we always stood during the mass when the priest stood and not before him, we sat when he sat during the epistles and gospels. we bowed our heads at the words Jesus Christ and the priest if at that time was listening he removed his biretta. The Byzantines have 37 places where the Trinity is mentioned and the bless themselves

UnanimousConsent said...

I'm 44, raised pretty much after the Council, but in a very traditional environment.

We always said the Angelus kneeling, three times a day. 6 AM, 12PM and 6 PM.

If we were walking when we were saying it, we would pause, genuflect at the verbum caro factum est.

The sign of the Cross at that point was always automatic for me. Do not know where I learned it.

As for it being placed after Mass.... We would usually sing the Salve Regina, Alma Redemptoris Mater etc... depending on the Marian season. This would be following the Leonine Prayers.

Eugenie Roth said...

1, 2, 3 I know since I go to the "old" Mass on Sundays.
4 I do not know ..
Greetings from Germany
Eugenie Roth

Fr. Yousuf said...

What good patrimony music is used for singing the Angelus? I think chanting this would be lovely.

The Hermit said...

I recall the Angelus only being said or chanted after Mass on Sunday if the 11 am Mass went through the noon hour. Since the bell would not toll nor the Angelus be sung during Mass so the local custom was to follow on after Mass with it.

And as Lady Day draws to a close, here is something to enjoy and share: http://tonusperegrinus.blogspot.com/2015/03/uher-sing-of-mary-blest-is-she.html

Deimater said...

When I was a boy, my Simple Prayer Book, published by CTS, indicated that a sign of the cross be made at "passion" (or perhaps "cross") in the collect for the Angelus. I wonder if it still does...

Matthew said...

In my pre-V2 Western Catholic childhood & youth the Angelus was neither done after Sunday Mass nor (when
done publicly) sung; at Downside, however, it was recited privately on the ringing of the Abbey bell every day at both 12 and 6, the latter causing some confusion among visiting cricket teams not 'of the Faith'. At my local village church in Brittany (and many others) it is rung (not 3 x 3 + 1 x 9 but a series of continuous dings which I haven't actually counted) daily at 8, 12 and 7 -- by a timer attached to an engine by a heavy-gauge bicycle chain. Until I sussed this out I thought it must be done by a pious old sexton, but piety is now scarcely a memory; in this particular church Mass is celebrated only once every other month, on a Saturday evening.

Matthew Roth said...

The monks of Norcia kneel for the Angelus when it follows their office.

Steve Cavanaugh said...

As a cradle Catholic I never associated the use of the Angelus with Mass, unless Mass happened to begin or end near one of the traditional times (6 am, noon, 6 pm). At the local Atonement Friars chapel, the faithful kneel at the noon bell to say the Angelus before the 12:05 pm Mass (hence no genuflection). At the noon Tridentine Mass I used to frequent, we sang it in Latin before the noon Mass, genuflecting at "et Verbum caro factum est."

However, as I learned it (40+ years ago), we only genuflected if we were in a chapel or church, or near one...otherwise, we bowed at those words.

Interestingly, among the Anglican Use/Ordinariate Catholics here in the US, I have not seen genuflection, even in church, at these words, only a bow.

The sign of the cross at "per passionem..." is an Anglican custom, however, as I have never seen it amongst cradle Catholics, but one I have adopted.

David said...

In my North London parish the Angelus is said or the Marian Antiphon for the season sung or said after the main Sunday Mass and after weekday Masses. The Angelus is not sung, but the sign of the cross and the genuflexion are made. Also, the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel is said after the Angelus on Sunday. This is not an EF-using parish, nor is it Ordinariate. The PP is a 'cradle Catholic'. It is a church to which the faithful flock.

Mater mari said...

In our High Anglican parish up to 1960, when we crossed the Tiber, we sang the Angelus after the main Mass (which happened to be at about noon) to a simple chant led by the most senior boy soprano. We certainly genuflected at Et Verbum caro factum est. This was at St Anselm's, Hayes under Rev A T Phyall RIP.

Joshua said...

I read that the Archbishop of Sydney has directed that the Angelus be recited at noon in every Catholic school in his Archdiocese, so that 100,000 should unite in this prayer each school day.