You may think the less well of me for this. But the Feast of the Precious Blood, today, July 1. does ... if anything ... more for me that the solemnity of the Sacred Heart, about three weeks ago. Particularly when we consider the Office Hymns in the Breviary.
Don Anselmo Lentini, who was entrusted with the revision of the Breviary hymns in the post-Conciliar maelstrom, thought the Sacred Heart hymns could not be saved. "fere omnibus invisi erant" he observed. So he introduced (among others) a hymn made up of stanzas from hymns (Aeterna and Te saeculorum) which a Fr Genovesi, a Jesuit, had composed for Christ the King. Unusually, there seems to have been a bit of a rebellion against the draft offered on this occasion by his coetus. When Liturgia Horarum emerged, two of those "invisi" hymns were found ... after all ... to have survived (Cor arca and Auctor beati saeculi). The centonisation based on the work of Fr Genovesi did not survive.
Dom Anselmo left the hymns for the Precious Blood untouched ... because the Powers that Be had decreed that the entire feast should be suppressed. OOPS: not suppressed but subsumed into Corpus Christi (to become Corpus et Sanguis Christi).
The throw-away cynicism of this 'logic' is as reprehensible as anything in the Novus Ordo Calendar.
Here is the opening stanza of the old Vespers Hymn, Festivis resonent, in Horatian Asclepiads, as translated in the fine old English Catholic Hymn Book of our Anglican Catholic days:
Now let our streets resound with vocal melody,
Now let each countenance shine clear with holy joy;
Raise high the torches bright, lighting our festal way,
As young and old in order go.
Savour the ironies that arise from continual clericalist meddling with the Liturgy. One year the Christian populace was liturgically encouraged to have spectacular public processions through the streets on a particular day; the very next year, the whole celebration had been cheerfully abolished.
Additional piquancy arises from the Magnificat Antiphon for this feast: "You will keep this day for a remembrance: and you will celebrate it as solemn unto the Lord in your generations, with a worship that will endure for ever [cultu sempiterno]". I wonder how sempiternus that cultus was in Westminster Cathedral.
Things were not always quite as bad as this. Blessed Pius IX instituted the Feast, ordering it to be on the First Sunday of July. By the pontificate of S Pius X, it had become incorrect to have festivals permanently lodged on Sundays, thus (nearly) obliterating the Sunday Mass. Accordingly, the Feast was shifted to July 1. But ... get this ... it was still permitted to observe an External Solemnity on the Sunday ... as your handy St Lawrence Press Ordo will confirm.
In other words, under S Pius X some consideration was still entertained for popular habits of devotion. Liturgical steamrollers were still in their infancy.
But the twentieth century witnessed the high point of the glory of the wrecking-ball. At one moment, you could dedicate churches ... even Metropolitan Cathedrals ... to the Precious Blood; half a century later the celebration had disappeared from the Calendar. Now you see it, now you don't. It's positively Tommy Cooper. Or 1984.
Can anything be more expressive of an arrogant clericalism than the 1960s expectation that the plebs sancta Dei will instantly and obediently jump to whatever novel fashion 'liturgical experts' ... the 'Grilloids' of the time ... have decided has (overnight) become 'correct'?
So why do I resent the disappearance from the 'mainstream' Church of the Feast of the Precious Bood? Because I dislike Clericalism. Because I valued the primacy the abolished Feast had given to Hebrews, an underrated NT book. Because the abolition swept away much of the theology of Sacrifice which we inherited from the Worship in the Temple of YHWH. And because the suppressed Lauds Hymn Salvete Christi vulnera preserved a great deal of the affection that the Medieval English, clerks and peasantry together, felt for the Devotion to the Five Wounds.
An affection that led to the genocide of the English South West in 1549.