May 23, 2010

Per Quattuor Libros Distributum

One of the joys of the liturgy nerd is the changing over of breviaries at the hinges of the liturgical seasons. Today, Pentecost, is one of those days. If you pray the Divine Office with either the typical edition Liturgia Horarum or the American English Liturgy of the Hours, there are five such switches during the year. Curiously, they do not always come on the same day of the week. Sometimes seasons end after Evening Prayer II of a Sunday, such as on the Baptism of the Lord or Pentecost, when in both cases Ordinary Time starts with the Monday following. (Oh, let us mourn for the Pentecost Octave!) Other times the new season begins with Evening Prayer I of a Sunday, as is the case with Advent and the non-seasonal change from one volume of Ordinary Time to the other around the beginning of August. In the case of the beginning of Lent, a switch of volumes is made on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

Here's how it breaks down:

IV-I Saturday (Ordinary Time-Advent)
I-III Sunday (Christmas-Ordinary Time)
III-II Tuesday (Ordinary Time-Lent)
II-III Sunday (Easter-Ordinary Time)
III-IV Saturday (Ordinary Time-Ordinary Time)

I consider Sunday to be the "switch day" for seasons beginning on Monday because of the universal permission to anticipate the Office of Readings after Evening Prayer of the previous day.


Alex said...

Hmmm... In the old breviaries, the switching is usually from Saturday to Sunday. For example, the Spring volume of the Breviarium Romanum begins on the First Sunday of Lent (not Ash Wednesday) and ends at None on the Saturday before Trinity Sunday.

Just FYI, but I think you already know that, Father.

Brother Charles said...

In my two-volume, 1962 Breviarium Romano-Seraphicum (about which I am always bragging), the volumes begin with first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent and Trinity Sunday respectively, making Saturday the hinge day in both cases.

Jennifer said...

I use an old antiphonale to pray the Divine Office, so I don't get to experience the joys of switching at the seasons. It is probably a good thing in my case though, because I have a hard enough time figuring out where I'm supposed to be. Bringing another volume into the picture would probably leave me quite befuddled!

I do have to admit though that switching breviaries when I was in the monastery was often not a joyful experience, usually because I forgot to bring the new one to my stall in the chapel, and then would have to rush to go get it when I realized I'd forgotten it. haha.