Friday, August 16, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 14.2: The Blessing of a Bell (1961)

In the 1961 revision of the blessing of a church-bell, there are several major changes to the rubrics at the beginning. The bell is still suspended in such a way that it can easily be touched, and so that the bishop can walk around it, but it is no longer specified that he must be able to reach it “inside and out”. The bishop wears the mitre called “auriphrygiata” in Latin, the less ornate kind used in Advent and Lent, rather than the simple mitre with no ornamentation. The particular mixture of incense and myrrh, called “thymiama” in the rubrics of the 1595 Pontifical, is no longer used.

The seven psalms said at the beginning of the blessing are suppressed. Holy water is blessed ahead of time, rather than within the ceremony; the proper prayer added to the blessing of holy water used within this ceremony is suppressed. The washing of the bell inside and out is suppressed. The six psalms that accompany it (145, 146, 147 and the Laudate Psalms (148-149-150) are suppressed, but two of them (147 and 150) are used later in the ceremony.

The ceremony begins with “Deus in adjutorium” and “Gloria Patri”, like the hours of the Divine Office, but without Alleluia. In place of the washing of the bell, the bishop takes the aspergil and sprinkles holy water on the outside of the bell only, saying nothing.

As he does this, the choir sings the antiphon “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of majesty hath thundered, The Lord is upon many waters,” and repeats it after every two verses of Psalm 28 Afferte Domino, from which it is taken; at the end, Gloria Patri is not said. The antiphon is no longer intoned by the bishop; the psalm is interrupted when he finishes. (This was formerly sung while the bishop anointed the bell on the inside and outside.)

When this is done, the bishop sings “The Lord be with you”, and the following prayer. He no longer makes the sign of the cross over the bell at the word “sancti+fied”. The words in italics are omitted from the previous version. The single cross of oil formerly made on the bell right before saying this prayer is suppressed.
Let us pray. O God, who through the blessed Moses, the law giver, Thy servant, didst command that silver trumpets should be made, through which when sounded by the priests at the time of sacrifice, the people, reminded by their sweet strains, would make ready to worship Thee, and assemble to offer sacrifices, and encouraged to battle by their sounding, would overcome the onslaughts of their enemies; grant, we beseech Thee, that this vessel, prepared for Thy Holy Church, may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit, so that, through its touch, the faithful may be invited to their reward. And when its melody shall sound in the ears of the peoples, may the devotion of their faith increase; may all the snares of the enemy, the crash of hail-storms and hurricanes, the violence of tempests be driven far away; may the deadly thunder be weakened, may the winds become salubrious, and be kept in check; may the right hand of Thy strength lay low the powers of the air, so that hearing this bell they may tremble and flee before the standard of the holy cross of Thy Son depicted upon it, to Whom every knee bows of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confesses that the same our Lord Jesus Christ, swallowing up death upon the gibbet of the cross, reigneth in the glory of God the Father, with the same Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The bishop then anoints the bell in four places (formerly seven) on the outside, evenly spaced from each other. The four anointings on the inside are suppressed. At each anointing he says “May this bell be sanctified and consecrated, o Lord. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Unto the honor of Saint N. Peace to thee.” The words in italics are no longer said. Only one cross is made with oil, at the place marked above with a cross. (Formerly, two were made, at the words “sanctified and consecrated.” The bishop no longer makes the sign of the Cross three times over the place of the anointing at the words “In the name of the Father etc.”)

As he does this, the choir sings the antiphon “Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem,” and repeats it after every two or three verses of Psalm 147 Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum, from which it is taken; at the end, Gloria Patri is not said. The psalm is interrupted when he finishes. (This was formerly one of the six psalms sung without an antiphon while the bell was washed on the inside and outside.)
When this is done, the bishop sings “The Lord be with you”, and the following prayer. The parts in italics are omitted from the previous version; the words in bold are added. He no longer makes the sign of the Cross over the bell at the words “heavenly + benediction.”
Let us pray. Almighty, Eternal God, Who, by the sounding of trumpets before the Ark of the Covenant, didst cause to tumble down the stone walls within which the army of the enemy was entrenched, do Thou pour out upon this bell a heavenly benediction, so that at its sound, the fiery darts of the enemy, the stroke of lightning, the hail-storm and the damage of tempests may be driven far away; and to the prophet’s question: “What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee?” being driven back in their movements as was the river Jordan, they may give answer: At the presence of the Lord, the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob: Who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hill into fountains of waters. Wherefore, not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy. And thus when this vessel here present, like the other vessels of the altar, is touched with Holy Chrism, anointed with Holy Oil, so that those who assemble at its call may be free from all the temptations of the enemy, and always follow the teachings of the Catholic faith. Through our Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The bishop then imposes incense in a thurible, blesses it, and incenses the bell by walking around it, saying nothing.

As he does this, the choir sings the antiphon “Praise the Lord according to the multitude of his greatness,” and repeats it after every two or three verses of Psalm 150 Laudate Dominum in sanctis ejus, from which it is taken; at the end, Gloria Patri is not said. The psalm is interrupted when he finishes. (This was formerly one of the six psalms sung without an antiphon while the bell was washed on the inside and outside.)

When this is done, the bishop sings “The Lord be with you”, and the following prayer. The parts in italics are omitted from the previous version.
Let us pray. Almighty Ruler, Christ, Who in the flesh, which Thou didst assume, were asleep in the boat, when the rising tempest disturbed the sea, which directly at Thy awakening and command did fall silent, come kindly to aid Thy people in their needs; pour out upon this bell the dew of Thy Holy Spirit, so that at its sound the enemy of the good may always flee, the Christian people may be invited to faith, the hostile army may be struck with terror; Thy people summoned together be comforted by it in the Lord, and, as if delighted with David’s harp, may the Holy Spirit come down from above. And even while Samuel was sacrificing the suckling lamb as a holocaust to the King of the Eternal Empire, the noise of the rushing winds drove away the multitude of his adversaries: and so in like manner, when its sound of this vessel pierces the clouds, may angelic hands preserve the assembly of Thy Church; may everlasting protection save the fruits of those who believe, their souls and their bodies. Who livest and reignest world without end. R. Amen. (changed from longer conclusion)
The ritual of burning incense in a thurible or brazier under the bell is suppressed. The antiphon and psalm that accompanied it is suppressed. The Gospel sung at the end of the ceremony (St. Luke 10, 38-42) is suppressed.

The ceremony concludes with “The Lord be with you” and “Let us bless the Lord,” like the Hours of the Divine Office. The bishop then imparts a blessing and grants an indulgence.
A bell from the Dominican church of San Marco in Florence.