Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961: Part 7.4 - The Breviary Reforms of St. Pius X (Continued)

The following is an appendix to our consideration of the breviary reforms pursued in the early 20th century by Pope Pius X. It concludes part 7.

For terms and their definitions, please see the associated Glossary which accompanies this compendium.

Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

by Gregory DiPippo
for publication on the New Liturgical Movement

Part 7.4 - The Breviary Reforms of St. Pius X (Continued)


In addition to the changes made to the Psalter, and the application of the Psalter to the feasts of Saints (as described in the previous sections of part 7), the following changes were also introduced into the Breviary as part of the reform of St. Pius X.

1. In the Breviary of St. Pius V, as in its medieval predecessor, all of the responsories of Matins on a Saint’s feast day are of the Saint. If the feast is one that takes the readings of the first nocturn from the feria, these readings are nevertheless said with the responsories from the feast. In the reform of 1911, such readings are now said with the responsories from the feria, which had at that point fallen into almost total disuse.

2. The Hymn Te Deum laudamus, said after the last reading of Matins on all feasts and octaves, and most Sundays, was traditionally said to have been composed by Saints Ambrose and Augustine on the occasion of the latter’s baptism. In medieval illuminated Breviaries, it was often accompanied by a picture of Saint Augustine ’s baptism, and in the Breviary of St. Pius V, it is labeled “Hymnus Ss. Ambrosii et Augustini.” However, the truth of the story is not accepted by modern scholars on several grounds, for which reason, the hymn is relabeled “Hymnus Ambrosianus.”

(See the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Te deum for details.)

3. In like manner, the Creed of Saint Athanasius Quicumque vult, being recognized as not actually by Saint Athanasius, is relabeled “Symbolum Athanasianum”. The recitation of this Creed is appointed by the Breviary of Saint Pius V at Prime on Trinity Sunday, and whenever the Office of the Sunday is said; this was the custom also of the Breviary of 1529. Retained on Trinity Sunday, it is otherwise restricted by the reform of 1911 to the Sundays “per annum”, i.e. those between the Octave of Epiphany and Septuagesima, and those between the Octave of Corpus Christ and Advent. It is also to be omitted even on these if there occur the commemoration of a duplex feast or an octave.

(See the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Quicumque for details.)

4. The ferial Preces of Advent, Lent and the vigils of Saints are slightly modified. The Psalm said at the end (De profundis at Lauds, Miserere at Vespers) is omitted, and new invocations for the Pope and the local bishop are added.

5. The Breviary of St. Pius V had maintained from the medieval tradition the votive commemorations of the Saints, called “Suffragia” in the Roman Use. The edition of 1568 appoints four, of the Virgin Mary, of the Apostles Peter and Paul, of the local Patron Saint, and a suffrage for Peace; a suffrage of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church was added in the 19th century. To these are added on ferial days a suffrage of the Cross. They are omitted in Advent and Passiontide, and on any duplex feast or octave; in Eastertide they are substituted by a single suffrage of the Cross. Inexplicably disliked by liturgical scholars of the early 20th century, the suffrages of the Saints are reduced to a single one “of all the Saints”, which mentions by name the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the Apostles and the local Patron Saint; the prayer “A cunctis” which was chosen for this suffrage is also frequently said at Mass when extra prayers are to be added. The suffrage of the Cross for Eastertide was left unchanged.

7. All obligations to the recitation of the Little Office of the Virgin Mary, the Office of the Dead, and the Gradual and Penitential Psalms are suppressed. The obligation to recite the Litany of the Saints on the Major and Minor Rogations remains. These supplementary offices are left in their tradition places in the text of the Breviary, and may of course always be recited as a matter of private devotion.

8. A few minor changes are made to some of the antiphons which are proper to the various liturgical seasons.

a. On the Saturdays of Advent, the psalms of Vespers are said with the proper antiphons from Lauds of the following Sunday; in the Breviary of St. Pius V and in medieval Breviaries, they were said with the common antiphons of Saturdays per annum.

b. A new set of antiphons is appointed for the Saturday before the vigil of Christmas; the ancient custom, by which the antiphons impeded on the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle are transferred to that Saturday, is abolished.

c. Certain proper antiphons of Lauds are changed to account for the rearrangement of the Psalms: the fifth of Sexagesima Sunday, the third of the Third and Fourth Sundays of Lent, and the third and fifth of Holy Wednesday. In each case, the antiphon is changed because the psalm from which it is taken is no longer said on that day.

d. The three antiphons of Sunday Lauds per annum are increased to five, and the three antiphons of Sunday Lauds in Eastertide are reduced to one. It is not all clear why these changes were made, since the older antiphons would have fit just as well with the new arrangement of the Psalms. Likewise, the fourfold Alleluja of the minor hours in Eastertide is reduced to three Allelujas, for no discernible reason.

It should be noted that when the Monastic Breviary was reformed in 1915, none of the changes described above in b., c. or d. were received into it.

It should also be noted that, as a general rule, the same corpus of antiphons is used in both the Roman Breviary of St. Pius V and the Monastic Breviary of Paul V, where the two different arrangements of the psalms permit this. Thus, for example, on the Sundays per annum, all of the antiphons of the psalms from Lauds to Vespers are the same in the two breviaries; in the Monastic Use, there is simply one fewer psalm and antiphon at Vespers. However, the reform of St. Pius X introduces a very large number of new antiphons into the Psalter, even in places where there was no need to change the older antiphon, as, for example, on the Sundays per annum. The two Uses are thus separated even further from each other than they had been by the reformed hymnal of Pope Urban VIII, which was never adopted by any of the monastic orders.

9. The feast of the Holy Trinity is raised to the rank of double of the first class, so that its second Vespers cannot be impeded; the feasts of the Transfiguration and Dedication of the Lateran Basilica are raised to doubles of the second class.

10. In the Breviary of St. Pius V, the Office of the Dead is said with three nocturns on the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, in addition to the office of the octave of All Saints. This is now changed so that the Office of the Dead is the only office said that day, including all of the Minor hours. New readings are chosen for the three nocturns; in the first nocturn, three of the traditional readings from the Book of Job, in the second, readings from St. Augustine ’s book on the care to be taken for the Dead, in the third from First Corinthians, chapter 15. This conforms the office of this day to the pattern of the Tenebrae Offices.

11. A number of changes are made to the rubrics throughout the Breviary and Missal. These changes will be discussed as part of the next article in this series, in the light of further changes made by Pope Pius XII in 1955.

[This concludes part 7. In part 8, we will consider the reforms of 1955.]

-- Copyright (c) Gregory DiPippo, 2009

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To read previous installments in this series, see: Compendium of the Reforms of the Roman Breviary, 1568-1961

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