Monday, December 07, 2015

Ambrosian Prefaces for Advent - Part 2

For the feast of St Ambrose, we continue our series on the Ambrosian Prefaces of Advent. Click here to read the first part.

The Ambrosian Divine Office does not have the O Antiphons, nor the special series of Lauds antiphons for the ferias that accompany them. Instead, the end of Advent is distinguished by a number of ferias called “de Exceptato”, which have many proper features in the Office, features which carry over to the vigil of Christmas. They are normally celebrated after the Sixth Sunday of Advent, and there must always be at least three of them, including Christmas Eve. When Christmas itself occurs on a Tuesday or Wednesday, there would only be one or two of them; in that case, they are anticipated to the fifth week. The precise meaning of the term “de Exceptato” is disputed. They also have a proper Mass, one of a small number of Masses for penitential days which have prayers, readings and a preface, but no chant parts, with the exception of a very brief one between the Epistle and Gospel. This Mass is said only on the first three of these ferias, and was traditionally accompanied by a penitential procession, with the singing of the Litany of the Saints and a very large number of special processional antiphons.

Two folios of an Ambrosian Missal printed at Milan, with the end of one of the two Masses assigned to the Sixth Sunday of Advent, the Mass “de Exceptato”, and the beginning of the Mass for Christmas Eve.
Here then are the prefaces of the Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Advent, and of the proper Mass of the ferias “de Exceptato”. The opening formula is the same that of as the Roman Rite, except that the word “quia” is added after “Vere”. In manuscript sacramentaries and missals, this formula was usually abbreviated to a highly stylized V and D joined together, a custom which carried over into some early printed editions; I have used it below from a printed Ambrosian Missal of 1522. The conclusion varies, as it does in the Roman Rite, and the formula “Per quem majestatem tuam” is longer, including the names of all nine choirs of Angels. (See the previous post in this series.) The other most common formula “Et ideo…” is the same as in the Roman Rite.

The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Cui proprium est veniam delictis impéndere, quam poenáliter imminére. Qui fábricam tui óperis per eundem rursus lápidem es dignátus erígere, ne imágo, quae ad similitúdinem tui facta fúerat vivens, dissímilis haberétur ex morte. Munus veniábilis indulgentiae praestitisti: ut unde mortem peccátum contráxeret, inde vitam píetas reparáret immensa. Per Christum.

Truly...Almighty God: To whom it is proper to generously grant the forgiveness of sins, rather than threaten with punishment. Who deigned to raise up again through the same stone what Thy work had built, lest the living image which had been made in Thy likeness, should by death become unlike Thee. Thou didst grant the gift of pardon and forgiveness, that Thy boundless mercy might restore life, where sin had brought in death. Through Christ our Lord, through whom the Angels praise Thy majesty etc.

The Fifth Sunday of Advent
Per Christum, Dóminum nostrum. Cuius divínae nativitátis potentiam ingénita virtútis tuae génuit magnitúdo. Quem semper Filium et ante témpora aeterna generátum, quia tibi pleno atque perfecto aeterni Patris nomen non défuit, praedicámus. Verum etiam honóre, maiestáte, atque virtúte aequálem tibi cum Sancto Spíritu confitémur, dum in tribus persónis únicam crédimus maiestátem. Quam laudant Angeli.

Truly…Through Christ our Lord. The unbegotten greatness of Thy might begot the power of His divine nativity, Whom we proclaim was ever the Son, and unbegotten before all time; for Thy name of eternal Father has ever been fully and perfectly Thine. But we also confess Him equal to Thee in honor, majesty and might, as we believe that in three Persons there is but one majesty. Which the Angels praise etc.

On the ferias “de Exceptato”
Et maiestátem tuam humíliter expóscere: ut ita nos Unigéniti tui in praesenti sáeculo illustret respectus, quáliter culpis ómnibus emundátos inveniat secundus eius adventus. Per quem....

Truly...eternal God, and humbly to beseech Thy majesty, that in this present age, Thy only-begotten Son may so enlighten us with His countenance, that when He comes again, He may find us cleansed of every fault. Through Whom the Angels praise etc.

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