Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Proper Office of the Evangelists

In the Roman Breviary, the Evangelists are treated liturgically as a subcategory of the Apostles, and their common office consists solely of proper readings for Matins; everything else is said from the common of Apostles. This in part reflects the habitual conservatism of the church of Rome, which was always much slower to accept new proper Offices, and is partly due to the fact that a proper Office for the Evangelists has only a very limited application.
St Luke, from the Gospel Book of Otto III, ca. 1000 AD
Nevertheless, there does exist such a proper, which is found in most medieval Uses, including those of the Dominican, Carmelite and Premonstratensian Orders. It has a complete set of nine proper antiphons for the psalms of Matins, five for the Psalms of Lauds (repeated through the day hours and at Vespers) and the three major antiphons for the Magnificat of both Vespers and for the Benedictus at Lauds. It also includes nine responsories, all texts from the vision of the four animals in the first chapter of Ezekiel, which also provides the readings for the first nocturn of Matins and the Mass Epistle of Ss Matthew and Mark. These responsories were not received by the Dominicans, and I do not include them here, since they aren’t particularly interesting.

Ad Matutinum
In I nocturno
Aña 1 Convocatis * Jesus duodecim Apostolis, misit illos praedicare regnum Dei: egressi autem evangelizabant et curabant ubique. - Calling together the twelve Apostles, Jesus sent them to preach the kingdom of God; and going forth, they preached the Gospel and everywhere wrought cures.
Aña 2 Mittens Dominus * et alios ad praedicandum, dicebat illis: Messis quidem multa, operarii autem pauci. - The Lord, sending also others to preach, said to them: The harvest is great, but the workers are few.
Aña 3 Jesu Christi * Domini gratia, credentibus populis Doctores et Evangelistae sunt in ministerium fidei missi. - By the grace of Jesus Christ the Lord, Doctors and Evangelists were sent to the peoples that believe for the ministry of the Faith.

In II nocturno
Aña 4 Sapientia Domini * Evangelii eruperunt abyssi, et annuntiantes, foecundati rore caelesti, mundo intonant. - By the wisdom of the Lord the depths of the Gospel burst forth, and made fruitful by the dew of heaven, thunder their proclamation to the world.
Aña 5 Labia eorum * salutarem disseminaverunt scientiam, opus sanctum, dignum, benedictione plenum fecerunt: ministerium sibi traditum devote impleverunt. - Their lips spread abroad the knowledge of salvation; they did a holy work, worthy and full of blessing; devoutly they fulfilled the ministry given to them.
Aña 6 Elegit eos * ex omni carne et dedit illis praecepta, et legem vitae et disciplinae. - He chose them from among all flesh, and gave them precepts, and the law of life and discipline.

In III nocturno
Aña 7 Electi sunt * in Christo ante mundi constitutionem, ut essent sancti et immaculati in conspectu Dei in caritate. - They were chosen in Christ before the establishment of the world, that they might be holy and immaculate in God’s sight in charity.
Aña 8 Sapientiam eorum * narrabunt omnes populi, et laudem eorum pronuntiat omnis Ecclesia sanctorum. - All peoples shall tell of their wisdom, and all the Church of the Saints proclaims their praise.
Aña 9 Sapientiam antiquorum * exquisierunt sancti Evangelistae, et prophetarum dictis narrationem suam confirmaverunt. - The holy Evangelists sought out the wisdom of the ancients, and by the sayings of the prophets, confirmed their narration.

Ad Laudes
Aña 1 Dilecti Deo * et hominibus sancti Evangelistae, qui ordinaverunt tempora Christi bono odore, usque ad consummationem vitae. - Beloved unto God and men are the holy Evangelists, who set in order the times of Christ in a good odor, until the completion of His life.
Aña 2 Dederunt * in celebratione operis sancti decus: ideo memoria eorum in benedictione est in sæculum sæculi. - They gave glory in the celebration of a holy work; therefore their memory is in blessing for all ages.
Aña 3 Implevit eos * Dominus Spiritu sapientiae et intellectus; jucunditatem et exsultationem thesaurizavit super eos. - The Lord filled them with the Spirit of wisdom and understanding; He gathered rejoicing and exultation upon them.
Aña 4 Ex omni corde * laudaverunt nomen sanctum Domini, ut amplificarent nomen sanctitatis. - From all their heart they praised the holy name of the Lord, that they might magnify the name of holiness.
Aña 5 Datum est * opus eorum in veritate; ideo in terra sua duplicia possidebunt, et lætitia sempiterna erit eis in Christo. - Their work was given in truth; therefore in their land they shall have a double portion, and eternal happiness in Christ.

Detail of the St John Altarpiece by Hans Memling, 1474-79, showing the vision of St John in Apocalypse 4.
Ad Magn. Aña Ecce ego Joannes vidi ostium apertum in caelo; et ecce sedes posita erat in eo, et in medio sedis et in circuitu ejus quattuor animalia plena oculis ante et retro: et dabant gloriam et honorem et benedictionem sedenti super thronum, viventi in saecula saeculorum.
At the Magnificat of First Vespers Behold, I, John, saw a door opened in heaven, and behold there was a throne set in heaven, and in the midst of the throne, and round about it were four living creatures, full of eyes before and behind; and they gave glory, and honor, and blessing to him that sitteth on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever.

Ad Bened. Aña In medio et in circuitu sedis Dei quattuor animalia senas alas habentia, oculis undique plena, non cessant nocte ac die dicere: Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus omnipotens, qui erat et qui est, et qui venturus est.
At the Benedictus In the midst and round about the throne of God, four living creatures, having wings, full of eyes on all sides, rest not day and night, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come.

Ad Magn. Aña Tua sunt haec, Christe, opera, qui sanctos tuos ita glorificas, ut etiam dignitatis gratiam in eis futuram praeire miraculis facias: tu insignes Evangelii praedicatores animalium caelestium admirabili figura praesignasti: his namque caeleste munus collatum gloriosis indiciis es dignatus ostendere: hinc laus, hinc gloria tibi resonet in saecula.
At the Magnificat of Second Vespers These are Thy works, o Christ, who so glorify Thy Saints, that Thou also cause the grace of dignity that will be in them to be first preceded by miracles. Thou marked beforehand the wondrous preachers of the Gospel by the marvelous figure of the heavenly animals; for by these glorious signs, Thou deigned to show the heavenly gift given to them; hence let praise, hence glory resound to Thee forever.

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