Friday, December 01, 2023

The Mozarabic Midnight Office

Despite the enormous geographic and cultural distances between them, the Byzantine and Mozarabic liturgies have several interesting points in common. One such point is that both traditions (more properly, monastic communities within both traditions) created a series of additional services in the Divine Office to supplement the minor Hours. In the Byzantine Rite, these are called “Inter-Hours”, while in the Mozarabic, they are named in such way as to fill the day with a service at every hour: “Second Hour” between Prime and Terce, “Fourth and Fifth” (actually a single service in most manuscripts) between Terce and Sext, etc. A number of others are attested, but they are not uniformly present in the surviving medieval manuscripts: “before Compline”, “after Compline”, “Aurora” (dawn), also known as “ordo peculiaris”, etc.

Courtesy of a friend, three views of the Mozarabic chapel of the cathedral of Toledo, founded at the very beginning of the 16th century by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros to save the rite from extinction. We will be sharing more of his photos of the cathedral soon.
Likewise, both traditions have a vigil service called the Midnight Office. In the Byzantine church, this is extremely ancient, and is still very much part of the daily round of services in monastic churches. In the Mozarabic Rite, on the other hand, it has long been obsolete, and is not included in the breviaries used since printing was invented, as indeed, the rite itself has been used very little for most of the last 600 years or so.

These additional Hours were also very often said within the cloister, rather than in the main church; an 11th century monastic book of Hours even makes a formal distinction between the services which it contains and those of “the cathedral order”, Matins, Lauds and Vespers. In the Mozarabic monastic tradition, the minor Hours have little or no variation for either seasons or feasts, apart from removing the Allelujas in Lent, (there is a great deal of sameness in monastic life), where the major Hours are highly variable in content, and have frequent structural changes. However, according to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, there is a manuscript of the 11th century at the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos (the major center for the study of the rite and its chant in modern times) which gives lessons to be read at the Midnight Office, so in that regard, at least, it would have been more variable.
Recently, a scholar of the rite named Alan Liang created a github page with the full text of the Mozarabic Midnight office in both Latin and English, based on two of the manuscripts that attest it. He very kindly accepted my request to share some pictures of one of them with us, so I thought I would give an outline of the service itself as well. Unsurprisingly, there are no recordings of it on YouTube to incorporate in this presentation, but I did find a video of the unique Mozarabic way of saying the Lord’s Prayer in the liturgy.
The first illustration in the eleventh century ms. 609, now held at the University Library of Santiago de Compostella.
The current calendar page of the same (November and December), cropped.
Two points to give in summary first. The celebrant frequently says “Dominus sit semper vobiscum” before a new feature of the Hour begins, a custom which the Mozarabic Rite shares with the Ambrosian. (The latter simply says “Dominus vobiscum,” as in the Roman Rite.) This occurs ten times. The other is that the doxology begins “Gloria et honor Patri…”
In regard to the Latin text on the website, it should be noted that there is a lot of confusion between B and V (e.g., “sitibit” for “sitivit”), less commonly between T and D (“deliquid” for “deliquit.”) This reproduces the orthography of the manuscripts, which in turn reproduces the sound confusion typical of the Iberian peninsula in the Middle Ages. Like the Ambrosian Rite, the Mozarabic Rite never adopted St Jerome’s second revision of the text of the Psalter, so the Psalms are in an old Latin version.
The beginning of the Midnight Office.
1. The introduction, which repeats “Deus in adjutorium” four times. (The Mozarabic liturgy is at almost every point far more prolix than the Roman.)
2. Psalms 41, 132 and 133.
3. A prayer: in the Mozarabic liturgy “Amen” is said both before and after the conclusion, “Through Thy mercy, O our God, who art blessed, and dost live, and govern all things, for ever and ever.”
4. A chant called “Lauda”, similar to the short responsory of the Roman Minor Hours, which occurs at several places in the Mozarabic Office.
5. A brief hymn.
6. The Apostles’ Creed, in a different recession from the Roman version, a single versicle without response, three Kyrie eleisons, and then the Lord’s Prayer. In the Mozarabic tradition, this is said by the celebrant out loud, with the choir answering “Amen” after every petition, except for “Panem nostrum…”, to which the response is “Quia tu es Deus – because Thou art God.” It is followed by a “Petitio”, which paraphrases part of the prayer.
7. A series of “preces – prayers”: “God have mercy” (five times), then “Heal the sick, recall the captives, gather the scattered, help the oppressed, aid the deceased; “God have mercy” (five times), “Rise and praise in the night, and at the beginning of your vigils, pour out your heart like water before the Lord. Lift up your hands to God for the healing of your sins.”
8. Three canticles from the Old Testament: 2 Esdras (Nehemias) 1, 5-11; the Prayer of Manasses; Sirach 36, 1-19.
9. There follows a rubric which says “then you shall recite nine psalms and three other canticles.” The Mozarabic Office per se does not have a fixed distribution of the Psalter over a specific period, but the monastic communities created more than one such distribution.
10. A “responsory”, similar in construction to the prolix responsories of Roman Matins. There are twelve of these, one with the rubric “for Sunday”, and another “for Lent”; the others could apparently be said ad libitum. Here is an example, with a text taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25, 1-13), for obvious reasons.
R. The wise ones took oil in their vessels with the lamps; but in the middle of the night, there a cry went up: * Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go out to meet him. V. Store up oil in your vessels, so that your lamps may be always burning. Behold, the bridegroom cometh… V. Glory and honor be to the Father.... Behold, the bridegroom cometh…
11. Two brief Scriptural readings, Isaiah 30, 15 and 18, and James 4, 7-10, without chants before or after. (This is a common feature of the minor Hours in the Mozarabic, but in Lent and during the fasts before Epiphany, Pentecost, the feast of St Cyprian in mid-September, and St Martin in mid-November, they are massively expanded.)
12. Another Lauda, of Psalm verses between sets of five Allelujas (replaced in Lent with “Praise to Thee, praise to Thee, praise to Thee, king of eternal glory”, much as in the Roman Rite.)
13. A very lengthy hymn, with 30 stanzas. (The Mozarabic repertoire of hymns is vast, and many of them are astoundingly long. The hymn for Lauds of the Spanish martyr St Vincent has 73 stanzas.)
14. The Hour concludes with two sets of texts called Clamores. The first is a selection of Psalm verses on the theme of penance, while the second is a series of petitions, each followed by the oddly mixed invocation, “Kyrie, miserere.”
Four more illustrated pages from the same manuscript.

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