Topical Guide

This Topical Guide contains articles that explain and discuss various issues in the Sarum liturgy.  Entries are listed alphabetically.


On certain principal and major double feasts the antiphon to the Magnificat is sung through (entire) both before and after the canticle: the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Purification, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi, (the Visitation), Feast of Relics, Assumption and Nativity of St. Mary, Dedication, All Saints, and the Feast of the Place. [Brev.:283]  Presumably to this list would be added the Holy Name of Jesus (August 7).  Thus the list includes all principal double and major double feasts.  In all other cases only the intonation of the antiphon is sung before the psalm or canticle.

Apostles and Evangelists

Minor Double: John, Peter and Paul

Inferior Double: Andrew, Thomas, Matthias, Mark, Philip and James, James, Bartholomew, Matthew, Luke, Simon and Jude

The above comprise all the primary feasts of apostles and evangelists: the twelve original apostles, plus Paul, Matthew, and Luke

Simple, nine lessons: Conversion of Paul, Peter’s Chair, Barnabas, Commemoration of Paul, Octave of Peter and Paul, Peter in chains

Simple, three lessons: Octave of Andrew, Octave of John, John at the Latin Gate

The above comprise secondary feasts of apostles and evangelists, plus the feast of Barnabas, associate of St. Paul.

Paul and Barnabas were not among the twelve apostles; Luke and Mark were evangelists, not apostles.

Classification of Feasts, Sundays, Ferias, Octaves, Vigils, and Commemorations

(See Breviary Psalter: [909].

Observances are ranked in order of precedence.  Rankings also help to delineate the degree of solemnity that will be observed.


Double Feasts

All double feasts have a responsory at second vespers.

Principal Double
-the Nativity (December 25)
-the Epiphany (January 6)
-Easter Day
-Ascension Day
-the Assumption (August 15)
-the Feast of the Place
-the Dedication

Major Double
-the Purification (February 2)
-the Holy Trinity
-Corpus Christi
-the Visitation (July 2)
-the Feast of Relics
-the Name of Jesus (August 7)
-the Nativity of Blessed Mary (September 8)
-All Saints (November 1)

Minor Double
-St. Stephen (December 26)
-St. John (December 27)
-the Holy Innocents (December 28)
-St. Thomas the Martyr (December 29)
-the Circumcision (January 1)
-the Annunciation (March 25)
-Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the week of Easter
-Sunday in the Octave of Easter
-Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the week of Pentecost
-the Invention of the Holy Cross (May 3)
-the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24)
-Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29)
-the Translation of St. Thomas (July 7)
-the Transfiguration (August 6)
-the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14)
-the Conception of Blessed Mary (December 8)

Inferior (Lesser) Double
This rank essentially consists of apostles, evangelists, and the four great doctors of the church:
-St. Andrew (November 30)
-St. Thomas, Apostle (December 21)
-St. Matthias (February 24 or 25)
-St. Gregory, Pope (March 12)
-St. Ambrose (April 4)
-St. George (April 23)  The high status of this saint may be attributed to his patronage of England.  As the ‘Tabula festorum divisione’ indicates, in some areas St. George was celebrated as a Major Double Feast.
-St. Mark (April 25)
-Sts. Philip and James (May 1)
-St. Augustine of Canterbury (May 26) As for St. George, the high status of this saint may be attributed to his patronage of England.
-St. James (July 25)
-St. Bartholomew (August 24)
-St. Augustine (August 28)
-St.Matthew (September 21)
-St. Michael the Archangel (September 29)
-St. Jerome (September 30)
-the Translation of St. Edward (October 13)
-St. Luke (October 18)
-Sts. Simon and Jude (October 28)

Simple with Triple Invitatory
-St. Nicholas (December 6)
-the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25)
-St. Peter’s Chair (February 22)
-St. John before the Latin Gate (May 6)
-the Translation of St. Edmund ((June 9)
-St. Barnabas (June 11)
-the Commemoration of St. Paul (June 30)
-St. Mary Magdalene (July 22)
-St. Anne (June 26)
-St. Peter’s Chains (August 1)
-St. Lawrence (August 10)
-the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29)
-St. Michael in Mount Tumba (October 16)
-St. Martin (November 11)
-St. Edmund, Bishop (November 16)

Simple with Duple Invitatory

Simple with Single Invitatory


There are four classes of Sundays (Sundays between Christmas and the Octave of the Epiphany are treated differently; Easter, the Octave of Easter, Pentecost, and Trinity Sunday are outside of the following rule; they are treated as Feasts (see above):

Principal Privileged Sundays

Principle Privileged Sundays take precedence over Double Feasts, which must be deferred if they fall on such a Sunday; they always have first vespers, but may relinquish second vespers to a double feast in passiontide, or to a Simple Feast of Nine Lessons or a Commemoration in Advent.
-the First Sunday of Advent
-Passion Sunday
-Palm Sunday

Major Privileged Sundays
Major Privileged Sundays give way to Principal Double Feasts and Major Double Feasts, in which case the History of the Sunday is sung on Tuesday.  There will be solemn memorials of the Sunday.
-the second, third and fourth Sundays in Advent
-all Sundays from Septuagesima until Passion Sunday

Minor Privileged Sundays
These include the Sundays on which new ‘Histories’ are begun.  They take precedence of Simple Feasts of Nine Lessons (which are deferred until the morrow), except Saint Peter’s Chains (August 1) and the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (August 29).  These Sundays also give way to a feast of nine lessons if another feast of nine lessons falls on the morrow (so that the first feast cannot be deferred).

Feasts of three lessons will always be omitted when they fall on a Minor Privileged Sunday.

If a minor privileged Sunday must be deferred, the History should be begum during the week on the first vacant day; failing that on the first available Sunday if the HIstory extends beyond one week.

-the first sunday of Domine ne in ira (the First Sunday after the Octave of the Epiphany)  This Sunday gives way to a simple feast of nine lessons unless it is the only Sunday between the Octave of Epiphany and Septuagesima.
-the first Sunday of Deus omnium (Regum) (the first Sunday after the Feast of the Holy Trinity).
-the Sunday next before the Ascension (the Fifth Sunday after Easter)
-the first Sunday of In principio (Sapientie)
-the first Sunday of Si bona (Job)
-the first sunday of Peto Domine (Thobie)
-the first Sunday of Adonay (Judith)
-the first Sunday of Adaperiat (Machabeorrum)
-the first Sunday of Vidi Dominum (Ezechielis)

Inferior Privileged Sundays
All other Sundays:
-Sundays between Deus omnium and Septuagesima
-the second, third, and fourth Sundays after the Octave of Easter
-Sunday in the Octave of Ascension
-all Sundays from Trinity to Advent in which a History does not begin.

If such a Sunday occurs together with a Feast of Nine Lessons, within an Octave with Rulers of the Choir, the Sunday



The principle of a commemoration is simple: the recitation of an office in honour of some saint or feast outside of the regular Kalendar.   However, the application and development of multiple commemorations leads to a highly complex result that has significant consequences for the Temporale and the Sanctorale.

The most ancient and most familiar commemoration is that of the Blessed Virgin (see Breviary, p [474], [483], [503]).  This Office ideally takes the place of the Saturday ferial office on a weekly basis from first vespers through to none.  If this is not possible, it should fall on a previous available weekday,

A second weekly commemoration is that of the ‘festo loci’, the feast of the place, or of the local saint, the saint to whom the church is dedicated. This commemoration ideally takes place on Tuesday; otherwise on an available weekday. In the case of Salisbury cathedral, the ‘festo loci’ was the Blessed Virgin, so this commemoration actually the same as the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin.  Thus where many churches had two weekly commemorations, Salisbury Cathedral and other churches dedicated to the Virgin had only one.

A third weekly commemoration was also instituted, the weekly commemoration of St. Thomas Becket, the great archbishop and martyr of Canterbury, who came to be looked upon as a patron of the Province of Canterbury and indeed of the entire realm.   This commemoration ideally takes place on Thursday; otherwise on an available weekday.

A commemoration will normally begin with first vespers and conclude with none.  If first vespers is impeded by another feast, it will begin with matins and conclude with none.  A commemoration never has second vespers.  Nor will there be a memorial of the commemoration at that second vespers.

Normally if any Sunday or Simple Feast with Rulers of the Choir falls on the preceding day, Vespers will be of the Commemoration, with a memorial of the Sunday or Feast.  However if the Sunday or Feast with Rulers of the Choir has not been able to have its First Vespers, then Second Vespers will be of the Sunday or Feast, with a Memorial of the Commemoration, with the Antiphon Sub tuam protectionem.

It appears that in the latter days of the Sarum Rite that after Bishop Osmund was canonized in 1457 a third commemoration, of St. Osmund, was established in the Cathedral (see Breviary {815}).

The Sarum Breviary 1531 includes Commemorations of St. Thomas, St. Chad, and St. Osmund.  A commemoration such as this takes the psalms from the feria, but the antiphons, invitatory, hymns, versicles, responsories, and prayers from the proper of the saint or otherwise from the common of saints.  A commemoration will have only three lessons and three responsories at matins.  In the cases of Thomas, Chad, and Osmund, lessons are provided for the commemoration; otherwise lessons would be from the proper if available, or else from the common.

In the Sarum Use all weekly commemorations are omitted throughout Lent.

The difficulty of including commemorations in the liturgy is one of priority.  The observance of any commemoration means the omission of the ‘regular’ office of that day, whether it be from the Temporale or the Sanctorale.  And it is the competition of these various priorities that leads to such difficulties.  Further, the combination of a plethora of saints days plus three weekly commemorations effectively reduces the observance of ferias to a mere handful of days outside of Lent.  On the other hand, there is no doubt that replacing saints days and ferias with weekly commemorations significantly reduces the burden of those singing the office, for the commemorations remain largely the same from week to week.  The Pica or Pie was intended as a convenient catalogue of these priorities throughout the year. The difficulty outlined above is one of the motivations of the sixteenth century reformers in developing the Book of Common Prayer.

For users of the Sarum Rite today, it may be appropriate to limit the use of weekly commemorations simply to the weekly Commemoration of Blessed Mary, or indeed to omit all the commemorations entirely.  Another option would be to omit the commemorations, but instead make memorials of them instead.  On a Saturday feria or simple feast one could include a Memorial of the Blessed Virgin, on a Tuesday feria or simple feast one could include a Memorial of the Saint of the Place, and on a Thursday one could include a Memorial of St. Thomas Becket.

Daily Schedule

The daily schedule is demanding.  It varies with the days and seasons.  (It should be remembered, however, that it is more normal for a feria or feast to run from first vespers through to none, rather than from matins through to second vespers.)

The canonical hours and  high mass are the most important parts of the schedule, but in addition to this basic schedule are normally added the daily Office of the blessed Virgin, and the daily Vigils of the Dead.  Certain votive elements are also added, as indicated below.

– Canonical Matins followed immediately by Lauds
– Matins and lauds of St. Mary.
– Vigils of the Dead (Matins and Lauds)
– Prime followed by Chapter
– Terce
– Sext
– Mass normally comes after Terce or Sext
– None
– Prime, Terce, Sext and None of St. Mary (in chapel before the Mass of St. Mary).
– Mass of St.Mary (in chapel)
– Vespers
– Vespers of St. Mary
– Vigils of the Dead (Vespers –an Matins if not said on the morrow)
– Compline
– For the peace of the church.
– Compline of Saint Mary

It must be understood, however, that at times there were simultaneous liturgies going on in different parts of the cathedral.

Matins was typically begun around 5:00 am.  However, on major feasts near the summer solstice: Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, the Translation of St. Thomas, the Feast of Relics, and the Feast of the Place and the Dedication of the Church if they fall between the Feast of the Holy Trinity and the Feast of Relics, matins was said in the evening instead.  Perhaps the Visitation was also treated this way.  A more practical approach would be to say that from the middle of June through the middle of July on double feasts matins would be said on the eve.  After all, the possible dates for Trinity cover some 35 days of the year May 17 through June 20).


A Gradual is normally sung after the Epistle at Mass.  A Gradual takes the form respond-verse-(respond).

When a sequence or tract follows a gradual, the respond of the gradual is not repeated.

During Easter Week the Gradual Hec dies is sung daily at Vespers, along with an Alleluya, in place of the Hymn.  Here the respond of the gradual is not repeated.

The respond of the gradual Hec dies is also sung at Compline during the week of Easter.

Intersections of Missal, Breviary, and Processional

Although the Missal, Breviary, and Processional are separate books for use in separate liturgies, there are several important points of contact or overlap between them.  The most prevalent and significant would be the duplication of prayers (collects) between the Missal and the Breviary.

The gospels at mass are frequently made the text for lessons 7-9 at matins.  The gospels at mass are also often selected as texts for the antiphons to Benedictus and Magnificat at lauds and vespers.

Another important point of contact is in the duplication of graduals and alleluyas from the mass into the office in the week of Easter.

A further point of contact is the combining together of Mass and Vespers on the eve of Easter and on the eve of Pentecost.

Another connection is the use of melismas from the responsories of matins or vespers as Benedicamus melodies at mass.


A Memorial is a remembrance of a particular feast or saint, office, or season.  Memorials may be sung at the conclusion of vespers and lauds of the Sunday, feast, feria, or commemoration, and at the conclusion of vespers and lauds of the daily Office of the Virgin.

Each memorial consists of an antiphon, a versicle, and a prayer.  The normal selection would be the antiphon to the Magnificat, the versicle following the hymn, and the prayer of the  office that would have been sung at vespers or matins of the office in question.

On higher grade feasts memorials are omitted or shifted on to the daily office of the virgin.

Memorials may be said solemnly (sung aloud) or privately (in silence).  Memorials of double feasts are always solemn.

On Principal and Major Double Feasts, memorials of Simple Feasts with Triple Invitatory are made in silence.

On Minor Double Feasts at First Vespers (and Lauds) Memorials of Simple Feasts are made in silence; at Second Vespers Memorials of Simple Feasts are solemn.

On Inferior Double Feasts all Memorials of Simple Feasts are solemn.

Memorials of Octave Days in an Octave which is Ruled are always solemn.

Memorials of Principal Privileged Sundays (the First Sunday of Advent, Passion Sunday, and Palm Sunday) are always solemn.

Memorial of All Saints.  This memorial appears to be a remembrance of the older daily cursus of All Saints.  “This remained . . . in the “Use” of Sarum in the form of commemorations after Lauds and Vespers . . .’, (Taunton, The Little Office:40).


An Octave is an eight-days’ celebration of an important feast.  The following are octaves in the Sarum Rite:

Temporale: Christmas, St. Stephen, St. John, Holy Innocents, St. Thomas the Martyr, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi, Dedication.

Sanctorale: St. Andrew, the Nativity of John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, the Visitation, the Feast of Relics, the Most Sweet Name of Jesus, St. Lawrence, the Assumption, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, St. Martin, and the Feast of the Place (St. Osmund at Salisbury).

The following octaves are ruled:
Christmastide through the octave of Epiphany, except for the Vigil of the Epiphany when it is not a Sunday,
Assumption of Mary
Nativity of Mary
Dedication of the Church
The octave day of Peter & Paul was ruled, but not the whole week.

The entire octave of the Feast of the Place was ruled, where an octave was kept.

From its introduction, the octave of the Most Sweet Name of Jesus was ruled.

The octaves of Trinity, Corpus Christi and the Visitation may or may not be ruled.

Before the middle of the 15thc. century the octave of Corpus Christi was generally kept without rulers of the choir; by the middle of the century it was generally kept with rulers of the choir.  (Wordsworth, Tracts of Clement Maydeston: xxii.)

Christmastide, the Epiphany, Easter and Pentecost provide the most complete octaves, during which no kalendar variations interfere with the celebration of the octaves.

The octaves of Christmas, St. Stephen, St. John, The Holy Innocents, and St. Thomas the Martyr fall on successive days, giving rise to many memorials at vespers, lauds and mass.

The octaves of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Visitation intersect with one another, giving rise to a complex observance.   (The Visitation is a newer observance, not part of the old order). The Octave Day of John the Baptist outranks the day within the Octave of Peter and Paul.  The feast of the Visitation outranks Peter and Paul; when this is introduced, the octave days of Peter and Paul revert to memorials only.  However, the Octave Day of Peter and Paul outranks the octave days of the Visitation.

The Feast of Relics is recognized as an octave only in a daily memorial at vespers, lauds and mass.

The octave of St. Lawrence, which overlaps with the Assumption, is observed only partially in the older kalendar, and even less so with the introduction of the octave of the Most Sweet Name of Jesus.

The Second Feast of St. Agnes, falling on the eighth day of the first feast, is related to the octaves, but is not technically considered as such.

In the observance of octaves, the octave comes to completion after nones of the eighth day, except for the octaves of the Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Corpus Christi (where observed with rulers of the choir), the Visitation, the Assumption, and the Nativity of the blessed Virgin, and the Dedication of the Church, where the octave includes second vespers of the octave day–unless a new history, a feast of nine lessons, a commemoration of blessed Mary, or of the place shall appear on the morrow.  Presumably the Octave of the Feast of the Place also continued through second vespers.  The octave of the Most Sweet Name concludes with a solemn memorial at first vespers of the Assumption.

At the octave of the Ascension, while ruling of the choir ceases after the octave, nevertheless the content of the office remains essentially Ascensiontide by repeating antiphons of the Sunday within the octave of the Ascension.

Processions at Vespers

On Easter Sunday at the conclusion of second vespers a procession is made first to the font and then ‘ante crucem’–before the Rood.  Like processions are made daily at vespers throughout this week.

On the remaining Sundays of Eastertide until Ascension Day a procession is made to the Rood at the conclusion of first vespers.

From the First Sunday after Trinity until the final Sunday before Advent a procession is made to the Rood at the conclusion of first vespers–unless a Double Feast occur, or the Sunday be deferred.  However, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) is an exception: it will have a procession at First Vespers whether it falls on a Sunday or not.

Proses (prosae)

Proses appear at the following Feasts:
St. Andrew: at second vespers: O morum doctor egregie.
St. Nicholas: at first vespers: Oportet devota mente.
St. Nicholas: at matins: Sospitati dedit egros.
The Nativity: in procession after terce or sext: Felix Maria. and Te laudant alme rex.
St. Stephen: procession after second vespers of the nativity (or at matins of St. Stephen if there were no procession); at Salisbury, and other cathedrals and collegiate churches, at both vespers procession and at matins : Te mundi climata.
St. John: procession after second vespers of the St. Stephen (or at matins of St. John if there were no procession); at Salisbury, and other cathedrals and collegiate churches, at both vespers procession and at matins : Nascitur ex patre Zebedeo.
Holy Innocents: procession after second vespers of St. John (or at matins of the holy Innocents if there were no procession); at Salisbury, and other cathedrals and collegiate churches, at both vespers procession and at matins : Sedentem in superne.
St. Thomas: procession after second vespers of the the Holy Innocents (or at matins of St. Thomas if there were no procession): Clangat pastor.
The Circumcision: procession before mass: Quem ethera et terra.
The Purification: at second vespers: Inviolata integra.
Easter Day: procession after sext and aspersion: Salve festa dies . . . Qua Deus infernum.
Ascension Day: procession before mass: Salve festa dies . . . Qua Deus in celum.
Invention of the Cross: at first vespers: Crux fidelis.
Pentecost: procession after aspersion, before terce: Salva festa dies . . . Qua nova.
Corpus Christi: procession before mass: Salve festa dies . . . Qua caro.
The Visitation: at the procession: Salve festa dies . . . Qua Christi.
The Name of Jesus: at the procession: Salve festa dies . . . Qua Jesus.
St. Katherine: at first vespers: Eterne virgo memorie.
Dedication of the Church: at the procession: Salve festa dies . . . Qua sponso.

Proses sung not in procession are sung in the eastern half of the quire (in the place of the boys): two principal rulers in the middle of the quire, facing east; tho secondary rulers at the quire step facing west; three clerks who will sing the verses in the midst between the rulers.

Proses are generally sung as extensions and continuations of responsories.  They are similar to sequences, but they usually include melismatic (textless) repetitions of each phrase. Felix Maria at the nativity is a special case: it is embedded within the responsory (more like a trope–it is in fact identified as a trope in CANTUS).

In the case of Salve festa dies, the prose stands on its own, and, takes a different form on account of the refrain.  Salve festa dies is sometimes considered a hymn: but even so it is comprised of unrhymed hexameter-pentameter couplets (distichs), rather than metered and rhymed stanzas.  Compare Gloria laus et honor, at the procession on Palm Sunday, which has the same structure–but in the Sarum processionals it is identified neither as a prose nor a hymn, but as an antiphon with verses.


The ‘Laudate’ Psalms

Psalms 112, 116, 145, 146, and 147 may be called the ‘Laudate Psalms’ (John Hackney).  These are five of the six psalms that begin with ‘Laudate’ or ‘Lauda’, other than Pss. 148-150 which have their place at Lauds.  (Ps. 134 also begins ‘Laudate’, but its length makes it less suitable for vespers.)

The ‘Laudate Psalms’ are appointed at first vespers of double feasts that have five antiphons: the Nativity, Trinity, the Assumption and the Nativity of Mary, the Feast of Relics, and All Saints. [Brev. 279]  Interestingly, they are not appointed for first vespers of the Epiphany or the Purification or Corpus Christi.  It appears that they are not appointed for the Annunciation seeing that this feast has only one antiphon at first vespers.

Psalms of the Apostles

Psalms 109, 112, 115, 125, and 138 are called ‘psalmi de apostolis’ in several sources.  They are appointed for second vespers of feasts of apostles and evangelists and during the octave of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Psalms of St. Mary

Pss. 109, 110, 111, 129, and 131 are called ‘psalmi de sancta Maria’ in several Sarum sources.  They are used for second vespers of her feasts (and their octaves, when observed) and for Tuesday vespers of her daily office.  They are also appointed for all vespers from second vespers of the Nativity to the octave of the Epiphany; thus they were sometimes called the ‘Nativity Psalms’.  They are also appointed for first vespers of the Purification; this is the only occurrence of these psalms at first vespers in the Use of Sarum.

The York Use has the Psalms of St. Mary regularly at both vespers of the blessed virgin.  The Hereford Use follows Sarum.

The Roman Use has Pss. 109, 112. 121. 126, and 147 at both vespers of the blessed virgin.  This series also appears in the Sarum breviary at the more recently added feasts of the Visitation and the Presentation of the Virgin, suggesting a later importation from Roman Use.  It may therefore be more in keeping with the Sarum tradition to use the Sarum series instead.

The Dominican Use follows the Sarum order at first vespers but the Roman order at second vespers.

Psalms in the Common of Saints
Throughout the common of saints, psalms at first vespers are of the feria. At second vespers psalms are also of the feria, except on feasts of apostles, where the series is 109, 112, 115, 125, and 138. Psalms at lauds are always the Sunday psalms. Psalms at matins vary with the type of feast:
Apostles: 18, 23, 44; 46, 60, 73; 74, 96, 98
One Martyr: 1, 2, 3; 4, 5, 8; 10, 14, 20
Many Martyrs: 1, 2, 10; 14, 15, 23; 32, 33, 78
One Confessor: 1, 2, 3; 4, 5, 8; 14, 20, 23
Many Confessors: 1, 2, 4; 5, 14, 15; 23, 32, 83
One or Many Virgins: 8, 18, 23; 44, 45, 86; 95, 96, 97 (also used at matins of the Blessed Virgin).

It will be noted that the series for one martyr and for one confessor are very similar.

Penitential Psalms

Seven psalms are designated Penitential Psalms.  They are 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, and 142.

On Ash Wednesday all seven psalms are said after Sext. (Breviary: Psalter: [417].)

Daily during Lent the penitential psalms are recited within the hours at the preces:

Lauds: 6
Prime: 31
Terce : 37
Sext: 66 (instead of 50, seeing that 50 is already appointed within the preces)
None: 101
Vespers: 129
Compline: 142


Responsories at the Little Hours

The Responsories at the Little Hours (Prime, Terce, Sext, None, and Compline) are brief and simple in comparison with the great responsories of Matins and Vespers.  With few exceptions the melodies for these short responsories are in Mode VI.

At Prime the responsory text is always ‘Jesu Christe Fili Dei vivi’, with or without ‘Alleluya’.  There are four different verses, appropriate to different times and seasons in the year, plus
the ‘Gloria Patri’ verse.  For chants with ‘Alleluya’, there are 2 melodies, ‘festal’ (1) and ‘ferial’ (2).   (1) appears to be an elaborated form of (2), extending the range by one tone in either direction.  In (1) the melody of the verse follows the outline of the responsory.   In (2) the melody of the verse also follows the outline of the responsory, except for the ‘Gloria Patri’ verse, which has a different contour and extends a semitone higher to B-flat.  For chants without ‘Alleluya’ there also 2 melodies, ‘ferial’ (3) and festal’ (4).  In (3) the variable verses begin on B-flat, but (3) shares its ‘Gloria Patri’ melody with (2).  (4) provides a complete tonal contrast to the others, but employs a similar form to (2) in that the variable verses follow the melody of the responsory, but the “Gloria Patri’ melody forms a contrast.

At Terce in the Psalter–i.e. ordinary Sundays and ferias throughout the year–there are three texts and three melodies; (5) ‘Sundays’, (6) ‘ferias’, and (7) ‘ferias in Advent’. The Sunday melody (5), in Mode IV, is the most elaborate; here the verse and the ‘Gloria Patri share the same melodic formula.  the ferial responsory (6) is the simplest; it shares the ‘Gloria Patri’ melody with (2) and (3) above.  the Advent responsory (7) has much in
common with (4) above, and shares the same melody as (4) for the verse and the ‘Gloria Patri’.

Sext and None follow the pattern of Terce and re-use the same melodies.

In the Common of Saints we find short responsories for apostles in Eastertide (melody 2), and for apostles, one martyr, many martyrs, one confessor. many confessors, and many virgins outside of Eastertide (melody 5), and for one virgin (melody 3).  The short responsories for many virgins are repeated on the feast of the 11,000 Virgins, October 21.

In the Proper of Saints we find short responsories for Feasts of the Virgin (curiously using melody (7), octaves (melody (3), but with the verse melody of (5)), and Eastertide (melody (2)), (see under the Purification, February 2, the Assumption, August 15, and the Nativity of the Virgin, September 8); short responsories for the feast of the apostles Philip and Jacob (May 1), using the Eastertide melody (2); for the Invention of the Cross (May 3) and the Exaltation of the Cross (September 15), again using the Eastertide melody (2); for the feasts of the Transfiguration (August 6), the Holy Name (August 7), and St. Michael (September 29) again using the Eastertide melody (2)–albeit outside of Eastertide!.  Presumably (as the incipits suggest) the late and foreign Feast of the Icon of the Saviour would repeat the responsories for the Invention and Exaltation of the Cross (above)–however the Breviary indicates that the responsories for sext (Adoramus te) and none (Dicite in nationibus)
are exchanged.  (The Breviarium Romanum 1568:742 gives ‘Adoramus te‘ as the short responsory for sext on the Feast of the Invention of the Cross, but ‘Omnis terra adoret te‘ as the short responsory for none.  ‘Omnis terra‘ is not in the Sarum repertoire.

At Compline a short responsory is found on Passion Sunday.  It follows the ferial melody (6), and omits ‘Gloria Patri’.  The only other responsory that appears at Compline is ‘In pace in idipsum’ for Lent; however it is a ‘great responsory’ with a unique and ornate melody.

Rulers of the Choir

Risby has these general rubrics for rulers:

The custom at Salisbury Cathedral is that the choir is ruled–
every Sunday
and on every double feast
and on every feast of nine lessons throughout the whole year;
and from first vespers of Christmas up to the octave of Epiphany,
and on the octave itself, except on the vigil of Epiphany when it does not fall on a Sunday;
and throughout Easter week
and the week of Pentecost,
and on certain single feasts which also fall in Eastertide.  (These have only 3 lessons in Eastertide, which is why this special rubrics is necessary. Outside Eastertide, they would have nine lessons and so it would be obvious they were ruled.)
Namely on these:
on the feasts of St Ambrose,
St George,
and St Mark,
and of the apostles Philip and James:
and on the Invention of the Holy Cross,
and on the feast of St John before the Latin gate,
and St Dunstan,
and St Aldhelm,
and St Augustine,
and St Barnabas the apostle:
and through the octave of the Ascension,
and on the octave day of the apostles Peter and Paul,
and through the octaves of the Assumption,
and Nativity of the Blessed Mary,
and through the octave of the Dedication of any church.

Times and seasons

Eastertide can refer to the period from Easter to Ascension, or from Easter to Pentecost.  ‘Extra tempus paschale’ typically refers to the period outside of Easter to Pentecost.


Vespers is the principal service each evening.  Canonical vespers is normally the first office of the evening series.

On Maundy Thursday vespers is integrated into the mass: vespers begins directly after the Communion chant.  The concluding prayer of vespers is also the postcommunion prayer of the mass, following which both vespers and mass concluded together with ‘Benedicamus Domino’ or ‘Ite missa est’.

On Good Friday canonical vespers is again integrated into the mass.  It said in community but privately (in a very soft voice).

On Holy Saturday, the Vigil of Easter, vespers is again integrated into the mass.  It is sung after the ‘Peace’, and concludes with the postcommunion. and Ite missa est.

Some feasts of saints will normally have neither first vespers nor second vespers, because of conflicting priorities.  These include the Octave of St. John the Baptist (July 1), the Seven Brethren (July 10), St. Apollinaris (July 23), St. Stephen, Pope and Martyr (August 2), Sts. Timothy and Apollinaris (August 23), Sts. Felix and Adauctus (August 30), St. Gereon and Companions (October 10), St. Callixtus (October 14), the Translation of St. Ethedreda (October 17), the Octave of St. Martin (November 18), and St. Grisogonus (November 24). However, if the saint is the patron of the church, then that day and its vespers will take precedence.


Vigils of feasts may comprise matins through vespers, or vespers only.

The following are vigils of feasts:

Vigil of the Nativity

Vigil of the Epiphany . . .

Vigils of the Dead

Vigils of the Dead (Breviary: Psalter: [445-474]) comprises vespers (Placebo), matins (Dirige), and lauds (Exultabunt).  Vigils of the Dead is recited recto tono, except when Solemn Vigils of the Dead is sung.  Between All Souls’ Day and Easter vespers and matins of the dead are sung on the eve, and lauds of the dead on the day, but in summer lauds of the dead is also sung on the eve.

Solemn Vigils is sung only for funerals, obits (anniversaries), and trentals, and on Die animarum, All Souls Day.  Solemn vigils, when sung, is sung full, except in Eastertide, when only one nocturn is sung.  In Eastertide the first Solemn Vigils will be of the first nocturn, no matter what day of the week happens.  The regular course of daily vigils resumes on the day after Trinity Sunday.

Daily Vigils is appointed when Solemn Vigils is not sung.   The ‘ordo feriarum’ of Daily Vigils assigns the first nocturn to Sunday and Wednesday, the second nocturn to Monday and Thursday, and the third nocturn to Tuesday and Friday, provided that on Tuesday and Friday the third responsory is always Libera me Domine de viis inferni. Daily vigils is not sung on Saturday.  Daily vigils is omitted in Eastertide.

Daily Vigils is sung sine nota, i.e. recto tono, with all the psalms at each hour said under one antiphon, and only one nocturn at matins.

The Commendation (said before the mass in capitulo) is appointed for all days when solemn or daily vigils is said.  When Solemn Vigils is appointed, the Commendation is also solemn, sung in conventu cum nota, and the Requiem Mass is said immediately after Ps. 138, Domine probasti.  There are no preces, collect, or additional prayers.

When daily vigils is said, the Commendation is said sine nota (i.e. recto tono).   Outside of quadragesima this commendation is said extra conventum, singillatim et privatim, with the preces and the prayer Tibi Domine, but no additional prayers.  The new Ordinals and the 1531 Breviary add the V. Requiescat in pace.  R. Amen. immediately after the prayer.  the Requiem Mass is said separately.  Within quadragesima this Commendation is said in convent; the service concludes with the preces, prayer Tibi Domine, and several other prayers.  The Requiem Mass follows immediately.

The Missa in crastino, or Missa in crastino in capitulo, is a requiem mass, said in tandem with the commendation on days when vigils are appointed, after Prime and Preciosa.  There is no requiem mass in capitulo on feast days, except for a funeral, anniversary, or trental; but sometimes when feasts, fasts, or vigils fall on the same day, the lower ranking feast, fast, or vigil is said as a chapter mass on that day.

It wuld appear that during Lent vespers of the dead was sung before vespers of the day.  (See Breviary: Temporale: 892.)

Vigils of the Dead is the Canonical Office on All Souls’ Day, November 2.

Vigils of the Dead is also said as part of the Funeral Rites, on the day of death, on the trental, and on the anniversary.

Besides the Vigils of the Dead is the Mass of the Dead and the Commendation of Souls.  The Commendation of Souls is said after Prime of the day, before the Mass for the Dead.

It seems likely that the concluding versicle of the typical Roman daily office, V. Fidelium anime per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace. R. Amen. represents a vestige of the daily medieval office of the dead.

Detailed rubrics for Vigils of the Dead appear at the end of the First Sunday of Advent. (Breviary: Temporale: 89.)