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 entirely both before and after the canticle: the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Purification, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi, (the Visitation), the Feast of Relics, the Assumption and Nativity of St. Mary, the 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.

While saints’ days normally use the antiphons proper to the day, or those from the common of there are certain feast of three lessons on which at first vespers the antiphons appointed to be sung on the psalms are the ferial antiphons.  These feasts are: Agnes, second feast (January 28); Tiburtius and Valerianus (April 14) (indicated in Risby); John and Paul (June 26); Hypolitus (August 13); Eusebius (August 14); Eleven Thousand Virgins (October 21); and St.Brice (November 13).   While seemingly unusual, this practice does also appear in the York Use, in the common of many virgins, feasts of three lessons; in the Hereford Use, in the common of many martyrs, feasts of three lessons; in the Breviarium Windeshemense (Windesheim) (Oxford, Bod-Inc. B-528), simple feasts of apostles; and in the Antiphoner of Berne Minster, St. Vinzenz (Vevey, Musee historique de Vevey, Inv. Nr. 1346), common of one or many apostles.

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 double feasts 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 simple feasts 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.)


Bells were used for signals in a variety of ways.  Because the number and pitch of the bells varied from place to place, the Sarum rubrics do not indicate specifics.  Presumably each place had its own traditions and practices.

At Salisbury there was a bell tower or campanlle (or ‘clockeard’) to the north of the Cathedral.  This was demolished in the 18th century.  It contained 8 bells, the tenor or lowest being named St. Osmund.   (Statutes of Ottery St. Mary: 142.) Presumably these bells were tuned to a diatonic scale.

Bells were normally rung to announce Vespers of the Day, Matins, and None when it is said after the meal.  In each instance ‘for so long a space of time as would suffice conveniently for walking a mile’ (Sarum Statutes, 261, trans. Wordsworth), so approximately 20 minutes.


At the vespers procession to the Altar of St. Stephen (or the Martyrs) on Christmas Day, the deacons carry candles; likewise the priests to the Altar of St. John (or the Apostles) the following day; likewise the boys to the altar of the Innocents (or the Holy Trinity) on the day after that.  However candles are not carried at the procession to the altar of St. Thomas on the next day.

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 is be observed.


Double Feasts
All double feasts have a responsory at second vespers, except those in the week of Easter.

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
-St. Osmund (December 4)
-Octave of St. Andrew (December 7)
-St. Lucy (December 13)
-St. Silvester (December 31)
-Octave of St. Stephen (January 2)
-Octave of St. John (January 3)
-Octave of the Innocents (January 4)
-St. Julian (January 27)
-St. Agnes, second feast (January 28)
-St. Blaise (February 3)
-St. Juliana (February 16)
-Sts. Gordsian and Epimachus (May 10)
-Sts. Nereus, Achileus and Pancracius (May 12)
-Sts. Marcellinus and Peter (June 2)
-Sts. Basilidus, Cirinus, Naboris and Nazarius (June 21)
-Sts. Vitus, Modestus and Crescentia (June 15)
-Translation of St. Richard (June 16)
-Sts. Mark and Marcellian (June 18)
-Sts. Gervase and Protase (June 19)
-Translation of St. Edward (June 20)
-St. Alban (June 22)
-Sts. John and Paul (June 26)
-Octave of St. John the Baptist (July 1)
-Sts. Processus and Martinian (July 2)
-Translation of St. Martin (July 4)
-Seven Holy Brethren (July 10)
-Translation of St.Benedict (July 11)
-Translation of St. Swithun (July 15)
-Translation of St. Osmund (July 16)
-St. Kenelm (July 17)
-St. Arnulph (July 18)
-St. Margaret (July 20)
-Seven Holy Sleepers (July 27)
-St. Samson (July 28)
-Sts. Felix, Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice (July 29)
-Sts. Abdon and Sennen (July 30)
-St. Stephen (August 2)
-the Invention of St. Stephen (August 2)
-St. Oswald (August 5)
-St. Ciriacus and companions (August 8)
-St. Hippolytus and companions (August 13)
-Octave days of the Assumption (August 16-21)
-St. Rufus (August 27)
-Sts. Felix and Adauctus (August 30)
-St. Cuthburga (August 31)
-St. Giles (September 1)
-Ordination of St. Gregory (September 3)
-Translation of St. Cuthbert (September 4)
-Octave days of the Nativity of St. Mary (September 9-13)
-St. Edith (September 16)
-St. Maurice and companions (September 22)
-Sts. Cyprian and Justina (September 26)
-Sts. Cosmas and Damian (September 27)
-St. Remigius and companions (October 1)
-St. Thomas of Hereford (non-Sarum) (October 2)
-St. Faith (October 6)
-Sts. Mark, Marcellus and Apuleis (October 7)
-St. Denis and companions (October 9)
-St. Gereon and companions (October 10)
-St. Nicasius and companions (October 11)
-St. Callixtus (October 14)
-St. Wulfram (October 15)
-Translation of St. Etheldreda (October 17)
-Deposition of St. Frideswide (October 19)
-Eleven Thousand Virgins (October 21)
-Sts. Crispin and Crispinian (October 25)
-St. Winifred (November 3)
-St. Leonard (November 6)
-Four Crowned Martyrs (November 8)
-St. Brice (November 13)
-Translation of St. Erkenwald (non-Sarum) (November 14)
-St. Machutus (November 15)
-St. Hugh (November 17)
-Octave of St.Martin (November 18)
-St. Edmund (November 20)
-St. Cecilia (November 22)
-St. Clement (November 23)
-St. Catherine (November 25)

Simple with Single Invitatory
-Vigil of the Epiphany (January 5)
-St. Felix (January 14)
-St. Maurus (January 15)
-St. Marcellus (January 16)
-St. Sulpice (January 17)
-St. Prisca (January 18)
-St. Bathild (January 30)
-St. Brigid (February 1)
-Sts. Vedast and Amandus (February 6)
-St. Scholastica (February 10)
-St. Valentine (February 14)
-Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (March 7)
-Sts. Tiburtius and Valerian (April 14)
-St. Alphege (April 19)
-St. Vitalis (April 28)
-St. John of Beverley (MAy 7)
-St. Germain (May 28)
-St. Petronilla (May 31)
-St. Nichomede (June 1)
-Sts. Medard and Gildard (June 8)
-St. Basil (June 14)
-St. Etheldreda (June 23)
-St. Leo (June 28)
-St. Praxedes (July 21)
-St. Apollinaris (July 23)
-St. Christina (July 24)
-St. Germanus (July 31)
-St. Donatus (August 7)
-St. Romanus (August 9)
-St. Eusebius (August 14)
-Sts. Timothy and Apollinaris (August 23)
-St. Bertin (September 5)
-St. Lambert (September 17)
-St. Thecla (September 23)
-St. Firmin (September 25)
-St. Leodegar (October 2)
-St. Romanus (October 23)
-St. Quentin (October (31)
-St. Theodore (November 9)
-St. Grisogonus (November 24)
-St. Linus (November 28)
-Sts. Saturninus and Sisinnius (November 29)

No Invitatory
There is no Invitatory on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) or on the Commemoration of the Dead (November 2)


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.

– (Vespers of the Dead in Lent)
– Vespers (and memorials)
– Vespers of St. Mary (and memorials)
– Vigils of the Dead (Vespers (outside of Lent) and Matins (and Lauds in summer))
– Compline
– For the peace of the church
– (procession) to the chapel
– Compline of Saint Mary (said outside of Quire, in chapel)
– Votive Antiphon for St. Mary (in chapel)

(The above offices would run consecutively without break beginning in the later part of the afternoon.)

– Canonical Matins followed immediately by Lauds (and memorials)
– Matins and Lauds of St. Mary (and memorials)
(- Vigils of the Dead: Lauds in winter)
– (procession) to the chapel
– Prime, Terce, Sext and None of St. Mary (said outside of Quire, in chapel)
[- Votive Antiphon for St. Mary (in chapel)–according to Antiphonale 1519:16r.]
– Mass of St. Mary (in chapel)
– (procession) into chancel
– Prime followed by Chapter (the latter in the Chapter House)
(- Commendation)
(- Missa in capitulo (requiem mass))
– Terce
– Sext
– None
– Mass comes after Terce or Sext or None
– Post missam, ante prandium pro omnibus fidelibus defunctis

On Feasts and Commemorations of the Virgin, the said office and mass of the Virgin would be omitted.

[In earlier days mass on Sundays and feasts came after Terce; mass on ferias came after Sext; mass on fasts came after None. In later days (the New Ordinal) mass on Sundays and feasts came after Sext. When a feast with ruling of the choir falls on a fasting day, the mass of the feast comes after terce in the earlier days, but after sext in later days. On rogation processions the procession follows none; the mass follows the procession.]

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, according to the New Ordinal. 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).

At Salisbury Cathedral and other large establishments there was a separate daily office and mass of the Virgin in the Lady Chapel on a daily basis.  At Salisbury this was staffed by 13 vicars–a quarterly rotation of the vicars of the 52 canons of the cathedral.  Here in the chapel the office and mass of the Virgin was offered ‘with note’ on a daily basis.  Here too, were introduced polyphonic settings of chants of the office and mass.  In these circumstances it appears that Vespers of St. Mary was sung in the chapel after Vespers of the day was sung in the chancel; Compline of St. Mary after Compline of the day; Matins (and Lauds) and the little hours and Mass of St. Mary after Matins and Lauds of the Day, before Prime of the day.

Gloria Patri

The verse Gloria Patri &c. is a Trinitarian formula that is typically sung at the end of psalms, canticles and responsories. Gloria Patri is sung at the opening versicles of the office hours. In the regular canonical hours it is sung at  matins at the end of Venite and at the end of each group of psalms, before the antiphon; at lauds it is sung at the conclusion of each psalm or group of psalms, or canticle (Benedictus), before the antiphon is sung.  At prime on Sundays it is sung after each pair of psalms, after the final psalm, and after the canticle Quicunque vult.  At terce, sext, and none it is sung after each of the three parts of psalm 118.  At vespers it is sung at the conclusion of each psalm or canticle (Magnificat).  At compline it is sung at the conclusion of psalm 4, psalm 30, and the pair of psalms 90 and 133; and at the conclusion of the canticle (Nunc dimittis).

Gloria Patri is also added to the final responsory of each nocturn at matins, and to the responsories at the little hours and at vespers, except from Passion Sunday until Easter.

Gloria Patri is entirely omitted in the office and mass of the dead.

Gloria Patri is omitted from invitatories and responsories from first vespers of Passion Sunday until Easter (but is retained in the psalmody until the Triduum).  However when the Feast of the Annunciation falls within Passiontide Gloria Patri is retained in the invitatory and the responsories (as are the Neumae).

Gloria Patri is entirely omitted from the office during the Triduum.

Gloria Patri is  sung at Officium at mass, except from Passion Sunday until Easter.  However, if the bishop celebrates on Maundy Thursday, the Gloria Patri is sung at the Officium..

(A doxology in verse appears at the end of each hymn.)


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.


On certain principal and major double feasts all the altars surrounding the chancel are censed at vespers during the singing of the Magnificat: the Nativity, the Epiphany, the Purification, Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Corpus Christi, (the Visitation), the Feast of Relics, the Assumption and Nativity of St. Mary, the 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.  On these occasions the antiphon to the Magnificat is sung through entirely both before and after the canticle.

The censing involves two priests, each accompanied by a boy carrying a thurible.  The first priest exits through the north doorway and censes the altars on the north side, beginning at the west and ending in the Lady Chapel.  The second priest exits the south doorway and censes the altars on the south side in a similar manner.  The two priests meet at the south doorway thurifer.  Upon re-entering the chancel the senior priest censes the bishop (or senior presiding cleric), and then the second priest censes the first.

This incensing of the altars in the area surrounding the chancel at the Magnificat is not a true procession–there is no station or prayer involved.

On these same days there is censing of the principal altar and of the choir at the middle lesson of each nocturn at matins.

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).


A neuma is a melisma used as a conclusion to a chant.  One neuma is provided for each mode; Tonus Peregrinus uses the neuma of Mode VIII.  Neumas are sung at the end of the final antiphon on the psalms at vespers and lauds, and at each nocturn of matins.  They are also sung at the end of the antiphon that concludes the canticles Magnificat, Benedictus, and Quicunque vult.  A neuma is also sung at the end of Te Deum.  Neumas are omitted from Passion Sunday until the Octave of Easter and in the Office of the Dead.  The neumas may be found among the common tones (Part D of the Breviary).  At that place the neuma is the final melisma only, attached to the final syllable; the preceding texted music is a didactic tool for understanding and memorizing each neuma.


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.

Office and Mass of the Blessed Virgin

The Office of the Blessed Virgin is said daily.  If follows three forms.

1) Feasts of the Blessed Virgin

On Feasts of the Blessed Virgin the Canonical Office and Mass are of the Blessed Virgin, from the Sanctorale.

2) Commemorations of the Blessed Virgin

On Commemorations of the Blessed Virgin (preferably on Saturday) the Canonical Office and Mass are of the Blessed Virgin.  This ‘Full Service’ of the Blessed Virgin is from the Psalter.  It runs from vespers through to none.

3) Other feasts, commemorations and ferias

On other feasts, commemorations and ferias the Daily (Little) Office of the Blessed Virgin is said recto tono in addition to the Canonical Office.  This daily office is from the Psalter.  It runs from matins through to compline.  Matins and lauds are said in Quire after matins and lauds of the day.  Prime through none are said out of Quire before the daily mass of St. Mary.  Vespers is said in Quire after canonical vespers; compline is said after compline of the day, outside of Quire, and before the final votive antiphon for St. Mary.

Both the ‘full service’ and the ‘little office’ of the Virgin contain seasonal variants.  Certain items, such as antiphons, hymns, versicles, lessons, and prayers, vary with three periods, Advent, Christmastide (until the Purification), and the remainder of the year, with certain alleluyas being added in Eastertide.  Other components remains consistent throughout the year, such as some antiphons and versicles, and the psalms.

The little office of the Virgin after the Purification is very closely related, but not identical, to the Hours of the Virgin as they appear in Sarum Primers.  A notable difference is that in the little office the hymn at the little hours is ‘Memento salutis Auctor’ whereas the hymn at the little hours in the primer is ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’.

It would appear that the daily office of the Blessed Virgin was originally said privately, outside of Quire.

At some time, possibly around the time that the east end of the new cathedral at Salisbury was completed, daily matins (with lauds) and vespers ot St. Mary came to be said in convent, while the little hours continued to be recited privately.  This is the form found in the Risby Ordinal.

In the case where there were separate clerks assigned to the services of the Lady Chapel, it appears that all of the hours of the Daily Office of the Virgin would be chanted there, as is indicated in the Exeter Ordinal (HBS XXXVII:29).  Presumably the Quire clerks would then continue to say the little hours of the Virgin privately.

Orientation and Posture


Orientation or directionality is the direction in which one faces during mass or office.

Facing across the aisle is the normal orientation while singing regular psalmody.

Facing the altar is the normal orientation while reading lessons and praying.  The choir face the altar and bow for the doxology, whether during versicles, hymns, or responsories.


Posture refers to standing, bowing, sitting, kneeling, and prostration while performing mass or office.

Standing. Standing is the normal posture for singing the noted office, up to the preces, when said) and mass (up to the end of the Sanctus).

Bowing. The choir face the altar and bow for the doxology, whether during versicles, hymns, or responsories.  It would seem that a bow from the waist is appropriate when standing, but a bow of the head is suitable when seated.

[The custom of bowing the head at the mention of Jesus’ name was formally written into law at the Second Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274, convened by Pope Gregory X:  ‘Those who assemble in church should extol with an act of special reverence that Name which is above every Name, than which no other under Heaven has been given to people, in which believers must be saved, the Name, that is, of Jesus Christ, Who will save His people from their sins. Each should fulfil in himself that which is written for all, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow; whenever that glorious Name is recalled, especially during the sacred Mysteries of the Mass, everyone should bow the knees of his heart, which he can do even by a bow of his head.’]  There is no specific mention of this practice in the Sarum rubrics.

Sitting. The choir is seated from the beginning of daily Vespers and Lauds of St. Mary until the antiphon that comes at the end of the psalmody.  The choir then stands until the end of this office.   At daily Matins of St. Mary the choir sits until the antiphon that comes at the end of the psalmody, at which point the choir stands.  The choir is again seated for the lessons and responsories, but stands for Te Deum  when it is said.  However Lessons and Responsory Verses are said standing by those that say them.  The choir is seated for daily little hours of the virgin.

It appears that a similar procedure occurs for the daily office of the dead (vespers, matins, lauds).

Kneeling and/or prostration.  Kneeling is the normal position for singing the preces at the office.  Prostration may be a more emphatic form of kneeling, more akin to crouching with head bowed.  (See Mark Ardrey-Graves, ‘More divine than human‘ (Ph. D. diss., James Madison University, 2015: 255-256)

Kneeling is also presumably the postition for singing the Antiphon of St. Mary (after nones or after compline)–except for officiant, who stands at the lectern which is before the altar where the daily mass of the Virgin is celebrate solemnly.

Kissing the forms. The forms are the choir stalls and fronts.  At the conclusion of daily Compline presumably those in the back row(s) would kiss the forms, those in the front row–if there are no fronts–would kiss the floor, typically by kissing the hand and then touching the floor with the hand, as is still practiced in some monasteries to this day.

Although not indicated specifically, it may seem appropriate to do likewise before exiting the chancel at the conclusion of morning devotions, that is, at the end of daily lauds of the virgin (and perhaps at the conclusion of canonical prime), and on exiting the chancel after mass or none.

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.

From the first Sunday in Advent until Easter there is no procession ‘ante crucem’ at the conclusion of first vespers of Sundays.

(The incensing of the altars in the area surrounding the chancel during the Magnificat on great feasts is not a true procession.  See ‘Incense’.)

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; the 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].)

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

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

On Saturdays and on ferias when a feast of nine lessons falls on the morrow, psalms 101, 129,  and 142 are said at none.  In this way the cycle of seven psalms is completed without impinging on vespers of the following feast or Sunday.


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.

Rhymed Antiphons and Responsories

Apart from the rhymed offices listed below, there are individual chants here and there that exhibit rhyme and or meter.  The following is a partial list:
Monday in Easter week: Procession, Antiphon Verse.  Crucifixum in carne
Memorial of the Cross in Eastertide: Ant. Crucem sanctam subiit

Rhymed Mass

Only on rare occasions (except for sequences) do we find rhymed items in the Sarum masses.  The following is a list:
Invention of the Cross, Alleluya. Dulce lignum
St. Edmund, Alleluya. Hic Edmundus
The Visitation, Alleluya. Mater mirifica
The Name of Jesus, tract. Dulce nomen Jesu Christi
The Vigil of the Assumption, introit.  Salve sancta parens

Rhymed Office

In rhymed offices some or all of the Antiphons and Responsories have texts in rhyme and metre.  These offices are generally of later composition.

Among the prominent rhymed offices in the Sarum Use are:

St. Thomas Becket (martyrdom and translation), the Visitation, St. Osmund, St. Anne.

Among the nova festa, the Image of the Saviour and the Presentation of the Virgin.  While as nova festa  the Transfiguration and the Most Sweet Name of Jesus might have been expected to have been provided with rhymed chants, in fact they for the most part use biblical, and therefore, unrhymed texts.  The Transfiguration has only four rhymed items, the Most Sweet Name only one.

As additions to the Sarum Rite are the rhymed offices of St. David and St. Chad.

In several offices one or several of the chants are in rhyme and metre.  the most notable of these are the Holy Trinity, the Conception of Blessed Mary, the Purification, St. Peter’s Chair, St. Mary Magdalene, the Nativity of Blessed Mary, the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and St. Katherine

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

Vigils of feasts may comprise matins through vespers (Nativity, Epiphany, and Easter), or vespers only.

The following are vigils of feasts:
– Vigil of St. Andrew (the eve of November 30)
– Vigil of St. Thomas (the eve of December 21)
– Vigil of the Nativity (December 24 (the eve of December 25))
– Vigil of the Circumcision (the eve of January 1)
– Vigil of the Epiphany (January 5 (the eve of January 6))
– Vigil of Easter (Holy Saturday)
– Vigil of the Ascension
– Vigil of Pentecost
– Vigil of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (the eve of June 24)
– Vigil of Sts. Peter and Paul (the eve of June 29)
– Vigil of St. James (the eve of July 25)
– Vigil of St. Lawrence (the eve of August 10)
– Vigil of the Assumption (the eve of August 15)
– Vigil of St. Bartholomew (the eve of August 24)
– Vigil of St. Matthew (the eve of September 21)
– Vigil of Sts. Simon and Jude (the eve of October 28)
– Vigil of All Saints (the eve of November 1)

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 is appointed for all days when solemn or daily vigils is said.  The Commendation of Souls is said after Prime of the day, before the Mass for the Dead or the mass in capitulo.

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 would 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.)