Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Rorate Mass this coming Saturday

Today is the first of the December Ember days in the traditional practice of the Church, with their three seasonal Masses. A Mass with a similar introit and the same Gospel as that for today, Rorate, can be offered as a votive on other days at this time of year, and is devoted to the expectancy of Our Lady. It is celebrated by candlelight as dawn breaks. There is a background post here about the tradition.

In recent years the offering of this Extraordinary Form Mass has become a regular feature of the Advent calendar of the Oxford Oratory, and this year the Rorate Mass will be celebrated there at 7am on Saturday this week, December 17th. So if you are around Oxford and want a good start before the next bout of Christmas shopping you know where to go.

* Revised in the light of the first comment received - many thanks to the friend who put me right in this matter.


davidforster said...

Are you confusing the Mass for the Ember Wednesday of Advent with the Votive Mass for our Lady in Advent?

They both start with the Antiphon 'Rorate', and have some overlapping texts for example the Gospel and one of the readings. But there are also divergences.

As far as I know, the Mass for Ember Wednesday shouldn't be used on other days. The votive mass of Our Lady, of course, should.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

You are no doubt correct, knowing the Usus Antiquior much better than I do.Does the Votive Mass derive from the Ember Mass, but suitably adjusted? People liked the Ember Day Mass and wanted it again perhaps?

davidforster said...

That's a good question, but one that might be difficult to answer. My suspicion based on what slight evidence I have at hand is that the Mass for Ember Wednesday is more ancient in form than that of Our Lady on Saturdays. Both probably drew on common sources, in the ancient Graduales and Sacramentaries.

The Stational Church in Rome for all 4 Ember Wednesdays is that of St Mary Major. The scrutinies for the ordinations on Saturday would have taken place on the Wednesday. Therefore it is appropriate for some chants and readings appropriate to Our Lady to be used at this mass, especially since Christmas is approaching, and the relics of the Crib are kept in St Mary Major.

I suspect that when the mass was compiled in ancient times, some chants and readings appropriate to Our Lady in Advent were chosen, as well as some with a mildly penitential tone, and some which were generally Advent in tone.

The Rorate mass of Our Lady is more explicitly Marian, and has different collects which refer to Our Lady rather than to preparation for the coming of Our Lord.