Reminder: Epiphany announcement 2019

Closer and closer, the days edge towards Epiphany. Epiphany water is something to look forward to, but we also like to look forward to the announcement of the date of Easter and the other movable feasts in the universal calendar. So if our deacons and priests have not started rehearsing the Noveritis yet, please ask them. There are no difficult and unfamiliar portions in it, but the sudden drops can be tricky and disarming.

Find the text here.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.


Epiphany announcement 2019

We are in the middle of the first week of 2019. For that, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! Epiphany will be on the first Sunday! If divine favour is upon us, we might get some Epiphany water blessed on the first Saturday.

Burne-Jones - The Star of Bethlehem
The star of Bethlehem | Edward Burne-Jones | 1887–1891
Festa mobilia 2019

This means that it is time for our priests to brush up on the Epiphany announcement, a parallelising misnomer (we had Christmas proclamation last Christmas) for the rather cumbersome announcement of movable feasts. Unlike the Christmas proclamation, this one does not have any stymieing elogium (say, for the phase of the moon), apart from the synodal elogium, which we have omitted, since our local ordinary had not issued an indiction for a diocesan synod anytime this 2019. And, unlike the Christmas proclamation, the tone for this announcement (click on the thumbnail to open the file) is familiar, being the same tone used for the Easter proclamation (yes, the Exsultet). Here is how it was sung in 2014.

Oh, and a final note, 6 March is Ash Wednesday. It is one of the two days when Filipinos cannot substitute anything for the obligatory fast and abstinence.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Traditional Ordo 2019


Elsewhere, we have uploaded the traditional Ordo for the Philippines for 2019. Apart from what has already been said here, we will only add that this ordo, like its 2017 and 2018 counterparts, has been enriched with old customs and received practices peculiar to the Philippines, abstracted from older ordines and referenced against published manualia. For example, one will find before the entry for 21 April the rubrics for the celebration of the salubong, according to the rite prescribed in the Manual de Manila. We hope that this would help guide our brethren in the celebration of the Mass and the Office in the vetus ordo.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

A mirthful moment: Filipino carol in Latin and English

Since we’re just a few hours from Christmas, we are now sharing two translations we made back in 2012 of perhaps the most famous Filipino Christmas carol. The text we translated into Latin and English is the original Cebuano, Kasadyà ni’ng taknaa, penned by Mariano Vestil. In 2014, Josefino Cenizal claimed to have composed the melody for this carol, but Levi Celerio himself confirms that Vicente Rubí wrote the melody. (Levi Celerio is the one who adapted the Cebuano daygon into the Tagalog Ang Paskó ay sumapit.) The two translations, set to Sor Rosalina Abejo’s arrangement, joined other Christmas carols in the 2012 Advent and Christmas hymnal we compiled.

The Latin text begins with Quam lætum hoc momentum (open the sheet music here), and the English text with How mirthful is this moment (open the sheet music here). While this carol, in both its Cebuano and Tagalog incarnations, is now sung unhampered during Masses in the usus recentior, we continue to encourage fellow choristers to sing the new translations, not even the Latin, outside the context of the Mass. There should be no problem singing these in carol services, and in reinterpretations of Christmas tableaus which traditionally are known as pastores in many places in the archipelago.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Reminder: Christmas proclamation 2018

If you haven’t started prepping those vocal chords for the peculiar demands of the tonus sollemnior of the kalendas, well, it’s time to start now!

La Nativité à la torche | Frères Le Nain | c. 1635–1640

Open the text set to plainchant here.

Listen to Father John Zuhlsdorf’s recording of last year’s proclamation here. Note that only the elogium of the moon changes each year. Last year, it was the seventh month. This years, it’s the eighteenth moon. Bonus is the thumbnail on Father Z’s post, which came from a booklet we had typeset for the kalendas back in 2011.

Direct links: text set to plainchant and audio.

Our Lady of the O: awe and longing of creation

Why, again, is the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin usually called Our Lady of the O? The reason behind this is what the first 14 seconds of the video below reimagine:

This is the so-called eighth Great Antiphon. In the Roman Rite, we have seven O antiphons sung at vespers in the last seven days before Christmas. When chronologically read, the first letters of the invocations spell SARCORE, which, when reversed, yields, ERO CRAS, Latin for the English Tomorrow, I shall be. The eighth O antiphon, however, is about the Blessed Virgin, and it is sung on the feast of the Expectation.

At the second vespers of this feast, on 18 December, in the Cathedral of Toledo, the interjection O at the beginning of the antiphon at the Magnificat used to be intoned by all clergy in attendance, with neither order nor arrangement, being prolonged in order to express the yearning of the world for the coming of the Messiah. (More details and readings here.) The reimagining above is neither sufficiently prolonged nor candidly disorganised, but it captures the spirit.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

PCED clarification on the Confiteor before Communion within the Mass

Earlier this year, this Choir sent a dubium to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, requesting clarification on the practice of saying the Confiteor before the distribution of Holy Communion during Mass, here onwards referred to as the practice, citing two previous diverging rescripts, one issued on 4 July 2007, and another on 20 November 2010.

The chanting of the Confiteor before Communion in the Pontifical Mass celebrated by Msgr. Wolfgang Haas, archbishop of Vaduz in Lichtenstein, on 8 May 2018, in the parish church of Gestratz, during which he ordained six FSSP seminarians into the diaconate (image from FSSP Wigratzbad).

We now share the response, dated 18 September 2018 (click on the thumbnail to the right to open the file), that we received. The PCED clarifies that, while the practice is foreseen only in specific circumstances in 1962, where it currently exists, it can be continued. The wording of this clarification is the same as the one later used in number 2 of another response dated 14 November 2018.

Let us now examine the salient points of this clarification, and their repercussions. First, what are the instances the practice is foreseen? At the top of the list is the instance occurring in the fourth part of the solemn afternoon Liturgical Action on Good Friday, where the rubrics specifically say that the deacon makes the confession, i. e., says the Confiteor [1]. The other instance happens during the ordination of deacons and subdeacons, each one of which, after the communion of the ordaining bishop, says the Confiteor, reciting it when in absque cantu cases, and chanting it when the ceremony is in cantu [2]. When priests are also ordained, they do not say the Confiteor because they concelebrate with the bishop [3]. By far, these are the two instances wherein the Confiteor before Communion within the Mass is explicitly retained.

Second point: the PCED states the status quo; that is, except in certain cases, the liturgical books of 1962 do not foresee the recitation or chanting of the Confiteor prior to the distribution of Holy Communion within Mass. The effect of this descriptive part of the clarification is the same as the one in a previous clarification we received concerning the so-called Pontifical ‘Sung’ Mass. The difference between the two clarifications is the fact that this one carries a facultative clause: The PCED allows the continuation of the practice in places where the custom exists.

Which brings us to the third point: the interplay between custom vis-à-vis practice, and place. Custom, if we look at canon law, is a practice hallowed by continuous usage of at least thirty years. The Traditional communities in the Philippines, numerous and pocketed may they be, have existed, on the whole, for more than that number of years. And while we cannot yet find any conclusive evidence that the in-Mass pre-Communion Confiteor has been practiced continuously for thirty years, we are yet to discover any record of an entire Traditional community, apart from selected individuals who champion its discontinuation, that cold-turkey abandoned said practice for a substantial amount of time, say, at least one year. Presumption favours the former, and ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat.

Absent proof of substantial disruption, the next contention arises from the word place, which is indeterminate enough to be construed as a barangay, a city, or an island. Opponents of the practice will probably exploit this to hinder its spread. Imagine a new community celebrating its first Mass in the Vetus Ordo. Somebody then volunteers to assist the members, but insists on leaving out the in-Mass pre-Communion Confiteor because, technically, the practice does not yet exist in said community. If nothing exists yet, what is there to continue, right?

Our approach to this question hinges on our collective experience. Traditional communities in the Philippines are formed by extraterritorial (no, not extraterrestrial) parishioners, to which defined geographic boundaries do not strictly apply. This urges us to understand place not in terms of a defined civil or canonical unit, but rather as the country in whole. That said, any new community, formed by individuals, who previously frequented Masses that use the practice, can claim inheritance by reason of a common and shared patrimony.

This brings us to final point. What happens then to the previous clarifications urging discontinuation of the practice? First, as this touches on a matter of discipline, Roman attitude to it is expected to develop. A prime example of a similar attitudinal development from the past is the opinion of the Roman Academy of Liturgy arguing favourably for the use of cerulean on the feasts of Our Lady of Lourdes and of the Miraculous Medal [4], an opinion later definitively overturned by a rescript from the Sacred Congregation of Rites [5].

Second, law has both its letter and its spirit. In this clarification, the PCED describes, and not enforces, the prescriptions of the law, a law that exists, not per se, but as a consequence of a rubrical omission. The PCED, instead of annexing a prescriptive clause to eliminate the practice (in order to uphold the proverbial letter of the law), closes its statement with a facultative one. It is not forcing any community to accept the practice; rather, it allows communities that employ said practice to keep it.

[1] Feria VI in Passione et Morte Domini, 31: Missale Romanum (Rome 1962) p. 181.
[2] De ordinatione presbyterorum, 172, par. 1: Pontificale Romanum, vol. I (Rome 1961) p. 55.
[3] Loc. cit., 175: ibid., p. 56.
[4] Roman Academy of Liturgy, Solution to liturgical dubia, at 10, Dubium concerning the extension of some privilege, Note on the response: EL 10 (1896) 498–499.
[5] Sacred Congregation of Rites, Dubium concerning to what extent the apostolic indult for the Spanish Realm to use sacred vestments of the cerulean colour, etc. (15 February 1902): ASS 34 (1901–02) 553–555.

Followup: Misa de aguinaldo and the canonical hours

The misa de aguinaldo is a purely devotional custom that is not linked in any way to the Office of the day. Its vestments are white, while that of the Masses of Advent are purple. Gloria is sung throughout, which is suppressed throughout Advent. Credo is sung throughout, which is only sung on Sundays throughout Advent. The misa de aguinaldo does not commemorate the Advent Mass; the Advent Mass does not commemorate the misa de aguinaldo. One appreciates here the principle of parallel actions in the liturgy that Dr Kwasniewski so eloquently observes in the usus antiquior, something that agents in the modern liturgical establishment are loathe to value and esteem.

This being the case, we shall address the discussions that our previous article generated, primarily on the anticipation of the misa de aguinaldo. People have a tendency to look at the misa de aguinaldo in the evening of the previous day as an anticipation, precisely because it has been marketed as such. In that previous article, we avoided applying the term ‘anticipated’ on the evening misa de aguinaldo, because that would imply that horologically, it is in an actually and morally exceptional temporal locus.

Anticipated Masses are admittedly a paradigm that developed after the Council, intended to accommodate the shifting occupational availability of Catholics. Anticipated Offices, however, are not prior to the Council. In the usus antiquior, if there was a need to move the Mass earlier, the Church predicated permission on the movement of the Offices to an earlier time. Take for example the norms established by the statutes of the then Conciliar Seminary of Nueva Cáceres. In order for the Mass of the Easter Vigil to be said at 6 o’clock in the morning (so the people can break fast early), the seminarians had to finish reciting all the minor hours, from terce to none, including prime, at dawn.

An anticipated Sunday Mass, therefore, is properly ‘anticipated’ because, historically and traditionally, Sunday Masses are said after the hour of terce, which is 9 o’clock in the morning. Terce, unlike matins and lauds, is, by practice, not anticipated the day before. So, saying the propers of Sunday in the evening of Saturday, when the hours preceding terce have not yet been recited, even practically and morally, is indeed an anticipation.

An evening misa de aguinaldo, on the other hand, at least from the perspective of the usus antiquior, is morally still within the bounds of the canonical hours where it has been historically and traditionally celebrated. And what are these bounds? As we have said before, the misa de aguinaldo is sung in the darkness between lauds and prime, before the dawn of the nine days of Christmas. If the misa de aguinaldo starts at, say, 12 noon of 15 December (being before the allowed hour of anticipation for matins and lauds) that would indeed be an anticipation.

Another factor that contributes to this perception is the fact that, in the usus recentior, the misa de aguinaldo has unique readings assigned for each day, whose beginnings were first expressed in 1975, based on the Boletín Eclesiástico. This somehow invites the thought that if the propers are said outside the astronomical boundaries of the days they are assigned, then anticipation is a real thing. Again, it is not only the set of propers that makes the misa de aguinaldo what it is. It is marked, first and foremost, for its joyous solemnity (Gloria and Credo) in honour of Mary (Votive Mass of the Virgin) at an early time of the day (the darkness preceding dawn).

The usus antiquior does not have this problem, because the readings said throughout the nine days are the same. The only change that happens is during 18 December, when the celebrant reads the Alleluia verse from the feast of the Expectation, and changes the elogium of the preface to in Exspectatióne. One here asks: Why admit the feast of the Expectation, when the misa de aguinaldo does not admit even the Advent feria? And the answer is: Because, unlike the Advent feria, the feast of the Expectation is a proper feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is intimately linked to her perpetual virginity, being, in fact, the reason why we have the misa de aguinaldo in the first place.

These having been said, we shall abstain from comparing the set of propers of the two forms of the Roman Rite. Still, there is difficulty in our liturgical establishment accepting the independence of the misa de aguinaldo from the general calendar, and vice versa. This failure to reconcile the two results in Frankenstein liturgies where elements from the misa de aguinaldo are transplanted into the Sunday Mass. It is not uncommon to attend evening Sunday Masses where the vestments are white and Gloria is sung, but the readings are for the Sunday of Advent. It is, indeed, akin to forcing a 1-cm2 square fit into a 1-cm2 circle, an exercise in frustration.

Before we end, allow us this admonition: If people perceive these words authoritative, we say: Thank you, but authority does not reside in us. Having traced its history and pedigree all the way back to the Tenth Council of Toledo, we are merely appreciating the nuances behind the present-day arrangements of the misa de aguinaldo. Whether the evening misas de aguinaldo are legitimate, is a question our bishops can answer and moderate, as they have so done in their capacity and proper jurisdiction.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Christmas proclamation 2018

Gallegos - Niños del coro
Niños del coroJosé Gallegos y Arnosa | c. 1885–1890

We are eleven days away from Christmas Eve. Today is the feast of Saint Lucy. And yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Heavenly Patroness of the Philippines before God, whose depiction is that of a mulier incincta in Latin, a mujer encinta in Spanish, a lady with child. The sanctoral cycle is clearly preparing us for Christmas! Traditionally, before the misa de gallo, the Mass sung at midnight, the first Mass of Christmas, a cantor sings the proclamation of the birth of Christ, what many of us call kalendas, which was sang as prologue to the martyrology the previous day. Amongst us Filipinos, members of some choirs that sang in the Mass before the liturgical changes of the 1960s would probably still remember singing or hearing the kalendas, which used to be sung as a choral rite of passage from tiple to cantor.

We know, of course, that, in a deplorable, but not unexpected, happenstance, the chronological exactitude of the old text of the prologue of the Christmas martyrology was thrown off the cliff and replaced with a generic formula that situates the birth of our Redeemer at a time, rather off-puttingly, “when ages beyond number had run their course”. It is no longer a mystery to us, but we still wonder why the usus recentior strives to countenance this inelegance and ambiguity.

Gérôme - Le Siècle d'Auguste et la naissance de Jésus-Christ
Le siècle d’Auguste et la naissance de Jésus-ChristJean-Léon Gérôme | 1855

For the usus antiquior, it is more common to use the older text. The elogium of the date is the same: the eighth calends of January. This means that 25 December is eight days away from 1 January, which is the calends of the month. The elogium of the moon changes per year, according to the epact of the year and its corresponding martyrology letter. This year, it is the eighteenth moon. Practically, especially if referencing the dates against the martyrology tables becomes too daunting a task to accomplish, we can simplify the reckoning by counting the number of days from the preceding new moon, which occurred on 7 December this year, until 25 December.

Kalendas 2018

There is a modus ordinarius found in the Martyrologium Romanum, but here we have the modus sollemnior (click on the thumbnail to open the file), which is probably monastic in provenance. If it has fallen upon our happy lot to chant the kalendas this year, then we can exercise the option to sing it in the more solemn tone in honour of the holy birth of our Redeemer.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.

Misa de aguinaldo and the canonical hours

This weekend, the Philippine Church will once again begin the misas de aguinaldo. This term, unfortunately, is rather antiquated, and is only used nowadays in ordines. Its successors are misa de gallo, which denotes the series of nine Masses celebrated at dawn from 16 to 24 December, and simbáng gabí, which denotes those celebrated in the evening from 15 to 23 December.

As we have said elsewhere, misa de aguinaldo has two elements: misa and aguinaldo. The first element, misa, is fairly easy. It refers to the devotional Masses once celebrated in Spain in honour of the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The second element, on the other hand, aguinaldo, is rather tricky. It encodes two meanings: first, aguinaldo means carol, which refers to the popular hymns sung by the faithful within the context of the misas de aguinaldo; second, aguinaldo means gift, which refers to the acts of charity performed after such Masses.

Ditties and strains, the carol-part of aguinaldo, which the people sung during the Masses eventually grew more and more vulgar and caricaturesque (just listen to Rin, rin) to such a point that the master of ceremonies of Seville, D. Diego Díaz de Escobar, reported these abuses to the Sacred Congregation of Rites, which in turn responded, recommending their full extermination. Under this pretext, D. Felipe Pardo, then-archbishop of Manila, visited a short-lived suppression upon the misas de aguinaldo in the archdiocese. Acts of charity, on the other hand, the gift-part of aguinaldo, which pious men and women exercised after Masses of this wise, took varied forms. Saint Simón de Roxas fed seventy-two poor people in honour of the seventy-two years that the Blessed Virgin Mary ever Virgin lived on earth before her most glorious Assumption. The cathedral chapter of Toledo distributed gifts of money, poultry and fish (dinero, gallinas, and besugo) to the different people—the subchoirmasters, the beadles, chandlers, the sweepers, the embroiders, the upholsterers of the sanctuary, etc.—who rendered service to the chapter and to the cathedral.

We have said before that the misas de aguinaldo operate on a parallel calendar that is not concerned about what happens in the universal liturgical calendar for nine days before Christmas. The universal calendar, reciprocally, is not concerned about it. How the Masses came to be celebrated at dawn, we may never fully discover, but from the acts of the cathedral chapter of Toledo, we discover that in the 16th century, the aguinaldos were distributed on Christmas Day after the Dawn Mass of Christmas, which is sung after prime, which is the name of the canonical hour of the Divine Office that is normally prayed at 6 o’clock in the morning. However, in order for the second Mass of Christmas to be said at dawn, prime is said earlier than the usual time. This giving of aguinaldos after the Dawn Mass of Christmas is a most fitting culmination of the nine-day misas de aguinaldo that preceded it.

So, while the misa de aguinaldo is not concerned with what happens in the general calendar, it is, however, concerned with what happens in the horological cycle of the day. This immemorial custom teaches us to sanctify the hours when the world is awash in the darkness that precedes the nine days before Christmas. These hours, we know, can be referenced against the canonical hours: the misa de aguinaldo is celebrated between the hour of lauds and the hour of prime. Normally, this should be between 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock in the morning. In the past, however, the celebrations were sometimes pre-posed to as early as 2 o’clock after midnight. While we can deduce only part of the rationale, we understand that this is acceptable, primarily because, in practice, matins and lauds are anticipated as early as 2 o’clock in the afternoon of the previous day.

If we consider this anticipation of matins and lauds, we discover that the dark hours between lauds and prime practically expands from three (3 to 6 AM) to twelve (6 PM to 6 AM). Now, simbáng gabí comes to mind!

Throughout history, the misas de aguinaldo were celebrated in the darkness before dawn, at the time between lauds and terce (or prime, if we fine-tune) in order for Christ’s faithful to look forward towards the morning of the nine days before Christmas. We look forward to the sunrise of the nine days before Christmas, because these are sunrises that foreshadow the great and magnificent birth of the Sun of Justice on Christmas Day.

The Sistine indult that granted indulgences to the misa de aguinaldo only states that the Masses are celebrated nine days before Christmas. The fact that it simply mentions the number of days (and not the dates themselves) enables these possible adjustments, so long as they are morally within the duration of darkness between the hour of lauds and the hour of prime.

It is these two reasons that allow us to appreciate as well the wisdom behind the misas de aguinaldo celebrated in the evening from 15 to 23 December. While they may not fully fit in the schema of the usus recentior which follows a different reckoning for its Divine Office, they perfectly fit in the reckoning of the usus antiquior, where the duration between lauds and prime is practically extended by the anticipation of the nocturnal hours at 2 o’clock in the afternoon of the previous day.

So, Filipino brethren in the True Faith, as we celebrate the nine-day misas de aguinaldo, let us remember that we attend Mass every dawn from 16 to 24 December, or in the evening from 15 to 23 December, we sanctify the dark hours that precede the sunrise of the nine days before Christmas, to honour the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To this act of hyperdulia, we unite as well the noble intentions for the exaltation of Holy Mother Church, for the propagation of the Catholic faith, and for the constancy of those newly converted to the faith in the aforesaid faith, as well as for the constancy of the Filipinos in the faith, and for the preservation of religion in the archipelago.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.


Sacred Congregation of Rites, Decree 2659 (16 January 1677).
Ángel Fernández Collado, La catedral de Toledo en el siglo XVI (Toledo: 1999) cap. 5.
Sixtus Pp. V, Brief Licet is (5 August 1586).
Felipe Pardo, O. P., Decree on the suppression of the misa de aguinaldo (12 October 1680).