Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lyonese Missal Part II: Holy Week & Pascha

Cornelius Jansen was a bishop and faithful servant of the Christ who in his last days made his private writings vulnerable to the judgment of the Church. Indeed the Church found some of his ideas on grace and man's cooperation with it to be a deviation from her tradition, condemning them, but not the humble Jansen. Some of Jansen's intellectual followers could not heed his example and, if we are to believe certain French Ultramontanists, they peppered the local rites of the French church with their heterodox beliefs. As part of our on-going investigation into these claims, which resulted in the eventual suppression of many diocesan rites in France, we will now look into Holy Week and Pascha in the rite of Lyons.

Part I: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday in the Lyonese Missal is a relatively low key affair when compared to the Missa sicca, blessings, distribution of palms, procession, and dramatic entry into the church in the pre-Pius XII Roman rite. Still, it contributes, or rather maintains, to the Latin tradition a very Gallican understanding of time and space in the liturgy. The day begins with a procession in silence to St. Irenaeus "on the mount," shown to the right, where the shrine of the saint of Lyons once stood before it was destroyed by the Calvinists (already I see a disincentive for Catholics to adopt Jansenistic ideas in this diocese). The deacons and subdeacons wear violet folded chasubles, as in the Roman rite, and the "concelebrants" are fully vested. The lord Archbishop wears a violet cope and a mitre. From St. Irenaeus the procession heads to the cemetery of St. Just. Arriving at St. Just cemetery the choir sings psalm 50, the Miserere, for the dead and follow it with the standard collect. The procession then enters St. Just. Palms are arranged on the altar. The Archbishop blesses the palms from the epistle side using three collects; the first asks for a share in the triumph of the Cross, the second asks that the Lord "bless us with songs" as He did the people of Jerusalem and that we may sing to Him with palms and songs of glory at His second coming, and the third that the people receive the palms with faith. They are then sprinkled with lustral water, incensed, and distributed to the singing of Pueri Hebraeorum—as in the Roman rite. A procession follows immediately. The antiphons during the procession differ a bit from the Roman rite, emphasizing the plotting of the Sanhedrin against Christ rather than the wonder of the people of Jerusalem. There is no ceremony at the door of the cathedral nor the singing of Gloria, Laus, et Honor tibi sit as in the Roman Church, but an antiphon is sung upon entering Locuti sunt adversum me lingua dolosa. A collect ends the service and the lord Archbishop vests for Mass.

Interestingly this service, although in the whole far simpler than the unreformed Roman rite, it does preserve some interesting elements not apparent in the Tridentine liturgy, which is essentially a reduced version of the Roman rite made for bureaucratic use. For one consider the idea of procession. In the Roman rite one starts the service within the main church, makes a circle around the block, and returns. In this use the procession begins at a distant cemetery and nearby church and then arrives at the cathedral. The significance is not at first apparent. Our Lord had just raised Lazarus from the dead after the mourning and weeping of Martha. He then goes down from Bethany with His Apostles and disciples, then enters Jerusalem, the city of the Temple and of David. Here the procession begins in a cemetery with weeping and prayers for the dead who, like Lazarus, we expect to rise to a new life when Christ returns to judge the quick and the dead. The procession then continues downhill, arriving at the cathedral, the new temple and type of the new Jerusalem where Christ is king and which we touch now and will embrace in eternity. The Roman rite's Missa sicca is perhaps more beautiful and historic than the Lyonese blessing, but the Lyonese procession offers much insight into the Church's view of time, death, judgment, and the age to come.

The Introit and Collect are the same as in the Roman rite, but again the Gallican psalter replaces the pre-Vulgate Latin commonly used in antiphons in the Roman tradition. Psalm 21, the Roman gradual, is shortened to a few verses. Whereas in the Roman rite three deacons, not petitioning the celebrant for a blessing, sing the Passion according to St. Matthew, and then the deacon of the Mass sings the burial narrative as the Gospel, in the rite of Lyons one deacon, not petitioning a blessing, sings the entire Passion in the Gospel tone. When Christ "gives up the ghost" all prostrate and kiss the ground. The burial, the Gospel in the Roman rite, is not given distinctive ceremony, but is sung in a higher pitch, possibly an echo of the Roman use. The celebrating Archbishop does not kiss the book.

The propers for the rest of the Mass differ from Rome, but are unremarkable except that the Secret seems to be based on texts used in the Roman Office during the Triduum. At private Masses the account of Christ's entry into Jerusalem found in Matthew may be read in place of St. John's prologue at the end of Mass.

Part II: Mass of the Lord's Supper and Mandatum

At the Mass of the Lord's Supper the Gloria, Creed, and Ite missa est are only sung in the Mass is the conventual Mass in the cathedral at which the lord Archbishop will consecrate the holy oils for the year according to the Lyonese pontifical books. Otherwise neither the Gloria nor Creed are sung and the dismissal is Benedicamus Domino. Two hosts are consecrated: one for the priest's communion today and the other for the Mass of the Pre-Sanctified tomorrow.

The Introit and Collect are entirely different from Rome. While the Roman texts focus on the impending Passion and the betrayal of Judas, the Lyonese Introit, borrowed from Hebrews 5:10, introduces Christ's priesthood this night, His bridging heaven and earth. The Collect begs God that "we may deserve to achieve rising to our justification" in Christ. Would not a Jansenist think justification a foregone conclusion?

The epistle and Gospel match the Roman rite. The gradual differs, but again focuses on the priesthood of the Lord. The Offertory verse does not match, but the secret does, a rarity in Gallican books. The changes to the Canon for the day are precisely the same as in the Roman rite. The Agnus Dei is omitted, as is the Kiss of Peace, but the pre-communion prayers are the same. The Communion antiphon is "I have wanted with great desire to eat this Passover meal with you all before I leave." The post-Communion oration differs, again giving special attention to priesthood.

Mass of the Lord's Supper in the
Lyonese rite, 1934.
After Mass the Blessed Sacrament is taken in procession, headed by a subdeacon carrying the cross between two torchbearers. Pange lingua is sung and the thurifer incenses the Blessed Sacrament throughout. A baldachin stands over the altar of repose. Assisting clergy surround the four corners of the baldachin according to rank. The collect Respice is sung. The choir then sings O Salutaris Hostia. The Archbishop gives benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and then reposes the Sacrament. The clergy return to the main choir, sing Vespers, strip the altars, and retire until the Mandatum in the afternoon.

The Mandatum takes place in the afternoon. The Archbishop vests in amice, alb, cincture, stole, and mitre. The rubrics envision that he washes the feet of twelve fellow priests, although a provision exists for the washing of the feet of twelve paupers. They sit at the ready, feet bare. The Archbishop washes their feet while the choir sings seven antiphons, many distinct from the Roman rite. These antiphons emphasize fraternity, Ecce quam bonum. After the footwashing the Archbishop sings a collect. Two barefoot torchbearers and a subdeacon wearing a violet tunicle wait for the Archbishop to bless incense and the deacon, who is vested in white dalmatic. The deacon and company then process to the pulpit where he sings St. John's Gospel beginning at 13:16, an abbreviation of the Gospel of the Mass. While this differs from the pre-Pius XII Roman rite, it is far closer to the Roman praxis than either the 1962 or 1970 Holy Weeks. At the words "Arise, let us go" in the Gospel all rise and go to the place in choir where the lord Archbishop will bless bread. The deacon turns to face eastward and continues to sing the Gospel until the end of chapter 15. The Archbishop sings a collect, sprinkles the bread with lustral water, it is distributed, with wine, to any who want it. Thursday in Holy Week thus ends.

Part III: Good Friday

Good Friday begins with a solemn celebration of the little hours, presumably in aggregation. The liturgical color for the little hours is violet and the clergy, lord Archbishop included, sing the Office barefoot. After None, the ministers vest as for Mass, but without the outer vestments, the chasubles—folded or unfolded. Could this be a relic of the medieval Missa sicca rather than an intended separation of the synaxis and the Eucharist as was the intention of Pius XII?

The Archbishop reverences the altar without a kiss and then proceeds to his throne. A subdeacon then sings the lesson Dixit Dominus ad Moysen as in the second reading of the Roman rite. The reading is followed by a tract then then Oremus without a genuflection. The ensuing collect gives thanks for the "mocking, beating, and crucifixion" suffered by Christ for us sinners. Then a second reading, the suffering servant prophecy from Isaiah 53, is read. Psalm 139 is then sung as a tract, Eripe me Domine ab homine malo.

The lord Archbishop is then given his pastoral staff. The deacon, not asking for a blessing, takes the Gospel book, goes to the pulpit, and without introduction sings the Passion according to St. John. As with the Palm Sunday reading the entire Passion is sung in the Gospel tone, when Christ "gives us the ghost" all prostrate and kiss the floor, and the deacon sings what was [likely] once the burial Gospel narrative in a higher tone of voice. The lord Archbishop does not kiss the book at the end.

The lord Archbishop then sings the solemn intercessions from the throne, intercession which match the Roman Missal and the Parisian Missal, particularly in the prayer for the king, although the king was long dead and not long living when the Lyonese rite was last in use. They are sung in the preface tone, with genuflections between the introduction and the actual prayer. No genuflection is made during the prayer for the Jews. During these collects the Treasurer of the diocese, presumably a canon of the cathedral, goes to the sacristy, dons an amice, alb, stole, cincture, violet cope, and a "hat." Four subdeacons, including the two who read prophecies earlier, assume violet folded chasubles. They receive the veiled Crucifix from the sacristan and escort it to the altar. The Treasurer takes the Crucifix, covered in red, and places it on the altar. He removes his hat, genuflects, and with the other ministers returns to his place in the choir.

The lord Archbishop then unveils the Crucifix with the familiar three part Ecce lignum crucis of the Roman rite. Two subdeacons hold the Crucifix up so the Archbishop may adore it. Then the other clergy adore according to rank. The precentor intones the reproaches, which lack the Pange lingua and the Trisagion of the Roman rite. While the congregation adores the Crucifix the choir sings psalm 68 with the antiphon Sicut Moyses exaltavit serpentem in deserto, ita exaltari oportet Filium hominis; ut omnis qui credit in ipsum non pereat, sed habeat vitam aeternam.

At the end of the adoration the Archbishop sings a collect from his throne (an inelegant amalgamation of Roman collects from my view). The Treasurer replaces the Crucifix at the center of the altar.

At this point the lord Archbishop finally dons the chasuble and approaches the altar with his six concelebrants, seven deacons, and seven subdeacons. The Archbishop prays the Confiteor and receives the absolution as normal at Mass. The assisting ministers do the same. The Archbishop ascends the altar and kisses it. A corporal is prepared on the altar and the subdeacon puts water and wine into the chalice while the Archbishop says nothing. The Archbishop washes his hands, again saying nothing. A deacon, accompanied by two torchbearers and the thurifer, brings the Blessed Sacrament to the altar, Which is then incensed by the celebrant. While all kneel the Archbishop is to rise, approach the Sacrament with reverence, meditate on the Passion of Christ for a moment in silence, then place the Eucharist on the corporal, uncovers the chalice, and says Per Ipsum et cum Ipso et in Ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria concluding aloud with the usual per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. He then sings the Pater Noster as usual, then the Libera nos, doing all the normal Mass-things with the paten, fracturing the Host, placing a particle in the chalice, and saying the Communion prayer Perceptio. The rest follows as in the Roman Mass of the Pre-Sanctified. The ministers return to the sacristy as the choir sings Vespers in a monotone.

Part IV: Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday begins with the little hours sung in choir. Unlit candles are on the altar. After the hours the lord Archbishop, at an unspecified location, strikes a flint to ignite a new fire over a small candle, a fire which he blesses with three collects, the first two exactly the same as in the old Roman rite and the third an elaboration of the third Roman collect. Similarly, the prayer to bless the five grains of incense is an elaboration of the relatively straight forward Roman oration. The Archbishop sprinkles the fire  and incense with lustral water. The sacred ministers then don white vestments, but do not assume the chasuble, dalmatic, or tunicle. All then sit in choir for the reading of four prophecies and collects (the first exactly from the Roman rite, the second is the Exodus from Egypt followed by a unique collect about liberation from sin, the third is the parting of the Red Sea followed by the collect from the fourth Roman prophecy, and the fourth is from Isaiah 55—also found in the Roman rite—followed by the collect Deus qui ecclesiam tuam also of the Roman rite).

After a tract the Archbishop sings the collect Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, sung in the Roman rite when the celebrant is to bless the baptismal font. Here is it a prelude to a litany. All kneel at the end of the collect and the cantors begin a litany of saints, rising after Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis and continuing to sing. The litany is comprised mainly of early to mid first millennium Roman and Gallican saints. At the end of the litany the foremost deacon dons the dalmatic, takes the book of chants, and proceeds to the pulpit, in front of which is the Paschal candle. He then sings the Exultet while the Archbishop listens with his pastoral staff. The deacon does everything he would do in the un-defiled Roman Holy Week. Of particular interest is that the grains of incense are to be dipped in Holy Chrism prior to their insertion into the Paschal candle. The deacon lights the Paschal candle from the new holy fire using a "triangular" candle, from which the torchbearers light their candles and all the other candles in the cathedral. The candle is to remain lit on Sundays, Double feasts, and Semi-Doubles of Paschaltide as well as during the Pentecost Vigil.

After the blessing of the Paschal candle a new litany is sung and all process to the baptistry. The words and actions are exactly as in the Roman rite except the prayers Infusio and Commixtio are not said. Instead an antiphon is sung as the procession heads to the sacristy. After the antiphon the choir begins the third and final litany of saints. The ministers finally put of the chasubles, dalmatics, tunicles, and copes according to their order, head to the altar, and begin Mass with the prayers at the foot of the altar as usual. The litany functions as the Introit. The synaxis is exactly the same as in the Roman rite except that the celebrant does not introduce the Alleluia, perhaps owing to too many Archbishops not blessed with singing talents.

There is no Offertory verse. The secret is not the Roman one, but it does make a very Eastern reference to those "renewed in Baptism." The preface is of Paschaltide. The adjustment to the Canon are the same as in Rome. The Kiss of Peace is given, but the Agnus Dei is not sung nor is a Communion antiphon. The post-Communion prayer is: "O God, Who through the Paschal mystery did teach to leave the old life and to walk in the new spirit, grant that by this sacrament Your Son may grant us His life, Who took and killed our death." Beautiful!

The dismissal is Ite missa est without the Roman double Alleluia. Rather than pray the last Gospel the lord Archbishop intones Vespers and goes to the sacristy to swap his chasuble for a cope. The Office continues as normal.

Part V: Pascha

"Christ is risen from the dead...." Byzantine? Lyonese too! The Lyonese Mass of the Resurrection begins not with the familiar Roman Resurrexi, but with "Christ is risen from the dead, Alleluia! Death is swallowed in victory, Alleluia! O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting? Alleluia! Alleluia!" This is also the Parisian Introit for Pascha. The Collect and readings are the same as in the Roman rite, but the gradual and sequence are entirely different. I have never heard the sequence set to music, but the text is more holistic than in the Roman rite and less vivid. Towards the end it parallels the deliverance from Egypt and petitions the same for our souls.

The Offertory verse is borrowed from 1 Corinthians 5, as is the Communion verse of the Roman rite. Staying consistent with the Egyptian themes of deliverance, the secret asks for a "leaven of honesty and truth." The Paschal preface is used. The changes to the Canon are the same as yesterday and the same as in the Roman rite. A length antiphon is sung between the first and second invocations of the Agnus Dei, telling people "Taste and eat" the "bread which is come down from heaven." The Communion antiphon comes from psalm 117. The post-Communion is the same as that stunning prayer from yesterday. The dismissal is Ite missa est and the Johannine prologue is said in the recession as normal.


I am open to correction, but I have yet to find a tinge of Jansenism, supposition of the state of the soul, an exclusive view of Christ's sacrifice, or an undermining of free will. Rather I find a dynamic liturgy with many heartfelt prayers, some very odd texts, a very Catholic understand of time and space, a very Byzantine view of the Resurrection, and a very strong Catholic culture.


  1. Many thanks for continuing these posts on Western liturgies. Thank you for giving us glimpses of these pearls.

  2. I want to point out that many aspects of this lyonese liturgy are in fact innovations and not as old as those received in the tridentine missal. However it is also true that some aspects of the lyonese liturgy of the 18th century also preserve pre-tridentine elements not found in the tridentine. Still, all and all, I'll stick to the rite of lyon from before 1550 rather than after...

  3. Your comment that the innovations liturgically are not heterodox could be seen as true,
    yet, one could also say that innovation for innovations sake, not handing down what was received apart from organic development is heterodox. either way..something heterodox is occurring.

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