Series of Solemnities

This year in Lent we will have occasion to celebrate three liturgical solemnities in the space of eight days.  Solemnities trump other feast days in the liturgical calendar and are typically anticipated the evening before with a celebration of First Vespers.  On March 19 (tomorrow) we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, on March 21 we in the Benedictine monastic world will celebrate the Solemnity of St. Benedict, and next week on March 25 with the whole church we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

All but liturgy geeks should stop reading now.

As I said earlier each solemnity is anticipated with a First Vespers.  For example, we already celebrated the First Vespers for St. Joseph earlier this evening.  And each solemnity of course has vespers celebrated the day of, known as Second Vespers.  At the abbey these solemn vespers are sung with more celebration than usual, with the celebrant vested in a cope and the altar being incensed during the singing of the Magnificat.  So with three solemnities, that makes for six celebrations of solemn vespers.  Unusually, as the 18th of March falls on a Tuesday, the weekend perfectly falls on the only two days without a solemn vespers, that is March 22 and 23.  Here, however, we always celebrate the second Vespers of Sunday with the appropriate vestments and incense at the Benediction which follows.  So that takes care of the 23rd.  We will not have a celebrated vespers on Saturday evening (we will rather simply sing it), but on Saturday evenings we do have a celebrated vigils at 7:30pm, this year for the Third Sunday of Lent (violet vestments but no incense).

So if you are keeping track, this year unusually we will be having a celebrated Office (either Vespers or Vigils) on eight consecutive evenings, smack in the middle of Lent, beginning this evening.  This has not happened in years.

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