Tag Archives: Septuagesima

Septuagesima Sunday 2019

Parable of the laborers in the vineyard, Jan Luyken, Pieter Mortier, 1703 – 1762

Septuagesima Sunday will be celebrated in a High Mass at St. Stanislaus Church, New Haven, this Sunday, 17 February, at 2:00 pm. The celebrant will be the Rev. Matthew Mauriello.

The three weeks between the end of the Christmas-Epiphanytide season of joyful celebration of the nativity and revelation of the incarnate Christ among us, and the penitential season of Lent anticipating Our Lord’s redemptive sacrifice of himself on Calvary on Good Friday, constitute a transitional period of meditation on our sinfulness and utter dependence on God. From the opening of the introit of the Septuagesima Mass, “The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrow of hell encompassed me …” the texts of the liturgy are filled with a dark foreboding. The Gospel presenting the parable of the laborers in the vineyard is a reminder that we are all called to work in this lifetime for God’s glory in order to receive from Him according to His mercy the wages of eternal life.

Music for the service performed by the Schola Cantorum of the St. Gregory Society, will include the Gregorian chant Missa Cunctipotens Genitor Deus (Vatican ed. IV), the chant proper for the Mass (Circumdederunt me), polyphonic motets by Josquin DesPrez and Johann Christoph Willibald von Glück, and organ music by Girolamo Frescobaldi and Claudio Merulo.

Septuagesima –running the race

septuagesima 2016We see in liturgical history, the Church in France in the thirteenth century there is a change in how we live the Lex Orandi tradition with the singing of Vespers on the eve of Septuagesima Sunday, the 9th Sunday before Easter (the Byzantine Church hears the gospel of the Prodigal Son thus beginning their preparation for Great Lent). At this time we ought to notice the visual and auditory elements change: organ is silenced, the Alleluia is buried, violet is worn for priestly vesture. This verse appears:

We are unworthy to sing a ceaseless Alleluia. Our sins bid us interrupt our Alleluia. The time is at hand when it behoves us to bewail our crimes.

Read more about this pre-Lent period by Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB in his The Liturgical Year:

John Betjeman eulogized “Septuagesima” in his Poems in the Porch.

Septuagesima – seventy days
To Easter’s primrose tide of praise;
The Gesimas – Septua, Sexa, Quinc
Mean Lent is near, which makes you think.
Septuagesima – when we’re told
To “run the race”, to “keep our hold”,
Ignore injustice, not give in, and practise stern self-discipline;
A somewhat unattractive time
Which hardly lends itself to rhyme.