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> While I direct this this question to Fr. Bill East and Fr.
> Anselm Cramer, whose advice and insights on such matters have been
> proved many times on our list, I cast it out as well to one and all.
> My question concerning the 'De Profundis'/ Psalm 129 is posed
> not toward exegesis or taxonony, but rather of the normative
> placement and variant uses in the Middle ages.
> The Breviary of the Roman Curia ( Breviarium romanum
> completissimum, Venice 1522/3) in describing the ordo of the Office
> for the Dead ( Officium defunctorum) ascribes Psalm 129/'De
> Profundis' as the fourth ( of five) Psalm/antiphon sets,( the
> antiphon being: 'Si iniquitates) from Vespers for the Departed. It
> ascribes Psalm 50 "Miserere mei' as Antiphon/Psalm set I at Lauds for
> the Departed ( the atiphon being 'Exaltabunt domino') The only other
> mention of Psalm 129 in the office for the departed is that in the
> celebration of Lauds on the day of the funeral of the depated, it is
> specifically to be omitted.
> For the celebration of the Mass of the Dead ( Requiem), the
> Missale Romanum, Mediolani ( 1474)[ 2vols. Henry Bradshaw Society 17,
> 33, 1899-1907] makes no reference to the De Profundis, except in the
> critical apparatus, where it is noted that in the Use of Salisbury
> ad usum sarisburiensis) the customary Tract ' Absolve domine animas
> omnium' is replaced by De Profundis. While the edition of the Sarum
> Breviary of 1531 is late, it does collate the other text sources. It
> seems the place of the De Profundis in the Requiem appeared as a late
> medieval development. [Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesiae
> Sarisburiensis, 3 vols. eds. F. Proctor and C. Wordsworth,1979-86,
> repr. Farnborough, 1970, See Vol. 3 ]
> Now, finally, to my question.
> Neale, Brightman, Cuming, among others note the many regional
> variants within uses in the middle ages and describe what appears to
> be the absorption of the De Profundis and the Miserere mei into the
> order for the Mass for the Dead. I imagine in parochial usage the
> average burial often would have been reduced to the Mass for the dead
> alone (minus the full round of the office for the departed). The
> selective truncation of Vespers and Lauds to these two psalms, often
> then appended, I gather, as processionals seems to be a sure
> testimony to the direct and ( I'm risking it here..) popular appeal
> of these two psalms in general and, in particular, for that moment
> the Requiem Mass).
> Does anyone know when that practice began? , or rather: What are the
> earliest sources that describe such a truncation/ absorption?
> Or do you think such practices were common?
> Was it exclusively a variant of the English church?
> Was this practice absorbed into continental usage as well?
> Is it retained ?
> Any other examples of such truncation and absorption/ rearrangement
> of official liturgical norms by popular practice?
As I mentioned in a note earlier in the week, the Rituale Romanum as well as
the Rituale of most religious orders and many congregations prescribed this
'truncation,' to use your word, of the two most popular psalms with their
respective antiphons (from the Office of the Dead) as processional songs to
bring the body to the church for the Mass on the day of burial. Where local
circumstances did not afford an opportunity for a procession of mourners to
accompany the body, the priest might lead them in singing or reciting them
in the home prior to the body being taken to the church or oftentimes in the
church itself as he walked down to greet the body at the church door prior
to the singing of the responsory Subvenite. How early this truncation began
I don't know, though I suspect that the info might be found in the earlier
edition of Rutherford's commentary or in one of the items in his
bibliography. I am working on the West Coast this week without access to
books but IIRC there is a copy somewhere in my boxes. I will have a look at
the weekend and let you know what he says about it.
The practice would have been common everywhere the Roman rite was followed
as well as normative in most religious houses where having a procession to
the church or chapel for burial was not a problem. The rubric for the
omission of the Miserere with its antiphon at Lauds on the day of burial
confirms that the practice was normative.