Technically, there is no day on the Dominican liturgical calendar for the vigil of our Holy Founder's feast day, but I thought it a good day to make some observations concerning the office for his feast.
It is my hope that this blog will continue to inspire Dominicans, of all three orders, to rediscover their magnificent and unique liturgical patrimony, that was so abruptly and imprudently abandoned in the turbulent 1960's.
Actually, the office begins today. In the morning, after Lauds or Prime, we announce the great feast at the beginning of Pretiosa, during the reading of the Martyrology:
At Bologna, our most holy Father St. Dominic, confessor and founder of the Order of Friars Preachers. He was most illustrious, being distinguished by nobility of birth, sanctity and learning. Until death he preserved without stain his virginity and by the singular grace of his merits he raised three persons from the dead. By his preaching he curbed heresies and established many persons in a religious and godly manner of life. On August 6, his soul soared to heaven, there to receive a reward commensurate with his extraordinary works. His feast, however, is celebrated on this day, by an ordinance of Pope Paul IV.
The announcement makes reference to the fact that, in the earliest calendars of the Order, St. Dominic's feast was celebrated on August 5. Although he died on August 6 (1221), his feast was celebrated by order of Gregory IX on August 5, because August 6 was already occupied. In 1558, Pope Paul IV order the feast of Our Lady of Snow to be celebrated on August 5, so St. Dominic was moved to August 4. His feast remained there for just over 400 years, until the calendar revisions of 1969.
Since the feast is 1st Class, the Office formally beings at 1st Vespers this afternoon. A commemoration is made of 2nd Vespers of the VIII Sunday after Pentecost. The office begins with the super psalm antiphon....Gaude (O happy parent, Spain,...), followed by the special arrangement of Psalms that are used in the Dominican Office for 1st Class feasts (Psalms 112, 116, 145, 146, & 147, a.k.a, the "laudate Psalms).
According to Bonniwell, the Ordinanrium from Humbert's codex, which is the prototype of the Dominican liturgical books, has for 1st Vespers of the feast of St. Dominic, the following entry:
"For [first] vespers: superpsalm ana. Gaude. Capitulum: Quasi stella. Response: Granum. Hymn: Gaude mater. Versicle: Ora pro nobis. Magnificat ana.: Transit. Prayer: Deus qui Ecclesiam."
This is identical to the propers that are found in the 1962 Breviarium, with the sole exception of the responsory (which is O spem miram in the 1962). This uniformity continues throughout the office, with only minor changes between the original editions of the Breviarium and the 1962. Bonniwell gives a comparison, "from 1st Vespers to 2nd Vespers" , of Humbert's codex and the 1909 Breviarium of Bl. Hyacinth Cormier, and concludes that with few exceptions, the offices are remarkably similar. (pp. 42-43, History of the Dominican Liturgy).
This is typical for many of the feasts of the Dominican saints and blesseds, and for the temporale as well. I find it to be a tremendous source of spiritual solidarity, that the responsory's, antiphons, hymns, versicles, etc., that I pray on this (and most other) feasts in my Dominican Breviary, are the very ones that thousands upon thousands of Dominican Friars, Brothers, Nuns, and tertiaries have also prayed for hundreds of years.