Commemoration Corner

This page is designated for thorough explanation of all of the rules for making Commemorations according to the 1962 Breviarium Romanum. Oftentimes, these rules are daunting and/or misunderstood leading to omissions of prescribed Commemorations and to additions of proscribed Commemorations. Contrary to some popular opinion, Commemorations were not entirely excised under Bl. Pope John XXIII’s Rubricarum Novarum in 1960; most were eliminated, but some remained, especially Commemorations of impeded Sundays and the Feriae of Advent and Lent. The intent of this page, therefore, is to clearly lay out the rules in an easier to understand and follow manner. The official corpus of rubrics for these can be found under General Rubrics #104-114 and Rubrics of the Breviary #250-259 given at this site:

Q. What is a Commemoration?

A. A  Commemoration is the addition of an antiphon, versicle, and Collect prayer of an impeded Sunday, Feria, or Feast which yields way to a higher ranked liturgical observance. Commemorations, in the Office, may only occur at two Offices: Lauds and Vespers.

Q. What is meant by the term “Occurrance”?

A. Occurance is the term to designate a situation whereby two Offices happen to be on the same day in a particular year. When this happens, there is a Table of Occurance to designate which Office has precedence over the other, and if any Commemoration is prescribed by such. Occurance can also be perpetual, i.e. every year (e.g. Christ the King is always on a Sunday).

Q. What is meant by the term “Concurrance”?

A.  Concurrance is the term to designate a situation whereby the Second Vespers of a given day either yield to or take precedence over the First Vespers of the following day. Like Occurance, there is also a Table of Concurrance to designate which Office has precedence over the other, and if a Commemoration is prescribed by such.

Q. How is a Commemoration added to Lauds or Vespers?

A. At both Offices, a Commemoration is done immediately after the Collect prayer, at which time the Antiphon (for the Benedictus or Magnificat, respectively) from the impeded Office is said or sung once through, then the versicle (which follows the Hymn for the impeded Office) is said, and finally “Oremus” and the Collect prayer of the impeded Office is said or sung.  If a second Commemoration is prescribed, the second one is done exactly as the first, but the conclusion “Per Dominum” is omitted from the Collect prayer of the first Commemoration. Then Lauds or Vespers concludes as usual. Note that “Dominus vobiscum” or “Domine exaudi…” is NOT added before each Collect of a Commemoration; rather, the versicle after each Commemoration antiphon directly functions as the “invitation” to pray the additional Collect.

Q. Did the Bl. Pope John XXIII’s 1960 calendrical and rubrical changes eliminate Commemorations?

A. No, but they were mostly curtailed.

Q. When are Commemorations still prescribed per the 1960 rubrical revisions?

A. All Sundays, the Feriae of Advent and Lent, and the Ember Days have the designation of being privileged Commemorations; therefore, these days are ALWAYS commemorated when they are impeded by a higher Office, regardless of the rank of the Feast or the impeded Office. (e.g. a Second Class Sunday is always commemorated on a First Class Feast). Privileged Commemorations are prescribed for both Lauds and Vespers.

Q. Are there any other times Commemorations occur?

A. Yes, there are other Commemorations designated as Ordinary Commemorations. These are the Commemorations of any lower ranked Office when impeded by a higher ranked Office. On all days, except Sundays and any day ranked First Class, Ordinary Commemorations are regularly done (e.g. a Fourth Class Saint’s Feast is commemorated on a Third Class Saints’ Feast). An Ordinary commemoration is only prescribed for Lauds, never for Vespers.

Q. Are there any times when an Ordinary Commemoration is prescribed on a Sunday or day of the First Class?

A. On Second Class Sundays, the Commemoration of a Second Class Feast (e.g. an Apostle’s Feast) is prescribed at Lauds and Low Masses, but not at Vespers. Otherwise, no other Ordinary Commemorations are allowed on Sundays. On all days of the First Class and at High Masses, no Ordinary Commemorations are allowed.

Q. Are there any other exceptions to the rules above?

A. Yes, whenever the impeded Office is of the same Divine Person or Saint as that of the higher ranked Office, there is never a Commemoration of the lower ranked Office. All Sundays are considered Feasts of Our Lord, hence, on the Feasts of Christ the King, the Transfiguration, Trinity Sunday, etc., the impeded Sunday is never commemorated, not because of the difference in rank, but because of the principle of “no redundancy” stated herein. However, the Sunday Office would be commemorated on Feasts of Our Lady and the Saints, should those feasts displace the Sunday, because Sunday is a privileged Commemoration and there is no “redundancy”.

Q. Is there a maximum limit to the number of Commemorations at Lauds or Vespers?

A. Yes, there is limit which varies according to the rank of the day as follows:

  • On all days of the First Class – only one Commemoration is allowed and it must always be Privileged and would be done at both Lauds and Vespers
  • On Sundays of the Second Class – only one Commemoration is allowed and it may be Privileged or the Commemoration of a Second Class Feast (if a Privileged Commemoration is prescribed, therefore, the Ordinary would be omitted because of this limit)
  • On all other days of the Second Class – only one Commemoration is allowed, either Privileged or Ordinary
  • On all days of the Third & Fourth Class – a maximum of two Commemorations is allowed, Privileged first then Ordinary

Only Privileged Commemorations may occur at Vespers.

Q. What should I do if in doubt?

A. You may consult a Liturgical Ordo (usually printed for every year, but sometimes be careful with these because of typos) or someone who has a good understanding of these rubrics.

Q. Does the booklet for Vespers available in PDF format on this site include all possible Commemorations per the above?

A. Yes, all possible Commemorations are given in the exact places in which they would occur thereby minimizing the need to turn to different parts of the book and allowing for easy incorporation of Commemorations when they are prescribed at Vespers on Sundays and major Feast Days.