Pre-Lent – 1st Vespers of Septuagesima

In the traditional Roman calendar tonight we sing 1st Vespers of Septuagesima.

We have come around to Pre-Lent.  This is a time to plan what your Lent will be for you.   You are older this year than last you.  You are not quite the same.  The very same plan this year as last might not be your best plan.

On our Sundays, we have a foretaste of Lent, which Fathers such as St. Augustine saw as a sacred time, almost as if it were itself a sacrament.  We prepare for the reception of sacraments.  We should prepare to enter into Lent.  Soldiers prepare for battle and we are soldiers of the Church Militant.  We should strategize before the spiritual battle of Lent.

Pre-Lent is planning time.   Holy Church knows you need this, which is why we have reminders that Lent is coming: Violet vestments for Septuagesima (70th), Sexagesima (60th) and Quinquagesima (50th), and why at 1st Vespers we sing the Alleluia for the last time for a long time.   In some places the singing of the last Alleluia was a real occasion.  They would even have a ceremony of burying the Alleluia for its resurrection at Easter.

To inspire a good start of Pre-Lent, here are the monks at Le Barroux singing their last Alleluia at the end of 1st Vespers.


Pre-Lent – 1st Vespers of Septuagesima
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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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16 Responses to Pre-Lent – 1st Vespers of Septuagesima

  1. StWinefride says:

    Thank you, Fr Z. I love the idea of a ceremony for burying the last Alleluia!

  2. Gaz says:

    One with the will could begin a gradual reform of the reform. Permit violet vestments for these three Sundays, remove the Gloria (in some places that would not be too hard), change the introit and communio verses back to those in the traditional calendar (NO-ONE would notice). Softly softly creepy monkey.

  3. padredana says:

    Are there any remnants if this in the Mass of Paul VI? Are there any legitimate ways we could integrate this season into the Mass of Paul VI other than preaching about it? As someone who grew up with the Mass of Paul VI, I’m not even sure what this season looks like theoretically and practically. Could someone share more about the season?

  4. FloridaJoan says:

    Thank you Father for the reminder to get ready , to plan for our Lent this year. Proper and thoughtful preparation does take time and plenty of prayer, sacrifice and much reflection. I received my ” Lent at Ephesus ” CD this week and will use it also to help me plan for a truly Holy Lent this year.

    pax et bonum

  5. majuscule says:

    As a child I remember the names of these Sundays, Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima, more for their length than their meaning. But now that I am finding the Traditional Latin Mass again it’s like encountering old friends and finally getting to know them!

    I realize that’s not what is meant, but Ordinary time seems so…ordinary.

  6. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    The pre-Lent (Septuagesima) season: Reason #138 for Summorum Pontificum

  7. Geoffrey says:

    I can see why the season of Septuagesima was abolished in what we now call the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite: It looks too much like Lent! It should have been reformed, not removed. My humble suggestion, as though anyone would listen, would be to restore the season of Septuagesima as a “sub-season” or season within the season of Ordinary Time after Pentecost / before Lent. Retain the Gloria, alleluia, and green vestments, but restore the Mass propers, and retain the current readings of whatever day it happens to be in Ordinary Time (I am being realistic!).

  8. Iacobus M says:

    Regarding the “reform of the reform”, in my experience most resistance to changes in the direction of more traditional forms of worship comes from clerics of a certain vintage, so to speak. As more such clerics go on to meet their Maker, more restorative reforms should become possible.
    Iacobus M

  9. Uxixu says:

    The single worst feature of the Novus Ordo has got to be the calendar and the loss of not only the Sundays after Epiphany but the pre-Lent season into an artificial “ordinary time” much moreso than the Sundays after Pentecost, which really do smack of “ordinary time.” Removing and/or replacing some of the legendary saints may have made a certain amount of sense, as would moving others of the Roman specific saints to a local instead of the universal calendar, which would also allow for more local/regional saints but the loss of the ancient pre-Lent season is a huge facet of traditional Catholicism.

    I attended an extraordinary form Septuagesima Mass today instead of my normal Novus Ordo parish as I aim to do every year in this season.

  10. Sword40 says:

    Thank you Fr. Z for posting this and the Monks from Le Barroux. I listen to them every day. Its a fascinating website. I wind up alternating with the Little Office of the BVM.

    Off to Mass now.

  11. Hugh says:

    Thanks for this Fr. Inspired by a typically brilliant essay of Jeff Tucker (‘Catholics Give The Best Parties’), we’ve had a ‘Burying The Alleluia’ cocktail party on the Sat before Septuagesima at my house (Melbourne, Australia) for a few years now. The formula is simple: wear something green and/or purple (some of the ladies wear reversible dresses). Green cocktail at 7.00 pm (this year it was Japanese Slipper). Then first vespers for Septuagesima Sunday which has the double Alleluia at the end. Bury the ‘Alleluia’ singing “Alleluia, Dulce Carmen” in Latin then English to the tune “Let All Mortal Flesh” (procession through the house and out to a small grave in the back yard. Youngest children carry the Alleluia on a bier). Then purple cocktail (French Martini). Then supper. A highlight this year was the new parish priest in our area. I go to the trad. mass across town, but confess locally, so I met him a couple of weeks back. Seemed very personable, so on spec I called him up and invited him along to this rich dark chocolate traddie affair. To our delight he acceded, came along and was a treasure – sang the office very well … even the tricky Magnificat antiphon, followed the rubrics (I’m not being condescending … I muck up the rubrics of the E.F. office on a regular basis), and to our great surprise, when asked to say grace, said it, unprompted, in Latin (‘Benedic, Domine, nos’ &c) ! God bless him. I have made a booklet (Latin/Eng trans) of the office/chant plus hymn ‘Alleluia Dulce Carmen’ if anyone is interested:

  12. OrthodoxChick says:


    That’s too cool! This might sound like a stupid question, but do you or anyone know of a link to the audio for this? I can’t read music (neither regular notes, nor chant). I love your party idea but I don’t know what this should sound like. I’m going to try to remember to steal your party idea and do this in our home for next year.

  13. OrthodoxChick says:

    Wait?! Is the audio above that Father attached the same thing as Hugh’s “lyrics”? I’m so clueless. I’m grateful to Fr. Z. for posting to explain what Septuagesima is. I ‘m ashamedly completely ignorant of any/all of the “gesimas”. So much to learn!

  14. The collect, secret, and postcommunion prayers for the season of Septuagesima found today in the 1962 missal are word-for-Latin-word identical with those in the Gregorian sacramentary used under Charlemagne twelve hundred years ago. See page 25 of the online version

    Indeed, these orations are thought to have already been several centuries old at the time of Charlemagne. So those of us who attended the EF Mass of Septuagesima heard words hallowed by 12 to 15 centuries of continues liturgical use. But these pearls of Christian antiquity disappeared in the OF revision of Paul VI.

  15. Mike says:

    What Uxixu said. Additionally, the TLM I attended featured an actual homily, in which Father discussed the legend of Hippomenes and Atalanta (oh, dem golden apples!) as a parallel to the Epistle.

    A pitch for the archdiocese’s annual fundraiser constituted the entire sermon at the NO Vigil Mass I attended Saturday afternoon.

  16. Hugh says:

    OrthodoxChick, great! I’ll see if I can make an mp3 recording of the whole of the Vespers/burial of Alleluia music, in the next couple of months, for you to listen to and practice for next year. If you’ve got someone with a good ear and voice around (preferably two … one for each side of the choir, so the psalms can be sung antiphonally – one side sings one verse, the other sings the next, etc) – then they can practice up over the next year and be the leaders on each side. My contact address is: hughdhenry atsign