It’s that time again: this Sunday, the deacon gets his chance (and chants!)
Time to clear your throat and warble the Announcement of Easter and the Moveable Feasts for 2021:
In keeping with an ancient practice of the Holy Church, the moveable feasts of the coming year are announced following the Gospel. Interestingly, the rubrics indicate that the Gospel be sung! (However, even if read, that should not stop one from singing the proclamation)
This Epiphany proclamation is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith, which are celebrated each year. Although optional, this chant is a unique expression (and fun) that connects our present day to our ancient roots of the Church. It is a tradition that reminds of who we are, where we come from, and where we are going!
The USCCB offers this context:
The proclamation of the date of Easter and the other moveable feasts on Epiphany dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It was necessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date. The number of Sundays that follow Epiphany, the date of Ash Wednesday, and the number of Sundays that follow Pentecost are all computed in relation to Easter.
Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year.
Each year the proper dates for Ash Wednesday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, and the First Sunday of Advent must be inserted into the text. Those dates are found in the table which is included with the introductory documents of the Roman Missal. The form to be used for announcing each dates is: the date of month, e.g., “the seventh day of April.”
On the Epiphany of the Lord, after the singing of the Gospel, a Deacon or cantor, in keeping with an ancient practice of Holy Church, announces from the ambo the moveable feasts of the current year according to the following text. (The musical notation is found in Appendix I of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.)
Continue reading for the dates and text.
I’ve always found it weird to sing this immediately after proclaiming the Gospel, so I’ve taken the liberty of moving it elsewhere. I’ve done it after preaching the homily, as a kind of coda and I’ve also done it near the end of Mass, after the announcements but before the final blessing, which seems to make the most sense. Whenever you do it, a word or two of introduction seems helpful, to situate it for people historically. I think it’s a nice two-minute musical moment that we should try to preserve.
The chant has some of the same musical motifs as The Exsultet, so it’s also a nice warmup for Holy Week.
Here’s a very good version, newly recorded for the coming year.