Electric Prayer

The Liturgy of the Hours, the Mass, and other things.

The Calendar at Christmas

Posted by universalis on 4 January 2007

(My embarrassed thanks to Father Julian Green, who gave me the idea for a revised explanation that is far simpler than the one I originally gave).

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the way that the psalm weeks work over Christmas, so I thought it would be worth summarising the rules.

What I’m saying will apply only to days that do not have their own particular psalms. Since quite a lot of days at this time of year do have their own psalms, the weekly pattern is only visible through the gaps. Moreover, the Evening Prayer psalms for the entire week after Christmas are a simple repetition of those of Christmas Day.

  • Week 1 of Advent starts on the Sunday that falls between 27 November and 3 December. It is psalm week I.
  • Week 2 of Advent starts on the Sunday that falls between 4 and 10 December. It is psalm week II.
  • Week 3 of Advent starts on the Sunday that falls between 11 and 17 December. It is psalm week III.
  • Week 4 of Advent starts on the Sunday that falls between 18 and 24 December. It is psalm week IV.
  • Week 1 of the year starts on the Sunday that falls between 7 January and 13 January. Weeks of the year are easy: week 1 is psalm week I, week 2 is psalm week II, 3=III, 4=IV, 5=I, 6=II, and so on.

So that leaves us with the days between 25 December and the start of week 1 of the year. The underlying pattern is very simple:

  • Week I starts on the Sunday that falls between 25 and 31 December. (Before that, the psalm week is IV, left over from the tail-end of Advent).
  • Week II starts on the Sunday that falls between 1 and 7 January. (Except that if the Sunday actually falls on 7 January, it marks the start of Week 1 of the year, so Week II never gets a chance to happen at all).

Here is how it all works out for 2007:

Religious calendar

Sunday 31 December – feast of the Holy Family.
Monday 1 January – solemnity of the Mother of God.
Tuesday 2 January – Week I.
Wednesday 3 January – Week I.
Thursday 4 January – Week I.
Friday 5 January – Week I.
Saturday 6 January – solemnity of the Epiphany.
Sunday 7 January – feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Monday 8 January – Monday of Week 1 of the year, Week I.
Tuesday 9 January – Tuesday of Week 1 of the year, Week I.

Commercial calendar

Sunday 31 December – feast of the Holy Family.
Monday 1 January – solemnity of the Mother of God.
Tuesday 2 January – Week I.
Wednesday 3 January – Week I.
Thursday 4 January – Week I.
Friday 5 January – Week I.
Saturday 6 January – Week I.
Sunday 7 January – solemnity of the Epiphany.
Monday 8 January – feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Tuesday 9 January – Tuesday of Week 1 of the year, Week I.

The pattern is a little hard to discern in 2007 because the Epiphany falling on a Saturday means that the days after the Epiphany have been squashed out of existence (a pity: they have some phenomenal prayers). This won’t happen again until 2018.

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6 Responses to “The Calendar at Christmas”

  1. Paula said

    I’m so glad to see an explanation of how to recite the Liturgy. Thanks!

  2. Mark said

    thanks so much for posting this!

    This explains now why I was getting upset, but the St Joseph Guide wasn’t!

  3. Marian said

    Thanks for explaining the week before Epiphany; I was lost in the Shorter Christian Handbook!

  4. That’s all very well but the psalms at prayer during the day still follow the weekly cycle even during the octave of Christmas. If it’s like this year, when Christmas Day fell within the week of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, then you just continue with week four. If Christmas falls towards the end of the week of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, then the weekdays of the Octave will be in week one. Basically the weekday cycle continues despite the Solemnity of Christmas. This is important once the Octave is finished, when we return to the psalter for all the offices.

  5. Jim said

    Thanks for the suscinct eplanation of the proper schedule for the Liturgy of the Hours of Sunday, 1/7 and Monday, 1/8 and following. It now makes sense.

  6. Benedicite!

    Dear Universalis,

    Thank you for your wonderful work! Much appreciated and so useful!

    One question: as a Cistercian, I am obviously very much aware of the Ordo Cist., which I also use daily. Tomorrow, for instance is the Feast of Ss Robert, Albreic & Stephen. Any chance of incorporating the Ordo Cist., or, at least the general Benedictine Ordo? Because there are a lot of us out here…

    Many thanks!

    Geoff

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