Did You Get to Hear the Ancient Epiphany Proclamation at Mass Last Sunday?
The ‘Noveritis,’ which solemnly proclaims the dates of various movable feasts in the Church calendar, is increasingly being heard at Epiphany Mass in parishes around the world.
Last Sunday, at many parishes in America and around the world, a special proclamation, the Noveritis, was chanted to mark the Solemnity of the Epiphany.
Sung to the same tune as the Exsultet, the Noveritis — also called the “Epiphany Proclamation” or the “Announcement of Easter and the Movable Feasts” — is a ceremonial proclamation of the liturgical dates for the coming year. The Noveritis announces the dates for important movable feasts including Ash Wednesday, Easter Sunday, the Ascension, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and the First Sunday of Advent.
But why, in this age of the internet and easy social communications, is it necessary to musically announce these dates during Mass?
In earlier times, without easy access to a calendar, it was not easy to determine when special feasts would be celebrated each year. The Catholic Church made it simple for the faithful to celebrate, by publicizing the dates — especially the date of Easter, upon which the other movable feasts hinged. The first word in that proclamation was “Noveritis” (“We announce”). The priest or deacon, or sometimes a cantor or even a choir, sang the Noveritis after the Gospel or after the post-Communion prayer.
By the middle of the 20th century, when Catholics and others could easily access a calendar, the Noveritis fell into disuse. The custom was revived, however, in the late 20th century — and while it is not required, many churches have welcomed the opportunity to join with Catholics around the world in announcing the great Easter feast.
Here is the complete text of the Noveritis for 2023:
Know, dear brethren, that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God's mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior.
On the 22nd day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.
On the ninth day of April you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the 18th day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Or, in dioceses where the Ascension is transferred to Sunday: On the twenty-first day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.]
On the 28th day of May, the feast of Pentecost.
On the 11th day of June, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
On the third day of December, the First Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Here’s how it was proclaimed at the magnificent Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this year:
How was the Noveritis handled at your parish last Sunday? Please let us know in the comments below.