Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Learn the Office 2.9 - The chapter (capitulum)

Photo: Cartuxos em oração


After these psalms let a lesson be recited…

Rule of St Benedict, ch 17


Each of the hours of the Benedictine Office normally contains a very short Scriptural reading, typically not more than a sentence, called the capitulum in Latin, or chapter (verse).**

It is important to take note of where the chapter is in each hour, as if you are saying the Office, as opposed to singing it, it is easy to forget to add the words 'Deo Gratias' (Thanks Be to God) to the end of it by way of response, something rarely spelt out in the Office books.

In addition, it is worth noting that the rubrics for the chapter differ slightly from those for the readings at Matins, and the short reading at Compline.

**NB This should not be confused with the Office of chapter, attached to Prime, which I will deal with separately.

Where to find the chapters


The position of the chapter varies depending on the hour.

At Lauds to Vespers the chapter comes immediately after the psalms and their antiphon, so you say the antiphon for the psalms (without a Deo gratias) and then the chapter (with a Deo gratias).

At Compline, the chapter comes immediately after the hymn.

At Matins, the chapter comes after the last antiphon for the psalms in the second Nocturn on weekdays.

At some hours - notably Prime and Compline - the chapter is the same every day.**

The remaining hours have chapters that can vary with the day of the week, season or feast.  Default chapters are provided in the psalter section of Office books such as the Diurnal and Antiphonale; the variants can be found in the sections providing texts for the seasons, individual saints and commons of types of feasts.

**Note: Those using older books such as the Antiphonale Monasticum should be aware that an alternative chapter is provided for Prime (eg AM 6) for use on some occasions and times during the year, however, this was suppressed in the 1962 Office.

The rubrics


The chapter differs from the readings and short readings in that there is no preliminary blessing of the reader, and 'Tu autem Domine...' is not added at the end of it.

When said in common or in choir, everyone stands for the chapter, and it is desirable to do this when saying the Office by yourself as well.

In a monastery, the person in charge of the Office for the day (hebdomadary) says the verse, then everyone responds with the words 'Deo gratias'.  In private recitation, just add the Deo gratias yourself.

In the Monastic Diurnal, the 'Deo gratias' it is written out for Compline, but elsewhere, the Diurnal often just expects you to know to say this this (have a look, for example, at Vespers on Monday, MD 217-8).

The chant tones for the chapter can be found in the Antiphonale Monasticum on pages 1233-4. - the standard tone is on AM 1233; the following page provides variant tones used when the chapter includes a question mark, or when it ends with a question mark (Clausula interrogative).


The Compline chapter


The videos below provide examples using the  Compline chapter for learning purposes (note that some or all of the videos may not be accessible from your location for copyright reasons).

  



 or




SUMMARY


Each of the hours of the Benedictine Office normally contains a very short Scriptural reading, typically not more than a sentence, called the capitulum in Latin, or chapter (verse).

The position of the chapter depends on the particular hour.

The words 'Deo Gratias' (Thanks Be to God) need to be added to the end of the chapter.


And you can continue on to the next part in this series, on the closing prayers of the Office.

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