Last year we looked at St. James Day with a nod to the Collect of the Day and a couple of the Scripture readings associated with this day. That’s worth a quick re-read in preparation for tomorrow’s holiday.
For today, though, I’d like to remind you of a tradition that has been a subtle part of Prayer Book practice, though not always explicit: the “Eve of” a holy day. You may be familiar with the Easter Vigil, or Christmas Eve. You may also be familiar with the fact that many (most?) Roman churches have a Saturday evening Mass in addition to Sunday morning. All of these are examples of “liturgical time” starting a day on the evening before, rather than on the morning of. This is part of the Church’s Hebrew legacy, wherein every “day” begins at sundown – though in Christian liturgy we only tend to do this for Sundays and other feast days.
The 2019 Prayer Book, explaining the calendar on page 687, makes this much explicit:
Following ancient Jewish tradition, the celebrations of any Sunday begins at sundown on the Saturday that precedes it. Therefore at Evening Prayer on Saturdays (other than Holy Days), the Collect appointed for the ensuing Sunday is used.
It does not go on to say that we are to apply this principle to the other Holy Days. But such an extension of the rule is not forbidden, and some Prayer Books in the past have operated that way, so it is a traditional option that we are free to make use of.
In short, applying these rules, here are the Collects of the Day for the Daily Office this weekend:
- Friday Evening: Collect for Saint James Day or Proper 11
- Saturday Morning: Collect for Saint James Day
- Saturday Evening: Collect for Saint James Day
- Sunday Morning: Collect for Proper 12