18 May 2008

Feast vs. Festival

In a discussion on the Liturgy List, Pr. Vieker helpfully pointed out a very little observed footnote in LSB on page xi. On that page are listed out Feasts and Festivals. But which is which? The bolded items are denoted as "principal feasts of Christ" and are "normally observed when they occur on a Sunday." What are these?

Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (Dec. 31)
Circumcision and Name of Jesus (Jan. 1)
Purification of Mary and the Presentation of Our Lord (Feb. 2)
Annunciation of our Lord (March 25)
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist (June 24)
The Visitation (July 2)
St. Michael and All Angels (September 29)
All Saints Day (November 1)

All these are FEASTS in LSB and the lectionary introduces them so. The rest of the days on that page are festivals "that may be observed according to local custom and preference." A quite separate category are Commemorations. Commemorations lack propers and so are not intended to be "celebrated" in the Divine Service, but the person (or event) commemorated may be included in the prayers for that day.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

What about Christmas and Easter? Did you just accidentally leave them off the list of feasts?

William Weedon said...

They're on another page - Sundays and Seasons. That includes, of course, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost (and of course Baptism of our Lord, Transfiguration, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Ascension, and so on).

Luke said...

Interesting that the "Eve of the Circumcision and Name of Jesus" (December 31) is listed as a "principal feast of Christ." And yet, no other of those principal feasts have an "Eve" celebration. And the readings for this "Eve" have nothing to do with the naming of Jesus.

It seems to me, that the COW just wanted to justify having service on New Year's Eve. Why not simply call it Silvester and make it a commemoration, and not the roundabout way of connecting it to Jesus and calling it one of His "principal feasts"? It would be much more intellectually honest.


William Weedon said...


We celebrate both as principal feasts - the Eve and the Day. Though oddly enough our practice is to have the Eucharist in the evening service and sing Matins in the day service.

But if you look on the other page, you realize that Christmas has its eve, as does Easter and also Pentecost. So Circumcision isn't quite alone in that, though it is odd that it alone of the other feasts and festivals should have the eve and I suspect you are correct that the desire for New Year's eve services accounts for it.

John Wurst said...


I would like to know your opinion on celebrating Trinity Octave on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost (May 25th this year).

The only connection I can make to this is the celebration of Corpus Christi in the 14th century.

Is Trinity Octave, even if we call it the celebration of the body and blood of our Lord, somthing we as Lutherans should be doing?

David Rosenkoetter said...

Thank you, Pastor Weedon, for this distinction. I find it fascinating how commemorations such as June 25 (signing the Augsburg Confession) are so easily knit into sermons or prayers.

In the semester ekklesia, such a commemoration speaks to the Church militant's trust in Jesus Christ alone. Its themes do leap from the various readings for the Sundays which can fall on or around that date.

William Weedon said...


Traditionally Trinity THURSDAY is celebrated as Corpus Christi. Although the Magdeburg Cathedral book did not name it that, the readings were the traditional for the feast and the Sequence was "Lauda Sion Salvatorum" (corrected to confess real presence rather than transubstantiation). But the Sunday after Trinity in traditional Lutheran practice has been dedicated to the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. The idea of moving Corpus Christi to Sunday after Trinity is rather a modern American RC invention, I believe.

David Rosenkoetter said...


It's interesting how you mentioned celebrating the Eucharist on New Year's Eve and then Matins on the day.

A couple thoughts crossed my mind here. First, many of the congregations where I have worshiped involve a penitential theme in New Year's Eve before ending in celebration. This has been particularly true in those which did not celebrate the naming of our Lord on January 1.

Secondly, I love the way the Te Deum (sung in Matins) really thrusts forward themes in the naming of Jesus. Jesus, whom the Father sent to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21), is Him whom we praise so clearly in this magnificent canticle. Even its mentioning of Jesus being "born of a virgin" et al proclaims not only Him who is named Jesus but also why He is so named.

Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

The older Roman Rite designates the second Sunday after Pentecost as The Sunday Within the Octave of Corpus Christi; the New Order leaves it completely optional as to whether to celebrate Corpus Christi on its historic day (Thursday following Trinity) or the next Sunday.

Personally I would say the best course would be to keep Corpus Christi on its traditional Thursday (being a fitting day in relation to Maundy Thursday), and keeping the Second Sunday After Pentecost, which, as Fr. Weedon points out, is for Lutherans traditionally the Luke 16 pericope.