Saint Joseph- any liturgical scholars out there?
  • Saint Joseph is a special solemnity for our Religious Community. He is considered our principal patron after the Blessed Mother. I wanted to do some research on the first liturgical texts of Saint Joseph- I came across this article from the oblates of Saint Joseph:
    Unfortunately, they don't give any sources. I have endlessly searched for any clues to find the so called first Western Liturgy of Saint Joseph in France from the 800s...

    Are there any scholars out there that might have original photos of the manuscripts- I am particularly interested in looking at the hymns... and antiphons... It seems to me, Saint Joseph has a complicated History in Liturgical Life.

    Thanks in advance if anyone has any clues on this mystery.
    Sister Marie
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,353
    The Cantus database has very little,

    We have very little here,

    Here is some information about the modern Hymns,

    I could not find anything here,
    Thanked by 1monasteryliturgist
  • yes I had seen the Cantus Database.. normally they have a good amount of information, for some reason there are very few sources online for Saint Joseph- too bad considering he is the Patron of the Universal Church- maybe there will be more scholarship done after this year dedicated to him
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    Dom Johner, in his "Chants of the Vatican Gradual",
    discusses the propers for the feasts of St Joseph (according to the old calendar):
    March 19: see p. 372ff
    Solemnity of Saint Joseph (Patronage of Saint Joseph, after Easter): pp. 387ff

    In both cases, the propers originated with other feasts, especially in the case of the Patronage feast, which only dates to 1847.

    The book is available in print from the CMAA shop:

    Jungmann's The Mass of the Roman Rite only mentions St. Joseph twice: a preface in his honor was added in 1919; and under Leo XIII, a request was made to add the name of St. Joseph to the Confiteor and certain other prayers.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,921
    I just stumbled across a few items in the Analecta hymnica medii aevi.

    Volume 12 has a few hymns for St. Joseph (see the PDF file), ostensibly from the 15th century. Number 253 seems to imitate Ave maris stella, so you could sing it to that tune. Numbers 254 and 255 are two texts that resemble each other, one from Paris, one from Bruges.

    Volume 45a, at number 49, has rhyming office antiphons for the feast of March 19, which was instituted by Duke Albert of Bavaria, according to the editor's notes -- I suppose that would be Albert IV ("the Wise"); they were printed in 1504. The notes also list the companion hymns for Vespers, Lauds, and the day offices.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Don9of11
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,353
    yes I had seen the Cantus Database.. normally they have a good amount of information, for some reason there are very few sources online for Saint Joseph- too bad considering he is the Patron of the Universal Church- maybe there will be more scholarship done after this year dedicated to him

    The problem biggest problem with St. Joseph is he has no tomb. So many of the saints with vast numbers of Offices, Propers, Hymns etc. have a mediaeval cult attached to them usually centred around the church with the relics or the tomb or a place of birth or death etc. Pilgrimage was big business!

    St. Joseph is also overshadowed quite rightly by the Blessed Virgin, so you will find music honouring St. Jospeh in some of the joint feasts such as the Espousals. Although many of these feasts are late or post mediaeval, so once again fewer resources will be found. The Cantus database is more or less empty because there are almost no mentions of St. Joseph in the notated Missals, Graduals, and Antiphonals.

    Sadly the Churches recent devotion to St. Joseph, is not based on a Traditional cult, so all we have is a handful of newly created indulgenced prayers, and 3 modern Offices (March 19, The Solemnity of St. Joseph, and the very recent 'Joe the worker'.

    The 800's Office is interesting, but does not seem to have been popular enough to be found in the many later books. Do the Eastern Rites have a Traditional devotion?
    Thanked by 1Jehan_Boutte
  • It seems they do according to the article link above that I posted
    The Synaxary (list of feasts of the saints with short accounts of their significance), written around 1425 for the Coptic Church of Alexandria, states for the 26th of their month Abîb: “The repose of the elderly and just Saint Joseph the carpenter, the husband of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, chosen to be called the father of Christ.”

    Coptic Egyptians still celebrate this feast in their monasteries Abîb 26 (July 20 in the old Julian calendar, and now August 2 in our current Gregorian calendar reformed in 1582). A proper Office (Liturgy of the Hours) for St. Joseph has been in use since the Middle Ages.

    An Ethiopian Synaxary similarly states that for the 26th of their month Hamlê: “On this day died at a good old age the righteous man Joseph, the carpenter, who was worthy to be called the father of Christ in the flesh, and concerning whom the Holy Gospel bears witness that he was a righteous man, and that because of this our Lady Saint Mary was in safe keeping with him.” For the 16th of the month Sanê, it also reads at the end: “And on this day the angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream, and told him to take the Child and His mother, and to return to the land of Israel.

    I also read that they based alot of their feast of St. Joseph on Apocrypha which is very interesting.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    St. Joseph still has not gained much traction in the east and I wondered about that. Apparently, the early church was worried people would believe the father of Christ was St. Joseph rather than God. Even in icons, when St. Joseph is depicted, he is a small figure in the background. Was similar thinking the reason devotion to St. Joseph is a more recent thing even in the west? I don't know.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,703
    Well, to tomjaw's point, and to Charles's question, people cared more about St John the Baptist, and rightly so. Modern Josephite devotion dates to St Teresa of Avila at the earliest.

    This said, I like the patronage feast in Eastertide a lot, actually. It's got a very nice set of prayers.
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 593
    Regarding the feast of St. Joseph and earliest appearance, you might be able to gage devotion by paintings of St. Joseph by Renaissance artists. I'm not sure when the earliest might be but 16th or 17th century.
  • I have found a few sources... once I put it all together... I will share what I found- Im not a scholar, just a nun... but I think if we investigate a little more we might be surprised. I think the key will be finding the manuscripts in France... it seems from what I have read it started as a Benedictine Feast dating from the 800s (in western tradition) but not universally until 17th Century.... and there are about 4 different feasts coming up... then the eastern rites have a whole different story ...

    the key will be to find manuscripts- its a very interesting puzzle.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • Felicia
    Posts: 87
    The cult (in the sense of cultus) of St. Joseph in the Western Church really started taking off with Jean Gerson (1363-1429). Afterwards, the devotion steadily progressed; his feast day on March 19 was established by Pope Sixtus VI in the late 15th century, and during the 16th century he was promoted by such great figures as St. Teresa de Avila and her confessor, Jeronimo Gracian.

    As folks have noted already, St. Joseph's cult developed very strongly during the Counter-Reformation period. Whereas medieval artists usually depicted him as an old man or secondary figure, after the Council of Trent he began to be depicted as a mature yet still-youthful, muscular man, often holding the Christ Child in his arms. This was especially prevalent in Spain and the Spanish world. The library where I work has an extensive collection of books and documents printed in colonial New Spain (modern Mexico). This collection contains dozens of devotionals, novenas, prayer-books devoted to St. Joseph (as well as Mary as many other other saints, some of whom were unfamiliar to me).

    I'm researching an antiphonal from this collection, probably from the late 18th or early 19th centuries, which has settings of antiphons for Vespers, Matins, and Lauds for the feast of St. Joseph. I could write a lot about this.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,674
    I have never bought into the theology of the body or St. Jerome's remaking of Joseph to fit his narrative - young, muscular and manly. The Protoevangelium of St. James indicates he was a widower with children, which accurately portrays what Christians believed at the time (I want to say around 150 A.D. if I remember correctly without actually looking it up.) It really is the only way the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in the scriptures makes any real sense. Folks who accept the perpetual virginity of Mary get it from the same source. It isn't in scripture. If it was correct about Mary, it is likely correct about Joseph.

    On another point, I realize Joseph is not a "biggie" in my eastern church. However, I do admire his willingness to put others ahead of himself and his acceptance of God's will over his own.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,703
    CharlesW's view of Joseph is basically my own FWIW.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,062
    The Melkite Greek Catholic Church celebrates him on the Sunday after Christmas :
    Commemoration of the Holy and Just Man JOSEPH, spouse of the Mother of God, of James, brother of the Lord, and of David the King and Prophet-
    Troparion :- O Joseph, proclaim to David, the ancestor of Christ our God, the great miracles you have witnessed : you have seen the Virgin with child, given praise with the shepherds, adored with the wise men, and an angel of the Lord has appeared to you. Intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.
    Kontakion :- Today David the Holy One is filled with joy, Joseph and James offer their hymns of praise, for the crown of glory of their relationship with Christ fills them with joy. They offer their hymns of praise to the One born on earth in a manner beyong description, and they cry out :"O Merciful One, save those who honor you!"
    And added in the early 19th century :
    March 19th transfer into heaven of JOSEPH, spouse of the Virgin Mary.
    Troparion :- The purity that made you stand out and the perfect innocence that shone forth from you, O just and holy Joseph, have delighted the hearts of the faithful and shown us the way to angelic life and to the royal road. Wherefore the heavenly powers were amazed as they beheld the heights of your indescribable glory. We too sing a hymn to you : "Glory to the One who honored you! Glory to the One who crowned you! Glory to the One who consecrated you as the intercessor for our souls!"
    Kontakion :- Because you loved purity of heart, you have become a close friend of the Heavenly King. Because He has chosen you to become the foster-father of his only-begotten Son, the ever-virgin Mary was entrusted to you as a pure bride, wherefore you received the choicest gifts of the Holy Spirit. O Holy Joseph, intercede for the salvation of our souls!
  • Chrism
    Posts: 831
    Perhaps @monasteryliturgist has enough time allocated to do some further research in the Analecta. The Analecta has a painful but useful liturgical index available at HathiTrust.

    Register 2 is the master index, with pp. 59-224 being by liturgy or feast (see the page for Joseph). Register 2 is, however, only an index into Register 1. Once you get the number from Register 2, you have to look at Register 1.

    Register 1 (A-J) has index #'s 1-14740.

    Register 1 (K-Z) has index #'s 14741-28296.

  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,353

    Another index is here,

    Although I have started my own index, but have only managed the first volume!
    Thanked by 1Chrism
  • According to Martimort, John Gerson, who died around 1420, said that the Augustinians in Milan celebrated a feast in honor of St. Joseph on March 19 and others did as well in Germany on dates he did not know. Martimort goes on to say that a canon at Chartres, a friend of Gerson's, initiated a feast of the Espousal of Mary and Joseph and composed an office. Have no idea whether such liturgical sources can be accessed. The feast of March 19 spread rapidly after 1480, when it was approved by Pope Sixtus IV, which is probably when liturgical sources will be easier to to find. The earliest evidence for the feast on March 19 is simply a name for the feast "Ioseph sponsus Mariae," in a martyrology from the 800s.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,353
    Feast of the Espousals is in the Roman Missal 1955 / 57 possibly 1962,

    The Office is in the Antiphonale 1912ed. see pg. [124].
  • Just to add my 2 cents, an early printed (pre-tridentine) Breviary (1513), used in Riga, contains a proper Office "In festo St. Josephi sponsi Marie" assigned to January 15 (as in some German and Scandianavian dioceses, too). The office contains rhymed antiphons and responsories, as well as hymns that are different from those in the Analecta. Interestingly, there is also a proper Hymn for Compline. The text is reproduced in this book (p. 238ff):

    A minor comment regaring the text on the Oblates' site:
    until 1963 when some of them were lost due to suppression of the hour of Prime
    There could not be any loss of text due to this, since the only proper texts in Prime (antiphon and short reading) are found also in Lauds and None, respectively.
  • @Andris Amolins

    Yes, I actually compared the two offices and it seems to me nothing was lost except for the Second Lesson of the office- just that the antiphons are placed in different orders and a few of the short readings are different but more or less it is the same. The invitatory antiphon also appears to be different.