The feast was imposed on the Western Church in 1334. But it had long been customary to use a Mass of the Holy Trinity on this day as a votive Mass, and in England St. Thomas of Canterbury is said to have instituted it as a regular feast of that mystery.
In the earliest times, as with other Sundays following the Ember vigil, this day was left vacant. From the eighth to the fourteenth centuries, it was treated as the Octave of Pentecost. But the institution of the feast of the Holy Trinity made the Octave end (as the Easter Octave originally did) on Saturday. R prints the ancient Lesson and Gospel of Dominica I post Pentecosten immediately after those of Trinity Sunday, and they are actually used on the ensuing three days, unless these are otherwise occupied. E treated the problem differently. The whole Mass of the First Sunday after Pentecost except the Gospel was transferred to the following Sunday. This and all other Sundays to Advent were now reckoned by S as “after Trinity”. HY generally reckon “after the Octave of Pentecost”. Thus for the first few Sundays of this season E is one behind R. But as the season proceeds there are further complications. B.C.P. follows E consistently, but occasionally alters the length of the passages.
Collect. GregR. The translation in 1549 was accurate: “that through the steadfastness of this faith we may evermore be defended from all adversity.”
Gospel. WME. This Gospel, the original one for the First Sunday after Pentecost, is, naturally, unconnected with the observance of the feast of the Holy Trinity.
[N. B. This is precisely what I had surmised.]
From this point onwards the Epistles in W are not attached to the Sundays after Pentecost, but to Sundays grouped round the “immovable festivals”; and there has been much dislocation of order. Henceforward, therefore, the letter W only means that a particular Pericope is found in that Lectionary and assigned to some Sunday after Pentecost.
Collect. Pii GregMSGiiE. [I.e. in P and SG this is the Collect for the Second Sunday.] In Gel assigned to Dom. vi post clausum Paschae.
Epistle. WMEPamTh. (lengthened).
“The Sundays after Trinity may be regarded as a system illustrating the practical life of Christianity, founded on the truths previously presented, and guided by the example of our Blessed Lord.” [Blunt, op. cit., ad loc.] The subject of this day is the love of God and the love of man.
Collect. GregSGiiiE. (In Gel assigned to Sunday after Ascension Day.) But the present form is an adaptation dating from 1661. Until then there had been a literal translation of the Latin – “Lorde, make vs to haue ...: for thou neuer faylest. ...”
Epistle. WME (lengthened).
Subject of the day: active love.
Epistle. WME (slightly lengthened). It seems probable that the Epistles for this Sunday and for our fifth after Trinity were chosen originally with reference to the coming feast of SS. Peter and Paul.
Subject of the day: humility.
Epistle. WME (in W. it is the Epistle for Ember Saturday).
Gospel. ME. This Gospel does not appear at all in R; there is therefore at this point a further dislocation. The R Gospel will henceforward be two ahead of E, but the Epistle still only one.
- R. All forms of Roman rite, including mediaeval English.
- E. Mediaeval English Uses in general.
- S. Sarum.
- Y. York.
- H. Hereford.
- A. Alcuin.
- B.C.P. Book of Common Prayer.
- Greg. Gregorianum.
- Gel. Gelasianum.
- P. Paduan Sacramentary.
- SG. St. Gall (Gelasian MS.).
- Pam. Pamelius.
- Th. Comes Theotenchi.
- W. Comes of Würzburg
- M. Comes of Murbach