Invitatory (from Lat. invitatio: ‘invitation’)
- Ruth Steiner
- , revised by Keith Falconer
(from Lat. invitatio: ‘invitation’)
A fixed psalm opening a service of the Divine Office. In the Roman rite the term is used only for the opening chant of Matins: Psalm xciv (Vulgate numbering; Psalm xcv, Hebrew numbering) sung in alternation with an antiphon. The term has also been used occasionally by modern liturgical scholars to refer to any opening chant of the Divine Office, regardless of its character and without reference to fixed or variable characteristics.
In the early Church, an invitatory was included at the beginning of Vigils (later known as Matins), at Lauds, Vespers and elsewhere. The text seems to have varied from one region to another, and perhaps also varied according to the particular service, among other factors. St John Chrysostom, describing the state of the liturgy in Antioch before 397, mentioned an invitatory consisting of Psalm cxxxiii (Hebrew numbering) and Isaiah xxvi.9ff, both of which have an ‘invitatory’ character resembling that of Psalm xcv. A similar diversity of usage, presumably deriving directly from these early traditions, appears in the services of the Christian East. Thus the texts mentioned by Chrysostom were subsequently also sung in the Byzantine cathedral vigil and in many other Eastern liturgies....