Laetare Sunday at the Birmingham Oratory. [cf., Birmingham Oratory official site]
Today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is known as Laetare Sunday for the opening word of the Introit of the Mass on this day, which quote the prophet Isaiah:
"Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae."
"Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation."
Here is that text in its Gregorian Chant setting:
On this day, then, Lenten observances are eased a bit as we look to Easter, having now completed half of Lent, and rose vestments are used. Laetare is, then, the Lenten companion of Gaudete Sunday in Advent. The Old Catholic Encyclopedia notes on this day:
"Strictly speaking, the Thursday before Laetare Sunday is the middle day of Lent, and it was at one time observed as such, but afterwards the special signs of joy permitted on this day, intended to encourage the faithful in their course through the season of penance, were transferred to the Sunday following. They consist of (like those ofGaudete Sunday in Advent) in the use of flowers on the altar, and of the organ at Mass and Vespers; rose-coloured vestments also allowed instead of purple, and the deacon and subdeacon wear dalmatics, instead of folded chasubles as on the other Sundays of Lent. The contrast between Laetare and the other Sundays is thus emphasized, and is emblematical of the joys of this life, restrained rejoicing mingled with a certain amount of sadness. The station at Rome was on this day made at the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, one of the seven chief basilicas; the Golden Rose, sent by the popes to Catholic sovereigns, used to be blessed at this time, and for this reason the day was sometimes called 'Dominica de Rosa'."
For more on Laetare Sunday, you might visit:
Old Catholic Enyclopedia: Laetare Sunday
Fisheaters: Laetare Sunday
On this Fourth Sunday of Lent: Laetare!