The most illustrious martyrs had at Rome, from the fourth century, their basilicas, where was celebrated each year the anniversary of their death, or rather their birth in heaven. At that time a number of Masses were prescribed without any fixed day in honour of those who had no public recognition. When later the names of saints who were not martyrs were introduced into the ecclesiastical Calendar, a more universal character was given to such Masses. It is thus that in the eighth century the Gregorian Sacramentary indicates among the common Masses without a date : The Mass in honour of All Saints. Fixed in the following century on November 1, it became the Mass of All Saints' Day for which we are this day prepared by a vigil.
This explains why the Mass of the vigil, as well as that of the feast, contains extracts from the Masses of the Common of Martyrs.
The saints judge nations, and rule over peoples: and the Lord their God shall reign for ever. * Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright.
(Wisdom and Psalm 32, from the Introit of Mass)
Domine Deus noster, multiplica super nos gratiam tuam: et, quorum praevenimus gloriosa solemnia, tribue subsequi in sancta professione laetitiam.
Multiply Thy grace upon us, O Lord our God, and grant that by sanctity of life we may attain to the joy of those whose glorious feast we anticipate.
Exsultabunt sancti in gloria, laetabuntur in cubilibus suis: exaltationes Dei in faucibus eorum.
The saints shall rejoice in glory, they shall be joyful in their beds : the high praises of God are in their mouth.
(Psalm 118:5-6 from the Offertory)