Philip Freeman.

The principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) online

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than a sort of vestibule to the Office, though in many
respects it has more the appearance of being a sub-


staiitive portion of it, is, that there are indications,
shortly after, of the Otfice itself not having yet,
strictly speaking, begun. But of the great antiquity
of this portion of the Eastern Morning Office, we seem
to have irrefragable proof in the remarkable defer-
ence paid to it, as has been already pointed out, by
the framers of the Western Ritual ; their psalmodical
schemes being so contrived in all cases as to include
one or both of these Psalms (xx. and xxi.) in the
Sunday Matins Office.

The invitatory and two Psalms, then, together with
the litany, answering the purpose of a half-joyful,
half-penitential preparation for the Morning Office,
the Service proper commences with the people's de-
siring the priest to give a blessing : " In the name of
the Lord, give the blessing, father." This, we can
liardly doubt, is the source from whence the form so
universally used in the Western Ritual, before the
Lessons, took its rise: "Jube, domine, benedicere."
The exact meaning of this has been much disputed.
The question is, whether it is addressed by the reader
to God or to the priest. In the Roman use it is said
in the former sense in private recitation of the service ;
in the latter in public. The English use apparently
knew of no such distinction"; — it was taken, as this
])assage in the Greek Office seems to prove it ought^
for a request to the priest that he would desire a bles-
sing. The " jube" is only a recognition, in a some-
what strong form, of the priestly power or commis-
sion to invoke a blessing. The formula is best ren-
dered, " Sir, desire God to bless us." But it is

» Vide Leslie's Portif. Sarish., p. 5, and note, \t. lii. Miuskell, Ano.
Li) ., |). IlL Tlie Transl. Sar. Psalt., p. U, gives two renderings; both, jjro-
bably, iuconcct: "0 Lord, bid a ble.ssing;" "O Lord, bid liini bless."



singular, that in the East the priest acceded to the
request by blessing God ; in the West, by blessing
himself and the congregation. This is somewhat
characteristic. For it is much more usual in the
Eastern forms than in the Western, for man to lose
himself in the thought of God, and in the pure joy
of jubilant praise. The prototype of both kinds is
to be found, however, in the blessing of Abraham
by Melchisedec, the most ancient priestly benediction
on record, (Gen. xiv. 19, 20): "Blessed be Abram
of the Most High God ; and blessed be the Most
High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into
thine hands," The Greek form of benediction in this
place is (as in the case of the invitatory) unvarying,
as follows : — " Glory to the Holy, and Consubstantial,
and Quickening, and Undivided Trinity ; always, now,
and ever, and to ages of ages. Amen." To which
some person appointed responds, " Glory to God in
the highest, and in earth peace, good will toward
men," (thrice).

The manner in which the Three Persons of the
Holy Trinity are signalized in the blessing will be
remarked: "Holy" referring to the Father ^ "Con-
substantial," to the Son ; " Quickening," to the Holy
Ghost. The Western benedictions before the Les-
sons, (varying however with the season,) follow this
type; being almost always conceived in reference to
the Holy Trinity. Thus the first Salisbury bene-
diction for Sundays was : —

"The Father eternal bless us with His continual blessing: God,
the Son of God, vouchsafe to bless and help us : may the grace of the
Holy Spirit illuminate om- hearts and bodies."

There is of course, after all, this striking difference
between the use made in the East and in the West


of this kind of benediction; that in the one case it
precedes a series of Psahiis, in the other of Lessons.
But here comes in what has been before remarked,
viz. that to the Orientals the saying of Psalms w^as a
meditation upon Scripture as well as an act of praise.
Mr. Palmer P has pointed out this mode of using
the Psalms, as occurring in some Communion Offices
both of the East and West. Thus the Apostolical
Constitutions seem to enumerate Psalms among the
Les80)is ; though they are there ordered to be sunt/.
So too we find St. Augustine'' considering the Psalm
as a Lesson : " We have heard the Apostle, the Psalm,
and the Gospel ; all the Divine Lesso?is agree ;" and
again,_, " We have heard the first Lesson from the
Apostle, then mai^ a Psalm ; after this came the
Lesson from the Gospel ; these //tree Lessons we will
discourse upon." These passages exhibit the Psalms
as used at once as a song and as a meditation ;
exactly as I have supposed the six Psalms to have
been in this Office, and the 119th in the Nocturns.
And that these particular Psalms in the Greek Lauds
were viewed in some degree in this light, we seem
to have an indication in the rubric prefixed : — " Then
we begin the six Psalms, listening loith all silence and
penitence" It is on the whole highly probable thnt
we have here the origin, both of the ante-lectional
benedictions of the West, and, in a measure, of
tlie j)osition assigned to the Lections or Lessons
themselves ; viz. in close conjunction and interweav-
ing with the Paahns.

The fixed P.sahns for the Greek Morning Office arc,

p Vol. ii. p. 57. "It appears therefore that the gradual" (i.e. P-salm
after the Epiatlcj "was anciently looked upon as a licsson Iroin Scrip-
ture even when it was sung."

'' Serin. 1G5, 17'>, de Verb. A post.



iii., wxviii., Ixiii., Ixxxviii., ciii., cxliii. But before
tliey were begun, was said tliat verse of Psalm li.,
>vhich became universal in the West as a versicle and
response preceding the entire psalmody and service
of the day : " O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and
my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise," (twice;
St. Benedict has it thrice.) That it was derived to
the West from the East we have this reason for
believing, that its use in the Eastern Office is ac-
counted for, not merely liy its suitableness, but by its
being closely connected with the penitential introduc-
tion, founded upon Psalm li., which has just preceded.
It is the link between the confession of unworthiness
to praise, and the praise itself; and in this light ac-
cordingly it is to be viewed and used, where it occurs
in our Western forms. It 2^^'(^^^fpposes a penitential
preface, public or private, to have preceded the whole
Office. And thus the introduction of such a preface
into our Offices, at the Revision of them, is once
more seen to be in thorough harmony with the arche-
typal form, from which the whole West alike has
derived its daily services.

The commentators on the Western versicle and
response have devised, as usual, a variety of inge-
nious reasons for their being thus prefixed to the
Office. Thus, e. g. Durandus conceives that it is
"because at Compline, the night before, we shut our
mouths, commending ourselves to God, whom there-
fore we now desire to open them"^." "The Myrroure^
admonishes its readers, more to the purpose, that this
verse is only said at Matins, that is, the beginning of
God's service, in token that the first opening of your
lips should be to the praise of God, &c."

' Dur. Hat., V. iii. 9. • Traiisl. Sar. Psalt., in loc.


Similar ingenuity has been exercised to account for
the singular nunilier being used in tlie versicle, " O
Lord, Thou shalt open mij lips';" and, which is still
more remarkable, in the response, though made by
the whole choir or people, " And my mouth shall," &c.
It sets forth, we are told, " that the whole body of
the faithful have but one body and one soul**;" or it
is " in token that ye begin your praising and prayer
in the name of holy Church, which is one and not
many. For though there be many members, they
make but one body"." These are no dpubt excellent
€x post facto reflections. But the same reasons would
have required that the singular number should be
maintained throughout the Office. The true account
of the matter is sim})ly that the singular number was
used in this place in the East; and that for two
reasons, — partly because it is so in the 51st Psalm,
which so pervades this part of the Office ; partly
because it was to be said by some one person ap-
pointed thereto, as appears by the rubric "^ -. " Then
we begin the six Psalms, listening with all silence
and penitence ; and the appointed brother or hegu-
mcn saith, * Glory to God,' &c. ' Lord, open Thou
my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth Thy praise.' "
It should be added that the plural adaptation, intro-
duced at our Revision, has a warrant in the Saturday
nocturn hymn of the Greek Church : " uncreated
nature, Maker of all, open Tiiou our lips, that \vc may
shew forth Thy praise," &c.

As to the Hexapsalmus, or set of six Psalms, which

' " Dominc, labia nica aperies. R. Et os mcuin aimunciabit lau-
dciii l.uani."

" Uurand., ibid. ' Mynoiirc, ibi

Online LibraryPhilip FreemanThe principles of divine service; an enquiry concerning the true manner of understanding and using the order for morning and evening prayer, and for the administration of the Holy Communion in the English Church (Volume 1) → online text (page 10 of 33)