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

. (page 13 of 33)
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 13 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

own, that need prevent Christians, as a general rule,
from attendance on the latter; there are many that
must shut out not a few from the former. To bring
up, then, every one of her members, being of suffi-
cient age, in the habit of weekly (and, if it may be.
Festival) Communion, and the greatest possible num-
ber in that of daily Church worship ; this, and no
less, is the Church's bouuden aim. I earnestly ques-
tion whether much more than this, save in the pe-
culiar case of the clergy, or at special times, comes
within the ordinary design of our Lord for the mem-
bers of the Mystical Body.

4. In the next place, enough has been disclosed in
this chapter of the links by which the later Western
ritual stands connected with the early Eastern formu-
laries, to evince the certainty that the former owes its
parentage to the latter. This is a fact, however, of
which the expounders of the Western Offices, from
Amalarius and Walafridus Strabo (in the ninth cen-
tury) downwards, have not had the slightest concep-
tion. Blinded by a fond belief that all ritual must


have originated Avith Roine, — that she couki not pos-
sibly be beholden, at any rate, to the despised Church
of the East, for any part of her ecclesiastical system, —
they have fallen into precisely the same error as we have
had occasion to observe in the professed expounders
(until lately) of our own Services. Leaving entirely
neglected the one chief and prerogative source of in-
formation as to the rationale of their Offices, they have
but guessed, not always very shrewdly, at the reasons
of things ; and have continually taken refuge in mysti-
cal ones, often absurd and puerile to the last degree.
There is no possible objection to devout musings, or
even fancies, as to the number, order, connection, and
the like, of the elements of service which the Church
has inherited. But it need not impose any undue
restrictions on such meditations, but only guide them
into channels where they may flow without risk of
bringing contempt on the whole subject, though wc
should inf[uire somewhat after the historically ascer-
tainable origin, laws, and principles of the Church's
ritual. The true history of the ritual of Western
Christendom has yet to be written ; and, whenever it
is written, it must surely be by having recourse to
the materials and sources of information which have
been here indicated.

5. It is natural to incjuirc, again, What great and
guiding ])rincii)lcs of Divine Service and Worship do
we gather from the review of these early and (in part,
at least) primitive forms ? What is the ideal of ordinary
Christian devotion which they exhibit to us? and how
far are the existing ordinary Services of the hlnglish
Church true to those principles and lo (hat ideal?

And first, — not to enter now upon those Kucha-
ristical princii)lcs which must- lie at the root of all


Christian Service, — it is surely here represented that
io Jose ourselves in the praise of God is the peculiar joy
and glory of the Christian estate. " Psalms and hynnis
and spiritual songs ;" " singing and making melody
in the heart to the Lord ;" " giving thanks always
for all things to God and the Fatlier in the Name of
the Lord Jesus Christ ;" in one word, Praise, — is, ac-
cording to these Offices, the ruling aspect of Christian
devotion. — Next, the due nurture of the soul by me-
ditation on the law of God, and on the great Chris-
tian verities, is, though less prominently, and by
somewhat different media from those which were em-
ployed in later times, yet unquestionably designed in
these Services. The twofold idea under which the
119th and others of the Psalms were anciently used,
viz. as acts both of praise and of meditative learning,
has been already pointed out. In the hymns also,
and other addresses, the great subjects of adoring be-
lief — such as the Incarnation, the Passion, the Resur-
rection and Glory of Christ, and His coming to judg-
ment — are the ever-recurring topics. To these was
added, at the Night Office, the Creed itself, besides
that by the prokeimenon, or summary of the Epistle,
very much as by our " First Collect," the Eucharistic
teaching of the week or day was in a measure kept
before the mind. — Thirdly, " Prayer and supplication
for all saints," and " for all men ; for kings, and for
all who are in authority," and in order to "making
our own requests known unto God," is the remaining
great work proposed to be done in these Services. —
And underlying all the rest, — laid as the basis of all
at the commencement of each Service, and breaking
out ever and anon afterwards throughout, more espe-
cially in the Morning daybreak Office, (which, as in


the West afterwards, is half penitential,) — is the
deep confession of sin and iinworthiness, powerfully
contrasting with the elevated tone of the Offices as
a whole.

Our own Daily Services, whatever judgment may
be formed of them as compared with those of the
middle period of the Church, do certainly, both as to
their elements and as to the proportion in Avhich these
enter into them,, accord in a striking manner with the
Services whose contents have just been sketched. I
speak not now of details, — these have been touched
upon before, and a more than sufficient correspondence
elicited', — but of the lilnd of thlnp that it is well for
Christian men to do in public worship, and of the
degree of prominence that they should give to them
resi)ectively. For with us, too, the burden, the sta})lo
of the Service, is, it may be confidently affirmed, and
will be more fully shewn hereafter, Praise. "The
greatest part of our daily Service consisteth," in the
words of Hooker, " in much variety of Psalms and
hymns"." But the position he intended to lay down
may be affirmed much more broadly when we have
grasped the true principles of our Service. From the
Venite to the end of the Creed, — nay, to the end of
the Office, — is, in one jjoint of view, a continued act
of praise ; broken only by the introduction of the topics
of it by means of the Lessons ; carried on again, not
merely by the antiiem or hymn, but by the invoca-
tion and adoration of God under various attributes,
with which every [)raycr commences, and many con-
clude ; and crowned by a general act of thanksgiving,
almost peculiar to us, though suflicicntly couuteiiauced"

' Sec abovf!, |j. 00. * L. E. P., v. I.'{. ' See aliovc, |>[). 00, i:}!.


by ancient Oriental precedent. It is, indeed, ranch
to be remarked, that the intercessory prayers and
thanksgivings which conclude our revised Daily Of-
fices, and which have on various grounds been ob-
jected to, possess at least this merit, that they exhibit
many admirable specimens of that towering sublimity
of address ^, and that joy in exuberant praise, which
is characteristic of Eastern worship, and in which the
Western ritual is comparatively very deficient. They
restore, in a measure, the " exclamations" which occur
so frequently in Eastern Offices. It is chiefly in the
amount of her psalmody that our present Offices con-
trast unfavourably with those of the West, and yet
more with the Eastern. This, in itself to be earnestly
regretted, could it be avoided, is a result of the brevity
of the Offices themselves. All that is here maintained,
is that the proportion of praise, in the entire Offices,
is not inadequate; that this all-important element
pervades their entire structure, and that the later re-
visions of them, more especially, tended to enlarge it.
— With us, again, as with the Eastern Church, medi-
tative learning and pondering of Holy Scripture goes
hand in hand with praise, and is only second to it in
consideration. — With us, prayer and intercession come
in as a third element with these ; — prayer no less deep
and personal, and intercession no less wide and Ca-
tholic, at the least, than that which we discern in the
Greek Offices. — With us, finally, the foundation of
penitential confession is deeply laid at the commence-
ment of both our Services, and characterizes their
whole tenor to a degree which has called forth alike
the scorn of enemies and the half regretful and apolo-

y See the Prayer for the Queen, and the CTccasional Prayers.


getic admission of friends ^ Surely, of one thing at
least the EngUsh Church needs not to be ashamed, viz.
of bearing in her ritual the marks of the Crucified "■.
AVith her, as with her ancient Eastern prototype, the
"strength" of Praise is made perfect in the "weak-
ness" of Confession.

Lastly, let us for a moment compare this Service,
thus primitive alike in its ideal and its forms, with
that which in modern times has been adopted as a
substitute for it in two other Communions, each of
which is, by persons differently minded, deliberately
held up as a model for the imitation of the English
Church. To speak first of the newest Communion of
"Western Christendom, the " Evangelical Church" of
Prussia and other parts of Germany. The summary
of their ordinary Service is as follows : —

A Hymn.

A Commencement Prayer (read at the altar-step).

The Epistle or Gospel.

A Hymn.

■ The Lord's Prayer.

The Sermon.

*' Church Prayer," (read from the pulpit).

The Lord's Prayer.

Benediction, (Phil. iv. 7).

A Hymn.

Benediction, (Numb. vi. 26).

' Vide Tracts for the Times, No. 80, on tlie comparatively penitential
character of our OfBccs. It should be remarked, however, that the
clement of praise, thouf^h in many respects restrained, was in others en-
larged and intensified at the Ilcvision ; more rspccially by appointing
the Tc Deum (or a)i equivalent ) fiui/j/, and by t he addition of tlie CicncTal
Thanksgiving and the " exclamation" or doxology, " For Thine is," &c.,
by increasing the nunil)cr of " Glorys," and omitting the peuUcnfiul
Preces after the Creed.

• " Now, journeying iccslicard, evermore
We know the lonely Sjiouse
By the dear mark her Saviour bore

Traced on her patient brows." — Chridutn Yaur.

158 THE PIlTNCirLES 01' DIVINE SERVICE. [ciiap. I.

It has been well observed that-^

" This so-called Liturgy is wholly ««-liturgical : it has no
Creeds ; no Psalter ; no kneeling ; no responses ; no common
or congregational supplications or thanksgiving. The prayers
are mere book-exercises recited by the minister, and listened to
by the people. No lessons are appointed to be read ft^om the
Bible. There is a Gospel or an Epistle in the morning, but no
Scripture at all in the afternoon. The only parts of the service
which exhibit real life, are the singing and preaching. The
language of the formularies is wordy and diffuse, conceived
in the flowing, periphrastic style which Baxter woidd have
substituted for the English Liturgy."

Such is the service seriously recommended for the
adoption of the Church of the Future. The ritual of
England's future, at any rate, may it never be.

From the newest we turn to the most ancient Com-
munion of Europe. We may at least look to find,
in the ways of ordinary service prevailing throughout
half Christendom, something to justify the confidence
with which the practical system of that Communion,
not least in the matter of ordinary worship, is held up
to our imitation. Now, that in many parts of the con-
tinent attendance upon some kind of ordinary worship
is far more extensively realized than in this country,, is
not questioned j nor can we too earnestly desire that
we may so far be enabled to follow so good an ex-
ample. But it is worth while to inquire what the
service is which commands this degree of attendance.
Now, first of all, it is not the anciently descended
scheme of service that is thus attended. The following
statement of a peculiarly well-informed writer, hav-
ing now been on record several years without being
called in question, may perhaps be taken fairly to re-
present the state of things in this respect throughout
Ptoman Catholic Europe : —

" Yet of one thing, in conclusion, it seems proper to remind
the reader, lest the glitter of so magnificent an array of seven-


fold devotion should blind the eyes of any to the real state of
the matter. Except in monastic bodies, the Breviary, as a
Church Office, is scarcely ever used as a whole. You may go,
we do not say from church to church, but from cathedral to
cathedral, of central Europe, and never hear — never have a
chance of hearing — Matins, save at high festivals. In Spain
and Portugal it is somewhat more frequent ; but there, as every-
where, it is a clerical devotion exclusively. But anywhere, as
■we had occasion to say in a previous number, ' to find in a vil-
lage chiu'ch a priest who daily recited his Matins publicly,
would be a phenomenon.' Then, again, the lessor Hours are not
often publicly said, except in cathedrals, and then principally
by aggregation, and in connexion with Mass. Vespers is the
only popular service ; and that, in connection with ' Benedic-
tion,' seems to be put forward by English Ultramontanes as tM
congregational service of the Koman Church of the future. Our
readers will remember that some time ago we made a state-
ment, characterized by many persons at the time as ' startling,'
that ' in no national Church under the sun are so many Matin
Services daily said as in our own.' An Anglo-Boman priest
shortly afterwards strongly remonstrated with us for certain
other statements contained in the same number But of this
point he took no notice ; and therefore, we may fairly presume,
allowed its truth. \Vie feel it only right to dwell on this, be-
cause, having had occasion in the preceding pages to enlarge
with so much admiration on the Koman theory, we arc bound
not to shut our eyes to Roman practice '*."

Let us next inquire what the service used is. And
here, again, in preference to giving an estininte of niy
own of the condition and merits of the ordinary wor-
ship practically existing in tlie Roman Church, I sliall
(juote the words of another. They will be recog-
nised as tliose of an able layinaii of our own day, W(;ll
(jimiified by information to speak on the subject, and
not chargeable with want of breadth or catholicity in
liis sympathies. And as the passage to which 1 al-
lude happens to sum up with rcmaikable accuracy the

'' "Christian Rcmcnit)ranccr," No. 70, Oct. 1850. For .some accoiint
of tlip present state of tliiiigH, practicnlly, in (lie East, sec nnlc II.


views expressed in this chapter, I shall make no
apology for citing it at length : —

" Christian worship is derived from that of the old faith. The
Jewish worship was, as all sects allow, of two kinds, — the more
solemn rite of sacrifice, and the auxiliary offering of prayer and
praise, and reading of Holy Scripture. The former confined at
first to the Tabernacle, and then to the Temple ; the latter
common to the Temple and the Synagogue. The former,
a thing which perished at the destruction of the Temple ; the
latter, a thing which continues to our own day. That Christian
worship strictly follows this analogy is not a matter of such
concurrent acceptation ; and yet it does so. . . ' Opus Dei, quod
singulis diebus, horis propriis ac distinctis, in Ecclesiis et Ora-
toriis celebratur, duplex est, Missa et Officium Divinum,' is
the majestic commencement — majestic from its truth and sim-
plicity — of the Rituale Cisterciense.

" In the primitive Church, the ' Opus Dei ' was, as later, two-
fold ; but it [afterwards] ceased to be vernacular, and, except in
churches which were collegiate, (to use the most general word,)
the Ofl&cium Divinum ceased to be necessarily collective ; and
nowhere, we feel we may speak generally, was it congx-egational.
Then came the days of the Reformation, and the Eoman
Church, with a most deplorable deficiency of courage, would
neither make the ' Opus Dei ' in either branch vernacular, nor
the Officium Divinum at all congregational. The congrega-
tional attendance at (not participation in the Office of) the
Missa, the chief remnant of collective worship, was encouraged
by the building of churches consisting of altar alone, and nave,
and therefore unsuited to the Divine Office (i.e. ordinary ser-
vice). The English Reformers went to work root and branch, —
too much so, it might be said, in many particulars, — but, in
principle, in a clear-sighted and decisive manner, by rendering
both the Missa and Divine Office at once vernacular, collective,
and congregational. In the Roman Communion things could
not stop as they were ; popular devotion craved for vernacular
food. The result has been a singular system of compromise.
On the one hand, the Mass, and the observances growing from
it, ' Benediction' in particular, have almost exclusively occupied
the churches ; Vespers alone, as an authoritative service, out
of the various divisions of the Divine Office, struggling for


recognition. On the other hand, an irregular bundle of ver-
nacular forms of worship, litanies, methodistical hymns, and
modern prayers, &c. have accumulated, and are encouraged by
authority as the playthings, so to speak, of the laity, who, it
is assumed, cannot compass anything better ; while the old and
venerable Offichim Divmiitn, the breviary services, are remanded
to the mere private use of the clergy ^"

Meanwhile, the English Church holds fast to a
form of ordinary worship possessing, whatever its
defects otherwise, one advantage which the rest of
the Western Church has recklessly thrown away ; viz.
that of having come down to her in an unbroken
succession from primitive days. Her foot, in this
matter at any rate, is on the rock of apostolic prac-
tice and precedent : " her foundations are upon the
holy hills."

' " Oratorianism and Ecclesiology." (By A. J. B. H.)





"Though He were a Sou, yet learned He obedience by the thiuga
which He suffered ; aud being made perfect. He became the author of
eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him ; called of God an High-
Priest after the order of Melchisedec."

That the Church of Christ has never been without
some fonn of Ordinary Worship, in addition to the
Holy Communion, is so probable in itself, and is
countenanced by so many concurrent circumstances,
that few perhaps will be found, on reflection, to deny
the position altogether, though they may be unwilling
to acquiesce in all the conclusions arrived at in the
preceding chapter. And, at any rate, that the Church
was guided, at a period not long after the first age or
two, to the universal adoption of such services, none
will be hardy enough to gainsay. " De Divinis Of-
ficiis," says the deeply-learned Mabillon, " quae in
Ecclesia Gallicana jam inde a primis temporibus obti-
nuerunt, breviter disseramus." And again : " Etsi in
publicis fidelium conventibus, jam inde ah Ecclesia
nascentis exordio, Psalmi aliaeque preces recitatse sint,
tamen," &c. And once more : " Avariis divinorum
officiorum modis, qui tarn in Oriente cpiam in Occi-
dente a primordiis instituti sunt, exordium ducimus."


Such was his impression, from his acquaintance, in
a general way, with antiquity. And I believe it may
be said without fear of contradiction, that, from Ma-
labar to Ireland, no Church has ever yet been known
to exist, which had not ordinary offices of some kind
or other.

Here, then, an interesting and deeply important
question arises, as to the position which this kind of
service properly occupies in the Christian scheme,
and the ends which it was designed (can we doubt,
divinely designed?) to answer. It is indeed easy to
assign a variety of motives and reasons for such ser-
vices, all of which must be allowed their place, and
which help to make up the sum total of their rationale.
But if we inquire, as surely we ought, after the most
elevated conception which we may allowably, and
without trenchhig on the prerogatives of the highest
kind of Christian Service, entertain of this lower form
of it, the question is not so easily answered. The
statements which are ordinarily put forth on the sub-
ject in our popular manuals, or even in treatises of
greater pretensions, are seldom such as go to the
bottom of the matter, or can, on any profound view
of it, be deemed satisfactory. One favourite repre-
sentation is, that in these acts of worship, i, c. in
the use of the ordinary Offices of the Church, we dis-
charge a duty of merely natural piety, with only such
advantages as accrue to us from our better knowledge
of God under the (jospel dispensation, and from tlic
intercession of C^lirist, which we are privileged to
plead. Thus, among commentators on the Church's
daily Services, as used in the middle ages, Martenc
(echoing, for the most part, the language of his j)re-
decessors) is content to base the institution of such

M 2


Offices on tlic general duty incumbent on Christians,
of contiiMial prayer and service \ L' Estrange, an
early commentator on our present Offices, goes back
to grounds of natural religion in search of reasons for
public prayer''. Sparrow, again, in his well-known
work, falls back upon a fortiori arguments from the
Law''. Neither does Hooker, when speaking of the
Church's ordinary public Prayer, place it on such
grounds as might have been expected from the pro-
found manner in which he treats of the Sacraments ;
dwelling simply on the promise of our Lord to Chris-
tian assemblies, and on the prevailing power Avhich
would be likely to. belong to the prayers of an aggre-
gation of Christian men, as compared with those of an
individual'^. These representations are, indeed, as far
as they go, to the purpose ; and must have their place
in any just and full view of the subject. But we may
reasonably ask whether this is the whole truth ? whe-
ther the whole case, so to speak, for ordinary Chris-
tian worship, is fully set before us here ? and whether
some broader and more distinctively Christian ground
may not be taken for it ?

And, accordingly, this kind of worship has by other
writers, who have formed juster conceptions of its

" Martene de Ritib. Eccl., iuit.

•' "As God is the first Principle and prime Efficient of our being, so
that very being is obligation ol' the highest importaace for us to defer
Ilim the greatest honom-." Alliance of Divine Offices, p. 23, ed. 1846.

' " Thus it was commanded under tlie Law, and certainly we Chris-
tians are as much at least obliged to God as the Jews were," &c. Ra-
tionale, init.

'' " The service which we do as members of a public body must needs
be accounted so much worthier than the other, as a whole society of
s\!ch condition exceedetli the worth of any one. lu which consideration
unto Christian assemblies there are most special promises made." Eccl.
Pol., V. xxiv. 1.


dignity and its province, being variously characterized
as a means of union '' to Christ, an effective act of
communion with the Church, and of intercession with
and for her ; as the discharge, in a word, of an ele-
vated spiritual function, such as cannot in any lower
manner (as, e. g. by private or household worship) be
so effectually performed. And surely we may safely
reject such a view of it as would make it be uo more
than the expression of natural devotion, — the orisons,
as it were, of the natural man, — only sanctioned and
sublimed by Christian promise and privilege. But
at the same time we must be equally careful lest we
exalt it to a position, and assign to it powers, to which
it can lay no claim. Be it what it may, how excellent
soever within its own sphere and limits, it is not,
after all, the Church's great, distinctive, and supreme
act of Service. In the endeavour to assign to it such
a place as will secure its observance on high Christian
grounds, there is no little risk of claiming for what is
confessedly a secondary mode of access to God, and of
reception of Divine gifts, those privileges which be-
long to the Eucharist, and to that only. Indeed it
nuist be said that ritualists and other writers have
not been sufficiently careful to keep distinct tlic posi-

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 13 of 33)