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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tory of the entire body of Offices of ordinary worship
which reached our shores at the end of the sixth cen-
tury ; not merely of those principal, and, as it appears,
more primitive ones, which have alone come under
our observation hitherto. We have yet to complete
our survey, therefore, by including within it those
other and secondary Eastern Offices, which, though
neither of apostolic nor early post-apostolic date as
Church Services, had nevertheless probably existed
in a ruflimentary form, as private or household devo-
tions, from a very early period, and had been received
into the number of recognised ])ul)lic formularies pre-
vious to the re-organization of the Western ritual after
the Eastern model.

The Offices in question are those called in the East

^ Cliap. i. serf. 1, \>. 11.


the Offices of-tlic first, third, sixth, ninth hours, and
the Office for " after supper," {airoBeLTrvov) ; after-
wards l^iiown in the West by the names of Prime,
Tierce, Sext, Nones, and Completorium, or Comphne,
(the coDipIctioji of the day's services). That these ser-
vices were without exception of later date in the East
than those of the early morning and evening, has been
sufficiently proved by Bingham ". Let us now briefly
inquire into their nature and contents ; and in what
points they furnished a model to the corresponding
Western Offices.

First, as to the Office for Prime. Cassian (circ.
420) expressly records the setting up of the service of
the First hour as a new thing which had taken place
in his time ^ having been first introduced in St. Je-
rome's monastery at Bethlehem, of which he himself
had been a member. It was quickly adopted, pro-
bably through his influence, in many parts of the
West. The contents of this " novella solemnitas," as
he calls it, were chiefly three Psalms, v., xc, ci. These
were evidently selected as practical Psalms to com-
mence the day with. The first and third of them
contain professions of stedfast duty ; the 90th brings
to view the entire condition of man, but is perhaps
chiefly selected for the sake of ver. 14 : " We have
been filled wdth Thy mercy, Lord, in the morning ;"
and ver. 17 : "Prosper Thou the work of our hands
upon us." To these were added a few verses from
the latter part of Ps. cxix. : " Order my steps in Thy
word," &c., (vv. 133—135) ; and Ps. Ixxi. ver. 7 : " O

"= XIII. ix. 8.
Instit. iii. 4: "Hanc matutinum functionem nostro tempore in
nostro quoque monasterio primitus institutam." See the interesting
note of Gazseus in he.


let my mouth be filled with Thy praise, that I may
sing of Thy honour and glory all the day long." And
with some brief hymns the Office concludes. There
is, however, attached to each of these " day-hours"
a "mid- hour" Office, {/jLecrcopLou^,) to be said mid-
way between each hour and the next. The " mid-
hour" attached to Prime contains especially two
prayers of St. Basil, formed upon the Psalms just

Now the Western Prime is, first of all, entirely of
the same practical tone as the Eastern. While reject-
ing the particular Psalms used in the East, it ado{)ts
and carries out in the fullest manner the use of the
119th as a practical Psalm ; the Benedictine and other
uses all agreeing in transferring it from its ancient
place in Nocturns to the Prime and other day-hours.
(We have already noticed^ other features for which
the Western Prime was indebted to the Eastern Noc-
turns ; as, e. g. the Creed, the Preces, the Confession,
&c.) Some other correspondences with the Eastern
Prime are still more striking. Thus it has among its
versicles the last verse of Ps. xc. ; " The glorious ma-
jesty, &c. ; prosper Thou the work of our hands upon
us," &c. : and ver. 7 of Ps. Ixxi., (as above) ; " let
my mouth," &c. And again, this is combined with vcr.
14 of Ps. xc. in a prayer peculiar to the English Of-
fice : " In this hour of this day fill us with Thy mercy,
O Lord, that we may rejoice in Thy i)raise ail the day
long." Another prayer is literally translated from
St. Basil's : "Almighty God, direct our acts accord-
ing to Tiiy good pleasure, that in (he Name of Tliy be-
loved Son we may be found worthy to abound in good

' Goar, J). 107 ; Neale, p. 032, &c. ' C'liap, i. mtI , r,, |,|,. 08, 103.


works '"'." Eut the following prayer more especially,
which has descended to us as our third morning Col-
lect, and which in the Sarum Prime Office differs ma-
terially from the Roman form, has every appearance of
having been derived from the two prayers of St. Basil
attached to the Eastern Prime, and founded chiefly,
as has been said, on the Psalms of that Office, though
partly also on Ps. xci., used at noon : —



'O 6eos 6 alcj)vios, to twapxov Domiue Sancte, Pater Om-

Koi atbiov . . . (Ps. xc. 1.) nipotens, Eterne Deus, qui nos

xapwM TjiMv iv Trj wapoiiaj] ad principium hujus diei per-

ij/iepa eiapecTTeli^ aoi, diacpvXdr- venire fecisti tua nos hodie

Ttov Tjpas dno Trdarjs apaprias Ka\ salva virtute {8vvdpeas) 6t COn-

Trdarjs ivovrjpds irpd^ias, pvofievos cede ut in liac die ad nullum

r}ij.ds dirb ^eXovs Treropevov rjpepas declinemus peccatum, nec ul-

Ka\ TrdaT]s uvriKeipevrjs dvpdpeas. lum iiicnrvamus periculu7n,

(From Second Prayer.)

TO Ta>v x^'^p'^v W^" fpya? • • • sed semper ad tuam faciendam

irpdrreiv Tjpds to. aol eldpeara koi justitiam Omnis nostra Cictio tuo

(piKa, ev6h(oa-ov. moderamine dii'igatur.

The Latin form, as usual, is more terse and com-
pact, but the opening address, the order of topics, and
to some extent the expressions, are closely similar.

The service of the third hour, or nine o'clock, as
used in St. Basil's time, contained the 51st Psalm, in
reference partly to its being the penitential hour of our
Lord's crucifixion ^ partly to the descent of the Holy
Spirit, to which the verse, " Eenew a right spirit
within me '\" was applied. The Office for the sixth

B 'O Qihs 6 alwvios, ... TO Twv x^^P^v i^jjluv ipya irphs rh ahv KaTivOwov

OfK-npa, "va koX 5m -rwv ava^loii' rjixSiv, k.t.x. Prayer of St. Basil, Mesoi'iou
of the first hour, Horolog., p. 114.

^ Ap. Constit. -viii. 34. ' St. Basil, Regul. Maj., ix. 37.


hour, or noon, in like manner contained the 91st
Psalm, on account of the verse, '•' Thou shalt not be
afraid for the sickness" (or the evil one) "that de-
stroyeth in the noonday ;" and the 55th, for the sake
of the verse, " Morning, and evening, and at noonday
will I pray." The Offices for these hours contain the
very same Psalm still. We have no similar evidence
for the antiquity of the Ninth hour Office, as now used
in the East ; nor indeed is there, apparently, the same
peculiar fitness in the Psalms appointed for it, as in
the case of the two preceding Offices. Yet the hour
was certainly of very ancient observance in the East,
since a canon of the year 360'' prescribes the same
prayers to be used at it as at Vespers. This was how-
ever, probably, a new and merely local arrangement.

The Western Offices for these minor hours bear
a general testimony to the existence of the Eastern
ones, either for public or private use, in the fifth cen-
tury, by having adopted the Eastern number of three
Psalms; while they differ, both among themselves
and from the East altogether, as to the particular
Psalms used'. This perhaps indicates that these
Offices had not yet obtained universal recognition in
the East as Church services; so that the Western
framers felt at liberty to choose their own Psalms,
only observing the traditional number. It was na-
tural, as before observed, that they should make use
of Ps. cxix. for the purpose, not only on account of
its practical character, but as having been of most

■• Concil. Laod., can. xviii. Biiifjhuni (vol. iv. p. 378) thinks llic
niiitli hour service may have been in public use in St. Chrysostoin'b

' The Rom. Sar., &c., used three sections of Ps. cxix. daily at cacli of
those hours, (third, sixth, and ninth,) as did the l')encdictiuc ou Mondays
and Tuesdays; but three "gradual Psalms" on other days


ancient use in the East, (viz. in the Night Office,) and
perhaps in the West also.

The date of the Eastern Compline, the last office
of the day, is abundantly testified to by the univer-
sality with which the West has adopted, not the num-
ber only of its Psalms, but the very Psalms them-
selves. It is a common opinion, indeed, that St.
Benedict was the actual inventor of this office; but
with the facts of the case before us, this is absolutely
incredible. It is true that the actual name Comple-
torium seems to have been unknown in the East;
but the thing, and even the name, in a rudimentary
form, doubtless existed there long before St. Bene-
dict's time, (530,) and evidently furnished the basis
of all the Western varieties of the office. St. Basil,
(370,) to whom we are indebted for so many parti-
culars respecting the ancient services, appoints in his
" Rules ^ " certain observances for the close of the
day, making use of the very expression answering to
the Latin Completorium {irXrjpSxrai ttjv -qfiepav.) He
enjoins a giving of thanks for whatever benefits have
been received in the day; confession of sins, volun-
tary and involuntary ; and prayer to pass the night
without offence, disturbance, or sin ; and desires that
Psalm xci. (" Whoso dwelleth," &c.) should be said.
Now a prayer bearing the name of " the great Basil,"
and embracing precisely these topics, to a great ex-
tent in St. Basil's very w^ords, is subjoined to the con-
clusion of the Eastern Vesjjers at this day ". It is not,
however, part of the service ; and the saying of it is
optional. The 91 st Psalm, again, is among those ap-
pointed for the following office of CompHne. Surely

" Bas. Eegul. ix. 37; ap. Bon., ubi supr.
" Horolog. Vesp. ad fin.


then we have in the aforesaid injunction of St. Basil
the rudiments and earliest outline of Compline. It
is probable that other suitable Psalms, as the 4th,
(ending with "I will lay me down in peace," &c.,)
had been customary for private use at bed-time ; and
that in the interval between the date of St. Basil
and that of Cassian or Benedict the Eastern Compline
office, very much as it now exists, was formed and
introduced into the Churches, just as the other minor
hours had already been. St. Benedict ° also places
Compline expressly after supper-time; thus recog-
nising the Eastern nomenclature of OLTrobeLirvov.

There are now two or three forms of Compline
in the East, varying in length. But the later addi
tions, chiefly penitential Psalms and prayers, are easily
discernible from the essentials of the Office, which
are such as fully to establish the derivation of the
Western Compline from it. We have, in the fuller
form. Psalms iv. vi. xiii. xxv. xxxi. xci. ; a very grand
choral ode ^ on the Incarnation, based on Isaiah viii.
12 — 18, ix. 1—0, the burden being, " For God is
with us ;" a hymn of three stanzas to Christ, giving
thanks for preservation during the day, and praying
to be kept during the night without sin, scandal, or
disturbance, — the very topics prescribed by St. Basil ;
a great hymn of praise, the manifest original of much
of the Te Deum'^; the Niccne Creed, the Trisagion,
and the Lord's Prayer; a short prayer in the form of
a hymn for illumination and protection during the
night; followed by longer ones, and a prayer of St.
Basil, all to the saujc effect, and all founded on tlic
Psalms which have prcL-cded. Subsccpicnlly, after

» Kulc, cli. 42. •• Sec nolo U.

'• C'oinp. alxivc, p. 05, &c., ami sec uutc D.



some penitential Psalms and prayers, — apparently a
later insertion, — we have the Gloria in Excelsis, Preces,
or versicles and responses, for protection ; Psalm cl. ;
a short thanksgiving for redemption; and, as at Noc-
turns, an interchange of confession and absolution,
and a litany.

I have here selected, out of a service of immense
length, (divided, in fact, into three great portions by
the usual threefold invitatory,) such features as seem
to be characteristic, as being common to the greater
and lesser forms of the Office; or, again, such as
have visibly passed over to the Western, more
especially to the English Compline Office. It will
be seen that we have, with great fulness, all the
elements suggested by St. Basil for the close of the
day, — viz., praise and thanksgiving for preservation
and other benefits ; confession and prayers for pro-
tection, &c. ; and also Ps. xci. In the West, out of
the six Eastern Psalms, three (iv. xxxi. 1-6, xci.) were
adopted for Compline, with the addition of Ps. cxxxiv.
borrowed from the Greek Noctuins, (St. Benedict
omitted Ps. xxxi.) In lieu, as it would seem, of
the great " Emmanuel" Ode, (by which the Eastern
Compline Psalms are followed, just as the Nocturns,
Lauds, and Vespers Psalms are by the midnight
hymn, the Canticle, and the "Joyful light" respec-
tively), the West subjoins to its Compline psalmody
the Nunc Dimittis, instead of using it at the Vespers.
And it is perhaps worthy of notice, as completing
the resemblance, that the West has in this part of
Compline a passage of Scripture (viz. the Capitulura,
from Jerem. xiv.) on the dwelling of God with men :
(" Thou art in us, O Lord ; and Thy Name is called
upon us ; leave us not, O Lord our God,") accom-


panied by its song — that of Simeon — on the In-
carnation, and followed closely by a hymn of three
stanzas for protection. The theme, in a word, is the
same, and the manner of treating it, though more
brief in the West, entirely parallel. It may be men-
tioned here, that the old English Compline differed
widely from the Roman both in the order of its parts,
and in possessing no less than twenty-two varieties
for different days and seasons, while the Roman is
nearly unvarying. Among the variations are seven
hymns : and these are manifest translations, though
with much of compression, of various hymns or
prayers in the great and protracted Eastern Com-
pline Office.

But now follow, in the Greek Office, features which
render absolutely certain the derivation from it of the
Western Compline, of the English form more espe-
cially ; and which moreover possess peculiar interest
for us, from our having so fully inherited them in
our existing evening Service. AVe have first, with
the Lord's Prayer accompanying it, the Creed ; a.
feature which, it will be remembered, has its place
in Nocturns after the Psalms, but is not found
again in the Eastern Offices we have been surveying
until its occurrence here in Compline. Precisely the
same is the case in the West : at Prime only and at
Compline, — the first and the last offices, in one point
of view, of the day, — is the Creed said. This corre-
spondence cannot be accidental. And while it is a
proof of connnunicatiou between the J">ast and West
in the matter, it is also a disproof of the ordiiinry
but intrinsically improbable assertion, that the Creed
was not used in any Ciiureh Service until the begin-
ning of the sixth century. It shews that in the East

Q 2

2:23 Tiir. imunciplks of divine service, [chap. hi.

it certainly had place early in the fifthj when the
service was imported thence ; whilst its occurrence in
Prime indicates, as has been already said, that it had
from time immemorial been used in some part of the
morning service, probably in the East and West alike.

But the Creed and Lord's Prayer in the Eastern
Compline are followed shortly by a prayer-like hymn
for illumination and protection. Now about this, two
things, both of deepest interest, are to be remarked.
The first is, that the hymn or prayer is distinctly
based on the Psalms of the Office which have pre-
ceded. It is as follows.

" Lighten my eyes,. O Christ my God, that I sleep
not in death : lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed
against him," (Ps. xiii. 4, 5.) "Be Thou the helper
of my soul, O God, for I walk through the midst of
snares ; deliver me from them, and save me, Thou
that art good, as being the lover of men," (Ps, xxxi.
1, 3, 5; comp. Ps. xci. 2, 3.) The latter part of the
hymn in particular is a curious cento from the Psalms

avTiXrjTTTcop TTJs "^ix^S fiov Ps. XCI. 2. ai/rtXijTrrcop /jlov

(i 6 Oeos fJ.ov.
yevoi 6 Qeos. Ps. XXxi. 2. yej/ov [loi els Qeov

oTi fieaov hiu^alvfo Tvayibav lb. 4. e^a^eis /xe fK nayidns.

pvaai fxe e'^ avrcov. lb. 1. pvaai p.e. Ps. Xci. 3.

pvcrerai crt e/c nayiBos.

The second thing to be remarked is, that this same
hymn-like prayer, thus formed out of the Compline
Psalms, is the original, as seems unquestionable, of
the English Compline prayer, " Illumina qusesumus
Domine Deus tenebras nostras," &c., so familiar to
us as our third evening collect, " Lighten our dark-


iiess," &c. The cliaracteiistic comnienceiiient, " lUu-
miiia," (with only the substitution from Ps. xviii. 28
of "tenebras" for " ocnlos,") and afterwards " noctis
hujus insidias," with the concluding " a nobis repelle
propitius," (toy ^LXavOpwTTOs,) seem sufficiently to
make good the connection. The Roman Compline has
a different collect, but it is equally based on the Psalms
of the Greek Office ; especially on Ps. xci. 1, 3, 11, and
Ps. cxxxiv. 4. It will be remembered that we found
our English Prime Collect, in precisely a parallel man-
ner, based on the prayers of the Eastern Prime, and
through them on the Psalms of that Office. The re-
suit of this investigation is surely most satisfactory,
as tracing our third Collects at morning and evening
prayer to their very sources in the heart of Eastern
antiquity. There are other resemblances between
the Eastern and Western Compline ; above all, the
confession and absolution, resembling that which we
have seen the Western Prime form borrowing from
the Nocturns of the East, and occurring towards the
close of the English, (as of the Greek,) though in
the beginning of the Roman Prime,

Such then is the sup[)lementary grou}) of the East-
ern Church's services, by which her eightfold (or,
reckoning the Mcsoria, her twelvefold) scheme was
completed ; and such tiic connection between it and
the corresponding Offices of the West. Nothing is
more clear than that the whole of these additions
were inn)orted out of the private closet, or the house-
hold or monastic oratory, into the public sanctuary.
The hours from first to ninth, and Compline, were
the growth of the private and liouscliold devotions of
the earlier ages in the East, jjrobably those of the very
first ages. This view is entirely corrol)orated by our


finding features of these Offices enjoined as matter of
private prayer by early Eastern writers. Thus Atha-
nasius ^ the Apostolical Constitutions, and St. Chryso-
stom, agree in recommending the Gloria in Excelsis
(which was only used on Sundays in the public ser-
vices, viz. at Lauds) for daily use in private. The
Constitutions set down part of the Gloria in Excelsis,
together with the Nunc Dimittis, for evening use. The
former hymn, accordingly, we find in the Eastern
Compline ; and the occurrence of the latter in the
AVestern, (not in Benedict's, however,) instead of at
Vespers, is best accounted for by supposing that it
held that place in some parts of the East, as a
matter of private use. That as private forms these
services are of immense and perhaps primitive anti-
quity, is indicated by the Psalms used in them, which
are in most cases so singularly adapted to the time of
the day for which they are prescribed, (as e. g. Ps. iv.
to Prime, Ps. xci. to Compline,) that it is incon-
ceivable but that they would have been adopted as
part of the public daily services from the beginning,
had they not been already allotted to private use : for
which indeed, from the personal nature of them, they
are more peculiarly suited.

One remark connected with the English Revision
is suggested by this review of the supplementary Of-
fices, so to call them, of the Eastern scheme. Of the
expediency of introducing them as entire Offices into
the sanctuary, I have ventured already to express a
doubt. Not, of course, that the public ritual was not
enriched and adorned by the addition of formularies
so devoutly and beautifully conceived, and breathing
so refined a spirit of meditation on Holy Scripture.

•■ Biugham, XIII. x. 9.


The objection is not to the adoption of new features,
but to the inconsiderate accumulation of offices, witli-
out any such fusion or adaptation as might render the
service, as a whole, still practicable for the members
of the Christian body. There may indeed have been
temporary reasons, such as the presence of Arianism
and Pelagianism, which called for or justified at the
time such an enlarged exhibition of public devotion.
But the after-experience of the Church testifies that
she would have done more wisely, had she been
content to transplant within the bounds of that
narrower re/xeuoy, which apostolic wisdom seems in
a general way to have defined, the spiritual plants
which personal, or household, or monastic piety had
nurtured, instead of thus enlarging its border by
taking whole tracts of service into it. And this is
surely the very thing which the English Church, long
and long after, but not too late, nor yet without signal
results, — whether with perfect wisdom, and in the
best manner that could have been, is not the ques-
tion, — essayed to do. She retained the essence of
the several Offices, as represented by ccrtam of their
features ; an example which the West had already
set her in some instances, e. g. by concentrating the
whole spirit of the Eastern Prime into her Collect for
that OHice, founded on St. Basil's prayer. The East-
ern Church might have done the same ; she too might
have invigorated, not have overlaid and crushed, her
daily ritual. But, already possessing in her ollices
selections of Psalms, hymns, prayers, and litanies, she
accumulated, without the smallest attempt at accom-
modation, system U[)on system, added more selections
of Psalms, more liynms, prayers, and litanies, aitning
in the main at the selfsame objects. And such an


undigested mass, absolutely incapable of being really
used as it stands, either by clergy or people, and only
got through at all by a variety of senseless expedients,
the Eastern hour-system continues to the present day'^.
The course pursued in the West was on the whole the
same. Not content with enriching — a task which she
executed most admirably — her older framework with
elements drawn from every region of the East, she
multiplied her services at the same time ; thus piling
together a structure which from its cumbersomeness
has fallen into utter decay, leaving but a single frag-
ment erect amid its ruins.

I must not take leave of the Eastern Offices without
briefly summing up the doctrinal character which was
visibly, though not always strongly, impressed upon
them respectively. To Nocturns, then, belongs more
particularly the idea and the doctrine of Christ's
second Coming to Judgment. This has passed into
our Matins in the form of the latter part of the Te
Deum. In Lauds is expressed, rather in the broad
characteristics of the Office than by direct allusion,
the idea and the doctrine of the past Resurrection of
Christ, and of our own hereafter. In Vespers, the
Incarnation, being the coming in of the true Light in
the eventide of the world, is commemorated ; and the
allusion is preserved to us in the Nunc Dimittis. This
idea, again, easily combines with that of our Lord's
giving Himself, at the institution of the last Supper,
for our salvation. It was probably partly from a de-
sire to complete this doctrinal scheme by the comme-
moration of other facts or truths of Christianity, that
the later group of offices was adopted into the Church.
Thus in Prime, the idea of the Resurrection is resumed

'' See note H.


in the hvmns; and at Compline that of the Incarna-

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 18 of 33)