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 21 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 21 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

these older formularies, and the mind with which they
should be used in consequence, we must endeavour
to gather more exactly wliat was the characteristic
spirit of each of them. For though it is exceedingly
instructive to contemplate the earlier and Eastern
phase of our Services, it must be borne in mind that
it is from the Western ordinary ritual, from the
English variety of it in particular, and from no other,
that our own is immediately derived. Not a few,
indeed, of the characteristics of the West have un-
avoidably come before us in connection with the East-
ern Offices, whose spirit, together with their contents,
it to a great extent inherited. Still the Western,
and specially the English ritual, had a character of its
own ; and to ofl'er a brief and summary view of this',

' For tlio Rcbeme and contents of our older Ofliccs, sec the tablca
below, oh. iv. sect. 1, p. 288.

s 2


w\\\ be the design of the present section. For a
full appreciation of it, it will be necessary that the
reader should combine those former notices with what
is here set down.

I have already remarked, tliat multitudinous as are
the conuuentators, ancient and modern, on the ritual
of the Western Church, they are of very little service
indeed for our present purpose. They are mainly
occupied with minute observations, and fail to appre-
ciate broad general characteristics ; nor do they dream
of having recourse to Eucharistic sources or Oriental
forms for purposes of illustration. From these causes,
they constantly miss the true character, the most
striking beauties, of their own ritual. Much greater
weight is attached to a pious reflection, or suggestion
of some mgenious writer, than to the manifest intent
of an office as indicated by its structure and contents.
It is rare, indeed, to find a simple and real, because
historical account given of anything ; or if there be,
it is set side by side, and on a level, with a variety of
mere conjectures, some of them, perhaps, far-fetched and
preposterous. Thus, for example, Durandus suggests
that the three Nocturns into which the Psalms of the
old Matin Services on Sundays and Festivals were
divided, are intended to remind us respectively of those
who lived before the Law, under the Law, and since
the Law; or of faith in the Holy Trinity; or of the thrice
three orders of angels which theologians discern in the
Holy Scriptures, and together with whom we sing to the
glory of God. It may be so : but who would place spe-
culations such as these at the same value, as helps to
enter into the nature and spirit of the Matins Office,
with the certain and leading fact that these " !N'oc-
turns" preserve in their name the traces of the ancient
intention and use of them ; viz. to serve as " sonsjs in


the night," as a high chorus of praise in the still
and undisturbed hours of darkness ; or, again, with
the probabihty that they originated with the ancient
watches, ah'cady consecrated to sacred uses in the days
of David ? Still less can any such co-equal importance
be properly attached to the more minute, not to say
trivial, speculations and analogies in which the Ritual-
ists indulge : as when, for example, it is remarked that
the Psalms precede the Lessons, just as the angels were
elect before men, (for whose benefit the latter were
written) ; that the twelve Psalms in a Nocturn corre-
spond in number to the twelve Patriarchs or Apostles ;
the quaternary of Psalms repeated under one anti-
phon to the four cardinal virtues, of which the patri-
archs are presumed to have been the example ; the
first quaternary representing, moreover, Abel, Enos,
Enoch, and Lamech ; Abel being an example of the
first Psalm, " Beatus \iv ," Enos of the second, be-
cause in his times (qu. Seth's ?) " men began to serve
the Lord in fear." The second quaternary is assigned,
with the like fanciful applications, to Noah, Shcm,
Eber, and Terah ; the third to Abraham, Isaac, Ja-
cob, and Joseph. In like manner, the three Psalms
which form the second Nocturn on Sunday are made
to represent three orders of saints who lived under
the Law, — Lawgivers, Psalmists, and Pro])hcts ; or
Priests, Judges, and Kings. The three Psalms of
the third Nocturn are to remind us of the faithful in
the three parts of the world, — Asia, Europe, and
Africa ; of the three orders of saitits under the fjospel,
Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors". The application here
made of the Psalms is, however, apt enough : Ps. xix.,
"Cocli enarrant," is for the Apostles, because " their

• Durand., in loc.


sound is gone out," &c. ; Ps. xx., " Exaudiat te," for
the Martyrs, because "the Lord heard them in the
day of trouble ;" Ps. xxi., " Domine in virtute," for
the Confessors, because " God hath not denied them
the request of their lips."

In the following sketch of the nature and object
of the old Services, my endeavour will be to catch
the real and essential features of them, passing by,
or placing in a very subordinate rank, such views of
them as seem rather suggested by pious ingenuity,
than to have any proper connection with them.

The old Matins then is, as we know, originally and
properly a nocturnal, or even a midnight, Service. This
character of our ancient Matins is marked by the ordi-
nary* versicle and response after the first Nocturn on
Sunday, — " I have remembered Thy Name, O Lord, in
the night season." The ordinary'* versicle after the
second Nocturn is, " At midnight I will rise to give
thanks unto Thee," &c. It may be observed that
both verses are from Ps. cxix. ; and their use counte-
nances the supposition which we have already seen
reason for entertaining, viz. that that Psalm was,
before the Cassianic revision, used in the West at
Nocturns. The versicle and response of the third
Noctm-n have reference, not to the time, but the cha-
racter, of the Service, considered as a service of sing-
ing praises more especially. V. " Be Thou exalted.
Lord, in Thine own strength. R. We will sing and
utter Psalms of Thy power." The adoption of this
versicle and response is again thoroughly Oriental.

' Viz., except in Advent. The Roman Use had it not either in Lent,
Easter, or Advent.

" The Roman has instead averse fromPs. xviii. : " Thou shalt lighten
my candle." These are hastances of a lower degree of Orientalism, or
of less tenacity of tradition, in the Roman rite.


It is the last verse of Ps. xxi. which has just been
sung, and the desire to inckide which seems'' to have
dictated the number of the Western Sunday Psahiis ;
it having been the key-note of the i\Iatutinal psahiiody,
which was about to follow, in the East, and perhaps
in the West also. The contents of the Service are
entirely Psalms and Lessons ; the Psalms being accom-
panied by glorias, antiphons, versicles and responses,
and the Lessons by responsories ; the Psalms and
Lessons changing with the day ; the antiphons, versi-
cles, and responsories with the season. The Te Deuni
was added on Sundays and Festivals, except in Ad-
vent and Ember weeks.

The idea under which this character was given
to the Nocturns Office in the AVest may be easily
conjectured. The day brings with it the works,
the wants, the interests of man ; but the night may
well vacare laudihus et inedifationi, — spend itself in
pure praise and meditation. The soul of the Church
rises free and unencumbered by earthly things to
God. She confines herself at this season to singing
God's praise and meditating upon His works and
Word. Other associations belong to a Nocturnal or
^lidnight Service, and may have influenced its con-
tents ; e. g. the symbolical character which night
bears in Holy Scripture, representing the deeds and
thoughts of darkness, against which we are to strive
by occupying ourselves in praises and meditation ;
the association of night with the deliverance from
Egypt, with our Lord's l)etrayal and sufl'erings, and
that of midnight with the coming of the liridcgroom.
The beautiful character wiiich this Ollice possesses,
as distinguished from the rest, when thus viewed

* bupr., oil. i. sect. 1.


as a great tide of elevated and unraingled praise
and meditation, seems to be entirely lost upon the
commentators on the Western Ritual. Baronius,
however, has applied with some felicity the words of
St. Paul, 1 Cor. xiv. 26, as a sort of motto descriptive
of this Office : " When ye come together, every one
of you hath a Psalm, hath a doctrine, a revelation,
tongue, interpretation." For there are Psalms, lessons
for doctrine, responsories for revelation, (considering
them as an expository key-note,) readings of the
Gospel for a tongue, (on Sundays and festivals,) and
of a homily for interpretation. The festival Te Deum
is, of course, a noble descant of praise upon the whole
of the preceding topics, whether of praise or medi-
tation. The extraordinary uniformity with which it
occupies this position in all Western Offices (includ-
ing St. Benedict's) wdiose structure is known to us,
while it is, at least in its complete form, unknown to
the East, leaves no room to doubt either of its great
antiquity, or of its responsorial intention.

The Lauds Office is at once seen to be in a far
less degree a Service of broad and general praise and
of meditation. First of all there are fewer Psalms by
far ; — only six, (including the canticles, and reckoning
Psalms cxlviii. — cl. as one,) instead of twelve or eigh-
teen. Then the lessons for meditation are reduced to
a single text ; and collects are introduced towards the
close. And when we inquire for the positive cha-
racteristics of the Office, they are easily discoverable,
and accord well with the hour to which it properly be-
longed. That hour, as in the East, was sunrise ; the
first breaking forth of light upon the earth: "Ad
Auroram, sen luce incipiente canebantur ^'." Hence

^ Marteue, quoting S. Benedict.


in Benedict's time the Service was called Mcdiitince
and Mat lira ; the night service being called VigiUcc.
And the Nocturnal Service Avas only completed on
this condition, " nisi forte aurora interveniens hoc
distiderit." Hence the characteristics of the Office.
Instead of the quiet, continuous praise of IMatins,
taking the Book of Psalms in order, we have first of
all Psalms, &c. selected on purpose for a keen burst of
lauds at the return of daylight. This we have in the
unvarying C3rd, and jubilant 148 — 150th, in Bene-
dictus, and (generally) in the " song" from the Old
Testament, one for each day in the week. But the
return of man's portion of time, the day, brings witli
it penitential'' associations also; hence the 51st Psalm
was used every day but Sundays, and on Sundays
also from Septuagcsima to Palm Sunday. This double
character of Lauds was further marked, as has been
pointed out elsewhere % by the selection made of other
appropriate Psalms besides the unvarying 63rd and
51st. This mixed aspect extends in a measure to
the "songs" used one each day of the week. The
joyful Song of the Three Children on Sunday, of
Isaiah on Monday, and of Ilannah on Wednesday,
combine well with the jubilant Psalms api)ropriatcd
to those days, (viz. xciii., c, Ixvii. , v, ; and Ixv.). The
more subdued or even mournful strains of Ilezckiah
on Tuesday, (very similar to the appointed Ps. xliii.,)
and those of Ilabukkuk on Friday (with Ps. cxliii.),
and Moses on Saturday, both telling of the terrors
of God, leave the l)alancc evenly susj)cnded between
"mercy and judgment;" — the other song of Moses,
on Thursday, striking it in favour of mercy.

• Comp. Hugo ap. Gavauti, in loc. ; and Duraiidiis : "Dies fcrialc3
recolunt pcrcgrinatioucs sanctonmi ct )i(fii!i

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 21 of 33)