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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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 24 of 33)
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West, might suffice; with one of the Prime Psalms
(118th, on the Resurrection,) for Sundays, and one
(the practical 101st, or part of 119th,) for week-days.
A single and fixed Aniiphon, as here, or varying only
for the Sunday or other Festival, might be added.
This group of Psalms then, following the Te Deum
or Benedicite, (itself a Lauds feature,) would precede
the Second Lesson ; and thus the ancient alternation
of Psalmody and Lessons be in a very simjjle nianiicr
restored. But the great purpose answered would \h'
the increased fulness of expression hereby given to
the Lauds and Prime ideas. What has here been
pointed out is, however, intended less as a sugges-
tion, than as an illustration of the near ai)i)i-oacli
wliicli our present Offices nuike to the older forms;
as is provcul by the simplicity of the nu-ans recpiired
for bringing about a greatly nicreased reseml)lance
between the two.

An analysis of our Office for Evening 1^-ayer will
make good in fike manner its claims to be a gcmiine


representative of the older ones of Vespers and Com-
pline. Only there enters in, to a certain extent, in
this case, a manifest design of equalizing and assimi-
lating the Evening to the Morning Office, which exer-
cises no inconsiderable influence on the general ap-
pearance of the service. This is chiefly discernible
in the entire theoretical equality of the two offices
in respect both of the number of Psalms, and of the
amount of Scripture; though on cineful examination
it proves that a clear preponderance is given, even in
these respects, to the Morning Office ^ And the
Canticles being also shorter, while the Litany is never
appointed to be added to Evensong, the result is that
the latter is always perce})tibly shorter than the former.
This approximate equalization, in point of length, of
the ordinary Morning and Evening Office, is some-
what peculiar to our Church. But it must be borne
in mind, that the greater length universally accorded
in other rituals to the morning offices originated in
times when they were chiefly ante-lucan, and so could
realize such greater length without trenching unduly
on the works of the day. In times when the services
are diurnal, as in practice they have long been through-
out the Church generally, there would seem to be no
reason for any great disparity ; the breathing times
between rest and labour in the morning, and between
labour and rest in the evening, being theoretically of
much the same length °. On Sundays and other days

'' The entire number of Psalms, reckoning each of the twenty-two
portions of Ps. cxix. as one Psalm, is 171 : of which 91 are allotted to
Matins ; 88 to Evensong The disparity in amount, reckoned in verses,
is however but slight ; the number in the moriiiug being on an average
but a few more than in the evening. The Gospels and Acts are also
longer than the Epistles, in the proportion of about 10 to 7.

"■ The subject of piacticul adaptation of oui- .sei'vices to the various


of note, when it seems natural to throw the stress of
our devotion on the earlier acts of it, while it is yet
in its freshness, we, like the rest of the world, add
other offices accordingly, whether the Litany, or the
Communion Office, (or the earlier portion of it,) or
both together.

The assimilation of the two services, as to the
nature of their contents, yet still without rendering
them by any means identical, is entirely in the spirit
of the older offices. We have seen that both in Easf^
and West ^, the Vespers Office reflected the features of
the Nocturns and Lauds conjoined. The East, for
example, used the same intercessions at Lauds and
at Vespers ; in which we now resemble it \ \\\ the
West, these two Offices, besides that they both had
Canticle, Collects, Petitions, and " Memorials," as
already pointed out, had to some extent the same
things ; the same Communion Collect and Petitions,
and some of the same Memorials^. Compline again
accorded in the East with the Nocturnal Office '', in
the West with Prime, in having the Creed and Lord's
Prayer, Petitions, Confession and Absolution, and
Collects for protection.

Thus the close parallel, for it is no more, wliicli
exists between our Offices of IMatins and l. ' Vide Ncalc, pp. 901, 910.

« See Trans). Sar. Psalt., pi). 175, 292, &c. " Supr., p. 2U, &c.


easily trace in the table (p. 288) the operation of the
same methods of evolution as before. It will be seen
that Vespers, as corresponding up to a certain point
with ]\Iatins, takes a similar lead in the structure of
our Evensong, viz. as far as the Magnificat. Com-
pline features then begin to enter in, and engross the
rest of the Office ; only, as in the morning from
Lauds, so here from the Lauds-like portion of Vespers,
Communion Collects are derived. The only points of
difference are that our First Evening Lesson arises
out of a single " short chapter" of Vespers, instead
of, as in the morning, out of the threefold set of
Matins lections ; and that the alternative Canticles pro-
vided, are not drawn, as in the morning, from the older
offices ; but one (Ps. Ixvii.) from another known source,
the other arbitrarily, or from some source unknown to
us. The " Lord, open Thou," at the beginning, is
borrowed from Matins, and is peculiar to the English

Here then, on the same grounds as before, we may
safely consider that the mind of the entire Vespers
and Compline was intended to be preserved in the
consolidated Office. The Psalms, though used in the
main with the general idea of continuous praise, as in
the old Vespers, will on occasion harmonize with the
confessed Compline features of the Office, and breathe
the spirit of devout retrospect and commendation, or
the like. It will be perceived, too, that the introduc-
tion of the few and short Compline Psalms (iv., xxxi.
1 — 6, xci., cxxxiv.), or of some of them, before the
second Lesson, would have the same effect of bring-
ing back the outline of the old twofold Offices with
the least possible disturbance, as in the case of the
Morning Offices. And in both these instances the


resolution of each of the existing Oftices, when desired,
into two well-constituted parts, would be greatly faci-
litated by the arrangement suggested.

I will only fiu'ther remark on the comparative struc-
ture of the older and newer offices, that there is one
apparent exception to that strict preservation of the
old order of parts, which the original Revisers — scarcely
by a conscious effort, but rather as the natural course
to pursue — sedulously observed elsewhere. In the
old Prime and Compline Offices the short Litany and
Lord's Prayer preceded the Apostles' Creed, whereas
now they follow it. But it must be borne in mind,
that from the short Litany to the end of the Collect
for grace, — including the Lord's Prayer, Apostles'
Creed, Petitions, Confession and Absolution, and sun-
dry Versicles and Responses, — was all reckoned as one
group, following the " short chapter," under the title
of Preces. And this group, as a group, was strictly
kept in its place at the Revision ; the transposition
of the Apostles' Creed and Lord's Prayer within it
was a very secondary matter. But, in truth, there
was a special reason for such transposition. The
Athanasian Creed, it will be observed, \\\\un(hiys
only. The Apostles' Creed was now lo lake its plac ■

' I'.icv Si.r l!nlM' .'mI l',n.,


in this respect, having hitherto been said privately,
excejjt the two last clauses ; and thus it naturally ob-
tained an earlier position than heretofore.

It is curious, and a fresh indication of the Oriental
origin of our older Offices, that in them (viz. in Prime)
the Athanasian Creed occupies precisely the same posi-
tion as the Nicene Creed does in the Eastern Noc-
turns, (po 107,) viz. immediately after the Psalms ; and,
indeed, after the selfsame Psalm, the practical 119th.
This circumstance may well suggest to us that we
should use our daily Creed as summing up, or rather
as rounding up and completing, of all Divine truth
that has come before us in the previous part of the
service, in the Psalms no less than in the other Scrip-
tures. It speaks, too, of that basing of all Christian
practice upon Divine facts, which is the very differ-
entia between the Gospel and all mere philosophy or

On the whole, I conceive that we may, without any
unreal assumption, or any straining of the facts of
the case, deal with our Offices as designedly and con-
sciously representing the ancient ones ; to whose po-
sition as national Offices of ordinary worship, they
have in all respects succeeded. In virtue of that real
and genuine descent, they inherit a finely-conceived
general structure, as well as a profound significance
of details, which a newly-originated office, unless dic-
tated by almost superhuman or apostolic wisdom,
would be very unlikely to possess. To speak at pre-
sent of general structure only. The chief points to be
borne in mind in using the services under this aspect
are such as the following. That the whole offices are
in their primary conception an act of praise, of wor-
ship of the Great King, of which the key-note is struck


by the Invitatory Psalm of the morning. That, how-
ever, this act of praise is very varied in its expression,
character, and topics. That, accordingly, while Psalms,
Canticles, and Invocations are the more immediate
vehicles of it, it yet waits to be duly chastened, in-
formed, and directed to particular objects, by particu-
lar provisions in the service : chastened by confession,
and other penitential features, informed by Holy
Scripture, directed to single Divine truths or attri-
butes, or to the whole body of truth ; and again, to
circumstances in man's condition, special or universal.
That in the older offices, from the earliest and apos-
tolic down to the latest forms of them, and those of
our own Church in particular, distinct provision was
made for all these various accidents, so to speak, of the
essential action, praise ; as well as for due accompani-
ments of prayer and intercession. That the functions,
however, of Matins, Lauds, and Prime, and again of
Vespers and Compline, being not in their nature sepa-
rated from each other by rigid lines, nor so discrimi-
nated in early times, are capable of ])cing exercised
together or by turns in one whole, such as our Matins
Ofiice, or, again, our Evensong ; containing actually or
representatively, and for the most j)art in the same
order, the elements of the older ones.

3. The third aspect under which 1 jjroposcd to
consider our Ofiices was that which has just been re-
ferred to, and which belongs to t Ik-mi as npicscniiiig
in a brief compass whole tracts and (le|)artments of
ancient service. It is a result of their connection witii
the ritual of former times, that while, owing to their
comparative brevity and simplicity, their treasures lie
strewn in abundance on the very surface of them, so
that they can hardly escape the notice even of the



most careless, and may he appropriated by the sim-
plest of worshippers ; yet for those who are led by
devotion, and qualified by knowledge, to enter into
their dc[)ths, they open ont into "a deep that lielh
under," into vast fields of ritual and spiritual wealth.
Our ritual, in short, is a microcosm, — I had almost
said a system of microcosms. Both as a whole, and
in its several parts, it reveals, on careful inquiry, a
fulness and minuteness of organization, which go
far to render its brevity a matter of secondary im-

In this consideration is to be found, to a great de-
gree, the true answer to objections which have been
alleged, from directly opposite points of view, against
the existing status, in point of fulness, of the English
Offices. I speak not now of the different degrees of
leisure of different persons, but of the varying ideal
which they entertain of this kind of service. Our
Offices are by many deemed far too long, by others
far too short. There are those who, in spite of them-
selves, find them formal and wearisome. But this is,
doubtless, in most cases, because they have not a suffi-
cient conception of the full and interesting mental and
spiritual occupation which every part of them, rightly
understood, supplies. As St. Jerome says : " Breve
videbitur tempus, quod tantis operum varietatibus oc-
cupatur." And the same consideration may well re-
deem these services from the charge of essential per-
functoriness or brevity. For so great is the range
of topics concentrated into them ; so pregnant are
they with baptismal, and above all with Eucharistic
associations ; so linked on by their contents to the
whole Church of the past and of the present, of
the East and West, and by their tenor to the whole


contexture of the Christian life ; that, looking to the
inner reality of things, they leave little in point of es-
sential fulness and largeness to desire. Time, indeed,
may sometimes well be craved for dwelling more at
length on their varied contents, and tor drawing out
at greater leisure the fulness of their deep-lying sig-
nificance. But even this is in a great measure sup-
plied, wherever, as at our cathedrals, and now in not
a few parochial churches, the musical j)resentation of
our services is more or less fullv given. Among other
high purposes which that mode of })erforming them
answers is this, of prolonging as well as deepening the
mental act whereby we enter into their meaning.
Thus does a brief but anciently connected ritual, such
as that of the English Church, expand with the desires
of those who use it ; like the tent of oriental fable,
which might at pleasure be grasped in the hand, or
spread out to be the covering of a multitude of nations.


"Receive ye ihc Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they arc
remitted unto tlicm ; and wlioscsoevor sins yc retain, they arc re-

" Now then are we ambassado.s for Clirlst, as thon!,'li (Jod did Ijcsecch
you by us : we [>ray you in Chriot's stead, be ye rcc

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 24 of 33)