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 26 of 33)
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we have represented to us in the beginning of the
Exhortation, as in the earlier Sentences, "our sins
and wickedness," (Ezek. xviii. , Ps. li. 3). Next, that
w-e should not " hide them from the face of God,"
(Ps. h. 9,) but " confess them with contrite hearts," (Ps.
li. 17; Joel ii. 13,) m order to obtain "forgiveness
through His goodness and mercy," (Joel ii. 13 ; Dan.
ix. 9). This, then, and not any design of meeting the
wants of various classes of penitents, as Comber
imagined, seems to be the probable rationale of these
Sentences. The remainder of them, being from the
New Testament, are perhaps intended to represent
in a general way the necessity of repentance under
the Gospel dispensation. The last, from 1 St. John i.,

' lb. Fer. iv. iu capile Jcjuuii ad Liiutl. ; I'cr. ii. iicbd. i. qua hag,
A I sext.

K Brev. Sar. Dorn. i. post Oct. Epi|)li.


is specially to tliis purpose ; that from St. Luke (" I
will arise,") seems aptly to represent the desire of the
adopted to retain their place, by forgiveness, in their
Father's house ^. In the rest of the Exhortation occa-
sion is taken to set forth, as a means of steadying and
methodizing the thoughts of those present, the several
purposes which are proper to all acts of ordinary wor-
ship, and for which due provision is made in that
which follows. These are correctly characterized as,
1. to render thanks and praise to God ; a description
applying in truth to the whole service, but especially
to the compound scheme of Psalms, Lessons, and
Canticles ; 2. to hear His Holy Word, which is done
at the saying of Psalms and the reading of Lessons ;
3. to make request for all temporal and spiritual

On the whole, the Sentences and Exhortation may
be viewed in the light of a varying Capitulmn or Text,
followed by a brief and unvarying homily on the parts
and objects of ordinary worship, especially on the
necessity of repentance as a preparative for it. It
should accordingly be listened to as suggestive of
mental prayer or desire for what may be called the
proper graces of Divine Service. And its effect as
designed to awaken a penitential feeling in particular,
will be greatly promoted if either the eye is allowed
to glance over the passages of Scripture on which it
is founded, or the mind be duly trained habitually to
associate those passages with it. When thus used,
far from being a superfluous feature in our Offices,

'' This same sentence was prefixed as a versicle and response to the
ancient Spanish Communion Ofl&ce, (Neale, Tetral., p. 3,) and indeed
seems to be the basis of the Western Conjiteor, especially " I have
sinned arjaimf heaven and before Thee."'' Compare " I confess to God
. . . and to you, that I have sinned," &c.


much less an objectionable one, or alien to their
proper spirit, it may well be deemed a help to devo-
tion, than which nothing more effective, or more true
to the mind of the Chnrch, has in these later ages
been devised : it is an exact and well-weighed invita-
tory to the act of public worship, such as would
not have discredited the thoughtful pen of St. Leo,
(from which indeed it seems partly to have proceeded,)
and is in singular accord with the ritual mind of the
earliest age. (See p. 73.)

I have only to add, that we possess in these Sen-
tences, or variable Capitula, as we may call them, one
of the few appliances which remain to us for setting
the tone of the service according to the season or day.
For this purpose, however, they are capable of becom-
ing far from inefficient instruments, thus compensating
for the absence of variety in our Invitatory. Their posi-
tion at the very outset of the service gives them per-
fect command over the whole of it, enabling them to
fix its character from the very first. They can indeed
only mark different degrees of penitence ; nor, all
things considered, and looking especially to the exam-
ple of the Eastern Church, can we wisely desire that,
even on Sundays or Festivals, the Office shonld alto-
gether part with this character. The Sentences from
the Prophets, then, as being old Ijcnten features, and
again those from the penitential Psalms, will fitly
characterize penitential seasons or days. The one
exception is Dan. ix. 9, 10, " To the Lord onr (iod,"
&c., which, differing in origin, is also of a more cheer-
ful tone. This, therefore, with the New Testament
Sentences, is suitable for Sundays and Festivals, or
ordinary days ; St. Matthew iii. 2, pcM'haps, to Advent.



"0 sing praises, sing praises unto our God; sing praises, sing
praises unto our King. For God is the King of all the earth; sing
yo praises with understanding."

The Lord's Prayer, vi^liich follows the Absolution,
having first become a feature of the public Office at
the Revision, it may be considered somewhat doubt-
ful whether we ousjht to reckon it in the intro-
ductory portion, or as the commencement of the
service itself; which certainly was anciently held to
begin with ' " Lord, open," &c. In the Eastern
ordinary offices (p. 66) it was also part of the intro-
duction. It is perhaps best, therefore, so to consider
it still. The design, however, with AA'hich it was first
made to preface all ordinary, and perhaps all Commu-
nion Offices ^ also, was probably not so much (Uke the
penitential prefaces) by way of preparation, as (I) to
pay due honour to our Lord's own Prayer, and (2)
that it might serve as a summary of all the succeed-
ing acts of worship. For such would seem to be the
original character of it ^ It is a matter of ancient
observation that this Prayer furnishes in a measure
tlie outline of Eucharistic Service ", having its act of
praise and thanksgiving, and also its act of pleading
and prayer ; the mention of " daily bread" serving to

' Brev. Sar. Mat. de Adv. Dicat sacerdos Pater Noster et Ave Maria.
Postea sacerdos iucipiat servitium hoc modo, Domine labia, &c.
'' See Part II. chap, on Primitive Liturgy.
' See Note K.
'" Greg. Nysseu, de Orat. Domini 2.


complete the parallel". It would no less fitly take
its place, as a summary, at the beginning of ordinary
Offices. It may well be used therefore with this re-
ference. The first three clauses are a great act of
praise, corresponding to and representing all that is
more fully done afterwards by Psalms, Canticles re-
sponsive to reading, and the addresses at the com-
mencement, or doxologies at the close, of collects and
prayers. The central petition, " Give us this day our
daily bread," will have special application to the re-
ception of Divine knowledge through the Lessons
and Psalms. The remaining petitions will be a sum-
mary of all prayer and intercession. The doxology
at the close, used here only in the office, is greatly to
be prized, as possessed by us alone among AVestern
Churches. It also serves to impart to this Divine
summary of our worship, as the General Thanks-
giving does to the Office itself, the dominant and per-
vading aspect of praise.

The opening versicle and answer, " Lord, open,"
&;c., should be used (see p. IIG) as the link between
our penitential preface and the act of worship itself;
its humbhng character, as being taken from Ps. li.,
being also duly remembered. The next, " O God
MAKE SPEED," &c., has a no less penitential connec-
tion with Ps. Ixx.

With the " Glory be," &c., the Praise of the Office
commences. There is no reason whatever to sui)pose
with Mr. Palmer (i. 220) that, as occurring here, it was
originally no more than the termination of the 7()th,
or some other introductory Psalm ; siiu'c it has the
same independent position at the beginning of the
Eastern Offices, (pp. GO, 112). Par from being a mere

" Si^c 8t. Augiiiitiiic, referred to in note G


appendage to something else, and tlie result of accident,
it is designedly set on high to proclaim the object of
our entire act of worship, as the Lord's Prayer is to
sum np its contents.

It has already been explained ° that our versicle and
response, " Praise ye, &c.. The Lord's Name," &c.,
represents for us both the Alleluia and the Invitatory.
The entire dropping out of the former, in its Hebrew
form, from our services, is much to be regretted. Of
the latter I have spoken in the place referred to.

The Venite itself, as an Invitatory Psalm, it is
difficult to estimate too highly, whether on the score
of the antiquity and universality with which it has
ever supplied throughout the Christian world the key-
note of all ordinary worship, or for its perfect suit-
ableness to answer that purpose. Its claims on the
latter score have for the most part been but partially
realized. It is not merely that, in common with many
other Psalms, it invites to the worship of the Great
KiXG; but that it goes on to exhibit so perfect a
portraiture, in terms of Israelitish history, of the frail
and erring, though redeemed and covenanted estate of
man. It is this that fits it to be a prelude to the
whole psalmody and worship of the day, whatever
its character ; since it touches with so perfect a felicity
the highest and lowest notes of the scale, that there is
nothing so jubilant or so penitential as not to lie
within the compass of it. The Church of old time
was not insensible to this, as has been before ob-
served p. It may appear from hence that nothing
could be more ill-advised than any idea of rejecting
or omitting, under any circumstances, this feature of
our Morning Office. I may add, that it is some com-
" p. 76. p p. 7i.


pensation for whatever loss we sustain in tlie gene-
rally unvarying character of our Invitatory Psalm, that
this tends to put a singular degree of honour upon the
one Day in the year on which we lay it aside, the great
and supreme Festival of Easter. It is not that at
other times we fail to acknowledge Christ as the
Great King, One with the Father and the Holy Spirit ;
but that the one piece of heavenly tidings which we
recognise as making Christian praise itself more Chris-
tian still, and so claiming to supersede our ordinary
Invitatory, is that " Christ is risen from the dead, and
become the first-fruits of them that slept '^." The
omission of the Venite as an Invitatory when it
occurs in the ordinary course of the Psalms, which
has sometimes been animadverted on as a novelty,
was customary throughout the West'". It anciently
occurred as a proper Psalm for the Epiphany.

The chief thing to be borne in mind in the saying
or singing of the Psalms is, that we are now^ fau-ly
embarked on our great enterprise of Praise. With
that thought in the mind we can scarcely go wrong ;
only let us at the same time bear in mind tlic lesson
which the Eastern Offices in various ways so signifi-
cantly teach us, (as e. g. by the absence of all other
Lessons, and by following up the Psalms with tlie
Creed,) and which St. Basil points out as one use of

1 A perfectly analof»ous usage prevails in the On Ea.sler-

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 26 of 33)