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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the English Church, that Ave read too much of Holy
Scripture in our Services. The undoubted truth, that
short passages of Scripture, commented on or other-
wise emphasized, (as e. g. by short responses, or the
like,) are capable of being made a valuable instrument
of Christian knowledge, is urged to the prejudice of
all reading of Scripture in larger portions. The old
Capitula, consisting of a single verse, and yet more
the old lections, containing at most three or foiu", with
responsories subjoined, are pointed to and regretted,
as furnishing the true model for the reading of Scrip-
ture in the Church. Now I have no desire to set
below its due psychological value this particular treat-
ment of Holy Scripture, and I should gladly'', as I
have already implied, see the revival of the gcmiine
Capitulum in particular, could it be accomplished by
any simple adjustment. But I would also observe,
1, that we already have, to some extent, the princii)le
of the Capitulum in operation in our services, and have
retained some genuine specimens of it, though not
under that name. Whether the principle of the Ca-
pitulum be defined to be the repetition and inculca-
tion of some short text of Scripture, varying or vari-
able with the season, we have in our " Sentences," as
I have shewn, variable Capitula, for the most part an-
ciently selected, followed by a brief homily |)rcssing

'• Sec p. 140.

z 2


liome their argument. AVe have in 1 Cor. xiii. ult.
another old and familiar Capituhim'. I will add,
what is the main thing after all, that these Capitula
or texts do the "proper work of such ritual provisions
upon the common mind of the English Church, The
familiar tones of some of them more especially, such
as, " To the Lord our God belong mercies," &c. ; and
again, " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," &c. ; —
live, and not in vain, on the ear, and wind themselves
about the heart, of Christian millions. Or if the Ca-
pitulum idea be conceived of as either the anticipation
or the carrying on through the week of the Sunday's
Eucharistic Epistle \ all this we have in our first Col-
lect. And again, what are the Sunday Epistle and
Gospel, appointed to recur in the week wdienever the
Communion Office or any part of it is used, but brief
lections with their responsory, " Glory be to God on
high," emphasized by repetition, and brought home,
when the Church's evident design is carried out, by
expository comment? The essence, too, of the re-
sponsory system, nay, its highest realization, we have,
as will be more fully shewn presently, in our ordinary
Office, in the form of the Canticles. But I would
remark, 2, that the desire of superseding our larger
reading of Holy Scripture, by returning to the old
system of brief lections and responsories, proceeds
upon more than one misconception, and would, if
carried into effect, be as ill-advised a measure as
could be conceived. It proceeds, first, upon a misap-
prehension of the nature of the old responsories. The
responsoiy was not, as is commonly supposed, a brief
and pertinent reflection or meditation introduced at
intervals in the course of the reading. It was mostly

» See table, p. 288. •" p. 137.


a totally independent and very complex anthem, as wl-
should now call it, two or three times the length (in-
cluding its versicle, repetitions, &c.,) of the portion of
Scripture read, rarely adapted to it, often of most
widely diverse import. The adaptation, in truth, was
either to the season in a general way, or to the les-
son, by the repetition of some sentence of it. In the
former case the thought of the season lived on in a
manner theoretically beautiful ; but in practice struck
in at such random intervals, as to confuse, rather
than to steady and guide the mind. In the other case
no idea was added ; and as the same series of respon-
sories was made to serve for several chapters, they
became an element of merest confusion. Thus, e. g.
on Sexagesima, when St. Leo's homily is on the para-
ble of the sower, the respoiisories are on the build-
ing of the ark. The same responsories, again, would
recur every Sunday in a season, and partly on week-
days, without the slightest adaptation to the change
of lesson. In Advent, the responsory would be about
the first Coming of Christ, when the lection was about
the second, and vice versa. In the Epiphany season,
again, in our Church, the responsories were verses,
varying with the day, selected from P.silins vi. to
Ixxxvi.. one or two each day, l)ut absolutely devoid
of any particular reference to the passages of v^crip-
ture they were ajjpomted to. The aspect, in fad,
which, owing to these provisions, the lectionary jtMit
of the office assumed, was that of a long and elahoiatt;
piece of music, interrupted at intervals by a very brief
recitative out of Holy Scripture as a homily \

*" Sprciniciis illuslralivc; in sonu; (ltf,Mcc of (licsc »tatciiwiils, inav 1m!
seen in Leslie's I'orUioriuni t^aribl)., J'icu, pp. 1—30. Bcc alho Ikiinctt's
I'rmciplcs of the rravcr-book, p. 85, &c.

342 THE nilNClPLES 01' DIVINE SERVICE, [chap. iv.

It is, again, an entire misconception to suppose, as
many would seem to do, tliat prolonged reading of
Scripture is a modern device, and foreign to the mind
of the Church of the first ages. It were strange in-
deed, — supposing there is any truth in the grounds
above alleged for such reading, — if it were so. And
in point of fact, all the records and indications that
we possess of the early practice in this matter point
to large and unstinted use of Scripture in the Sunday
assemblies. The author of the Apostolic Constitutions
gives apparently a very wdde scope to the lessons
which were to be read on the same day : two (at
least) out of the Old Testament, one from the Acts,
from the Epistles, and from the Gospels ; or possibly
two from each of these \ Little reliance indeed could
be placed on his representation, if isolated, or contra-
dicted by other testimony. But Justin Martyr gives
a similar account of the Sunday service in the second
century, saying that the memorials of the Apostles, or
writings of the Prophets, were read " as long as the
time permitted'";" after which the minister exhorted
the people to the imitation of these good deeds; —
a proof that it was not a mere verse or two which was
read. And the ancient Liturgy of St. James (circ.
200) confirms all this to the letter ; saying, " Then
are read at very great length {/HEBO^IKSITATA, lite-
rally, "through and through"), the oracles of the Old
Testament, and of the Prophets ; and the Incarnation
of Christ is shewn forth, and His Passion, &c. . . .
and this is done on all occasions in the holy celebra-
tion, and after this reading and instruction''," &c.

' Constit. Ap., 57. Biugliam supposes but four lessons to be meaut;
but the only question is, whether the author did not mean tna?!^ more
than I have assumed in the text.

'" Apol. i. " Neale, Tetral, pp. 31, 39.


This rubric has the aii- of the most primitive antiquity,
since it seems to belong to a time when the old Scrip-
tures only ^Yere in existence, and the facts of the
Christian Creed were as yet taught by word of mouth
only. Relics of this multitudinous reading have sur-
vived, on certain days, both in the East and West.
In the East on Maunday Thursday evening are read
twelve Gospels °, some of them of great length, besides
an Epistle, and four long passages from the Old Tes-
tament in the morning. On Easter-eve and Whitsun-
eve, in the West, twelve long prophecies '' are read.

The only difference between the English and the
primitive Church, then, in this matter, is that whereas
the former set the Scriptures with great fulness before
her children on the Sunday only, doubtless designing
them for the meditation of the week, the latter spreads
this ample reading over the other days also. The
"West, at the time of our Revision, had for many hun-
dred years abandoned the ancient use of the Scrip-
tures at large, and doubtless had suffered propor-
tionate loss. It was rare indeed for an entire chapter
to be accomplished in a week, — a state of things whirji
loudly called for redress. And it is remarkable that
on English ground, a quarter of a century l)cforc our
Revision, and long anterior even to Quignon's reform,
an attempt at amendment Iiad been made. \\\ edi-
tion of the old Offices published in 15 Ki, and again
in 1531, exhibited Lessons'' of double the old lenglli,
and assigned them for every day in the week, iu-^lcad
of for some days only. It also went on tlu; plan of
finishing a ehai)ter when begun ; and in all respects
was a manifest instalment of our existing lesson-

" Occu|)yiiig forty coluuiiw of 1 lie Tiioilion.

P Occupying sixteen columns of the Missale.

•i See Leslie's rortifoiiuni, second edition, notes, p. G.


system. But it remained for our Revisers to bring
back the apostolic largeness of Scripture reading, and
to restore to the people something of that historical
knowledge of Divine things which must, after all, be
the basis of all other. It may be added, that as the
Psalms, more especially under the old Matins con-
ception of them, are a type and foretaste of future
unceasing Praise, so are our full Lessons of future
untiring contemplation.

It is not my purpose to speak in detail of the
particular cycle of Lessons adopted at our Revision.
The appointment of them from the Old and New Tes-
tament alike, in accordance with an ancient Western
usage ', is an arrangement beyond all praise, and well
worthy of the meditative mind of that old Egyptian
Christianity from which it first emanated. In our
own ancient lection system, it was the Old or the
New Testament that was read, never both on the
same day : except that when the lections were from
the former, there would follow on Sundays a few
lines from the Gospel, by way of text to the Homily ;
and again, the Capitula, chiefly from the New Testa-
ment. We may remark the more equable conception
which such a method as ours tends to generate and
maintain in the mind, as to the importance of studying
all parts of Holy Scripture. It may safely be said,
that either the Old without the New Testament, or
the New without the Old, were equally an enigma.
The two are mutually interpretative on a basis of per-
fect equality. And if in other points of view the
New Testament challenges superior importance, this
is fully recognised by its being thrice read through
in the year, the Old but once.

' 6uj)r., p. 250, uote.


Of the advantage of reading such hirge portions,
viewed as historically informing the mind in Divine
things, and so qualifying it for rightly directed acts of
praise, I have already spoken. Of its value as an in-
strument of ethical and spiritual formation, I would
venture, in accordance with the old psychological
views, to speak no less confidently, in opposition to
the almost universal disposition of later ages, and of
the present day more especially, to depreciate its efiec-
tiveness for this purpose : some (whom Hooker has
long ago answered^), confiding rather in the effect of
sermons, others in that of short passages of Scripture.
The process by which mental and spu'itual formation
takes place, though generally assumed to be obvious, is
in reality one of the least-probed mysteries of our bemg.
One thing bearing upon the present point is certain,
viz. that the ijassincj before the inind of realized imac/cs
has a tendency to conform it, apart from any conscious
effort, to an attitude or position correspondent to the
ideas so excited. The mind is not what it was pre-
vious to such apprehension. Its world, so to speak,
has become enlarged or varied by the entering in of
a new feature ; and its own recognition of this newly
apprehended fact has made it also, j^ro tanto, and for
the time being, different. And wlien, as is universally
the case in the hearing of Holy Scripture, the objects
set before the mind are such as it must entertain some
disposition towards either of approval or disapproval,
sympathy or distaste, — growth (i. e. variation), of a
vioral kind, ensues. We admit this freely as regards
evil ; we speak of hurtful and defiling images passing
through the mind or soul. And doubtless the same
is the case with the inKijcs of good, with the rej)re-

■ L i; 1'. V. 11.


scntations, narrative or didactic, which Scripture brings
before us. The faith, e. g. of Abraham in offering up
Isaac, — a faith, be it observed, in its nature Christian ;
— or again, the direct admonitions of the Prophets ; —
these, looked on, approved, sympathized with ahnost
unconsciously, are directly formative of the mind, be-
cause of their throwing it, j»ro tempore, into such
attitudes of approval and sympathy. Of course the
sympathy, and the consequent profit, are in proportion
to the Divine grace given and attained ; but there is
no reason to doubt that that grace acts through uni-
versal mental laws, such as that just enunciated. And
the spiritual profit of hearing is probably to be mea-
sured, not, as is so often imagined, by the amount of
knowledge, historical or moral, that w^e consciously
have carried away, and are able to call up before us
at will ; but by the degree of faithful and loving
sympathy which we at the time exercise on the
things divinely submitted to us. Improved mental
and spiritual action, as far as it results from hearing,
is comparatively seldom due to particular precepts re-
called at the moment : as a general rule, it flows rather
out of strengthened and improved tone and character,
itself formed by sympathetic conformity to the good
propounded to us. Spiritual growth on this principle
of course finds its highest realization in the devout and
loving contemplation of Christ Himself, the Image of
the Invisible God. " We all, with open face, beholding
as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into
the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the
Spirit of the Lord \"

In reference to the old system, we may remark

» 2 Cor. iii. 18. Comp. 1 St. John iii. 2 : "We kuow that when He
shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." For
a singular testimony to oui" Lessou-svstem, see note L.


that our first morning Lesson has somewhat of the
Noctnrns character, as succeeding (p. 2SS) to the
position of the Scripture read in that Office. The
second stands similarly related to the " short chapter"
of Lauds. Their selection in this point of view is
appropriate ; for " by Matins that are said in the
night is understood the old Law, that was all in
figures of darkness; and by Lauds that are said in
the morning-tide the new Law ; that is the light of
grace ""."

The cycle according to which Scripture is read on
week-days in the English Church has this incidental
advantage, that it produces a variety of instructive
combinations. The self-same chapter of the New
Testament appears at three periods of the year in
conjunction with as many different chapters of the
Old Testament ; and a watchful and well-trained eye
will c ntinually discern beautiful correspondences or
contrasts, of the same kind as are often so finely
worked out and stereotyped for us in the old Offices.
That system, however, excluded these fortuitous com-
binations between Lesson and Lesson ; the configura-
tion of Scripture, for a given day, lacing lived. Our
Sunday cycle, in which one Lesson is regulated i)y
the season, the other by the day of the month, pre-
sents a still more varied field for such combinations.
The Proper Lessons are a finely conceived addition to
our ritual possessions ; while deferring in a great de-
gree to the old mind of the Church, and t:iking coun-
sel of it, they are as a whole perfectly original in con-
ception, and proceed mainly on the j)rincij)les above
traced out, of presenting large tracts of the Divine
doings in old time, wrought up, as far as the case

" Tlic MviToiirc, aji. Muskill, ii. :>'•'.


admitted of, into a liarmonized picture of the elder
Economy. Tor the Festival cycle, unless when there
were Lessons especially proper, the principle was
adopted of selecting them from the didactic books,
as Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the apocry-
phal ones of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus. Such Les-
sons could hardly fail to illustrate appropriately the
general idea of the saintly character, and had further
the advantage, compared with historical chapters, of
being intelligible each one by itself. And it may be
remarked here that a somewhat excessive anxiety has
of late been manifested for the possession of precisely
and minutely adapted Offices for particular days.
While some degree of character is of course desirable,
the advantages of largeness and freedom in such ar-
rangements are also, as I think we have seen reason
to admit, very considerable.

Among the old accompaniments of the Lessons in
the West, we miss chiefly, and cannot but regret,
the Benedictions. The universality of this religious
feature of service has been before pointed out ^ and
it were much to be wished that some one or more
of our old forms of it might be restored to us. The
Absolutions, which in the Roman rite are prefixed
also, were never possessed in this country^. Our
present manner of commencing the Lessons was re-
tained, with slight variation, from that which was
used before the exposition of the Gospel at Matins on
Sunday ; " a Lesson of the Holy Gospel," &c.

I have only to point out, lastly, that the hearing of
the Lessons is, from the Eucharistic point of view,
a most true and real reception of Christ, closely akin
to that which takes place in the Holy Communion.

» p. 113. y Notes to Leslie's Portif. Sar.


Though His indwelling in us is effectual to the sanc-
tification of the whole being, in body, soul, and spirit ;
yet is knowledge and apprehension of Him by the
understanding, the will, and the affections, the chief
purpose of it. And while, in the reception of the
Holy Communion, the soul is, we may not doubt, in-
formed and illuminated in a peculiar manner, trans-
cending the processes of natural knowledge ; yet are
these too accredited media of supernatural illumina-
tion, and as such to be resorted to diligently. The
condition of our perfection through sacramental recep-
tion is, that we keep the subject-matter of it, which
is no other than Christ Himself, continually before us ;
" feeding on Him," as our formula for communicating
well expresses it, " by faith with thanksgivmg." Such
is our Lord's own instruction to us in His prayer to
the Father immediately after imparting to the dis-
ciples the Eucharistic gift of life in Him^ : "As Thou
hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should
give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him.
And ikis is eternal life, that they maij know Thee the
only true God, and Jesm Christ whom Thou liast
sent." That passage is the Church's warrant to the
end of time, for making much of Divine knowledge,
as the proper complement, the involved accessory, to
sacramental reception of Christ. Eucharistic celebra-
tion, accordingly, has ever had its Lessons of Holy
Scripture; in early times very full and large, as we
have seen. And the daily lessons are but the pro-
longation of these. The Eastern recognition " of Christ
as the " Wisdom" of the Father, as ciislniiied m a

• St. Jolin xvii. 2. Sec Sermon on Eucliariatical Offices, bj Ucv.

J. Kchlc.

• pp. i;i5, H8.


manner in the Scripture, the Gospels especially, will
be remembered. As "Wisdom," He waits continu-
ally to enter into the soul in the public hearing of
Scripture, illuminating, conforming, assimilating it to
His own Divine ]\Ianhood.

Among the Canticles responding to the Lessons,
the Te Deum challenges the first place, as in order,
so also as furnishing in some degree the type of the
rest. A Canticle has been defined^ as "a Song of
Thanksgiving for some great benefit." And of the
intended character of the Te Deum as a thanks-
giving for the knowledge of God revealed in the
Scripture, there would seem to be no doubt, from
its universal position at the end of the Nocturns or
Matins lections °. In the English Church "^ this was
further marked by its being substituted, when used,
for the customary repetition of the responsory to the
last lection. The whole of_ the responsory idea is
indeed gathered and summed up into this most noble
hymn. And the guiding thought for the due use
both of it and all the other responsive canticles, is
that whatever of Holy Scripture has preceded it (in-
clusive, be it borne in mind, of the Psalms,) is not
read for its own sake alone, or even chiefly, nor for
the sake of the particular lessons it may convey ; but
as a sample and specimen of the vast whole to which
it belongs, — a single streak of the " cloudless depth oi
light" which beams from the great orb of Scripture.
It is therefore that this great Canticle is ever in
place; never, with all its grandeur and depth of

'' Ricard. Abbas, ap. Bona, Psalmod. xvi. 2.

•^ Even in the East, in its rudimentary forms, it universally followed
Scripture. See pp. 107, 225. See also the Eastern Lauds, Neale, p. 92i.
^ Transl. Sar. Psalt., p. 53.


meaning, speaking a word too much for the thought
which the Lesson is meant to convey or suggest.
Whether what we have heard be some shewing forth
of God's power, some ray of His wisdom, or some
foreshadowing of His promised redemption, it suf-
fices to set the whole before us, and thus fully justifies
the most exalted and angelic forms of adoration. Yet
particular circumstances contained, or Christian events
foreshadowed, in the Lesson just before read from the
Old Testament, may be kept in view. AVe may add,
that whereas, in the old Offices, the use of the 'I'e
Deum was fitly limited to those days on which, be-
sides the lections, the Gospel, or part of it, and tlic
martyrology, had preceded ; it was with equal reason
now appointed for continual use, when the Gospels
and Epistles had become a constant feature of the
Office. Though said when the reading of the New
Testament is yet to come, it may well be used with
anticipative reference to it.

It has been sometimes felt to be a note of inferiority
in the Te Deum, that it is not, like other Canticles,
taken from Scripture. But though this is so, a glance
at its structure and essential character will serve to
establish for it a strong claim, even on scriptural
grounds, to occupy the position assigned to it. Tlu".
essential part of the Te Deum, out of which all (he
rest grows, is the angelic hymn, " Doly, Holy, Holy."
This accordingly is the one feature which is connnoii
to all, even the briefer and more rudimentary Te Dennis"
of the East. Now the angelic hymn is found once
in the OhI, and once in the New Testament, (Is. vi. 2,
Rev. iv. 8,) with certain variations. The Western
Te Deum adopts nearly the Old Testament thcnic,

' For tliisf;, sec uolc D; mid ahovr, pj). 101, 225.


" Holy, Iloly, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth ; the whole
earth is full of His glory." But it leads up to this in-
vocation by declaring who they are that use it, viz. the
whole earth, the Angels, Cherubim, Seraphim ; thus
combining, after the Eastern models referred to, the
features of the two passages, in the former of which
only the Seraphim, in the latter only the Cherubim,
(the " living creatures," or " beasts,") are mentioned.
It then takes up the subject in the New Testament
development, according to which, "when those beasts,"
themselves representing the worsliip of the universal
Church \ " give glory .... to Him that sat on the
throne .... the four-and-twenty elders^" also "fell
down and w^orshipped," &c. This is expressed by
the " glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly
fellowship of the Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs
praise Thee ; the Holy Church throughout all the
world," &c. And then the Three Divine Persons in the
Holy Trinity, shadowed forth ^ in "Which was, and
is, and is to come," in the Revelation, appear more

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 27 of 33)