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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distinctly as " the Father of an infinite Majesty," &c.
So much is there of faithfully rendered Scripture in
the entire tenor of the Te Deum.

But the conception under which it was so universally
subjoined to the revelation of God as contained in
Scripture, and made known to the CImrch by reading,
seems to be based on a yet further passage in the
Revelation of St. John. In those which we have

' See !Mr. Isaac Williams' beautiful exposition. Apocalypse, p. 68.

8 " The number being twelve of the Law and twelve of the Gospel,
may serve to comprehend the twelve Prophets and the twelve Apostles
.... or the Church of the Jews and Gentiles combined." " With the
Priesthood of the Elders the natural accompaniment is the whole body
of the elect, gathered from the four winds." — pp. 58 to 68.

^ Williams, ibid.

SECT. IV.] M0R^•1^■G AND EVE^;iNG PRAYl.R, 353

already considered, botli from the Proj)het and the
Divine, the adoration of the created universe is oflered
to the Triune God as the Holy, and Almighty, and
Eternal Creator : " Holy .... Almighty .... Which
was, and is, and is to come .... Who liveth for ever
and ever ; . . . . Thou hast created all things." Nor
does the Te Deum, though associating Prophets, Apo-
stles, and Martyrs, and the whole redeemed Church,
in the adoration, thus far speak anything of the pro-
cess of redemption which gave them a [)art in it : tiiey
appear as "equal with the angels," and as "the chil-
dren of GodV' without any hint that it is as "the
children of the Resurrection''" that they became so.
But in the next chapter of the Eevelation, " He that
sat on the throne" has a scaled Book in His right
hand; and "no man in heaven or earth, neither under
the earth, is able to open it. . . . No man is fouiul
worthy to open and to read the Book, neither to look
therein \" But " in the midst of the throne, ami of
the four beasts, and of the elders, stood a Lamb, as it
had been slain .... and when He had taken the
Book," they all " fell down br/ore ihe Lamb, having
every one of them harps, and golden vials full of
odours, which are \kiQ prayers of ihe sa'mfs: and they
sang a new song, saying, " Thou art worthy to take
the Book, and to open the seals thereof, for Thou wast
slain, and hast redeemed us inito (jod by Tliy blood,
out of every kindred, juid tongue, and people, and
nation, and hast made ns unto our (iod kings and
priests, and we shall reign on the eartli (for ever and
ever, xxii. 5). And I heard the voice of many angels
.... and every creature which is in heaven and eurtli
.... saying, Blessing ... to Ilini that sitleth on the

' St.Lukcxx. :50. ' II'- ' K«v. V. 4.

A a

354 Tin: rillNClPLES OF DIVINE SERVICE. [ciiAi. IV,

throne and to the Lamb," This time, then, the uni-
versal adoration is also of the Lamb ; of God the Re-
deemer, as such ; and that not for Eedemption only,
but also, and more immediately, for the Bevelation of
it by opening of the Book ; evidently the Book of
that Redemption, which none but Ife could open.
This wondrous scene, then, it is that the Church
throughout the world, as it should seem, has sought
to enact, or however to perform her own part in,
in accordance with this Divine prescription, by the
acclamation of praise with which she has ever saluted
"the opening of the Book"'" by Him Who alone
has power so to do, and Who still opens the sense
of the Scripture to the Church " in the reading of
the Old" and the New "Testament"," But it is in
the angelic lano-uaoe of the Te Deum, and in the
Western form of it, that she chiefly, and with the
most exact imitation of the revealed pattern, does this.
The angelic hymn, as said in the Eucharistic Office, is
rather on behalf of the redeemed estate itself, and the
Eucharistic gift of it, than immediately and directly
for the written Revelation of it, though this is in-
cluded. But in the Ordinary Office throughout the
world, it is Christ as opening the Book, Christ pre-
sent as " Wisdom" in reading of Holy Scripture, that

•" Compare Berengaudus (quoted by Williams) on the words, " When
He had taken the Book," &c. "They fall before the Lamb, when
through meditation of the Divine Scriptures, considering the boundless
mercy of God, they humble themselves in the sight of their Creator."
" Thus the vision of this chapter is in fact being fulfilled from the Re-
surrection untn the end of the world. Clu-ist began to open at His
Resurrection, and is opening still, .... and in His opening the Church
is in spirit giving tlianks. And this worship is with ' harps and golden
vials of incense;' which are Psalms and Liturgies and praters. And it
is a new song they sing, for in the Gospel," &c. Williams, p. 79.

" 2 Cor. iii. 14.


is specially and immediately in view in the singing
of the Te Deum. And accordingly the rest of this
great Canticle, from the point up to which, as we
have seen, it is an act of irrespective adoration, takes
up (in the words, to a very great extent, of the pas-
sage in Revelation,) a "new song," the adoration
of Christ as Redeemer for His great work, and as
King for His coequal glory. " Thou art the King
of Glory, Christ ;" (" Worthy is the Lamb to re-
ceive . . . glory.") " When Thou tookest u[)on Thee
to deliver man, &c. . . . When Thou hadst overcome
the sharpness of death ;" ("Thou wast slain." . . . .)
" Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all
believers;" ("out of every kindred and tongue, &c.
. . ."). "Thou sittest at the right hand of God;"
(" in the midst of the throne"). " Help Thy ser-
vants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy ])rcci()us
blood ;" ("Thou hast redeemed us unto God by Thy
blood"). "Make them to be numbered with Thy
saints in glory everlasting ;" (" Thou hast made u.s
kings .... and we shall reign" .... "for ever and
ever." "And the number" of them was ten thou-
sand times ten thousand, and thousands of thou-

The exalted estimation in which it would thu.s jip-
pear that ordinary worship was anciently hcM, need
hardly be pointed out.

The Benedicite, or Song of the Tiuve ('hildicii,
was in the older Offices tlie Lauds Canticle for Sun-
days. As a canticle then, and an honoured one, it
was fitly enough at our first Revision a|)i)oinle(l as
an alternative for the Te Deuni, to lie used during

° Tbi.s point of the parallel gives some co\iiifcnniico (o (lie peculiar
English reading, "Fac cum sanclis lui.s tiunwrari,'* (Rom. munrniri).

A a 2


Lent ; at Mhich time, and perhaps in Advent too,
it would seem most fitting still to use it ; to the lay-
ing aside at those times the exalted tone of jubilant
adoration which, as we have just seen, belongs to
the Te Deuni, At the same time it is by no means
ill-qualified for the function assigned to it, and ac-
cordingly was used in the old French and Spanish
Communion Offices as a responsory to the reading of
Scripture. Though wanting the angelic hymn, and
the grand structure of the Te Deum, it is in point
of range no way inferior to it, summoning "all the
works of the Lord," without exception, to praise Him :
the Angels, the heavens, the Powers of the Lord ; all
nature, animate or inanimate, the children of men,
the spiritual Israel, the Priests of the Lord, and finally
" the spirits and souls of the righteous." It is to
be regretted that its proper conclusion, "Blessed art
Thou, Lord, in the firmament of heaven, worthy to
be praised, and glorified, and highly exalted for ever,"
was laid aside. It need scarcely be added, that though
now adapted to a responsive use, the Benedicite still
retains its Lauds character, which must always pre-
dominate in it, in virtue of its dwelling so largely on
the works of Creation p.

Its contents admirably adapt the Benedictus to
be the responsory canticle to the second Morning
Lesson from the Gospels or the Acts, as it formerly
was to the " short chapter" at Lauds. It there pos-
sessed, indeed, precisely the twofold character which
has now been imparted to the Benedicite. In its
Lauds aspect it gave thanks for the spiritual day-
sprhig from on high ; but yet kept in view the peni-
tential side of things, as relating to St. John the

p p. 132.


Baptist, and speaking of the "remission of sins," and
of " them that sit in darkness and the shadow of
death." Bnt this acknowledgment was caHed forth,
as by a memento, by the text of Scripture, jidiihmt
or penitential.

The Jubilate, a Sunday Lands Psalm, has been
promoted, exactly as the i'enedicite, to the position of
a responsive canticle. Being throughout jnbihmt, it is
scarcely fitted to be used in lieu of the Benedictns at
Lent or Advent. But it would seem, as inviting all
nations to the praise of God, to harmonize especially
with the Epiphany period. And both from its tone,
and as a feature of the old Sunday Lauds, it is not
undeserving of that very general use into which it
has been brought on that day ; probably from an
intuitive perception of the more mixed and less purely
jubilant tone of the Benedictus.

In using the ]\L\gnjficat, it will be well to bear
especially in mind what has been said of the canticles
generally, viz. that they are a descant upon the whole
of revealed truth in all its extent. Thougii indeed
the particular fact for which the Song of tlic Blessed
Virgin w^as an acknowledgment, viz. the lucania-
tion, is in itself of sufficient comi)ass to include, in
some sense, the whole scheme of salvation. I ^cd
with this fact in mind, the Magnilicat will interpret
for us, as well as enable us with due thankfulness to
acknowledge, the pregnant economy of the elder iktkmI
of the Church, as set forth in the Old Testament,
ever pointing on to the Incarnation of the AN onl.
And, on the principle already enunciated, it miiy,
like the Te Deum, Ik; viewed as referring also to
the Scriptures of the New Testament, about to be
read. It has ahcady l)ecn pointed out that this


reference to the Incarnation'^ lias always been a cha-
racteristic of the Church's Evensong ; though the East
did not employ the ]\lagnificat for its expression, but
the hymn of the "Joyful Light," instead; — a com-
posed canticle, like the Te Deuni.

To what ritual association, if any, the appointment
of the Cantate Domino, (Ps. xcviii.,) as an alterna-
tive canticle for the jMagnificat, is due, I have been
unable to trace. It may suffice that it abounds in
striking parallels to the Magnificat; the phraseology
of which, indeed, would seem in part to be derived
from this very Psalm^ It is also called a "new
song;" a title which especially consecrates it, (com-
pare above on the Te Deum,) to the position of a
Christian canticle responsive to the reading of the
Scriptures. Its invitation to " all lands" fits it, like
the Jubilate, for Epiphany.

The profound and touching aspect which belongs
to the Nunc Dimittis, as the responsive canticle
to the Epistles, will be best appreciated by studying
its position in the Eastern Vespers*. It is true that,
as a feature of the Western Compline, the last office
of the day, it breathes, like the Psalms and Collect,
the spirit of consummated work, and repose in Christ.
But it originally occurred in an office in which the
True Light had symbolically been brought in, in the
form of the Gospels ; the summary of the Eacharistic
Epistle read ; and other features of the great Rite im-

1 pp. 135, 232, 273.

' Compare especially, "He hath done marvellous thmgs ;" "hath
done to me great thmgs:" "With His holy arm;" "hath shewed
strength with His arm :" "He hath remembered His mercy and truth
toward the house of Israel ;" " He remembering His mercy, hath
holpen His servant Israel."

• pp. 135, 140, 141.


itated or paralleled-. It was a thanksgiving, therefore,
not for the Incarnation only, — which it was the more
especial function of the hymn " Joyful light" to ac-
knowledge, — but for the Eucharistic consummation,
and the great eventide Offering ; and for the Apostolic
announcement to all nations, "by word or Epistle","
of the finished work of salvation. The Nunc Dimittis
has a special fitness to discharge this office, more
especially as compared with the Magnificat : not
being addressed, like that, to the fact of the Incarna-
tion merely, but to the offering also of Christ, now
inchoate^ by His presentation in the Temple. To
His Passion, accordingly, the words of Simeon to the
Blessed Virgin, recorded next after the Nunc Dimittis.
pointedly refer (St. Luke ii. 34, 35). These great
topics then, associated with the eventide of the worhl
and of the day, may well be in our thoughts in using
this Canticle, and not merely, or even chiefly, our
personal repose in the thought of the Saviour; true
as such feelings are to the spirit of the Nunc Dimittis.
And in taking it with reference to the Passion in par-
ticular, we shall be in harmony with the entire nund
of the ancient Compline, Eastern and \^'(•st(■l■n, ex-
pressed in Pss. xiii., xxxi. 1 — 0, and j)r

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 28 of 33)