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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and obvious intention, — will be another object of
these pages.

Some admirable efforts of this kind, bearing upon
both the general character and the details of the
Services, will be found in Comber's well-known
"Companion to the Temple"." His general concep-
tion of the structure of the Daily Offices in particular,
though unaided by reference to the older forms, is in
the main singularly correct. But then, for want of
such reference, his rationale, in common with that of
Sparrow and his other fellow-ritualists, is in a great
measure mere random and guess-work, and in that
proportion, of course, both unconvincing and unsuc-
cessful. AVhat still needs to be done is to combine
the sounder and better directed antiquarianisni of
the later, with the religious and reflective tone of the
elder school of our Ritualists. It is not enough, on
the one hand, to ascertain the history and antece-
dents of each part of our Services ; nor, on the other,
to make reflections, and off'er suggestions, as to the
manner of understanding and using them, which may
or may not be in harmony with their real intention.
Such comments, to be thoroughly to the purpose,
must be based on correct historical and antiqnarian

On the whole, it cannot be denied that, even with-
out travelling out of the field of illustration we have
been hitherto speaking of, there is a wide range of
questions, both general and particular, eitlicr imper-
fectly handled, or not handled at all, by previous

" Sec more capecially liis juial.ysis of the " Vr'nitc."


Avriters on our ritual. The condition of what may-
be called the literature of our Offices is not unlike
that of philosophical literature in the days of Bacon.
AVhen we " enter into a view and examination, what
parts of that learning have been prosecuted, and
what omitted''," we find that though "the great
quantity of books makes a show rather of superfluity
than lack," whole departments of illustration, nay,
the mimma rei itself, the principal and prerogative
source of information, has been lying all but un-
touched the while.

The writer is aware that at the point which he has
now reached in unfolding the nature of his work, he
is liable to be met by an objection, seriously and
earnestly entertained by many, to the whole line of
illustration referred to. The old Offices of the English
Church, in common with those of Western Christen-
dom generally, were, it is commonly and most justly
conceived, in many ways corrupt. The Preface to
the first revised Services confesses as much ; and so
does every Minister of the English Church at the
present day by declaring, at his ordination, his un-
feigned assent and consent to the entire Book which
contains both this Preface, and other statements of
like tenor ^. But it is further assumed, not unnatu-
rally perhaps, that the services were corrupt to such
a degree as to render them altogether useless, or worse
than useless, as exponents of the mind of our present
Offices. It is partly as sharing in this view, that our
ritualists, from first to last (as has been pointed out)

* Advancement of Learning, Bk. 11.

'' e. g. the declaration subjoined to the Communion Office in 16G2,
and Articles XXV. and XXVIII.


have either ignored the old services altogether, or have
contented themselves at most with a dry register of
the points in which we are indebted to them. They
seem to have assumed it as an axiom, that we coukl
not possibly learn anything from the old conceptions
or the old order ; that both the whole and the several
parts — however valuable and fit for our use when duly
resolved and re-combined — must, considered as occur-
ring in the old formularies, be radically and incurably
vicious ; and that therefore it was needless, if not ac-
tually undesirable, to make any inquiry into them.

Now it is surely a question worth asking, whether
the old Services, though confessedly corrupt, were so
in such a sense, and to such a degree, that they must
needs be summarily rejected as witnesses or inform-
ants in this weighty inquiry as to the true sense of
our present Services ?

The writer is anxious not to be misunderstood.
With the corruptions in question he has not the
smallest sympathy. It is on the contrary matter of
astonishment to him that any person, jealous for the
honour of Almighty God and for the purity of the
Christian faith and worship, should think it necessary
to speak tenderly, or to be silent altogether, upon the
debasing superstitions which have for so many hun-
dred years disgraced both the theory and practice of
the greater part of Western Christendom. A syste-
matized Saint-worsjiip, saddening enough to contem-
plate at the time when our Offices were first revised,
has since then received fresh developments of a very
awful character, until it treads, to say the least, u[)on
the very verge of polytheism. And again, a direct
idolatry, paid to various objects of sense, received at
that time, and continues to receive still, the sanction,

c 2


more or less formal and distinct, of the Roman branch
of the Church. And the real difficulty, in truth,
which must sometimes press itself on a religious
mind, is how a communion which sanctions and
adopts such fearful derelictions of the first principles
even of natural religion, can be held to retain the
being of a Church at all. It is one thing, however,
fearlessly to pronounce, in accordance with truth,
justice, and judgment, upon the moral and spiritual
quality of an action, and quite another to undertake
to decide upon the doer's standing in the sight of
God. We have no commission to give judgment of
award upon a Church or Churches, certain of whose
actions and principles we may nevertheless be bound
unequivocally to condemn. We may trust that it
takes much to destroy the being of a Church, as it
does, by God's mercy, hopelessly to destroy a soul.
And I conceive that we may on the whole be well
content to endorse the judgment and views, at once
firm and charitable, adopted in this matter by those
who, in revising our Ritual, defined not amiss for us
our position in this respect also. We need not fear
to say, on the one hand, with the men of the 16th
century, that there were in the old Offices and ways
— how much more in their later development, —
" many things, whereof some are untrue, some are
uncertain, some vain and superstitious'';" — with those
of the 17th, that "the sacramental Bread and Wine,"
e. g., " may not he adored, for that were idolatry to be
abhorred of all faithful Christians^;" knowing the
while that a great portion of the Christian world does
so adore them. And on the other hand, we may

^ Preface to the Book of 1549.

* Rubric at the end of the Communion OfBce of 1662.


consent no less, with the men of both periods, to give
to the " Churches of Jerusalem, of Alexandria, of
Antioch, and of Rome," the name and the place of
Churches, albeit " they have erred even in matters
of faith \"

Faithfully, though charitably, to take up this position
appears, indeed, to be the duty with which the Church
of the English succession is peculiarly charged. What-
ever part may, in God's providence over His Church,
be allotted to other branches of it ; whatever the
truths or aspects of the truth, if there be any such,
which are more especially confided to their keeping ;
8he must not fear to be true to the part so distinctly
assigned to her, as the only communion now on the face
of the earth, lohich, together loith the ancient prin-
ciples of sacramental truth and apostolic regimen, up-
holds the absolute and exclusive unity of the object of
Christian worship.

But while we do well to be faithful in our own
generation to this responsibility, we shall on the other
hand act most unwisely, if, in pursuing an investi-
gation like the present, we throw aside without in-
quiry, on the ground of their temporary association
Avith corrupt features of worship, the older Services of
our Church. Conceivably, no doubt, they might have
been so penetrated with those elements of unsound-
ness, and vitiated by thorn, as to be valueless for our
purpose, liut the question whether they are so is
simply a question of fact, to be settled, like others of
the same kind, by inquiry. And so it is, tiiat on ex-
amination, these cleinonts arc discerned to have occu-
pied a very small portion either of the Daily or Coni-

>» See Note A .


munion Services strictly conceived ; apart, that is, from
additions sanctioned by custom only, and not by the
written " use" of the Church : so that they are really
and discernibly separable from the whole ; forming-
no part of its proper idea, and capable of removal
without any prejudice to it.

Thus, as regards the ancient Daily Offices, the re-
mark which has been made upon them as used in the
Roman Church at the present day, is even more ap-
plicable to them as they existed in our Church at the
time of our English Revision. " These Invocations do
not enter into the structure" of the Offices ; they are
so placed that they " might easily have been added, as
e.g. was the case with our own Thanksgiving''." " This
is what occurs to us to observe," the writer proceeds,
" on the first sight of these Invocations, &c. : but we
are not left to a conjectural judgment about them;
their history is actually known, and their recent in-
troduction into the Church Services distinctly con-

Again, as to our ancient Communion Office, a po-
sition which has been frequently maintained before is
further confirmed in the following work, chiefly by
a comparison of all ancient Communion Offices with
each other ; viz. that the parts of it which are com-
monly appealed to as furnishing evidence for corrupt
doctrines or practices, are either palpably modern, and
perfectly separable from the genuine Offices, or have
been utterly misunderstood and perverted from their

^ Tracts for the Times, No. 75.

' The only features of this sort which can claim any sort of antiquity,
are an Invocation in the Prime OiSce, which Gavanti says is of great
antiquity; and those contained in the Litany, which seem to be cor-
rectly ascribed to S. Gregory, at the beginning of the seventh century,
Vide L'Estrangc on the Litany, ch. iv. p. 146.


true acceptaLion, and therefore needed not to be re-
jected, but only brought back to their proper use'^.

But others, again, may think it undesirable to draw
attention to the older Offices of our Church, not on
account of their association with corruptions in wor-
ship, but rather because of the imposing grandeur,
and in many respects the aesthetic beauty, of their
structure and contents. It may be said, that the
contemplation of these will only cause, in the minds of
members of the English Church, dissatisfaction with our
present simpler and more unpretending ritual ; nay,
more, that such dissatisfaction has already, as a matter
of fact, been one cause of secessions from among us.

The answer to this objection — which, it must be
admitted, is a plausible one — is, that by universal ad-
mission, the best mode of meeting a difficulty is, as
a general rule, to look it fairly in the face ; and that
though there are some exceptions to this rule, in the
present instance, at any rate, there is no alternative.
The spirit of inquiry in matters religious and eccle-
siastical, which, whether for good or evil, is a charac-
teristic of this age, has already led to the republication
in a great measure of these Services, either as ob-
jects of ritual study, or as contributions to devotional
literature. The inquiry and the publicity which is
deprecated, already exists. The time is gone by for
any concealment of the history and antecedents of
our present Ritual : and it is by fair and candid
exhibition of its earlier phases, joined to adequate

^ A strikiuf^ cxcniplificatiou of bolli kinds of corruption is pointed
out in Part II., chapter on the Primitive Perm of Liturgy. The clevatioa
of the Elements in the Eucharist, as now practised, in order to their
adoration, is (vide ]5ona in h)C.) modern ; while the ancient and un-
doubted elevation, later in tiic Service, was dcnion^trably (lesigned
for a totally diflcrent purpo> •.


representation of the entire circumstances which justi-
fied, and even required, a revision, and that too of no
partial or hesitating character ; — by demonstratuig the
unpractical character, proved by the experience of ages,
of the older Offices, considered as public Services ; —
it is only by such means as these that any anxiety that
may be felt for a return to the older forms can be un-
answerably met. And accordingly it will be pointed
out in these pages, that many other considerations,
besides those of the abstract beauty or merit of tlie
Offices, had to be taken into account at the time of
the Revision, and must be so still in answer to any
reactionary demands or tendencies.

Though this, indeed, is not all. The same pro-
cess of inquiry which lays open to us the imposing
structure of the mediaeval Offices, also reveals to us
a yet earlier stage of their history, and phase of their
existence, towards which (though in some sort acci-
dentally) they re-approximated, as the result of the
Revision in the 16th century. So that the revised
Offices were in reality a return, in point of general
form, of duration, and of practicability, to the dic-
tates of an early and an Oriental simplicity ; while at
the same time they are pregnant, under that simpler
exterior, with all the finer and profounder elements
of the later Western devotion. On this account the
English Office-book is in reality peculiarly rich in the
ritual spoils of time, and in the devotional experience
of every clime and every age of the Church. While
parting with much that was nobly elaborated, the
work of the 16th century abounded in solid compen-
sations for whatever of outward masrnificence it laid
aside, and would have been less truly great, had it
been less fearlessly executed.


Tims much seemed necessary to be said in reply to
some not unnatural but really ill-founded objections,
which might be conceived to lie against one of the
principal lines of ilkistration adopted in this work.

Whoever then shall be found willing, in a spirit of
calm inquiry, neither too mistrustful of the past, nor
too regretful for it, to ask after the mind of our
Church's ancient Services, as one means of ascer-
taining that of her existing Ritual, will, it may be
safely promised, be rewarded for the search. He
will find in them "Principles of Divine Service" of
no ordinary depth and beauty ; principles, too, which
have been faithfully conserved and handed down, as
to all primary and essential points, in our present

And one great principle in particular it will be the
aim of the writer, chiefly by the help of the older
Offices, to bring out prominently as a key to our exist-
ing Services, — viz. the Eucharist ic principle ; or, in
other words, the idea, rightly apprehended, of the
Iloly Communion.

In the Hght of that idea he will have occasion to
consider, first of all, our Daily or Ordinary Services.
It will be seen that their structure and contents are,
in virtue of their substantial identity with the Offices
of earlier periods of the Church, closely connected
with ancient and primeval Eucharistic conceptions,
and can only be correctly apprehended or adequately
used by viewing them in that connection.

So, again, our Office for the Holy Communion itself
will find, after all, the best interpreter and exponent,
both of its structure and of its particular features, in
the older Communion Office of the English Church.
Ojily, that Olficc nuist be taken and understood, not


ill the inadequate and often most corrupt sense which
the commentaries and glosses of the middle period of
the Church have fastened upon it, but in that true
one which is thoroughly substantiated by its early
history, and by comparison of it with the ancient
Offices of all other Churches.

There is another deeply interesting department of
research into which we shall find ourselves led, in
turning to our older Offices as a source of illustration.
We shall light upon certain most ancient, and to all
appearance primitive, ways of converting Holy Scrip-
ture to purposes of Divine Service. These admi-
rable methods, by which the Scriptures were in very
eai-ly times, in the West more particularly, made the
basis, the materials, and the vehicles of the Church's
devotion, — and that too by no shallow or surface
application, but in accordance with the profoundest
conceptions both of them and of the Christian life,
— are so little apprehended at the present day, or
thought of in connection with our forms of service,
that they cannot fail, when properly exhibited and
applied, to cast altogether a new light upon them.

And yet more when we combine the light derivable
from these two sources of illustration, — viz. the an-
cient and proper conception of the Holy Communion,
and the ancient methods of devotion on the basis of
Scripture, — do we find them exercising a perfectly
transforming efi'ect on the meaning of those Services,
with the letter of which we are so familiar. What
the saying of Psalms was to them of old time; or
what of Collects, or even of the Lord's Prayer ; or what
the reading and hearing of Scripture ; — we can only
then understand, when we have thoroughly learned to
enter into the Eucharistic and other devotional ideas


which prompted and fashioned the forms of worship
which we have inherited. But when we have duly
mastered these, we shall, if w^e are wise, be prepared
to adopt and act upon them, in lieu of those less pro-
found, as well as less just conceptions of our Offices,
which we have hitherto been content to rest in.

It will be seen, from what has now been said, with
what degree of fitness, and in what sense, one of the
mottoes placed upon the title-page of this work has
been adopted. " To stand in the old paths," — to be
faithful to ancient, early-adopted, and often primitive
conceptions and ways, in the matter of Divine Ser-
vice, — is the course which these pages are designed
respectfully yet earnestly to recommend to the mem-
bers of the English Church, as the main thing to be
done, if we would arrive at a correct apprehension and
appreciation, as well as attain to a full and sufficient
use, of our Offices of Public Worship. This watch-
word has indeed, as far as words go, been taken up,
almost w'ithout exception, by others who have written
on the subject. But, as has been shewn above, they
have not been faithful to it. They have not ventured
to claim kindred with the one stock of ancient ritual
to which ours more immediately belongs. Through
lack of knowledge, or of courage, or of due appre-
ciation of what was wanted, it has been the prac-
tice to slur over the intermediate links wdiich alone
unite our Services, by a real continuity of essence and
spirit, and even of form, with the ritual and mind
of early days.

It is high time that this mode of dealing with
them, which is hapi)ily as unnecessary as it is un-
worthy, should come to an end. Let us, by all


means, take our stand upon the antiquity of our
Ritual. Only it must be no less earnestly urged
and maintained, that there is but one way of doing
this. It cannot be done by ignoring the facts of the
process by which our Services reached us. It is not
by throwuig down the ladder that connects us, ritu-
ally, with antiquity, that we can best prove our de-
scent from it, or our coincidence with it. There is
but one way of being true to our Service-book ; and
that is, to take it for what it is, and for what they,
who first handed it over to us in its revised form,
believed it with all their hearts to be. It is an old
Book. Its elements, its method of service, its con-
ception, and its order, are all old, — older than any
other institution in this country; — some of them as
old as the days of the Apostles themselves. Let us
not be afraid to look it in the face, in its earlier
lineaments. Let us try to understand it as it was,
that so we may the better understand and use it
as it is.

It is not meant to be affirmed that this is all that
is needed. There are portions of our existing Offices
which cannot be completely interpreted by reference
to the old forms and ideas. The first Revisers of
them, though they never in a single instance, that
I am aware of, departed from the established order
and sequence of such portions as they retained, did
in various instances modify, or even give fresh de-
velopment to, the old elements. This is a circum-
stance of which we derive no conception from Mr.
Palmer's too general statement, that our Offices for
Morning and Evening Prayer are " a?i abridgment
of the ancient Services," (Pt. I. ch. i.). An abridg-
ment, on the whole, it doubtless was; but it was


in some respects a signal development, — e. g. in the
department of lections or lessons from Holy Scripture,
and in that of the Canticles responding to them. The
methods according to which they were thus modified
or developed, must of course be considered in them-
selves, without that direct assistance towards forming
a just conception of them, which in other cases we
derive from the older forms. Even here, however,
we can generally discern ancient and received forms
or methods of service, to which they had recourse.
Thus the Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution,
prefixed to the Daily Offices by the original Revisers,
when they put them forth for the second time in
1552, have been commonly deemed to lie open, be-
yond other parts of the Service, to the charge of novelty.
But the truth is, that they are all, though in different
degrees, distinctly traceable to methods and formulcG
then received, and familiar to the English Church of
that day*^. So, again, the particular versicles and re-
.sponses which they substituted f(jr the older series
after the short Litany and Lord's Prayer, are those
which had been long in use in the English Church
every Sunday and Festival, as a part of the Bidding
Prayer ''.

Subsequent Eevisions, as is well known, went still
further in the direction of remoulding the old fea-
tures, and sometimes, though instances of this are not
numerous, adding new. Some, which have the ap-
pearance of being altogether new, are in reality legiti-
mate and intelligible expansions of the corresponding
older elements. Of this kind are, e.g., the additiiju
of intercessory prayers to the Morning and Evening

'' See l)clow, cli. i. s. 2, and cli. iv. ' Ch. iv.


Office, and a substitution, in the Communion Office,
of a Confession based on the Commandments, for
another form which formerly occupied the same
position, and which the first Revisers had left out

In the structure of these parts of the Services there
is, of course, more room for the exercise of individual
judgment, than where the intention is for the most
part defined for us by the older forms. Nor does the
writer by any means undertake to say that he has
always been able to form correct conclusions as to
the view to be taken of these, any more than of
the ancient Services. He has in all cases stated the
facts and reasonings on which his conclusions are
grounded, that others may judge for themselves. But
having done this, he has not scrupled to offer practical
suggestions, based on the views he has arrived at :
not as desiring to exclude other interpretations, but
as deeming those which he has adopted to be at least
probable ; and as conceiving that it is far better that
the members of the Church should be provided with
some definite notions, upon which they can act, of the
Services prescribed for their use, — even at the risk
of some degree of incorrectness of theory, — than that
they should entertain mere vague and pointless con-
ceptions about them. Let others, by all means, bring
forward views which they deem more correct ; none
will more gladly than the writer welcome any that
are better grounded than his own : and let the col-
lective wisdom of the Church supply in due time,

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 3 of 33)