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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become inseparably associated with the close of the
nociurno-malutinal office, and accordingly was pre-
served in the West as the conclusion of the wceJcs
nocturnal or matin psalmody, whatever might be
the plan on which the preceding Psalms were dis-

* Bona, Div. Psnlinod. xviii. 1. p. 801. "All nations of the Western
Church af^rce in th-s, that they terminate the (week's) night services
(i.e. the matins) with Ps. ci.\., and begin the day-hours with the

° Bona, p. 005.


tributed. Thus, in one scheme'', the Saturday noc-
tunis Psalms are from the 97th to the 109th; in an-
other^ the 101st to the 109th. So, once more, when
Psahiis were w-anted to furnish forth or complete new
offices for the 1st, 3rd, 6th, and 9th hours, wdiich had
not been originally hours for Church worship, the
Western compilers borrowed the entire 119th Psalm
for the purpose from the Greek nocturnal Office. In
one of these schemes % it was arranged so as to be
read through daily ; in another *, it w^as made to last
two days ; other Psalms being found for the rest
of the Tveek. As to the Greeks themselves, when
they adopted these more novel day offices, they re-
tained the 119th Psalm in its old place, and provided
for them another selection of Psalms.

These instances, with others w^iich will be adduced
hereafter, abundantly prove that the Eastern daily
offices were to the later Western ritual nothing less
than the quarry whence the materials for its stately
structure were hewn, — the fountain whence it drew
its inspirations, — the law which, amid its widest di-
versities, and in its boldest developments, it instinc-
tively recognised and obeyed.

I am content to have proved this for the present,
of the later Western ritual ; reserving for a future
chapter the grounds there are for believing that the
earlier forms in use in the West, took their rise, too,
in the same primitive fount which has been here in-

^ Brev. Rom, Sar. Sabb. ad Mat.

1 Reg. S. Bened. ad Vig. Sabbat.

^ Brev. Rom. Sarisb. &c., and Primam, quoted.

» Reg. S. Benedict. Domiu. et Fer. 2". ad Tert. Sext. Kon.



"In (he uitrlit Ilis song shall be with me, ami my prayer unto the

God of my life At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto


It may seem strange that so obvious a key to the
intricacies of the Western Offices, as that which the
previous section suggests, should never have been
appUed hitherto to their elucidation. This, however,
is easily accounted for, when we consider that the few
^v]lo, like Bona, had sufficient knowledge of Eastern
ritual for the purpose, held it far too cheaply to
imagine the possibility of the Western Offices being
in any way beholden to it. Others, as Bingham, had
a very slender acquaintance with the existing Eastern
daily services. Goar has only commented on a small
portion of them ; nor, until the publication of a re-
cent work '', was anything like an accurate or intclli-
gil)le account of them accessible to the English reader.
Much less have they been laid under contribution, as
the Eastern Communion Offices have, (by Rcnaudot,
Palmer, and others,) in illustration of Western ritual.

Wc proceed to inquire how much of the present
Eastern olfices may be considered to possess a claiui
to antiquity. On this head, indeed, we cannot ex-
pect to arrive at any great exactitude ; nor is it very
important for our pur})osc that wc shoidd do so.
Yet it may answer a good purpose to set foitii,
at this point in our intjuiry, what wc may reasonably

*■ Tiic Kcv. J. >\l, Ncalc'H General lulroduetion to tiie History of the
Iloly Eastern Ciiurcli. 2 vols.


presume to have been, from some very early time, the
general outline of these offices. Those, more espe-
cially, to whom the study of ancient ritual is un-
trodden ground, and to whom the vastness and com-
plexity of the later Western Offices presents a for-
midable appearance, may be not unwilling to con-
template them in this their earlier and simpler stage.
We may also notice as we pass some of the points
on which our own Offices, in time past or present,
receive illustration from this source ; thus relieving,
it may be hoped, the dryness of merely antiquarian

Judging then by the existing Greek Services, com-
bined with the evidence of antiquity, there were
daily in the Christian Church, from immemorial ages,
— that is to say, we know not how early, — iliree
offices of ordinary worship, resolving themselves in
practice into two. Of these, the first, probably, in
point of antiquity, and, when viewed in conjunction
with the office next succeeding it, in importance also,
was the Midnight {jo MecrouvKTLKoi>) or Nocturnal
Office*^ proper; commencing at or after midnight,
and extending to the dawn of day.

The second, following upon the first without
any interval'^, was the Early Morning Office %
[to ' OpOpov.)

'■ Bona, Psalmod. xviii. 13. Neale, Gen. Introd., p. 912. Goar,
(Euchol., pp. 26, 46,) makes remarks on the office, but does not give it.

■^ Quotidiana laudam divinarum officia a vigiliis uoctuniis auy)i-
cantur Grseci. MeaowKTiKi^ aliud officimn opdpos^ sub adventu lucis
persolvendum, jungitur." The two corresponding offices m the Latin
Chui'ch were avowedly continuous, probably from the earliest times.
Yide Bona, Div. Psabn. iv. 5. 1.

* Goar calls it the Lauds Office; and so Neale, p. 913. But the
name signifies a morning (or dawn) office, and nothing else. Bona
calls it Matins, (and so King,) reckoning the latter part of it as Lauds ;
wliich is surely more correct, — only it leads to a confusion with the


The third in importance, thovigli reckoned first
in order by the Orientals, was the Evening Office,
(to 'Ecnrepipou,) taking place not earlier than 6 p.m.
of the preceding evening.

The leading characteristic of all these services, or
rather of doi/i of them, (for they may with propriety be
spoken of as two^,) was, notwithstanding a large infu-
sion of the penitential element, and of prayers and
litanies, that they were great offices of psalmody and
hymns, — orbs of Divine Song, the greater and the
less, ruling over the day and over the night. It was
thus that, on ordinary days, the Christians of early
times fulfilled, in the order in which they are given
by St. Paul to the Ephesian Church, those two great
precepts of Divine Service : — "Be filled with the
Spirit, speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in
your hearts unto the Lord ; giving thanks ^ always
for all things to God and the Father in the Name
of our Lord Jesus Christ ;" and again, " Praying
always with all prayer and supplication, and watching
{aypvTTvovvTes;) thereunto with all perseverance."

13otli these Offices, the Nocturno-Matutinal and
the Evening, contained certain /j:^^ Psalms ; while

Western Matins. The term adopted in the text, while correctly
transhiling ipOpuv, avoids this confusion.

' (Joar fully rcco^jTiiscs these two (the midnight -|- the iiioniinf^, and
the evening olTices) as the t/real occasions of daily worbhij), even if Iheie
were others, from tlie earliest times. "Quolidianus Ecclesiu; usus,
I'iitniiiKiMo antifjuonitn auctoritas, aposlolicis institutis, seiii)tura, et
ratioiic fundala, Matutinum (vide sup. note d.) et Vesperlinum Con-
vcntum solcmniori aj)paratu ubifpie pcragi oslendit." Euchol., p. 9.

« The term tt'ixaptaTovyrtt (Eph. V. 20.) doubtless includes, or even
primarily intcnd.-i, the Eucharist. Yet it cannot but include also these
more ordinary devotions, by which the mind of Eucharistic prai-se and
prayer was carried on through the week.


others, it is most probable, were sung in the order in
which tliey occur in the Psalter, according as the
time allowed. There is no reason to think that the
arrangement ^' by which, in the Greek Church at the
present day, the Psalms are generally sung through in
the week, in addition to the fixed Psalms, is of greater
antiquity than about the third or fourth century, since
we find different rules about this prevailing in different
Churches ' at that period.

The earlier or midnight portion of the Xocturno-
Matutinal Office commenced with the Introduction
already described (p. 65), and proceeded thus: —

{First Watch J, or Noct urn.)

Psalm li.

Psalm cxix. in three portions,

(each portion ending with " Glory" and Alleluia, thrice).

The Nicene Creed.

Trisagion (p. 66.) and " Most Holy Trinity," ib.

The Lord's Prayer.

Two midnight hymns, (p. 92).

Hymn of the Incarnation.

KjTie eleison (forty times).

Prayer for grace and protection.

Ejaculatory petitions.

{Second Watch, or Nociurn.)

Invitatory, viz.

" come let us worship," Sec. (as p. 66).

Psalm cxxi. (" I will lift up mine eyes.")

Psalm cxxxiv. (" Behold now, praise.")

" Glory."

Trisagion, and "Most Holy Trinity."

The Lord's Prayer.


Kyrie eleison, (twelve times).

liemembrance of the departed.

•> Neale, p. 856.

' e. g. in the Armenian. Tide Bona, Psalmod. xviii. 15.

' S. Benedict calls them Yifrihse : Rej?. c. 9.


Short tlianksgiving hjmn to the Trinity.

Dismissal benediction.

The Priest requests forgiveness from the people.


Ill this simple and imdoubtcdly very ancient Ser-
vice, there are several points worthy of observation.

It is, first of all, in name, and doubtless was origi-
nally in practice also, not a nocturnal merely, but
a midnifjlit Service. This, however little accordant
with the general practice in subsequent ages, (even
in St. Basil's time it had apparently ceased to be a
fiiaovvKTLKov, and was only anteJucan^ is thoroughly
in the spirit of the very first age of the Church's
being, when the expectation of her Lord's Second
Coming was so vivid, and so closely connected with
the midnight hour more especially. And of the
existence, accordingly, of a habit of viiclnight worship
in Apostolic times, we have an indication in the Acts
of the Apostles ; Paul and Silas, in tli£ prison at Phi-
lippi, breaking out "at midnight" {Kara to jxeao-
vvKTLov) into " a hymn of praise and prayer to God,"
{irpoaevypixevoL vjxvovv tov Geoi^, Acts xvi. 25 ; sec
also XX. 7). The title then of the Office furnishes
a strong presumption for its pnmitiveiiess ; for at
what subsequent time, it may be asked, previous
to the rise of monasticism in the third and fourth
centuries, was an ofHce for such an liour so likely to
originate? The contents of it, again, clearly bespeak
it a midnight office ; as regards, that is (o say, the of the two "nocturns" into which it is divided;
which is exactly the part which might be expected
to bear this character. lor the llDth Psalm was
no doubt chosen for this among other reasons, that


it alone, in the whole Psalter, speaks of the actual
midniglit hour as proper for devotion : " At mid-
night I will rise to give thanks to Thee," (v. 52) ;
while it also refers to the "night" and the "night-
watches" generally, (vv. 55, 148). But the very solemn
hymns in the first nocturn are also of profoundly
midnight character : —

" Behold the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night ;
and blessed is that servant, whom He shall find watching ; but
unworthy he, whom He shall find careless. Beware therefore,
my soul, lest thou sink down in sleep'', lest thou shouldst be
given over to death, and be shut out from the kingdom ; but be
sober, and cry, ' Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou, God . . . have
mercy upon us.'

"That day, the day of fear, consider, my soul, and watch,
lighting thy lamp, and making it bright with oil ; for thou
knowest not when the voice will come to thee that saith. Be-
hold the Bridegroom. Beware therefore, my soul, lest thou
slumber, and so remain without, knocking, like the five virgins.
But persevere in watching, that thou mayest meet Christ with
rich oil, and He may give thee the divine wedding-garment of
His glory."

One thing more may be observed in connexion with
this midnight office \ viz. that, divided as it is into
two parts, it seems, when taken in conjunction with
the evening and the early morning offices, to carry
out with great exactness the precept of our Lord :
" Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the
master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight,
or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning.'* For so
was the night at that time divided into four periods ;
— I. 'O-^el, the evening, from twilight to 9 p.m.

^ Mt) t^ vttvw Kartvex^V''' "''"■ M'/ "^V Oavarf irapaSoOrjs : an evident allu-
sion to Eutyclius' sinkuig down in sleep at the midnirjht service at Troas,
and being taken up dead: Acts xx. Coiup. v. 7, mcxP' ixia^ovvKrloj:
and V. 9, /carevexflels avh to vvvov . . %pQt) tfKp6s.


II. MecTovvKTLov, midiiiglit, or the first watch, from
9 to 12. Ill, 'A\€KTopo(j)couLa, (cock-crowing, or the
second watch,) from 12 to 3 a.m. IV. Upan, morn-
ing till daybreak'.

This service corresponds, again, very exactly in
many particulars with St. Basil's account of the noc-
turnal service in the fourth century. We have, 1st,
the penitential introduction ; 2nd, psalmody following,
(the hymns are mentioned by other writers) ; 3rd,
prayers intermingled. Further, the psalmody is of
two kinds, apparently corresponding to St. Basil's de-
scription. For he says that at one time, "dividing
tiiemselves into two choirs, they sing alternately,
securing hereby at once due meditation on the Di-
vine Oracles," viz. by listening in turns silently,
" and also providing against distraction of their own
thoughts," by having a part to perform themselves.
All this agrees remarkably with the character of Ps.
cxix., which is so emphatically throughout fxeXerrj
Xoyioiv, " a meditation on the Oracles" (the term itself,
XoyLa, occurs eighteen times, and an equivalent for it
in every verse ; ixeXerr) frequently, vv. 24, 47, &c.) :
while it also especially calls for the alternate method,
to keep up the attention. Here too we sec a probable
reason, or at any rate a coni])cnsntion, for the absence
of Scripture Lessons in the ]']astein daily Ofliccs ;
tliis Psalm and others being used as a meditation no
It ss than as praise.

St. Basil, again, says that at another part of the
jj-alniody, they allowed one to begin, or rather lead,
the singing, {KarapyjEiv,) the others joining in at the
close either of each verse, or more probably of each

' JmIiii, Arohuol. 101.


Psalm. Now of the two Psalms ai)poiiited for the
second iiocturn, one at least, the 134th, fs especially
adapted by its construction for this purpose; the last
verse ("The Lord that made Heaven and Earth give
thee blessing out of Sion,") being confessedly a re-
sponse to the first three. It is further to be remarked,
that these two Psalms are the first but one, and the
last, of the well-known and kindred fifteen (cxx. —
cxxxiv.) called " Songs of degrees," following next
after the 119th, (which was sung in the first nocturn) ;
and it is very conceivable that the rest of the Psalms
of the group may have been used, more or fewer, as
time permitted, to fill out the office. This suppo-
sition would brino; the night service into vet fuller
harmony with St. Basil's account ; for he says, "Thus,
with variety of psalmody, they carry on the night."

The modern practice, in this office alone, does not
add any course of Psalms to the fixed ones. But the
" fifteen Psalms" are used at Vespers during a part of
the year, (from Sept. 20 to Christmas,) only substitut-
ing Ps, cxxxvi. to make up the number; Ps. cxxxiv.
being omitted, as occurring in the night office"". This
is the more striking, because it is an infraction of the
ordinary distribution of the Psalms, and points per-
haps to some such anciently prevailing habit as I have
supposed, of using these Psalms as a group. And as
the origin of their title of " Songs of degrees," accord-
ing to the Jews themselves, is that they were "sung
on certain steps" in the sanctuary, between the court
of the men and women", we seem to have here an-
other link between the Temple Services and those of
the early Church. Another account derives the name

■" Vide Neale, Tntrod. pp. S5.5, 6. ° Hcugslcuberg, Ps. cxx.


from their being sung iii chorus by the Levites or
priests, "not by the crowd of people, but by some
distinguished persons, loho sung before the rest; —
they were sung, or at least begun, from a high place."
(Luther, ibid.). This, again, which is perfectly recon-
cileable with the other account, singularly agrees with
the view we have elicited, of the probable manner of
saying these particular Psalms in the early Church.
Hengstenberg, however, acquiesces in another view,
viz. that these were songs sung by the pilgrims
as they went up yearly to Jerusalem at the great
festivals. They may have been so, and have been
sung in the Temple besides. He remarks further, in
terms singularly apposite to our present subject, that
" Ps. cxxi. (1 will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,')
was designed to be sunnr in sight of the mountains of
Jerusalem, and is manifestly an evening song for the
band of pilgrims, to be sung in the last nigJd-watch ; —
Ps. cxxii. (' I was glad when they said unto me,')
when, they reached the gates of Jerusalem, and halted
for tiic purpose of forming in order, for the solemn
procession into the sanctuary ; in which they used
Ps. cxxxiv." We have here a very plausible account,
at least, of the selection of these two Psalms, cxxi.
and cxxxiv. (to the omission of Ps. cxx.) as the fixed
Psalms for the second Christian nocturn.

On this view of Ilcngstenberg's, too, the singular
and unique [)rovision made about these; liflcen Psalms
in the present usage of the Greek Church, is seen
to be most beaut ifnl and appropriate. The only
])crio(l of the year in which any long ])ortion of
the P^alnlS is repeated evening after evening is the
fijlecn weeks before Christmas Day. And the Psalms


SO distinguished are, as we have seen, no other than
these " Pilgrim songs." The idea evident!}^ is that
the Church is then approaching week by week — a
week for each song of degrees, — to the true Tabernacle
and Temple which our blessed Lord by His Nativity
" pitched among men." These Psalms are also said
on week-days in Lent. The Western Church has
inherited a precisely analogous usage. The fifteen
Psalms were anciently said every day during Lent,
and are still appointed for every Wednesday in that
season. Their being thus used at evening in the
Greek Church, while it is in exact accordance with
Hengstenberg's hypothesis, may more immediately
have arisen from their having been occasionally sung
in the primitive night office, as suggested. The
fitness of them, or of any of them, for that office,
independent of any Jewish association, is manifest.
"No one of them," observes Hengstenberg, "bears
an individual character; all refer to the whole CImrcli
of God ; finally, all bear the character of pensive
melancholy. The fundamental thought in all is, the
Providence of God watching over His Church."

These somewhat lengthened remarks on the possible
origin of the certainly very ancient, and probably Apo-
stolic psalmodical arrangements before us, will not,
I trust, be thought misplaced. Nothing, surely, can
be much more interesting or instructive, than to trace
as far back as we can the details of a service which
was unquestionably the incimahula and earliest stage
of those which we possess at the present day.

For, to proceed with our comments on the Eastern
Nocturnal Office, we cannot fail to observe in it the
manifest germ of many subsequent arrangements in


the Western Ritual. The division of the nocturnal
service into two " nocturns," as they were sometimes
called, both commencing, in a measure, in the same
way, was doubtless connected with the ancient Jewish
distribution of the night into " watches." It would
also answer the purpose of allowing the worshippers
to relieve one another. The nocturn idea was adopted
in the most marked manner in the West. In the
Benedictine scheme the " nocturns" are two, as in the
Greek, with the addition of a third on Sundays. In
the Roman and English use, on Sundays and Festi-
vals, the nocturns are also three ; though on ordinary
days there is but one. And we may observe an indi-
cation of the two (or three) nocturns having ceased to
be in reality distinct services, in there being no repe-
tition, in the Western forms, of any portion of the
commencement of the office.

The Psalms of the first nocturn in the Greek Office
are immediately followed by the Creed and the Lord's
Prayer. The generally received opinion ^, as to the
date at which these formularies first began to be used
in public worship, would go far to deprive this fea-
lurc, at any rate, of the ofliccs before us, of all claims
to antiquity. In another part of this work\ however,
some reasons arc given for believing that the conceal-
ment of the Lord's Prayer from the unbaptized, by
excluding it from the earlier part of the Comuumion
Office, was not of Apostolic, but of somewhat later
date; and the occurrence in this office both of it and
of the Creed, far from militating necessarily against
its antiquity, may equally well, at least, be an evi-

* Vide Jiiii^Mi.un, vol. iv. p. 405 ; v. 139. ralmcr, Orifj., vol. i. pp. 215
— 217. The considerations in tlic text seem to be a sudicient rcjjly to
Mr. Palmer's view. Binpliain only proves the late admission of the
Creed into the Communion Olliee.

' Tart II., ehapter on rrimilive Form of Li(uif,'y.



dence of its datino; earlier tliaii the introduction of
that system of concetdiiient. It would by no means
be imperative, when that discipline came in, to eject
these features from the scheme of the service, but
only to veil them by using them silently ; just as
in the Eastern Communion Offices (in the Alexan-
drian more especially) the Lord's Prayer seems to
have been concealed by a paraphrase. This, accord-
ingly, I conceive to be the true account to be given
of our finding the Creed and Lord's Prayer in the
existing Eastern Offices. The Creed in the earliest
times would of course be comparatively brief ^ but the
rudiments at least of such a formula were certainly
delivered by St. Paul to the Churches, (vide 1 Cor.
XV. 1, &c.) and doubtless by the other Apostles. And
it is almost inconceivable that the Churches of the
East can have secured a correct, uniform, and uni-
versal acquaintance with the articles of the Christian
faith, on the part of their members, in any other way
than by using the Creed, from the time its very ru-
diments existed, in their public Offices. Now, in the
way here supposed, they might perfectly well thus
have used it, even during the prevalence of the cate-
chumenical system. And this supposition will ac-
count, as perhaps nothing else can, for our finding
the Creed and Lord's Prayer said silently, or under
the breath, (except the beginning and the conclusion,)
in the Western Daily Offices. Various fanciful reasons
have been assigned for this practice"; but it is mani-

" Thus Duraudus (ad Prim.), ingeniously enough: "The Creed is
said in a low voice, but the conclusion aloud ; to signily that with the
heart man believeth to righteousness, and with the mouth confession
is made unto salvation." But the '"Myrroure" (a 15th century Com-
ineutary on the Hours ; vide Maskell,) tells us it is because the
Apostles' Creed " was made privily, before the faith was openly
preached to the world." Trausl. Sarum Psalt., p. US. Equally good


festly a relic of the ancient system of concealment, and
was most probably derived directly from this part of
the Greek Offices. The ancient English Nocturnal
Office has both the Creed and Lord's Prayer in ex-
actly the position'' which they here occupy, namely,
immediately after the Psalms ; only said by the choir,
however, and privately, not as an actual part of the
Office. The Roman use has not the Creed in the

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 8 of 33)