THE MASS OF THE WESTERN RITE
By the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol
Abbot of Farnborough Abbey
THE MASS AT ROME, FROM THE FIFTH TO THE SEVENTH CENTURIES
Documents And Texts
We have, to enlighten us as to this period, several allusions in
contemporary writers; while certain liturgical documents explain, with more
or less exactitude, how Mass was celebrated at Rome about the sixth and
seventh centuries. Other writers of the fifth, and even of the fourth,
century, such as Arnobius and the Jew Isaac, allude to the text of the
Roman canon. Pope Innocent I (401-417) in a celebrated text forbids the
recitation of names (Memento of the living and the dead) at the Offertory
in the Roman canon (as was the Gallican and Oriental custom, and also
probably the most ancient usage). The Popes Boniface I (418-422) and
Celestine I (422-432) attest that the Emperors also were prayed for in this
place. Pope Vigilius, in a letter to Profuturus, says that at Rome the
text of the canon only varies at Easter, Ascension-tide, Pentecost, and the
Epiphany. He sends the Bishop that text of the canon which he believes to
be of Apostolic origin. The authors of the eighth-ninth centuries, Bede,
Agobard, Amalarius, also bear witness to the Roman canon. In a
work of the close of the fourth century, sometimes attributed to St.
Ambrose, and which in any case is almost contemporary with him, which is
inspired by his writings, and which belongs to a church of Upper Italy, the
author quotes the prayer of Consecration, which, with a few variants, is
the very text of our own canon. It is of such importance that it must be
Text of De Sacramentis
"Fac nobis (inquit sacerdos), hanc oblationem ascriptam, ratam,
rationabilem, acceptabilem, quod figura est corporis et sanguinis Jesu
Qui pridie quam pateretur, in sanctis manibus suis accepit panem, respexit
in coelum ad te, sancte Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, Gratias agens,
benedixit, fregit, fractum que apostolis suis et discipulis suis tradidit
dicens: accipite et edite ex hoc omnes: hoc est enim corpus meum, quod pro
Similiter etiam calicem postquam coenatum est, pridie quam pateretur,
accepit, respexit in coelum ad te, sancte pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus,
gratias agens, benedixit, apostolis suis et discipulis suis tradidit,
dicens: accipite et bibite ex hoc omnes: hic est enim sanguis meus.
Ergo memores gloriosissimae ejus passionis et ab inferis resurrectionis, in
coelum ascensionis, offerimus tibi hanc immaculatam hostiam, hunc panem
sanctum et calicem vitae aeternae:
et petimus et precamur, ut hanc oblationem suscipias in sublimi altari tuo
per manus angelorum tuorum sicut suscipere dignatus es munera pueri tui
justi Abel et sacrificium patriarchae nostri Abraham et quod tibi obtulit
summus sacerdos Melchisedech.
Te igitur . . .
Memento Domine . . .
Communicantes . . .
Hanc igitur oblationem . . .
Quam oblationem tu Deus, in omnibus, quassumus, benedictam, adscriptam,
ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris: ut nobis corpus et
sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus
suas: et elevatis oculis in coelum, ad Te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem,
tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis dicens:
accipite et manducate ex hoc omnes: hoc est enim corpus meum.
Simili modo postquam coenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in
sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas item tibi gratias agens, benedixit,
deditque discipulis suis, dicens: accipite et bibite ex eo omnes: Hic est
enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti: mysterium fidei, qui
pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum.
Haec quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.
Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem
Christi Filii tui Domini nostri, tam beatae passionis necnon et ab inferis
resurrectionis, sed et in coelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus
praeclarae majestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis, hostiam puram hostiam
sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitae aeternae, et Calicem
Supra quae propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere,
sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et
sacrificium patriarchae nostri Abrahae, et quod tibi obtulit summus
sacerdos tuus Melchisedech sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube haec perferri per manus sancti
Angeli tui in sublime altare tuum, in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae:
There is no doubt that we have here two editions of the same text; and as
that of "De Sacramentis" is localised in Upper Italy and dated about the
year 400, it is the most ancient witness we possess as to the principal
parts of the Roman canon, which only appear in the Sacramentaries some time
after the seventh century. The question as to whether the Roman canon is
not older even than that of "De Sacramentis" is discussed by
liturgiologists. Mgr. Batiffol is of this opinion, but we, on the contrary,
think that the former bears traces of closer composition, of a more
carefully guarded orthodoxy, and that consequently it is a text corrected
from "De Sacramentis." We shall see, in studying the list of names in the
"Memento" of the living and that of the dead, that Mgr. Batiffol argues
with good reason that he can date these fragments from the pontificate of
Symmachus (498-514). We thus have the state of the Roman Mass, or at least
of the chief parts of the canon, at the beginning of the fourth century.
A Sacramentary of a very special character, called "Leonine," because it
has sometimes been attributed to St. Leo, and which seems to have been
composed in the fifth century, contains Prefaces some of which seem to
refer to events which took place in the previous century. It gives us other
valuable indications as to the Roman liturgy of that time. The references
to churches, to cemeteries, to Roman Saints, and even to the "chronique
scandaleuse" of the day, are numerous. The style of the prayers, the use of
the "cursus" and of rhythm, the liturgical terminology--in short,
everything in this precious document has a Roman character.
Another Roman Sacramentary, the "Gelasian-"-attributed to the Pope of that
name, Gelasius I (492-496)-- has been altered and retouched up to the
eighth or ninth century; but, strictly speaking, its text is not authentic;
and its principal elements only go back to the end of the fifth century.
Like the "Leonine," we may, by studying it, find in it many Roman
characteristics. It is divided into three parts: the Masses of the Feasts
of the liturgical year, from Christmas to Pentecost, the "Proper of the
Time," as we call it; the Masses of Saints, from St. Felix (Feb. 14) to St.
Thomas the Apostle (Dec. 21), or the "Proper of Saints;" and the third
part, containing Masses for Sundays, Votive Masses, and those for special
circumstances. Whoever drew up this Sacramentary knew the "Leonine," and
has borrowed numerous formulas from it, though these are quite differently
arranged; the Roman style is even more evident than in the "Leonine;" the
liturgical year takes the first place in the "Gelasian," and exercises a
preponderating influence on the liturgy.
A third Roman Sacramentary, the "Gregorian," presents itself under
conditions analogous with those of the "Gelasian." In spite of the
uncertainty we must feel on finding it retouched again and again up to the
ninth century (especially in Gaul), we cannot doubt that we have here a
document of Roman origin. The author has taken the "Gelasian
Sacramentary"as the basis of his work, which he reshapes, curtails,
sacrificing all that appears to him purely archaic, but utilising the other
elements. The attribution to St. Gregory (590-604) of this Sacramentary
(with the exception, of course, of all the changes and additions which it
underwent from the seventh to the ninth centuries) has been eagerly
contested; but the most important liturgiologists are more and more
inclined to accept the indications given by tradition on this point. In
recent times an attempt has been made to recover the primitive "Gregorian
Sacramentary," and the discovery of a copy at Monte Cassino is of the
At Rome again, during this period of the sixth-ninth centuries, when the
liturgy became of such importance, liturgical books were composed which
have not the same characteristics as the Sacramentaries, but which complete
them. These books are the "Ordines Romani." The Sacramentaries give us the
text of the prayers to be recited, but usually without indications as to
the nature of the ceremonies. The "Ordines," on the other hand, take as
their aim the dcscription of the ceremonies themselves; those of the Mass,
in particular, giving on this point the necessary information. Their
composition is spread over a period of many centuries (seventh-fifteenth).
These "Ordines," some of which are of Roman origin, have, like the
Sacramentaries, been retouched in Gaul, where the greatest liturgical
activity was displayed from the eighth-eleventh centuries. But one of these
"Ordines," the first of the series, is exempt from any retouching; it goes
back to the eighth century and perhaps beyond it, and has even been, with
some probability, attributed to St. Gregory himself. In any case, it is
possible without scruple to describe the Roman Mass in the seventh century
under St. Gregory on the information here contained.
Whatever doubts we may have as to their composition, all these documents do
clearly show the interest taken by the Roman Church from the fifth-eighth
centuries in the liturgy. No other Church can display a collection of
documents of equal importance. Even now we have said nothing as to the
composition of those music-books which are called "Gregorians," as we
prefer to treat that question in an Excursus (see Chap. XII).
Another indication of the interest taken by the Popes in the organisation
and direction of Christian worship can be found in the "Liber
Pontificalis." Some portions of its testimony have been quoted at the
beginning of this chapter. But this document, which was not drawn up before
the fifth century, professes to enlighten us upon the most ancient period
of all, and to attribute to the earliest Popes certain acts concerning the
liturgy, especially concerning the Mass. All this information is by no
means of equal value, and we may well ask what were the sources from which
the author has drawn his information as to the first centuries. But from
the fourth, and particularly from the fifth century onward, his testimony
is of real value.
The Roman Mass
It is by comparing all these documents, and by completing them by each
other that certain contemporary liturgiologists have endeavoured to
reconstruct the Roman Mass in the seventh century. Such are Edmund Bishop,
Atchley, Dom Wilmart, Mgr. Duchesne, Mgr. Batiffol, and Dom Jean de Puniet,
whose works are mentioned in the Bibliography; all having arrived at nearly
the same results. Their reconstruction can therefore be accepted with
It should be added that this Mass is really that celebrated at Rome by the
Pope during the great solemnities; but it is also that of the Bishop in his
cathedral, and that of the simple priest in his church, the number of
ministers and clerics and the splendour of the ceremonies being always
excepted; there is no essential rite peculiar to the Pope. We shall
describe it here in some detail, for if modifications have been brought in
later, the Mass has remained substantially the same, and in the following
chapters on the Roman Mass from the seventh-twentieth centuries, we need
only note what has been added or omitted. But the very fact that this is
the Mass of the Pope and of his court explains any changes, for such a
ceremony, in the presence of many Bishops and of a numerous assembly, could
hardly remain unaltered. The "Liber Pontificalis" mentions several of the
reforms which were made in it, but not all, since St. Gregory alone, as we
know by his correspondence, made many alterations, of which the principal
are: the introduction of the singing of the "Kyrie," changes in that of the
"Alleluia," the alteration of the place of the "Pater," important
modifications of the Gelasian text, and probably of the chant. We must not,
then, be astonished if the Roman Mass has conformed far less to the
primitive form than the Mozarabic, Gallican, or Ambrosian Masses, and more
especially the Eastern liturgies.
The Popes possessed an authority which allowed them to change any part of
the ceremonial, and they used it.
The faithful, according to an invitation which was given at a
preceding assembly, met in a church, whence they went in procession to
another church, called the Church of the Station. The word "statio" is old
Latin, which in military language means a watch or vigil. Hermas and
Tertullian have given it the Christian sense of prayer arld fasting; thus
Wednesday and Friday are called "Station Days," because they were days of
fasting, on which Mass was celebrated. The word also means the plenary
assembly of a church, and St Cyprian uses it in this sense. Finally it
became a liturgical term at Rome, in the sense given above: that of a
gathering of the faithful for the Papal Mass.
In the Roman missal we still find certain days designated in this way:
"Statio ad Sanctum Petrum," "Statio ad Sanctum Paulum," etc. This means
that on that day Mass was said at St. Peter's (of the Vatican), or at St.
Paul's (Without the Walls), or at any other church mentioned. Such churches
are the most ancient in Rome; the greater number existed in the time of St.
Gregory (end of the sixth century), and many are very much older. In all
this we have the elements of a little course of topography and Roman
archaeology; and scholars like Armellini, Grisar, Morin, Schuster, and
others have carefully described these venerable churches. Every day during
Lent, and some other days in the year, have under the heading of the Mass
some indication of this kind. This list, according to Mgr. Duchesne, goes
back to the seventh century, but Dom Morin considers it originated two
centuries earlier. The greater number of these churches exist to-day; but
the Station which in St. Gregory's time was so solemn a ceremony is now
little more than a memory.
Sometimes Mass was celebrated in the catacombs on the outskirts of Rome,
and this was especially the case on the anniversary days of the death of a
martyr, when it was probably said on the tomb in which his relics reposed.
But after the year 410, when Rome was taken by Alaric, these cemeteries
were exposed to the incursions of the barbarians, and it became the custom
to transport the bodies of the martyrs to churches in the interior of Rome.
The church" where the Station was to take place was a "Basilica," a great
building inspired by architectural tradition as this was understood in the
third and fourth centuries, but modified since by the Church for Divine
service. Many of the most ancient Roman churches such as St. Clement, St.
Sabina, St. Laurence-Withoutthe-Walls, have preserved this form. And even
those which have been altered again and again, like St. PaulWithout-the-
Walls, have been reconstructed on the same plan. It was that of a long
building with a central nave, separated by columns from two lateral naves
to right and left, with an altar at the end and in the axis of the
principal nave; and behind the altar, an apse. At the end of the apse was
the "cathedra," or Bishop's chair, and, all around it, stalls for the
clergy; this was the choir. The part surrounding the altar is the
sanctuary, with an "ambone," or pulpit, or sometimes two, one to right, the
other to left.
To-day, as the altar usually has a retable and a tabernacle, the priest
when standing before it turns his back to the people; so that when he
greets them with "Dominus vobiscum" he is obliged to turn round. The Bishop
would be hidden on his "cathedra"at the back of the apse, and could hardly
follow the ceremonies, therefore his throne, as well as the stalls of the
clergy, have been moved to places before the altar. But if we wish to
understand the ancient positions, it will help us to remember that at that
time the altar was a "table" (hence its name of "mensa") of wood or stone,
forming either a solid block or else raised on four feet, but in any case
without a tabernacle; so that the officiating priest would face towards the
people, as he does to-day at "San Clemente." In our own churches, of
course, he officiates on the other side of the altar; the Gospel side being
the left and that of the Epistle the right. As we explain elsewhere,
another consideration has brought about these changes: the practice of
turning in prayer towards the East, the region of that light which is the
image of Christ, Who Himself came from the East. The question of the
orientation of churches was an important one in Christian architecture from
the fourth-twelfth centuries.
In the catacombs the tomb of a martyr could be used as an altar. When, lest
their relics should be profaned, the bodies of the martyrs had been brought
from the cemeteries in the Roman "campagna "into the churches of the city,
they were usually placed beneath the altar. In any case, the altar was
henceforth a sacred object. The word "mensa" (table) recalled the Last
Supper of the Lord; it was an image of Calvary where Christ was sacrificed
for us; frequently it was a martyr's tomb; upon it was accomplished the
tremendous Eucharistic Mystery, and thus it was dear to the devotion of the
faithful. The liturgy ordains that the priest shall kiss it at the
beginning and during the course of Mass; that he shall cover it with a
"Corporal," the image of that winding-sheet in which Our Lord was buried;
that he shall surround it with honour. All this was not instituted in the
same detail during the earliest centuries, but it is a legitimate
development of Catholic piety whose growth in intensity throughout the ages
which followed we are now about to contemplate.
At the time we are now considering (seventh century) there were neither
crosses nor candles, neither tabernacle or retable; nor were there any of
these things till the ninth, or even the eleventh, century But the
"ciborium," a kind of dome, or dais, usually supported by four columns, was
in use from the fourth century onwards, and sometimes at Rome it was made
of precious metal. The marbles, mosaics, chandeliers, and candelabras, the
lamps hanging from the vaulted roof and other ornaments in use from the
time of Constantine, show us that the Church has come out of the catacombs,
and that to primitive austerity has succeeded the desire to surround Divine
worship with splendour, upheld by the generosity of Christians.
Let us return to the church where the faithful assembled and whence they
started in procession, with the clergy and all those holding ecclesiastical
office up to the Pope himself. for the church where the Station was to be
The Litany. The "Kyrie Eleison."
"Kyrie Eleison "(thrice)--The Father
During the march of the procession they
sang a prayer which resembles neither the Collects nor Prefaces- which is
neither an Anthem, a Responsory, a Tract, nor a Psalm, like those to be
found in the Mass. It is a "Supplication," as the Greek etymology
indicates. A cantor, or perhaps the priest himself, said an invocation,
which all the people repeated, or to which they responded by an acclamation
The most ancient memorial of this which we possess is the litany, which is
said before the Mass of Holy Saturday
At an early date (fourth century) Rome adopted the principal invocation of
the Eastern liturgy, the "Kyrie Eleison" (Lord, have mercy upon us). But
Rome added the "Christe Eleison," and thus we have that chant to the
Trinity with wh"with which in future all litanies were to begin:
"Christe Eleison (thrice)--The Son
"Kyrie Eleison "(thrice)--The Holy Ghost.
The "Kyrie Eleison" is thus borrowed from the Greek liturgy, but marked
with the seal of Rome. When St. Gregory was reproached for having
introduced it into the Roman liturgy he could not deny the fact that he had
done so, but he pointed out that he had modified its form. Among the Greeks
it was sung by all- at Rome it was sung by clerics, the people repeating
the words after them (or, according to the correct expression, responding).
Furthermore, says the Pope, the people confine themselves to these
acclamations at the daily Masses, while at others (probably at the
stational Masses) other words are added. What are these words? Other
invocations, probably, such as we see in those litanies preserved to us,
like that of Holy Saturday.
Apart from the Mass the litany was frequently used in processions and in
the canonical office, and St. Benedict remarks this in the sixth
(Lat. "introire," enter) is really the commencement of the
Mass. It is a chant sung while the Pontiff proceeded solemnly from the
sacristy to the church. It was usually sung by cantors, and as was
customary for all psalms from the fourth century onwards, closed with a
doxology, "Gloria Patri et Filio et Spsritui Sancto." Our "Introits "have
preserved but one verse of the psalm and the doxology. Sometimes the words
are chosen from other books of Scripture than the Psalter; they are even
occasionally taken from the Apocryphal books. The Roman liturgy, usually so
severe, shows itself accommodating upon this point. The "Accipite
jucunditatem" of the Tuesday after Pentecost is taken from IV book of
Esdras (apocryphal), which has also furnished the "Introit" for the Mass of
the Dead, "Requiem aeternasn dona eis Domine." That "Introit" of many
Feasts, "Gaudeamus in Domino," is also extra-scriptural; while the "Salve
Sancta Parens" of Masses of Our Lady is taken from Sedulius, a poet of the
We have already said (Chap. IV, note) what must be thought of the text
which attributes the introduction of the "Introit" to Pope Celestine (422-
432). But its presence is noted in the Gelasian Sacramentary and in "Ordo
Romanus I". From this Mgr. Batiffol concludes that it is a Roman creation
of the sixth century--at least, under the form described. One of St.
Gregory's successors, Hadrian (772-795) attributes the composition, or at
least the arrangement, of the Roman Antiphonary to the former Pope; and
tells us at the same time that this book began with "Ad Te levavi," the
first words of the Advent "Introit." The Gelasian books began with the
Feast of Christmas: the celebrated lines are as follows:
Gregorius praesul, meritis et nomine dignus,
Unde genus ducit summum conscendit honorem.
Renovavit monumenta patrum priorum.
Tunc composuit hunc libellum musicae artis
Scolae cantorum anni circuli: Ad Te levavi.
Elsewhere (Excursus, ii. Chap. XII) we shall speak of the music composed
for the "Introit." It is enough to say here that it has not preserved the
characteristics of a processional chant any more than it has the primitive
form of a psalm.
The Kissing Of The Altar
At the Pontifical ceremony on Good Friday the
prelate with his ministers leaves his throne at the beginning of the
office, goes to the altar, kisses it, and returns to his place. This is an
act of the most remote antiquity; a mark of devotion to that altar which is
sacred; and which when the church was consecrated was blessed with so great
solemnity. Mgr. Batiffol rightly reminds us that this act is peculiarly
Roman (loc. cit., p. 117). It is repeated many times during Mass (cf.
Excursus, "Liturgical Acts," p. 232).
The Gloria In Excelsis
At certain Masses, after the "Kyrie," the "Gloria
in Excelsis" is sung. It has no relation to the "Kyrie," and is not sung or
said in the ancient Masses for Vigils, nor in those of Holy Week, nor of
Lent, nor of ferials, and in reality its proper place is not in the Mass
any more than in any other office. Indeed, at the beginning, it was not, as
it is to-day, consecrated to the Mass alone. It is a doxology in honour
of the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit only comes in at the end; and
this is perhaps an addition. It is thus very probably anterior to the
fourth century, for from the time of the Arian disputes the doxology was
almost always trinitarian. This is confirmed by its presence in the
"Apostolic Constitutions." It was early adopted by Rome, with many other
Greek formulas; but, to begin with, only at the first of the three
Christmas Masses, where its place is admirably justified.
Pope Symmachus extended its use to every Sunday and to the Feasts of the
martyrs; but only for episcopal Masses; it was said by priests only at
Easter. Then, little by little, as was the way with so many other chants
and ceremonies, the reserves were done away with, and its use became much
more frequent. It is almost unnecessary to say that it is an admirable
prayer; that it is the expression of a very beautiful mysticism, and that
it is of great Christological importance. It has been the subject of many
works, to which we can only refer.
The Pontiff arrived at the church to the singing of litanies
if there was a Station, or to that of the "Introit" when the procession
came from the sacristy. He greeted the people, as St. Augustine has told
us, with the "Pax vobis," or "Dominus vobiscum," to which they responded
"Et cum spiritu tuo;" after which the celebrant said a prayer of a very
special nature, called the "Collect." The general term is "oratio." There
are three of these prayers in the Mass--the first that just mentioned; the
second the "oratio super oblata," or Secret; and, lastly, the "oratio ad
complendum," or Post-Communion. The Collect is the "oratio prima." As it
was said at the moment when the faithful were assembling for Mass, some
have thought that this was the origin of its name, "oratio ad collectam,"
prayer at the moment of meeting. Others have thought it was derived from
the fact that the celebrant here collects and expresses the intentions of
all those present. The term is not exclusively Roman; in the Gallican
liturgies we find prayers called "collectiones."
We have a large number of such prayers in the Roman missal. Their character
is easily recognised, especially that of the most ancient, which are really
of Roman origin, and which are distinguished by the clearness of their
style, and the elegance and symmetry of their composition. Such is the
following, chosen haphazard:
Deus qui ineffabilibus mundum renovas
sacramentis: praesta, quaesumus, ut Ecclesia
tua et aeternis proficiat institutis,
et temporalibus non destituatur auxiliis.
(Friday of the fourth week in Lent).
The old Roman books, such as the "Leonine," "Gelasian," and "Gregorian
Sacramentaries" contain a great number of these prayers, which are of equal
interest from the literary and theological standpoints.
The character of these prayers in the Roman liturgy has been much praised;
they are always short, precise, elegant, and of a scholarly rhythm. Those
of the other Latin liturgies, such as the Gallican and Mozarabic, are, on
the contrary, much longer and more diffuse, clearly betraying a time when
the Latin tongue was scarcely spoken except by the barbarians, and was
falling into decadence.
We see that there was at that period no question of the prayers now said at
the foot of the altar (Psalm xlii., the "Confeteor" and the rest). It was
only later that these were added to the Mass (cf. Chapter IX). Not only,
however, have we preserved the use of the Collects, but the greater part of
them are very ancient, dating from the seventh and even from the fifth
century. Originally there was only one Collect; now we have often a
sequence of several--memorials of another Feast, prayers to the Holy Ghost,
to Our Lady, or for other intentions.
The Readings And The Chants (Gradual, Alleluia Tract, Epistle)
"Collect" is followed by a reading or lesson from Holy Scripture (Old or
New Testament) called the "Epistle," because it is often taken from the
Epistles of St. Paul. It was read from the pulpit by one of the ministers,
usually a Lector. To-day it is reserved for the sub-Deacon. It is usually
contained in a special book called the "Epistolary." The most ancient of
those copies, which have come down to us under the title of "Lectionaries,"
go back to the eighth century, or to an even earlier epoch, that of the
seventh century. In some ancient copies of the Bible these lessons are
marked. The study of the "Lectionaries" is most useful for the right
understanding of the liturgy.
We have seen that in Africa (fourth and fifth centuries) there were
sometimes three lessons--one from the Old Testament (Prophecy), one from
the Epistles or Acts of the Apostles (Apostolic reading), and finally the
Gospel. On certain days like vigils or the Ember Days we have several
Lessons in the Roman Mass; on the vigil of Pentecost there are six; on that
of Easter, twelve. But these are exceptional cases, and these vigils were
really night offices, each with their own special characteristics.
The custom in the Mozarabic and Gallican liturgies is to have three
lessons--the Prophecy, the Apostolic Lesson, and the Gospel. It is also,
though not without exceptions, the Eastern custom.
Liturgiologists have asked whether, at a certain epoch --say, before the
fifth century--the Roman Mass had not also its three Lessons, of which the
first was omitted later on. In any case, the reading of the Old Testament
during Lent has taken the place of the Apostolic Lesson. With the three
Lessons we can better understand a certain gradation in the form of the
Pre-Mass--Old Testament, New Testament (from the Apostolic part), and,
lastly, the Gospel, which in solemn Masses is surrounded with great
solemnities. It has also been pointed out that in the Roman Mass the
"Alleluia" follows the "Gradual." Two consecutive chants are not according
to the ancient and normal custom, in which a reading should be followed by
a chant or responsory. The psalmody or singing of a psalm alternates with
the reading. This would be another indication of the presence of three
Lessons--the "Gradual" after the "Prophecy," the "Alleluia" after the
As a matter of fact, the "Gradual" to-day follows the "Epistle," as also,
according to circumstances, does the "Alleluia" or the "Tract." The
"Prose," when there is one, follows the "Alleluia," on which it originally
The "Gradual" was thus styled at Rome because it was sung from the pulpit
on the altar steps, "Gradus." Its generic name is "Psalmus responsorius,"
as St. Augustine tells us. This particular way of singing a psalm in
responses differs from the Anthem. It was executed by a cantor, the choir
answering with a refrain or "Response" taken from the same psalm. Our own
"Gradual" has kept these general characteristics; it is sung by a cantor,
or a "schola," the choir taking up part of the verse; but the rest of the
psalm has been suppressed. The "Gradual" is one of the chief elements of
the Pre-Mass; we have seen the importance attached to it by St. Augustine,
who sometimes commented on it in his homilies, and regarded it as one of
the Lessons. At Rome until the time of St. Gregory it was, like the Gospel,
sung by a Deacon. St. Gregory, however, doubtless found some inconvenience
attached to this practice, and withdrew this privilege from the Deacons.
But the "Gradual" kept its place of honour among the chants of the Mass,
while the singing of the Anthems "Introit," "Offertory "and "Communion,"
which are, chronologically, later than the "Gradual," was carried out by
the "schola," or by the people themselves, since these chants were
instituted to occupy the faithful during the course of a procession.
The "Alleluia" is a chant of a special character. Of Hebraic origin, like
"Amen" and "Hosanna," it was adopted by the Christians, and is found in the
Apocalypse. It is frequently used, like the "Sanctus" and other
acclamations; but not at first in the Mass. The word means "Glory to God,"
and often occurs in the Psalms, some of which are called "alleluiatic" for
this reason. The time and occasion of its introduction into the Mass are
not very well known. But the custom existed from the days of St. Augustine,
who speaks of the "Jubilus," a kind of prolonged "melopeia" on the last "a"
of "Alleluia;" but he does not say whether it was followed by a psalm, as
it is to-day. It was chiefly sung on Easter Day and in Paschal time.
Sozomenus tells us that it was only sung at Rome on that day, but is his
information accurate? The real custom was to sing it during the whole of
Paschal time. And St. Gregory, again inspired by the Greek custom, extended
its use beyond Paschal time, probably to every Sunday and Feast day of the
year. Doubtless through its analogy with the "Gradual" a verse of Scripture
was sung after it, but this verse is not always taken from the Psalter.
The "Alleluia" is omitted on vigils, on certain ferials, at the Office of
the Dead, and from Septuagesima till Holy Saturday. In some countries in
the Middle Ages this suppression of the "Alleluia" was marked by a ceremony
called the "Burial of the Alleluia," held on the Saturday before
Septuagesima. It is needless to say that this ceremony was not observed in
Rome, nor any others which appeared contrary to the austerity of the
liturgy. Tropes, Proses, and the Mysteries which were derived from them did
not originate in Rome. It was by no means at an early date, and even then,
as it would seem, almost against her will, that she adopted four of the
most beautiful of the Proses: "Victimae pascali laudes," "Veni Sancte
Spiritus," "Dies Irae," "Lauda Sion," and much later, the "Stabat."
But at the time of which we speak (fifth-seventh centuries) there was no
question of these compositions. We shall speak of them in Chapter IX, and
shall then see how they were attached to the "Jubilus" of the "Alleluia."
To-day, when the "Alleluia "is omitted, its place is taken by a much more
ancient chant, the Tract.
The "Tract" (Tractus) is also rather obscure in its origin. What is certain
is that the manner of its singing (it has no refrain nor is it repeated,
hence its derivation from "tractim," meaning with a single stroke) is of
the highest antiquity. St. Benedict refers to it in his Rule, but in
connection with the Omce, in which it was probably used before its
introduction into the Mass. In the Roman antiphonary it has preserved its
original character better than the other chants; it is almost always a
psalm, or at least several verses of a psalm, and even the tone to which it
is sung recalls more faithfully its psalmodic origin.
The reading of the Gospel is the end of the Mass of the
catechumens; in a certain sense it is its crown and fulfilment. This
gradation observed between the reading of the Prophecy, that of the
Epistle, and finally of the Gospel, is more marked, as we have noted, in
certain other liturgies than in the actual Roman Mass; but, on the other
hand, Rome has always surrounded the singing of the Gospel with great
solemnities. The function was reserved for the Deacon, who was accompanied
to the pulpit by acolytes bearing candles and incense, and the book was
kissed by the celebrant. All that was the custom in St. Gregory's time; and
this Roman practice is the same as that of the church of Jerusalem in the
fourth century, as Etheria tells us. St. Benedict too, at the end of the
fifth century, in the office for vigils (matins) for Sundays and Feast
days, which he has so carefully composed, seems to have been inspired by
the same principles and to follow the same lines as those of the Pre-Mass,
with its singing of psalms, readings from the Old and New Testaments
accompanied by responses, the "Te Deum," and lastly the solemn reading of
the Gospel. Those Gospels to be read at Mass at that time, as also to-day,
were usually contained in a special book called the "Evangeliarium." The
richness of its binding, the perfection of the penmanship, and the beauty
of the illumination of some of these books is a urther proof of the
devotion of Christians to the Gospel. As to this the "Ordo Romanus I,"
which we are analysing here, tells us that the "Evangeliarium" used at the
Papal Mass was enriched with jewels; and that in order that these jewels
should not be stolen it was enclosed in a casket sealed with the seal of
the "Vestararius," and only opened at the moment of the reading of the
Another Roman custom of the eighth-twelfth centuries was that the Deacon
reading the Gospel should turn to the south, and not to the north, as he
The "Credo" was neither read nor sung in the Roman Mass until much later
(see Chap. VI).
The dismissal of the catechumens and others outside the fold customary in
the fifth century, and which was maintained much longer in some other
liturgies, was suppressed at Rome, probably in the sixth century. The
diaconal prayer at this juncture was also suppressed and the Mass of the
catechumens closed with the reading of the Gospel. But the Gallican,
Mozarabic, and Celtic liturgies have preserved this diaconal prayer which
formerly had its place in the Roman Mass (cf. Chap. IV).
THE MASS OF THE FAITHFUL
It is still the custom for the celebrant to turn towards the
people after the Gospel and to say: "Dominus vobiscum, Oremus." This
salutation is generally followed by a prayer. Here, after this solemn
announcement, the priest reads the Offertory and carries out certain
functions, but no prayer follows. Something has evidently been suppressed
here, and the anomaly has naturally intrigued the liturgiologists. Mgr.
Duchesne thinks that the "Prayer of the Faithful" used to be in this place,
and this hypothesis has secured widespread approval. It is certainly
specious, for that prayer had its own place, and that an important one, in
most of the ancient liturgies. After the departure of the catechumens and
others outside the fold, who were not allowed to assist at Mass, the
faithful were invited to pray for several intentions: the Church, The Pope,
Bishops and other ministers, the Emperor, the sick, travellers, etc. This
prayer is no longer found in the Roman Mass, but during Holy Week (since it
is there that we must always seek the traces of the most ancient customs)
we have in Good Friday's morning office certain solemn prayers which are
nothing less than the "Prayer of the Faithful," and which may be considered
as one of the jewels of the Roman liturgy. Was it a prayer of this kind
which was announced by the "Dominus vobiscum" and "Oremus "mentioned above?
It would certainly be possible, but another conjecture has been made, and
this appears to be better founded. We may first remark that the "Prayer of
the Faithful" has not entirely disappeared. The "Te igitur "recalls it, and
sums up its principal features. Lastly, the Ambrosian, so near a neighbour
of the Roman liturgy, has at this very place an "Oratio super sindonem;"
this linen cloth is the "Corporal," which at this moment is placed upon the
altar. The Roman Mass has the same ceremony, but of the prayer has only
retained the "Dominus vobiscum "and "Oremus." The "Gelasian Sacramentary"
has also preserved traces of this prayer.
At the Roman Mass, after the Deacon had spread the Corporal presented by
the acolyte upon the altar, the Pope descended from his throne, and went to
receive the offerings, those of the men first, the order of precedence
being sedulously observed, according to Roman tradition. It may perhaps be
said here that St. Benedict, who was very faithful to the Roman spirit and
often draws his inspiration from the Roman liturgy of his day (sixth
century), has a whole chapter, "De ordine congregationis," in which he too
insists on the order of precedence for the Kiss of Peace, the Communion,
and for the whole choir office. After the men's offering came that of the
women, who occupied the other side of the nave, the congregation at that
time being divided in two parts.
The offering was made in the following way: each person offered a small
flagon of wine and a loaf; the wine was emptied into a great chalice, and
the bread placed in a white cloth held by two acolytes. It goes without
saying that as yet there was no question of unleavened bread; that offered
here is the usual leavened bread. This distinction between leavened and
unleavened did not then exist; it was only much later, and especially about
the eleventh century, that a quarrel, which in our own opinion was
unnecessary, arose between the Eastem and Westem churches on this
The most important thing to notice is that the offering as we have just
described it is a Roman custom, also followed in Africa and at Milan. In
the Gallican, Mozarabic, and Greek liturgies the preparation of the
offering was made before Mass.
After the offering had been made the Pope retumed to his throne and washed
his hands in preparation for the Sacrifice; after which he went to the
altar, where the oblations had been placed, the bread on one side, the
chalice into which the wine had been poured on the other. Mgr. Batiffol
aptly recalls a fresco at Ravenna, and also the famous chalice of Gourdon
(sixth century), preserved in the Cabinet of Medals. A reproduction of the
latter is given in DACL, at the word "calice."
The Offertory Chant
All the time that this was going on--doubtless rather
a long time--the "schola" had sung the "Offertory "psalm; and when the Pope
arrived at the altar he made a signal for the singing to stop, whether the
psalm were finished or not. This "Offertory" chant, as well as those of
"Introit"and "Communion," had not, we repeat, the importance of the
"Gradual," which formed a whole apart; the former might be interrupted or
abridged without difficulty. If the "Introit "is a Roman creation of the
sixth century, as Mgr. Batiffol declares, the "Offertory" and "Communion
"chants are older, and were probably first instituted in the church of
Carthage. We may remember that St. Augustine was obliged to write a book to
defend this custom of chanting a psalm during the Oblation and the
What, first of all, does this word mean? More than any other
it has given rise to discussions. Is it a substantive or an adjective? Very
naturally it has been compared with analogous terms like "Missa"for
"Missio," "Oblata" for "Oblatio." Thus, it is asked, is not "Secreta" for
"Secretio?" Bossuet, who was the first to risk this interpretation, did so
with circumspection; the "Secretio," or "separation," meaning the
separation of the oblations. Others have taken it to be an adjective
qualifying the word "Oratio" understood; thus it would mean a secret
prayer, or one said in a low voice. Each interpretation presents serious
difficulties. In our own opinion, and that of others, "Secreta"is a
substantive synonymous with "Mysteria." Thus we sometimes find the
expression "Oratio super Secreta;" aud again, the whole canon is called
"Secreta," the "Mysteries."
At the epoch of which we are speaking this was the only prayer made over
the oblations, "super oblata." The Offertory prayers in the present Missal,
"Suscipe sancte Pater" and the rest (cf. Chap. IX), are of more recent
introduction, and probably of Gallican origin. There was then no question
of censing the "oblata"at Rome. Doubtless at the "Introit" and the "Gospel"
a golden censer was carried (thymiamaterium aureum), but this was merely a
vase of perfume which was not used for censing; it was not the
"thuribulum." This custom is of Gallican origin, and was not introduced at
Rome until after the eleventh century.
The "Secret," the only "Offertory "prayer, had thus at that time a special
importance; and its formulas should be carefully studied in our Missal. In
its composition, and it may be said in its functions, it corresponds to the
"Collect" and the "Post-communion." Each of the three, as the principal
prayers of the Romau Mass, has its own "role," but all three correspond;
they are fashioned in the same mould and follow the same laws of
composition and rhythm. Attention has often been called to the sobriety,
simplicity, firmness, and elegance of the purely Roman style, which has so
well preserved the chief qualities of the best classical manner. These
characteristics will be noted all the more clearly if we compare these
prayers with the corresponding composition of the other Latin liturgies, of
which some examples are quoted in Chapters VI and VII. But what is
especially remarkable is less the literary quality than the depth and
certainty of the teaching given us in these Roman prayers. Here, above all,
appear the mastery and the superiority of the liturgy of that Church which
is Mother and Mistress. To speak only of the "Secrets," we find that more
than one affirms the faith of the Roman Church in Transubstantiation; and
Bossuet has made good use of this fact against the Protestants in his
explanations of the prayers of the Mass.
The adoption of the "Sanctus" as well as other circumstances
have led the Roman and the other Churches, both Greek and Latin, to divide
into several parts that Eucharistic prayer which, in the second and third
centuries, forms a single uninterrupted whole up to the final doxoiogy
(before the "Pater") (cf. Chap. IV).
The first part of this Eucharistic prayer has become what is called at Rome
the "Preface," "Praefatio" (a word in use at Rome from the sixth century,
and already mentioned at the Council of Carthage in 407). It was a general
term, meaning rather a prayer or blessing than an introduction, in the
sense the word is used to-day. There are "Prefaces" for the blessing of
fonts and of the holy oils, and for ordinations. The "Exultet" at the
blessing of the Paschal Candle is also a "Preface."
That it was an improvised prayer the great number of its formulas would
prove. Many of these date back to the fourth century. The Leonine
Sacramentary contains a rich collection of "Prefaces," many of which bear
the stamp of their time and allude to contemporary events (fourth-fifth
centuries). The Gelasian has also a large number, but the Sacramentary of
St. Gregory accepted only eleven, to which were added later (eleventh
century) the "Preface" of Our Lady, and in our own day that of the Dead,
one for St. Joseph, one for Christ the King, and another for the Sacred
All these "Prefaces" present the same general characteristics; they begin
with the same protocol; they are addressed to God the Father Almighty
through Jesus Christ Our Lord. On this point the "Preface" is not
distinguished from the "Collects" and other Roman prayers. But it has
greater scope; it refers to the Feast which is being celebrated, or even to
contemporary events (as in the Leonine), or to the blessing about to take
place (baptismal fonts, ordinations, Paschal Candle, etc.). At Mass the
"Preface" always closes with a formula leading to the "Sanctus."
The Roman "Preface" is composed with the same care and according to those
same rules of the "Cursus" as are the "Collects" and other prayers. These
"Prefaces" are usually as remarkable for their workmanship as for their
theological teaching, as, for example, that for the Holy Trinity and that
for Christmas. If our present aim were to comment on the prayers of the
Mass, it would be necessary to pause here for some time to underline the
importance of the "Prefaces" of our Missal, of the "Communicantes" which on
certain days accompany them, and to compare them with the "Illationes" or
"Contestationes" of other Latin liturgies, notably with those of the
Mozarabic rite, which are sometimes actual theological treatises or
biographies of Martyrs and Saints.
The "Sanctus," like the "Gloria in Excelsis" the "Te decet
laus" and other chants, goes back to the most ancient Christian antiquity.
It is in reality taken from the Old Testament, from Isaias. It must have
been in use at other times than in the Mass, as we see by a quotation from
Tertullian, and by the Acts of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas. Its introduction
into the actual Eucharistic prayer towards the fifth century, or even
before it has somewhat modified the form of the latter by dividing it into
several parts. It exists in two forms: in the Eastern Church the "Sanctus"
is usually read as it exists in the text of Isaias. Rome, however, added to
these words the second part: "Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini," the
words sung by the multitude at Jerusalem to welcome the Messiah on Palm
Sunday. The other Latin liturgies have followed Rome in this custom, and
this again is a point on which all these liturgies betray their unity.
The Roman Canon
The word "Canon," Canon Missae" in our Missal, is the
title of all the prayers which follow the "Sanctus." No other indication is
furnished in the Missal to show where the "Canon" ends, and it would seem
to continue till the Last Gospel inclusively. But according to a text of
St. Gregory which we shall quote in connection with the "Pater," and also
in accordance with other witnesses, the "Canon" really ends with the solemn
doxology which precedes the "Pater," or at the "Fraction." The word
"chanon" signifies "rule;" the meaning here is that this is an official
prayer, one established by an invariable rule.
Pope Vigilius indeed, in 538, in a text already quoted, remarks that at
Rome, contrary to what prevailed elsewhere, this prayer never varies except
on certain Feast days, such as Christmas, Epiphany, etc.
The word "Canon" is Roman. In the East the corresponding prayer is called
the "Anaphora," from "anaphero," I offer. In the Gelasian Sacramentary the
word "Actio" is applied to this part of the Mass. It is the supreme
"action," and "agere," "agenda" are taken in the same sense. We even have
in our existing "Canon" the terms "Infra actionem," during the action,
which recall the ancient word "actio."
To-day it comprehends the following prayers:
Memento of the Living;
Unde et memores;
Memento of the Dead,
Pater, with prelude and embolism.
This very division of the "Canon" into a dozen prayers which often are not
correlated, would in itself be enough to reveal a fragmentary state by no
means primitive. Indeed we shall see that, whatever be the antiquity of
such and such a formula, the Roman "Canon" as a whole goes back but to a
date about the year 400.
The "Canon" corresponds with the most ancient of the Eucharistic prayers as
this is described by St. Justin in the second century or at the beginning
of the third by St. Hippolytus. It is a prayer with a single inspiration
beginning with the "Dominus vobiscum "or "Sursum corda" of the "Preface,"
continuing with the recital of the Institution, and ending after a doxology
with the "Amen" of the faithful. These are the true limits of the "Canon,"
they are at least the most ancient.
Great is the temptation both for archaeologists and liturgiologists to try
whether it be not possible to reconstitute the Roman "Canon" in its
primitive form, and to give it a more logical, more homogeneous sequence.
To this many have yielded, and in our article "Canon" (DACL) we have
mentioned the chief attempts which have been made in this direction. They
will also be found in Fortescue's book; and, since his time, other
hypotheses have been presented for consideration.
It is discouraging that each critic has a different system, and that none,
we may say, has arrived at a really definite result. We may safely
disregard such study, and take the Roman "Canon" just as it is; remarking
that its actual form is assuredly not primitive, and what we may call the
joins are clearly shown by certain signs which will be pointed out in the
consideration of each of these prayers.
Nevertheless, whatever be the variety of the sources whence its compiler
has drawn it up, the composition as a whole betrays itself as the work of a
single hand. That "scholasticus" of whom St. Gregory speaks with some dis
dain has certain methods in his style which Brinktrine, I think, was the
first to point out. First of all, the use of two parallel terms:
rogamus ac petimus, accepta habeas et benedicas catholicae et apostolicae fidei sanctas ac venerabiles respicere et accepta habere sanctum sacrificium immaculatam hostiam partem aliquam et societatem de tuis donis ac datis famulorum famularum que tuarum, quorum tibifides cognita est et nota devotio, pro quibus tibi offerimus vel qui tibi offererunt: (this last passage, it is true, is no doubt an addition) servitutis nostrae . . . et cunctae familiae tuae, rationabilem acceptabilemque omnis honor et gloria non aestimator meriti sed veniae largitor.
A tendency to triplicate the terms:
haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia, hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam.
The sacrifice of the three Patriarchs--Abel, Abraham, Melchisedech:
per ipsum, cum ipso, in ipso, passionis, resurrectionis, ascensionis.
The accumulation of five terms: benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem,
creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, praestas.
Other similar remarks could be made on the characteristics of this style.
But these are sufficient to prove that we have to do with a writer who
loves prose that is rhythmical, measured, symmetrical, and occasionally
Another question arises with respect to the "Canon:" Has it an "epiclesis,"
and, if so, what is its place? The "epiclesis" (epikleo I call) is a prayer
of invocation to the Holy Ghost to sanctify the gifts offered. Its place is
generally among the prayers which follow the Consecration; and some of
these formulas indeed declare it is to the virtue of the Holy Ghost and not
to the words of the Institution that the miracle of Transubstantiation is
due. Many liturgiologists say with Edmund Bishop that there is no
"epiclesis" in the Roman Mass. Others, like certain Anglican divines, count
it a crime of the Roman Church to have cut it out. Others again recognise
the Roman "epiclesis" in such and such a prayer before or after the
Consecration. Let us say there is no "epiclesis" in the Roman Mass in the
ordinary sense of the word; but that this does not mean there has never
been one. 26
"Te igitur."--In our Missal this is the first prayer of the Canon; it does
not close with a doxology like all Roman prayers, and seems, if one may say
so, sharply interrupted by the "Memento" of the Living. Yet it is an
admirable prayer, on all the terms of which it would be easy to comment.
But we can only refer to the writers quoted in the Bibliography, whose aim
is to explain all the prayers of the Mass. By a simple comparison with the
"Prayer of the Faithful" we can see that it is inspired with the most
beautiful traditions of Christian antiquity. The mention of the Pope first
of all is not due merely to the fact that this prayer was originally
compiled at Rome and for Rome; it was an established use in most churches
to pray for the Pope, and also for the Bishops with whom they were in
"Memento of the living."--This is composed of the "Memento" proper and of
the "Communicantes," which ends with a doxology. The very place of the
"Memento" in the "Canon" forbade the mention here of those for whom the
Mass was being offered, which in other liturgies is made in an audible
voice. In those chapters devoted to these liturgies we shall see the
importance given to the reading of the Diptychs (Chapters VI and VII; see
also our article "Diptyques" in DACL).
The "Communicantes," beginning as it does with a participle, is a phrase
without a verb which it has been vainly tried to explain. This would
incline us to adopt the opinion of those who consider that it should be
attached to the "Te igitur," from which it must once have been separated,
or to another prayer. In any case the list of names given in it is very
interesting. First of all Saint Mary the Virgin with her titles, "semper
virginis," "genetricis Dei," which takes us back to the time of discussions
on the perpetual virginity or the Divine maternity of Our Lady (end of
fourth century and Council of Ephesus, 431). Next comes a list of the
Apostles, which puts St. Paul beside St. Peter, and which may be compared
with the other lists of Apostles found in the New Testament, which differ
in many points from the Roman list. (DACL, "Apotres.")
Following the twelve Apostles come twelve Roman martyrs, specially honoured
in that city; five Popes; St. Cyprian placed close to St. Cornelius, his
presence indicating that the old quarrels between him and that Pope are
forgotten. Then St. Laurence, the great Roman martyr; St. Chrysogonus, more
obscure, but whose name is well known at Rome and whose Basilica is
mentioned in the sixth century; John and Paul, whose Basilica on the
Ccelian is celebrated; and, lastly, Cosmas and Damian, with a great
reputation in the East and at Byzantium, after whom Pope Felix IV (526-530)
named a Basilica at Rome, and to whom Pope Symmachus had already dedicated
an oratory. From these and other indications Mgr. Batiffol concludes very
ingeniously, and not without reason, that the "Communicantes "dates from
this last-named Pope (498-514). Nevertheless, it may be objected to this
that certain names in this list may perhaps have been added later.
Attention has already been called to the words Infra actionem which form
the title of the Communicantes, and to the alternative "Communicantes" used
on certain Feasts.
"Hanc igitur oblationem" is to-day recited while the priest is holding his
hands spread out over the oblations; which has led some to believe that we
have here the Roman "epiclesis." But nothing in the words of the prayer
show this. Moreover, this imposition of the hands is not of ancient date,
and would seem to be only a gesture designating the matter which is to
serve for the Sacrifice. The "Liber Pontificalis" says that St. Gregory
added to this text the "Diesque nostros" with what follows it. In the
existing Missal there is an alternative "Hanc igitur," the words of which
are the same for Easter and Pentecost, reminding us that on these two
Feasts Baptism was given to tbe catechumens. But in the Gelasian
Sacramentary a large number of variants to the "Hanc igitur" existed--
nearly fifty; which St. Gregory suppressed when he re-edited the book. All
these variants are interesting, though we cannot study them here in
detail.The prayer to-day closes with a doxology, after the words added
St. Gregory; but in some of the variants this did not exist, and the "Hanc
igitur" is united to the following prayer:
"Quam oblationem;" this might easily have been attached to the "Hanc
igitur," of which it seems a continuation. Some liturgiologists consider
this prayer as the "epiclesis." To this opinion the same objections may be
sustained as in the case of the "Hanc igitur," for it is not an "epiclesis"
in the true sense of the term, since there is no invocation of God the Holy
Ghost. The signs of the Cross, here so frequent, are intended (as also in
the "Te igitur") rather to emphasise the words of the prayer than as a
blessing. (See Excursus, "Gestures in the Mass," p. 220.)
With the "Qui pridie" we come to the really central and
essential part of the Roman Mass. It is not only the recital of the
Eucharistic Institution, reproducing the actions and the very words of Our
Lord at the Last Supper; it is a prayer which completes the preceding
prayers; its aim is really to work the Mystery of Transubstantiation just
as it was accomplished by the actual words of Christ on the eve of His
Passion. It would be easy to prove it, but it is enough to refer our
readers to a chapter of Mgr. Batiffol's book on the Eucharist. "Saint
Ambroise et le Canon Romain."
We can only, as before, make a few remarks on the text. First of all we
notice that, if the words used follow the story of the synoptic Gospels,
they do not reproduce it literally. The "sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas"
repeated in both Consecrations is not in the Gospel. Nor are the words,
"pro nostra omniumque salute pateretur," said on Holy Thursday. It has been
thought that these are additions made in the fifth century, against
predestinationists. The "Mysteriurn fidei" is also an addition. not yet
satisfactorily explained. But with many exegetists the tendency on the
contrary is to discover in the Gospel text the influence of ritual
practices existing previous to the compilation of the Gospels.
The other Latin liturgies are in agreement with the Roman Church in
beginning this recital with the words "Qui pridie;" while the Greek and
Eastern rites follow the text of St. Paul: "In qua nocte." This agreement
of the Latin liturgies on so important a point is no feeble argument in
favour of the division made in Chapter II between Eastern and Western
Another and even more essential divergence between East and West is this:
if it is clear that the liturgies of the latter group, headed by the Church
of Rome, teach by this importance given to the recital of the Institution
that the Consecration of the bread and wine takes place at this moment, it
is also true that in certain Eastern liturgies the text of some of the
"epicleses," which are placed after the Consecration, seems to mean that
the Mystery of Transubstantiation is, according to them, wrought by the
virtue of God the Holy Ghost.
Who can refuse to see the true bearing of this difference and, from the
dogmatical point of view, to admit the advantages of the Roman compilation?
"Unde et memores," "Supra quae," "Supplices Te."--We may consider these
three prayers of the Canon as forming a single whole, especially as they
end with a single doxology. The technical name of this whole is
"anamnesis," because according to the Greek etymology it "recalls" the
different Mysteries associated with the Sacrifice of Our Lord; His Passion,
Death, Descent into hell, Resurrection, and Ascension. It is thus the
history of our redemption summed up in a few words.
It has a mysterious sense not always understood, and which we must try to
explain. It is the real meaning of the Mystery of the Mass. We, servants of
God and His holy people, offer to God a pure, holy, spotless Host, the
blessed Bread of Eternal Life and the chalice of Eternal Salvation. There
can be no doubt, whatever may have been said by certain Protestant
interpreters, that in this we must see that the elements have become the
Body and Blood of Christ, as is said in the prayer "Supplices Te: the Body
and the Sacrosanct Blood of the Son of God."
The "De tuis donis ac datis" is found in analogous terms in other
liturgies, notably in the Eastern. It contains a profound meaning. It is a
thought often expressed in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms,
that all that he has, man holds from God, who created the world to be his
domain: the rain from the skies which waters the earth, plants and the
fruits of trees, animals, birds, fish--all these are subject to man, "omnia
subjecisti sub pedibus ejus." Of this universe God constituted him the
king. Hence man has laid on him a strict duty to worship God by praise and
sacrifice. In offering Him the fruits of the earth, or animals, he only, as
it were, performs a work of restitution; he offers that which he has
received, "hostiam de tuis donis ac datis." This is specially true of that
Sacrifice which has supplanted all the rest, where the Victim pure and holy
above all others is offered, the Son Whom the Father sent to save man. Thus
we offer our sacrifice to the Father, praying Him to accept it as He did
those of Abel, of Abraham, of Melchisedech, types of the One True and
Complete Sacrifice; that He will transport it by the hands of His "Holy
Angel" to His Divine Throne; and that all those who have partaken of the
Body and Blood of Christ may be filled with His Benediction and Grace.
It is a mysterious prayer, as has been said, and it has given rise to many
interpretations. Besides that of those who, deceived by the simplicity of
the expressions, have misunderstood the lofty bearing of the whole, and
thus failed to see anything more than an earthly sacrifice and earthly
gifts, previous to a Consecration which according to them did not take
place at the "Qui pridie," or of others who suppose that one or other of
these prayers formerly preceded the recital of the Last Supper and is thus
included in the zone of the "Offertory," there is another difficulty: that
of the intervention of the "Holy Angel." Some take this to mean the Holy
Spirit; others, the Word Himself, the "Angel of Great Counsel." But for the
largest number a mere Angel is here meant; perhaps St. Michael, the "Angel
of the Sacrifice." However, the text of "De Sacramentis," already quoted
(Chap. IV), decides this question clearly by putting the plural, "Angelorum
Tuorum." It must also be remembered that in certain prayers of the Roman
liturgy mention is made of the "Holy Angel" sent by God, who is not the
Word. But, on the whole the meaning of this "anamnesis" can be compared
without much difficulty with certain ancient "anaphorae," notably with that
of Hippolytus, which joins the Eucharistic prayer to the "epiclesis" and
calls down the blessing of God upon those about to partake of the Body and
Blood of Christ. Thus we have here an echo of the most ancient Eucharistic
The "Memento of the Dead," following the "anamnesis," is surprisingly
placed. This prayer has all the characteristics of a later insertion--a
statement difficult to deny. To find it in this particular place is
unexpected; nor is it announced by anything which goes before.
The "Nobis quoque" which comes after it is not less astonishing. But the
apparent incoherence is explained by those who admit that this "Memento" is
an addition subsequent even to the time of St. Gregory. It was at least not
said primitively (or so it would seem), except in Masses for the Dead.
Numerous examples of Sacramentaries or Missals in which the Mass does not
contain this addition are mentioned by Dom Cagin, Ed. Bishop Batiffol, and
It is really the Diptych of the Dead, just as we have had the Diptych of
the Living before the Consecration; the natural place of both being in most
liturgies, at the "Offertory." However this may be, the text of the
prayer itself is none the less interesting. In the "locum refrigerii,"
lucis et pacis the proof is clear that some of the Dead, in their place of
waiting, do not yet enjoy those blessings which were asked for them, and
this again proves the belief in Purgatory.
The list of fifteen names mentioned in the "Nobis quoque peccatoribus" has,
like that of the "Memento of the living," been studied wisely by Mgr.
Batiffol, who arrives at the same result in both cases: he believes this
prayer to have been drawn up under Pope Symmachus (498-514). We find here
the Roman Martyr St. Alexander, a son of that other Roman Martyr, St.
Felicity, whose tomb that Pope restored; and Agnes of Rome, whose Basilica
in the city he restored from its ruins; and St. Agatha, Martyr of Catania,
for whom Symmachus built a Basilica on the Aurelian Way. Besides these
Saints we have St. John (Baptist), who is at the head of all the lists of
Saints, and whose absence here in the Mass might have caused surprise ;
St. Stephen, the first Martyr, whose presence is not less justified; SS.
Matthias and Barnabas, whom we were less likely to expect to find here, but
who complete the list of the Apostles given in the "Memento of the Living,"
for Matthias took the place of Judas in the Apostolic College, and Barnabas
is frequently attached to it by a special title.
Then follows St. Ignatius, the great Martyr thrown to the wild beasts in
the amphitheatre of Rome; Marcellinus and Peter, two Roman Martyrs, buried
in the catacomb "Ad duas Lauros," St. Perpetua, one of the group of the
great Martyrs of Carthage; St. Lucy, a Sicilian Martyr always connected
with St. Agatha; and, lastly, three more Roman Martyrs, Agnes and Cecilia,
both well known, and Anastasia, titular of a church in Rome, who at that
time was also an object of popular devotion. Discussions have latterly
arisen as to the name of St. Felicity. At first sight the name Perpetua,
which immediately follows, would lead us to believe that she was that
Felicity who suffered martyrdom in company with Perpetua. But when
everything is taken into consideration it seems that here it is rather a
question of the Roman Martyr, mother of seven other Martyrs, of whom St.
Alexander was one.
"Per Quem haec omnia."--After the two prayers of the "Memento of the Dead"
we have next the "Per Quem," as unexpected in this place as they themselves
in theirs, and a "crux" for liturgiologists. Without going through all the
various interpretations of this text, let us simply say that Per Quem seems
to have been inserted here to make a transition between the close of the
"Memento of the Dead," which already broke into the Eucharistic prayer, and
the final doxology of the "Canon," Per Ipsum."
Hence we must not be too much surprised at the terms of this prayer, which
is really but the close of another; nor must we seek to explain its bearing
too strictly. The "Haec omnia," which has always been a difficulty,
originally designed in this prayer (whatever was the place it then
occupied) all the gifts offered by the faithful, not excepting those
supreme Gifts which are the Body and Blood of Christ.
But we must insist on the doxology which issues from these difficulties,
and takes us up to a very high level. As has been seen already in the texts
of SS. Justin and Hippolytus, the Eucharistic prayer of the second and
third centuries ended with a doxology to which the people responded "Amen."
This was a solemn act of Faith in the whole Eucharistic Mystery just
unfolded before their eyes. Therefore this doxology is clothed with
importance and unaccustomed solemnity, as it should be. It is first an act
of Adoration to the Trinity in Whom and by Whom the Mystery is
accomplished. It is also a formula admirably summing up the whole of
Christian worship: Glory and honour rendered to the Father, by the Son, in
the Holy Ghost. The gestures added later to this doxology still further
emphasise its dignity. At the "Per Quem haec omnia" the celebrant has taken
the Host and the chalice; then with the prescribed signs of the Cross he
uncovers the chalice, takes the Host in his right hand to make with it the
sign of the Cross thrice above the chalice and twice before it, after which
he elevates chalice and Host. "Elevans parum," says the rubric; for this
Elevation, once not merely the principal but the only one in the Mass, has
become secondary since the great Elevation has taken place after the
Consecration. The signs of the Cross, multiplied here, are not intended
as blessings, since these would not be suitable over the consecrated
elements; but rather symbols to remind us of the Mystery of our Redemption
with the Mystery of the Trinity, which to-day is the true meaning of the
Sign of the Cross.
The Fraction And Pater
Before St. Gregory s day the Fraction took place before the "Pater." Dom Cagin even thinks that the "Per Quem haec omnia"
was the primitive form of the Fraction in the Roman Mass. What is
certain is that St. Gregory here introduced another considerable change; he himself
tells us why and how he did it, in a well-known and much-discussed text,
upon which it would seem that most are agreed to-day. Thus, before St.
Gregory, the order was: after the prayers Per Quem haec omnia" and "Per
Ipsum" the Fraction, a rather complicated ceremony, took place. After that
the prelate regained his seat and said the "Pater." To St. Gregory this
appeared shocking. To the Bishop of Syracuse he wrote emphatically: "It
does not seem to me decent that we say the "Pater" after the prayer of the
"Canon "(post precem), for we say that prayer, composed by some writer
(scholasticus), over the oblation (the Body and Blood of Our Lord), while
we do not say over that Body and Blood the prayer (Pater) composed by Our
Redeemer Himself. For it was the custom of the Apostles to consecrate with
that prayer." Light is thrown on this text if we remember that during
Fraction the Pontiff regained his seat, and thus did not say the "Pater,"
as he did the other prayers of the "Canon," over the Body and Blood of
Christ. By putting the "Pater' before the Fraction, as it is to-day, it is
said over the consecrated elements. What St. Gregory does not say in this
letter is that there really were two customs about the "Pater." In its
primitive place, after the Fraction and connected with the Communion, it
was a kind of preparation for the latter; and the words "Panem nostrum
quotidianum" may well apply to the Bread Supersubstantial, as it is
sometimes called, which was then received. This was the custom in Africa as
it was at Rome and in other churches. But in the Greek churches this was
not so; and the "Pater" formed part of the prayers of the "Canon." St.
Gregory, who had been a witness of this practice, wished to transport it,
like the "Kyrie," into the Roman Mass. It would seem as though the Bishop
of Syracuse had accused the Pope of following the Greek custom too easily.
St. Gregory defends himself, as he had about the use of the "Kyrie," by
saying in this case that among the Greeks the "Pater" is recited at Mass by
all the people, while at Rome the celebrant alone said it (just as to-day);
while the people responded: "Sed libera nos a malo."
From this text two other conclusions are sometimes drawn: that the "Pater"
was not said at the Roman Mass and that it was St. Gregory who introduced
it there; and that the Pope's idea was that the Apostles consecrated the
bread and wine by the Lord's Prayer alone. These two assertions cannot be
discussed here, but both seem to us equally erroneous. It is very difficult
to believe that the "Pater" was not recited in Mass at Rome at the end of
the sixth century, when this use was that of all other churches; would not
St. Jerome or St. Augustine have pointed out this fact? The text of St.
Gregory's letter, moreover, does not allow us to suspect it.
As to the prayer used by the Apostles in Consecration, we may say that St.
Gregory knew what it was no more than we ourselves.
The "Pater" is preceded by a short prelude and followed by an
intercalation; both are invariable in the Roman liturgy, while in Gaul and
Spain they changed at almost every Mass. Both are characteristic of the
universal litllrgy, especially of the Latin liturgies. The Roman prelude is
very simple; it would seem to be indicated by an expression of St. Jerome.
The embolism, or intercalation, is a commentary on the last petition:
libera nos a malo. Here the name of Our Lady is invoked with all Her
titles, "Beata et gloriosa semper virgine Dei Genitrice Maria," as in the
"Memento of the Living," then the great patrons of the Roman Church, Peter
and Paul. The name of St. Andrew, alone mentioned among all the other
Saints, has caused it to be supposed with reason that its insertion here is
due to St. Gregory, whose monastery on the Ccelian was dedicated to St.
Andrew. In other places the name of St. Ambrose was added, that of St.
Patrick, and other popular patrons.
At the words "Da propitius pacem" the pricst to-day signs himself with the
paten and kisses it before slipping it beneath the Host. This gesture must
be interpreted by the rites of the Papal Mass, of which it is now but a
memory. The paten, with the chalice, is one of the most important vessels
used in the service of the Mass. Like the chalice it is usually made of
precious metal, generally silver; both are consecrated with special
prayers. In certain museums ancient and priceless patens are preserved,
like that of Gourdon, or the glass paten of Cologne. At present the paten
has lost some of its attributes, and thoroughly to understand the
ceremonies of which it is the object (especially at Solemn Masses) we must
go back to the ancient rites. At the Papal Masses the paten, or patens,
were confided to the sub-Deacon. The "Sancta" (Eucharistic Species)
consecrated at a previous Mass were received and preserved on it, until the
moment of Communion, when the Pope placed the Sacred Species in his
chalice, as a sign of the perpetuity of the Sacrifice. The rites of the
"Sancta" and of the "Fermentum" have now been dropped, but some of the
attendant ceremonies have been preserved. At Solemn Masses to-day the sub-
Deacon has charge of an empty paten, which he covers with a veil. At the
end of the "Pater" he passes it to the Deacon, who in his turn carries it
to the Priest, who, at the words "Da propitius pacem," signs himself with
the paten and kisses it, as already stated. This ceremonial is observed
even at Low Masses. The celebrant makes the Fraction upon the paten, first
dividing the Host into two parts, and then putting a fragment of one part
into the chalice with the words "Haec commixtio." Thus the two rites of the
"Fraction" and the "Immixtion" are still closely united, or, as it might be
called, confounded in one rite. That of the "Pax" itself has come to be
incorporated in the rite of the Fraction, for it is with the words "Pax
Domini sit semper vobis cum" that the Priest proceeds to the "Immixtion."
In the Papal Mass they were clearly separated, as will be seen.
Fraction, Immixtion, Kiss Of Peace
The Breaking of Bread by Our Lord at the Last Supper had so impressed itself upon their minds that two of the
disciples recognised Him by the way He broke the bread; and for a long time
the words "Fractio Panis" meant the Mass. At Rome, during the period we are
now considering, the ceremonies were resplendent, but in our own days many
have been retrenched. Moreover, there is no doubt that St. Gregory's
innovation as to the "Fraction" had brought about important changes in this
part of the Mass. But before these changes were made, the procedure was as
follows: the Pontiff made three signs of the Cross over the chalice before
he put the "Sancta" into it. As has been explained, these "Sancta" are a
portion of the Eucharist consecrated at the preceding Mass, and kept to be
used at the next in order to assure the continuity of the Sacrifice. Then
the Pontiff detached a portion of the Host, which he left upon the altar
until the end of the Mass; these portions probably served as Sancta for the
next celebration. He then left the altar and returned to his throne.
We must not forget that at that time the Hosts were whole loaves. They were
distributed to the Bishops and Priests surrounding the Pope, and when a
signal was given they broke the consecrated bread so that it might be
distributed to the faithful in Holy Communion. All this time the "schola"
sang the chant of the "Fraction" (called at Milan the "Confractorium;"
these chants can be studied in the old books there). At Rome, Pope Sergius
(687-701) prescribed the singing of the "Agnus Dei," which thus became a
chant of the "Fraction." It was rcpeated as often as was necessary while
the "Fraction" was taking place. After the ceremony of the Breaking of
Bread had been simplified the "Agnus Dei" was only twice repeated, "dona
nobis pacem" being substituted for the words "Miserere nobis" at the third
and last repetition. The "Agnus Dei" is thus later than St. Gregory's time,
but there was always a chant of the "Fraction" in this place; many can be
found in the ancient Roman liturgical books. One of the finest is the
"Venite populi," still preserved in certain liturgies.
Beside the "Fraction" we have mentioned another rite, the "Immixtion," or
"Commixtion." This is accomplished now when the Priest puts part of the
Host into the chalice with these words: "May this mingling and hallowing of
the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ avail us that receive it unto
life everlasting, Amen." This mixture, which now takes place immediately
before the "Agnus Dei," is intended to show that the Body and Blood of
Christ remain united, in spite of the apparent separation of the elements.
The "Immixtion" was more strongly marked in St. Gregory's time. The formula
quoted is in "Ordo I." By tlhese words and this action the Roman Church
affirms anew that Christ is not divided, but entire under both Species.
Certain formulas of "Immixtion" point this out more clearly than the
formula now in use.
The "Kiss of Peace," like the "Fraction" and "Commixtion," has lost much of
its solemnity in our own days. Before placing the third portion of the Host
in the chalice the Priest, holding it in his right hand and signing with it
three times upon the chalice, says: Pax Domini sit semper vobis cum." "Et
cum spirit tuo." After the first Communion prayer, "Domine J. C. qui
dixisti...." "Pacem relinquo vobis," he gives (at High Mass) the Kiss of
Peace to the Deacon, who gives it to the sub-Deacon who in his turn
"carries the Peace" to the members of the clergy in the choir. In the time
of St. Gregory and till the time of Innocent III the "Kiss of Peace" was
not merely exchanged amongst the clergy as it is to-day, but amongst all
the faithful; for at that time the people were still divided into two
parts--men on one side, women on the other--all being expected to receive
Holy Communion. Thus the "Kiss of Peace" after the words of the "Pater" on
the forgiveness of offences and before partaking of the Body and Blood of
Our Lord was an act of deep meaning.
The Roman liturgy is almost alone in putting the "Kiss of Peace" in this
place. In the Mozarabic, Gallican, and Eastern liturgies it takes place at
the "Offertory." This conveys quite another idea. The Mass of the
catechumens is finished; they, with the uninitiated and others who would
not communicate at the Mass, had been sent away. Only the faithful
remained; the Prayer of the Faithful was then recited, after which the
"Kiss of Peace" was given. The rite in such a place is justified.
Nevertheless this difference between the liturgies has naturally been much
remarked upon; and it is one of the reasons for which the Gallican
liturgies have been classed in a different order from our own (cf. Chapter
II), and their origin sought in the East. We may, however, ask whether this
difference may not be otherwise explained.
The rites of the "Pater," "Fraction," and "Kiss of Peace"
in the Roman Mass may be considered as a preparation for Communion. This
part of the Mass has suffered more change than any other since St.
Gregory's time. The Pontiff communicated first, under both Species ù then
he distributed to the faithful, first the consecrated Bread, which they
still received in their hands, as in primitive times, after having kissed
the Bishop's hand. The Deacon then presented the chalice to them, and they
drank of it through a tube, "pugillaris," "fistula." Later, in the tenth-
twelfth centuries, it was thought sufficient to steep the consecrated Bread
in the Precious Blood, and to present it thus to the faithful, as is still
the custom in the East. When receiving the Communion the faithful responded
"Amen." The whole of this ceremonial goes back to the most ancient period,
and Mgr. Batiffol has many texts on this subject--an inscription at Autun
of the second century, a passage from St. Cyprian, a passage from the life
of St. Melanie in the fifth century, etc. At Rome, Communion under both
kinds was maintained until the fourteenth century. The difficulty which
Communion with the chalice presented, the fear of any risk of profanation
and a tendency to simplify all rites, brought about many modifications from
the tenth century onwards, and finally Communion was given under only one
kind. We know what discussions have arisen from the suppression of
Communion under both kinds in the time of John Hus (fifteenth century). But
at bottom there was here nothing but a precaution of a practical order.
Throughout all time it had been believed that Christ was present Whole and
Entire under the Species of Bread, and we have examples of Communion under
one kind only in the most ancient times.
The Mass At Rome
On the other hand, the recital of the "Confiteor," "Agnus Dei," "Domine non
sum dignus," as well as the three prayers after the "Agnus Dei," are later
than St. Gregory, and hardly appear before the thirteenth century. It has
been thought, and not without reason, that this group of prayers must have
constituted at first the ritual of the Communion distributed outside Mass;
for example, to the sick.
During the distribution of the Communion the Communion anthem was sung.
Primitively this was a psalm, modulated, like those of the "Introit" and
"Offertory" on the antiphonic mode. Here again only the anthem has been
retained. Psalm xxxiii. was for a long time the one chiefly used, as we
have already seen in Africa in St. Augustine's time.
After the Communion the Priest recited a prayer, called in ancient times
"oratio ad complendum," or finished prayer, it is the third of that
category of prayers, the first of these being the "Collect," and the second
the "Secret." This third prayer is now called the "Post-communion." It is
of the same style and character as the first two. Many of them are of high
dogmatic meaning and affirm the faith of the Roman Church in the
Dismissal And Last Prayers
In the time of St. Gregory the Mass ended
after the "Communion" and "Post-communion." The Deacon dismissed the people
with the words "Ite missa est," and the Pontiff withdrew, giving his
blessing. Here there is another difference between the Roman and the
other Latin liturgies. The blessing given by the Priest in a special
formula before the Communioll does not exist at Rome, and that given as the
Pontiff withdrew is quite another thing (as we explain in connection with
the Gallican liturgy; cf. Chap. VII). This blessing, moreover, was at first
reserved for Bishops, then in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries ordinary
Priests were allowed to bestow it. It originally consisted of these simple
words: "Benedicat vos Dominus. Amen."
On weekdays in Lent, however, there is a prayer, "super populum," which
follows the "Post-communion." The Priest says "Oremus," the Deacon
"Humiliate capita vestra Deo," and the Priest then pronounces the fonnula,
which is one of blessing. It was St. Gregory, or one of the compilers of
the "Gregorian Sacramentary," who assigned this form of blessing to Lent,
Sundays a.lways excepted. The formulas themselves, however, have not a
penitential character. Some are borrowed from the Leonine, others from the
Gelasian Sacrarnentary, both of which have on certain days an "oratio ad
populum." There is the same custom in the liturgy of St. Mark, with the
"Humiliate capita vestra Deo," and also in that of St. James. Lastly, as
has been remarked, the Gallican liturgies also had an episcopal blessing,
but this was given before Communion. Several collections of formulas for
those blessings exist, forming a special liturgical book, the
"Benedictional," and some of these are magnificently illustrated.
This Roman Mass in the seventh century is remarkable for its
simplicity, the austerity of its forms, especially if compared with the
magnificence and pomp of the Byzantine liturgy, and even with the Mozarabic
and Gallican Masses. Edmund Bishop loved to remark that this Papal Mass was
both logical and rational. There is little syrnbolism, there are no useless
rites, but great order and sequence in the ritual. He gave a celebrated
conference on this subject on 8th May 1899. But what it is chiefly
necessary to point out (thouglh Bishop could not say all he wished on this
subject in a single conference) is the excellence of the prayers and the
Prefaces of this Missal; the choice of the Epistles, the Gospels, and the
other fonnulas which make of the Roman Missal the most beautiful book of
prayer in existence.
May we be allowed to refer our readers to an article written on this
subject: "The Excellence of the Roman Mass," in "The Clergy Review," 1931,