Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Mass in Gaul, Part 1 (from The Mass of the Western Rites)


The Mass of the Catechumens. -The Mass of the Faithful.

 In the volume on "Books of the Latin Liturgy" (Sands & Co., London), pp. 96-103, we have mentioned the different documents by the aid of which the Gallican Mass may be reconstituted and the origins of this liturgy established. On this subject we have also stated that for the description of the Gallican Mass no reliance can be placed on the pretended letters of St. Germain of Paris, though this has been done too often. These letters are not a document of the middle of the sixth century, but an anonymous treatise written a century later (ibid., p. 99). We must therefore, like Mabillon and, more recently, Dom Wilmart (DACL, "Germain, Lettres de St."), keep solely to the other documents which we possess on this subject, and to the texts of contemporary authors, the most valuable of which is that of Gregory of Tours. A very complete bibliography of all these documents will be found in the article ("Gallicanes Liturgies)" of Dom Leclercq, DACL.


 The Gallican Pre-Mass, or Mass of the catechumens, was already very fully developed; it possessed chanted anthems, psalms, canticles, readings, and litanies. It began with an anthem and a psalm, while the Priest went from the sacristy to the altar. This chant, executed by clerics, existed also in the Mozarabic Mass, and 138 answers to the Roman "Introit" and the "Ingressa" of the Milanese rite. Gregory of Tours, whatever may be said to the contrary, makes no allusion to this introductory anthem.

 The Deacon enjoined silence, probably in these words: "Silentium facite." The Bishop saluted the congregation with the formula: "Dominus sit semper vobiscum." At Rome and Milan the salutation is: "Dominus vobiscum." But the former greeting is found in the Mozarabic rite.

 The letters of the pseudo-Germain announce the solemn singing of the "Aios" in Latin and in Greek at this point. What was this chant? It is not the "Sanctus," as has been wrongly believed, and which, also wrongly, has sometimes been called the "Trisagion." The latter title must be reserved for a chant of Byzantine origin, the history of which is well known. It was introduced there under Theodosius II (408-450), but is perhaps more ancient, and runs thus: "Hagios ho Theos, Hagios Ischuros, Hagios Athanatos Eleeson Hemas" Pierre le Foulon (+477) added these words to it: "Ho Staurotheis di Hemas," and there was much quarreling over this formula, which for its author had a monophysite meaning, and which was adopted by the Syrian Jacobites. On Good Friday, in the Roman liturgy, we have the "Trisagion" under its primitive double form in Greek and Latin, naturally without Foulon's addition. There is yet another form in the Mozarabic liturgy, which does not concern us here (cf. Dom Ferotin, "Liber Ordinum," cols. 737, 760, and 809).

 The Kyrie Eleison was then sung, once only, by three children. We have spoken elsewhere as to the researches recently made regarding the "Kyrie Eleison," and upon its use; we shall therefore merely refer to the article under that heading in DACL.

 The singing of the Prophecy which came next means the singing of the "Benedictus." This point is now finally settled, and the "Collectio post Prophetiam" in the Gallican books is the prayer which followed. On the bearing of this canticle on the Mass we may also refer to our article, "Cantiques (evangeliques)," in DACL. P. Thibaut has recently called attention to this chant, and its title of "Prophetia." In his opinion it is exclusively Gallican, and is an allusion to the conversion of Clovis, who became the protector of the Gallo-Roman churches. The "Cornu salutis" may indeed have given rise to the legend of the "Sainte Ampoule" (op. cit., p. 29).

 Next comes the first Lesson. According to the pseudo-Germain this is taken from the Prophets or the historical books, and from the Apocalypse during Paschal time; while on the Feasts of Saints their Acts were read, "Gesta sanctorum confessorum ac martyrum in solemnpnitatibus eorum." The usage of the prophetic Lesson has almost entirely disappeared from the Roman Mass since the fifth century; it was maintained longer at Milan, and on this point the Gallican books confirm the testimony of the pseudo-Germain. The Mozarabic rite has also preserved the ancient use of this Lesson. The importance of the reading of the Lives of the Saints at Mass will be noticed; this point is confirmed by Gregory of Tours and by the Gallican books. In Spain and at Milan the custom was the same.

St. Caesarius of Arles (468/470 - 572)
 The second reading at Mass was taken from the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. After these two Lessons the Canticle of the Three Children in the furnace was sung, "Benedictus es," also called "Benedictio." This fact is confirmed by the same witnesses. The importance attached to this rite is shown by the fact that the Council of Toledo of 633, which was presided over by St. Isidore, laid down that "in all churches of Spain and Gaul, in the solemnity of all Masses, the aforesaid hymn shall be chanted from the Lector's pulpit." Only, in the Mozarabic liturgy the canticle was inserted between the first and second readings. The singing of the Benedictus es in the Roman Church on Ember Saturday is an old tradition which recalls this custom. In the Missal of Bobbio a collect "post Benedictionem" is mentioned, but this would seem to be a derogation from the usage attested by many witnesses of a sung Responsory here, which chant must be identified with the "Psallendum," the "Versus" or "Clamor," or "Psalmellus." At Rome, after the Lessons, there was the Responsory and "Alleluia," sometimes replaced by the "Tractus." The Council of Toledo just mentioned forbade the custom which had been introduced into several Spanish churches of singing "Laudes" between the Epistle and Gospel. We may take it, with St. Isidore, that this word signifies "Alleluia" (Dom Wilmart, op. cit., col. 1072). This chant, which is another Gallican feature, is also a memorial of the Baptism of Clovis, according to P. Thibaut; it should be followed by a "Collectio post Benedictionem," as mentioned in the Missal of Bobbio (op. cit., p. 39).

 The pseudo-Germain notes here the repetition of the chant of the "Agios," or "Trisagion," an innovation of which no other example is found at this place in the Mass in any liturgy. It was evidently intended to give greater solemnity to the reading of the Gospel, which was about to follow. The author of this document emphasizes this intention in the following remarkable terms: "Expeditur processio sancti evangelii velut potentia Christi triumphantis de morte, cum praedictis armoniis et cum septem candelabris luminis ... ascendens in tribunal analogii ... clamantibus clericis: Gloria tibi, Domine." The "tribunal analogii" means an ambone or tribune, raised and decorated, from which the Bishop would preach, and upon which he would appear as a judge upon his tribunal. The acclamation "Gloria tibi, Domine," or "Gloria Deo omnipotenti," of which Gregory of Tours speaks, answers the Deacon's announcement: "Lectio sancti evangelii."

 The Gospel was usually followed by a chant. The pseudo-Germain says that the "Trisagion" sung before the Gospel is again taken up and repeated at this point. At Milan the Gospel was followed by Dominus vobiscum and a triple "Kyrie" with anthem. At Rome the Pope saluted the Deacon with "Pax tibi," and then said the "Dominus vobiscum" and "Oremus." The homily generally followed the Gospel.

 Here occur the litanic prayers which may be attached to the Pre-Mass, at least in the Gallican use, since the catechumens were not dismissed until these were said. The pseudo-Germain thus describes these prayers: "precem (psallant levitae) pro populis, audita (apostoli) praedicatione, levitae pro populo deprecantur et sacerdotes prostrati ante dominum pro peccatis populi intercedunt."

Gold chalice, with garnet and turquoise,
from the Treasure of Gourdon (5th-6th century) 
 There can be no doubt but that we recognize here the diaconal litany referred to in the preceding pages, and which must not be confused with the "Prayer of the Faithful," as Duchesne and others after him have confused it.97 Each of these prayers presents analogies, and belongs, we believe, to the class of litanic prayers; yet they are distinguished by certain characteristics which must be mentioned here as this question has its importance.

97 Dom Wilmart after Edmund Bishop, has insisted on this point. Cf. Ed. Bishop, "Observations on the Liturgy of Narsai," pp. 117--121; "Journal of Theological Studies," 1910 11, Vol. XII, pp. 406-413 ・and "Liturgica Historica," pp. 122, 124; Connolly, "Journal of Theological Studies," 1919-20, Vol. XXI, pp. 219-232; Dom Wilmart, art. cit., col. 1075. Duchesne, in his fifth edition of "Origines du culte chretien," p. 211, note 2, discusses the attribution to Gelasius of the "Dicamus omnes."

 These litanies, or "Diakonika," are recited by the Deacon, and form part of the Pre-Mass. To each invocation made by the Deacon the people respond: Kyrie Eleison, and at the end the celebrant concludes with a prayer.

 This type of prayer, doubtless created at Antioch, was adopted at Constantinople, and thence transported to Rome and Gaul in the fifth century. The "Supplicatio litaniae" of which it is question in the Rule of St. Benedict the "Preces deprecatoriae," the "Letaniae," the "Kyrie" of the Roman Mass are all derived from this.

 We have spoken elsewhere of this diaconal prayer, of its origin and destinies; many examples of it exist in the Gallican books, such as the "Divinae pacis," and "Dicamus omnes." Both these are given by Mgr. Duchesne in his chapter on the Gallican Mass (fifth edition, pp. 210, 211), to which we may refer our readers. Further, they present the most striking analogies with those we have quoted from the "Apostolic Constitutions," with the "Deprecatio Sancti Martini" of the "Missal of Stowe," and the "Deprecatio pro universali Ecclesia," which good judges continue to attribute to Pope Gelasius (492-496) in spite of the opinion of Duchesne. 98

98 Cf. Duchesne, op. cit., p. 221, note 2; and Dom Wilmart art. cit., 1076; cf. also article "Litanies," in DACL.

The Mass of the catechumens is certainly finished with these diaconal prayers, and the catechumens are dismissed by the Deacon. The formula is not given here but an equivalent will be found in the Milanese ritual. "Si quis catechumenus procedat, si quis judceus procedat, si quis paganus procedat, si quis haereticus procedat, cujus cura non est procedat." 99 St. Gregory mentions another formula: "Si quis non communicet det locum;" and the Pontifical even yet contains this curious formula at the Ordination of Exorcists: "Exorcistam oportet ... dicere populo ut qui non communicat det locum." The pseudo-Germain recalls in this connection the energetic words of the Gospel: "nolite dare sanctum canibus neque mittatis margaritas ante porcos."

99 Under this formula cf. Ambrosian Mass, p. 93.

All these precautions prove the importance of the action which is about to take place, and fresh warnings from the Deacon awaken the attention and respect of the people. Formerly the formula was "Silentium faciet," or "Pacem habete," as in the Milanese rite. The pseudo-Germain, who often comments on or interprets the rite, says that they made the sign of the Cross on eyes, ears, and mouth, "ut hoc solum cor intendat ut in se Christum suscipiat."

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