The Workmanship of the Prayer Book in Its Literary and Liturgical Aspects
By John Dowden
Third Edition, Methuen, 1904
[Spelling selectively modernized. Bible citations converted to all Arabic numerals. Footnotes moved into or near their places of citation.]
Chapter 1 – The Principles of the English Liturgical Reform: The Influence of Foreign Ecclesiastics – Cardinal Quignon’s Breviary and its Influence on the Prayer Book.
Chapter 2 – The Influence of Luther, Melancthon, and Bucer on the first Prayer Book of Edward VI, and thus upon our present Prayer Book.
Chapter 3 – The Influence of the Greek Liturgies and of the Mozarabic Rite.
Chapter 4 – Structural Changes in the Daily Offices: Gains and Losses – The Invitatory and the Antiphon – The third Collect at Evening Prayer.
Chapter 5 – Primitive Elements of the English Prayer Book – The Kyrie.
Chapter 6 – Primitive Elements of the Prayer Book (continued) – The Gloria in Excelsis.
Chapter 7 – Elements of Early Date – The Te Deum.
Chapter 8 – The Translation of the Apostles’ Creed.
Chapter 9 – The Nicene Creed, as dealt with in our English Version.
Chapter 10 – The English Version of the Athanasian Creed.
Chapter 11 – The Collects – The Literary Treatment of Latin Originals – The New Compositions.
Chapter 12 –The Collects (continued) – The Revision of them in 1662 – The Attempted Revision of 1689.
Chapter 13 – The Litany – Historical Occasion of the first English Litany – Notices of Historical Associations – The Prayer of St. Chrysostom – Possible Influence of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom in suggesting some of the Petitions – Faulty Accumulation of Objects of Prayer m one Petition – Suggestion of a Remedy.
Chapter 14 – The Litany (continued ) – Cranmer’s Workmanship.
Chapter 15 – The Ancient “Sequence” Media Vita, and its form in the Service for the Burial of the Dead.
Chapter 16 – Some Minor Problems in the Translation of the Latin Forms.
Chapter 17 – The English of the Prayer Book – Its Literary Style – The Psalter – Coverdale. – Additional Note to Chapter 17 on some differences between the Psalter of the Great Bible of 1539 and the Great Bible of 1540.
Chapter 18 – The Language and Literary Style of the Prayer Book (continued).
Chapter 19 – Archaisms and Obsolete Words.
Chapter 20 – Miscellaneous Observations and Suggestions.
A. Reasons for thinking that the Venice edition (1528) of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom was the main source of Cranmer’s “Prayer of St. Chrysostome” in the Litany of 1544.
B. On the opening Versicles at Morning and Evening Prayer.
C. Additional Notes on the Burial Anthem.
D. Further Notes on the phrase candidatus exercitus in the Te Deum, and on the structure of that Hymn.
E. The Benedicite as dealt with in the Book of Common Prayer.
F. The Prayer Book rendering of the Magnificat.
G. Further Notes on the Quicungue vult.
H. Further Notes on Luther’s Influence on the English Litany.
I. Luther’s Influence on the Marriage and Burial Services, etc.
J. The Schleswig-Holstein Order of 1542.
Indices (omitted for web)
In the following pages some general knowledge of the history of the Book of Common Prayer is assumed; and the writer has occupied himself mainly in considering the materials our Reformers had before them, and the manner in which they dealt with those materials, as viewed from the standpoint of liturgical and literary art.
The attempt here made to review the literary character of the work done by the Reformers of the age of Edward VI and of the changes effected by those responsible for subsequent revisions will, it is believed, enhance the affectionate appreciation and deepen the gratitude with which the English Churchman regards his Prayer Book. Yet no attempt has been made to represent the Prayer Book as incapable of further improvement. Truly admirable as it is, it is a human work, marked by human imperfections. And in several places suggestions are offered which, it is believed, would, on the liturgical and literary side, still further increase the value of the Prayer Book as the manual of the Church’s public worship.
The discussion of doctrinal questions has throughout been studiously avoided.
Notwithstanding the large measure of attention that has been bestowed in recent years on the sources of the Prayer Book, and the materials upon which the English Reformers worked, there is still need of further inquiry in the direction pointed to in the following sketch. The main outlines of the architectural design are sufficiently obvious, but the treatment of details still leaves much to be desired. What we seek is to have the “working drawings,” so to speak, before us. And though the reconstruction of these “working drawings” must now necessarily partake of conjecture, still probabilities are, in several instances, so considerable as to leave little doubt as to the actual processes of construction. Examples of such inquiries into details will be found in the discussion of how the epithet “holy” came to be omitted from the “notes” of the Church in the English form of the Nicene Creed; in the discussion of the formation of the noble anthem of our Burial Service, “In the midst of life we are in death”; and in the treat rent of the construction of the English Litany.
The simile of “working drawings,” however, will mislead if it tends to obscure what seems to be certain; viz. that in some cases the liturgical forms grew like a living thing under the hands of the artist who shaped them. The general plan and outline of any particular service was considered and determined; but it seems plain that in working out the details there was considerable freedom within the limits prescribed by liturgical form. There was nearly always room for the exercise of judgment and discrimination, of skill, adroitness, and literary taste; while at times we feel that it was nothing short of the creative power of genius that has left its mark not only on the larger designs of structure, but on the more minute workmanship of the constituent parts.
Special attention is called to the discussion in Appendix A. Pursuing a line of study already indicated in Mr. Burbidge s Liturgies and Offices of the Church, the writer ventures to believe that he has lighted on the very edition of the Greek text of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom which Archbishop Cranmer had before him.
I have to express my obligations to Dr. H. J. Lawlor, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the University of Dublin, for several valuable suggestions.
Preface to the Second Edition
In this edition I have corrected such errors as have been brought to my notice, and have added several additional Appendices, partly enlarging more fully the illustration of points already dealt with, and partly exhibiting some new particulars which reveal the methods and spirit of the workmanship of those to whom we are indebted for our Book of Common Prayer.
The errors corrected are few in number, but there is one to which I am desirous to call attention. Several letters have reached me from the United States of America pointing out that I had done a wrong to the work of the last revision of the Prayer Book in that country when dealing with the Apostles’ Creed. I had stated that the omission of the word “again” from the clause, “the third day he rose again from the dead,” which omission had been adopted in 1789, still marked the form of the Creed as used in the United States. I express my regret for this erroneous statement. In 1892 the clause was restored to the form with which we are familiar on this side of the Atlantic. I trust my American friends will accept the amende honorable which I now offer with contrition.
It was hardly to be expected that the suggestion of a military reference in the word “candidatus,” as used in the Te Deum, would generally and at once commend itself. The plea for the suggestion was put forward too baldly, and with a lack of the detailed illustration which is rightly looked for when a novel interpretation is placed before the public. I have accordingly, in Appendix D, cited examples of the use of the word with a military reference, which will go to establish at least the familiarity of the military sense of the word from the middle of the third century till long after the latest date to which the composition of Te Deum can be assigned.
The influence of foreign Reformers on the first Prayer Book of Edward VI has been somewhat grudgingly acknowledged. Those of us advanced in years can well recollect the attempts formerly made to place the first Prayer Book on a totally different footing in this respect from the second. The first book was represented as national in origin, and, if influenced from abroad, influenced only by “Catholic” authorities. There was not much reluctance to grant that the Breviary of Cardinal Quignon had had its influence, and that Archbishop Hermann’s Deliberatio had been consulted. But it seemed to wound the pride of certain English churchmen to avow our indebtedness to Luther and a crowd of lesser German “schismatics.” I have therefore thought it well to amplify (in Appendix H) the proof of German influence upon the first Prayer Book. The duty of the historian is to look facts in the face, and the truth is that, so far from overstating the obligations of Cranmer to the German Reformers, I unwittingly failed to make adequate acknowledgment of the measure of his indebtedness. I had been working independently upon such of the Lutheran Kirchenordnungen as I happened to be acquainted with. Since the publication of the first edition I have had the advantage of seeing Dr. H. E. Jacobs’ volume, The Lutheran Movement in England (Philadelphia, 1891); and though it is impossible not to perceive that the author has frequently elevated similarities, which are no more than the commonplaces of theological and liturgical expression, into proofs of Lutheran influence, yet it must be acknowledged that he has exhibited, after discounting all doubtful instances, a mass of solid proof which would much surprise our older students of the history of the Book of Common Prayer.
Dr. Jacobs, however, is responsible for one very grave and totally inexcusable error, which has had the result of misleading some who have not taken the trouble of investigating the question for themselves. I refer to his attempt to trace to a German source the sequence of the constituent elements of the Mattin Service which Cranmer gave to the Church of England in 1549. It will be evident from these pages that I suffer from no disinclination to acknowledge in the fullest manner any of Cranmer’s obligations to German sources. But what we want is the actual facts. And the actual facts give no countenance to the allegations put forward by Dr. Jacobs. [Lutheran Movement, etc., pp. 246–247.] In our own country Mr. Leighton Pullan, in his History of the Book of Common Prayer, [pp. 160–161, first edition.] writes, “Cranmer decided upon a service practically identical with that drawn up in 1542 for use in Schleswig-Holstein. A comparison of the German and English Mattins seems to place the fact outside the range of any doubt.” It seems to me certain that Mr. Pullan, when he wrote these words, had not examined for himself the Schleswig-Holstein Order. At all events, the only form drawn up in 1542 for use in Schleswig-Holstein which I have been able to discover is Bugenhagen’s Christlyke kerchen Ordenninge de yn den Firstendomen Schleszwig-Holsten, etc., schal geholden werdenn. [The colophon reads, Gedrucket tho Magdeborch dorch Hans Walther, Anno MDXLII.] And certainly no one who had ever examined either the short form for Mattins in the Latin schools, or the longer and more elaborate form for use by clergy, as contained in this volume, could ever have been misled into fancying that Cranmer took either of these forms as his guide. More particulars as to this Schleswig-Holstein Order will be found in Appendix J. [The “old German Mattins” of Dr. Jacobs and Mr. Pullan seems to be, to a large extent, a fiction, which the former was in the first instance led to adopt from the loose and inaccurate language of Lohe, in his Agende fur Christliche Gemeinden des Lutherischenn Bekenntnisses, and which Mr. Pullan adopted without examination.]
As regards the English Litany, the influence of Hermann’s Litany (based on Luther’s) has been long acknowledged, and Dr. Jacobs has added but little to the information of English students of the history of the Prayer Book.
Dr. Jacobs’ remarks, however, set me on examining the earliest form of Luther’s Litany in the German. In it, I think, may be found what (though absent from Luther’s Latin Litany, and unnoticed by Dr. Jacobs) has suggested two characteristic expressions of our English Litany. Opinion may, in my judgment, be reasonably divided as to whether the addition of the words “miserable sinners” to the ancient refrain, “Have mercy upon us,” is really a gain in a form intended for constant use. One can at once imagine the kind of arguments that could be employed on its behalf. And I have no desire to debate the question, or to detail the reasons I have for preferring the simpler form of the ancient Litanies. All I would say here is, that the addition may well have been suggested by Luther’s “We poor (or miserable) sinners [Wir armen sunder] beseech Thee to hear us.” [In Luther this expression occurs in the place corresponding to our “We sinners do beseech Thee,” and not in the earlier responses.] But whatever may be thought of this suggestion, there can be little doubt that the “Good Lord, deliver us” is taken from the refrain of Luther’s Litany, “Behut uns, lieber Herre Gott.” With the instinctive reticence of English feeling Cranmer avoided the word “dear,” and chose a word that does not speak of our affections, but of the lovingkindness of our heavenly Father. I fear that it may be thought that I am unduly attached to the mediaeval forms when I say that I should have been quite content with the simple words, “O Lord, deliver us.”
These are comparatively unimportant points. But I have thought it worthwhile in Appendix H to restate, in what I hope is a lucid and convincing way, the proof of the obligations of our Litany to Luther. Dr. Jacobs is certainly quite justified in the contemptuous scorn with which he dismisses the statement in the Historical Introduction to Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer (revised edition, 1884, p. 16) that “it is somewhat doubtful whether in the case of the Litany our English form was not in reality the original of that in Hermann’s book.”
There is an interesting field of inquiry, which as yet has been scarcely touched, and which I would commend to liturgical students who have more leisure than that which falls to my lot. I refer to the pre-Reformation Service Books of Germany, examined with a view to determine how far Luther and the other German Reformers drew upon them for those features of our Book of Common Prayer which we owe immediately to the Kirchenordnungen of the times of the Reformation.
Those of us who approach the subject in a coldblooded, scientific spirit will be glad to get any addition to our knowledge; and those who feel hurt at the notion that our Prayer Book owes anything to foreign Protestants will, I have little doubt, be gratified to find that some, at least, of those features immediately traceable to the German Reformers are ultimately traceable to earlier sources.
While writing these words, I have no facilities for definitely determining the question suggested. A day or two in the Bodleian or the British Museum would probably be rich in results. But I happen to have before me a copy of the Agenda printed at Ingoldstadt in 1547, and put forth by the authority of Cardinal Otho, Bishop of Augsburg, for the use of his diocese. This book, though too late for demonstrating my position, is obviously representative of the established “use” of Augsburg. And in illustration of the kind of results which I anticipate may follow from a careful examination of earlier German Service Books, I may observe that we find in this Agenda the passage of the Gospel of St. Mark 10:13–16, which was substituted in our service for the Public Baptism of Infants in lieu of the passage from St. Matthew 19:13–15 in the old Sarum rite. [See below.] Again, in the Marriage Service, we find here the joining of the hands of the parties, [To us, no doubt, it came from Archbishop Hermann. See below.] and, while the hands were still joined, the priest making public declaration of the union in language that bears some resemblance to the form in our Prayer Book, and still closer resemblance to the language of Hermann’s Deliberatio. [“Matrimonium inter vos contractum Deus confirmet, et ego illud approbo et in facie ecclesie sollenizo, in nomine Sancte et Individue Trinitatis, Amen.” – Augsburg Agenda. Another result coming from examining this book of Agenda, though not bearing on our English Prayer Book, may be mentioned here. Some have fancied that in the accepted Lutheran form of the Apostles’ Creed the substitution of the word “Christian” (ein heilige christliche kirche) for “Catholic” as an epithet of the Church was a Protestant device. But in the Agenda, among the vernacular interrogations put to the sponsors on behalf of the child in the form for Baptism, and summarizing the Apostles’ Creed, we find, “Dost thou believe in an holy Christian Church (eyne heylige christliche kyrche)?”]
The principal medieval “uses” of England have been by this time pretty well exhausted by the search for parallels to our reformed Service Book, yet perhaps careful study may yet reward the gleaner in this field. Thus I have not observed that the resemblance has been pointed out between the opening of the prayer for fruitfulness in our Marriage Service and the collect ordered by the Sarum rite to be said after the fraction at the Marriage Mass. And one cannot but admire the finer reserve and delicacy of the older form. [See Maskell, Mon. Rit., i. 69: “Propitiare Domine supplicationibus nostris, et institutis tuis quibus propagationem humani generis ordinasti benignus assiste,” etc.] This is certainly a much closer parallel than the passage cited in Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer.
The death of Queen Victoria suggests an alteration in the wording of a sentence on page 222; but I have not thought it necessary to alter the text.
While the first edition of this book was passing through the press the volume entitled Some Principles and Services of the Prayer Book Historically Considered, edited by Dr. J. Wickham Legg, made its appearance. There can be few liturgical students of our time who will not be ready, as I am, to acknowledge both many and large obligations to Dr. Legg’s extensive, minute, and accurate learning. Everything from his pen I read with delight, and with much profit, even when I do not concur with his conclusions. In the present instance I have to confess myself unconvinced by the vigorous defense he has made of what he styles “the regalism of the Prayer Book”. No one, I think, can be more alive than I am to the obligation that lies upon all Christian men to offer prayers and supplications to Almighty God for the maintenance and security of the civil order of society and of good government. To those who will take the trouble to reflect it must be obvious that the orderliness and security of the State is of the highest importance to the wellbeing of the Church, and indeed to interests that are far wider, deeper, and more fundamental than even those of the Church. One might be almost tempted to say that we scarcely needed the injunction of St. Paul that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for “the kings and for all that are in high place.” The question which I have raised is simply whether the prayers that were apt and pertinent to conditions when the personal will and (too often) the arbitrary action of the monarch constituted a vastly greater power in the State than it has come to be in the later days of the constitutional monarchy, are equally apt and pertinent now. I do not think they are. Secondly, I expressed the opinion that the prayers for the monarch are too frequent in our Prayer Book. Dr. Legg has pointed to the frequency of the occurrence of such prayers in the medieval Service Books. That is a telling argument as against those who look to the medieval Service Books as the ultimate standard of liturgical fitness; but it does not touch me, who believe that the living Church of God will be guided, if she seeks the aid of the Holy Spirit, to adapt to present needs the treasures of the past, nay, to devise, if need be, what is wholly new to meet new conditions.
I should be sorry if I seem to underrate the influence that may be exerted by the personal character of one placed in the unique position of the Sovereign. History has made apparent how, both for good and for ill, the life and character of monarchs have affected (sometimes seriously) the general tone of social morals. But, after all this has been freely acknowledged, and passing from the mere technicalities of constitutional law to the actual facts of life, it no longer lies with the will of the monarch whether the people of this country “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and gravity.” The real powers of government lie with others; and yet in our national Service Book the responsible Ministers of the Crown, on whom the wellbeing of the Kingdom and the Empire so largely depend, are unregarded unless we are justified (as we probably are) in understanding the suffrage in the Litany for “the Lords of the Council” as applicable to them. It may be contended that the prayers for the King are to be understood as referring to the monarch acting on the advice of his responsible Ministers. But the language of these prayers is, to say the least, not readily patient of such an interpretation.
In the seventeenth century Parliament made itself felt, to a degree unknown before, as a great power in the State. The Church recognized the fact, and gave us the Prayer for the High Court of Parliament. What I desire for our own time is a like spirit that will look facts in the face, recognize the largely diminished powers of the Sovereign, and remove from the Prayer Book the air of unreality and of exaggeration that is felt by many of the most loyal subjects of the Crown, as surrounding the frequent prayers for the King.
It may be added, with reference to the frequency of prayers for the King in the mediaeval Church, that such prayers were not always the spontaneous utterance of the Church’s piety, but were sometimes expressly bargained for by the King in return for some temporal favour. Thus, „‘hen the far from exemplary monarch, David II. of Scotland, conceded to the Scottish bishops the privilege of making their wills and of disposing of their movable estate by testament, he stipulated that each bishop should have a special mass said for him daily in each cathedral. [Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, p. 77.]
The Appendices D, E, F, G, H, I, J appear in this edition for the first time.
P.S. – After the corrections had been made in the text, the Bishop of Vermont has pointed out that at page 150 I have incorrectly attributed the permission in the American Prayer Book for the shortening of the Litany to the last revision. The permission was given as early as 1790.
I. The English Prayer Book is not the production of a single author or a single age. It has been formed by operations, slow, irregular and intermittent. Its stately fabric, with a general unity of design apparent throughout, bears the impress of the thoughts of various epochs. It embodies elements of various kinds, some of which carry us back to the devotions of God’s ancient people, Israel, while others took shape in the early dawn of Christianity. The East and the West have conjoined to make it what it is. It has been fashioned, it has been enriched and beautified by the genius and the piety of saints and doctors of the Church, whose lots were cast in various lands and various times. The Church of the Fathers has bequeathed to it some of its most precious treasures. Nor are there wanting many traces of the influence of the age of the mediaeval theologians and liturgists. The great religious upheaval of the sixteenth century left intact a large body of the materials that formed the mass of the stately building; but in many places the structural design was altered, sometimes to the advantage and sometimes to the detriment of the whole. The changing fortunes of the Church have left their marks upon it, and upon its front history, civil as well as ecclesiastical, has graven deep lines. To the curious and inquiring it suggests numberless problems of deep interest.
The paramount claim which the Prayer Book has upon the affections and reverent regards of the English speaking world is doubtless based upon its fitness for its purpose. We love and reverence it because experience has proved, and is daily proving, that in it the Church of God finds a most apt vehicle of worship; because in it our spiritual desires and aspirations, our penitence, our gratitude, our joy, find adequate utterance; because through it God speaks to our hearts, even as He graciously permits us through it to speak to Him. Here, beyond all question, lies the permanent, paramount and inexhaustible source of its power. The simple, unlettered Churchman who joins in the Church’s public worship, or who uses the Prayer Book as his manual of private devotion, finds in it satisfaction, comfort, delight. And the best instructed, it may be said, need scarcely ask for more.
But, though this is so, those who will take the trouble to familiarize themselves with the story of the Prayer Book will soon find growing up around it new interests, new attractions of various kinds, which tend to further endear it to their hearts. To the well-read Churchman there is not, perhaps, a page – there is scarcely a paragraph – of the Book of Common Prayer which is not coloured by associations that touch him, and that often impart a fresh and a truer meaning to familiar words which by others are but half understood.
The well-instructed sons of the Church come to love the Prayer Book as the sons of some old historic house come to love the ancient mansion in which they were born and where they have grown up. The building, it may be, has not the uniformity of style that belongs to a modern structure erected under the guidance of a single mind. Built into it are, perhaps, the massive walls of the old keep, that many a time in former days resisted the assaults of the foe, and now serve to recall distant memories of bygone chivalry. Later additions and reconstructions may show a Tudor front, a Jacobean portal, or a wing added in the days of Queen Anne. But despite diversity there is a sense of dignity, of unity, of completeness. To the sons of the house it has been from the first dawn of memory all that is meant by home. As they have grown up they have little by little learned its story, and for that story they love it yet the more. The great hall, hung round with antique armour, served once as the council chamber of a king. At the broad flight of steps a cardinal and his retinue in their pomp received a stately welcome. In this chamber a loyal knight brought wounded from the battlefield breathed his last; and in that a royal prisoner languished. From the walls of the long gallery look down the portraits of members of the noble house who had served their country as soldiers, statesmen, diplomatists, lawyers, ecclesiastics. Everywhere are personal relics of men and women who were distinguished in their time. Here, indeed, is a house to live in day by day, but it is more than that. It is a home around which proud memories gather, though not untouched, it may be, with here and there a sense of regret, of sorrow, or even of shame.
It is in a like manner that the Prayer Book, which is endeared to us in the first instance by its fitness as a home to live in, where the daily needs of our spiritual life have been supplied, comes, as we gradually learn its story, to gather to itself associated interests which enhance its hold upon our affections. As we study we begin to understand things, we see them in a new light; difficulties that had disturbed us shrink or disappear, and new beauties are revealed at every step. Now and then, doubtless, we learn that mistakes have been committed which we cannot but regret, and that features of liturgical excellence and beauty have been, perhaps, unnecessarily sacrificed in the processes of reconstruction. But the result is not disquieting; and the inquiry may someday prove serviceable, for assuredly the history of the English Prayer Book has not yet closed.
It is quite within the range of probability that the Church of England should someday – a day perhaps not very far off – take up the task of liturgical revision with general consent, supply what is lacking, and rectify what is faulty; while various additions, certainly needed by reason of the expansion of the Church and its various newly developed activities, might be given a place without in the slightest degree marring the harmonious proportions of the whole.
As a matter of fact, the conditions of Church life at the present day are so different from those of the days when the English Prayer Book was first enjoined, so different even from those of the time of its last revision, that certain of the rubrical directions have ceased to be suitable. By a kind of tacit consent there has come to be considerable departure from rule in a vast number of our churches. It is an unwholesome state of things when the clergy solemnly promise to do one thing, and yet in practice do another. It inevitably tends to break down that sentiment of loyalty to obligations, which is the backbone of corporate life. It is an unwholesome state of things when the Church does not possess the power of adapting herself – let it be in a truly conservative spirit – to the actual conditions and new needs of life.
In the course of the following pages illustrations will from time to time be found of how some of the sister and daughter churches have dealt with some of the practical problems referred to. Their action has not been impeded by such bonds as the connection with the State has imposed upon the Church of England. And though, perhaps, we may come to think that occasionally what has been done has, in some particulars, been ill-advised, yet unquestionably the Church of England has much to learn from their efforts in the direction of liturgical revision and liturgical development.
The Prayer Book, as has been said, is chiefly endeared to us because we know, through a long and varied experience, its fitness for the expression of Christian devotion, and more particularly of the Church’s worship in her corporate capacity. But, moreover, it serves another end; it sets before those who may hereafter be called upon to labour at the task of supplementing our present services, so as to meet the growing needs of the Church’s work, a standard of wise sobriety in emotional expression, which it is to be hoped may never be widely departed from.
Mr. Keble never penned anything wiser than when he wrote as follows: “Next to a sound rule of faith there is nothing of so much consequence as a sober standard of feeling in matters of practical religion; and it is the peculiar happiness of the Church of England to possess in her authorized formularies an ample and secure provision for both. But in times of much leisure and unbounded curiosity, when excitement is sought after with a morbid eagerness, this part of the merit of our Liturgy is likely in some measure to be lost on many, even of its sincere admirers: the very tempers which most require such discipline setting themselves, in general, most decidedly against it.” These words are perhaps even more necessary now than when they were first written, seventy years ago. [The Christian Year, Advertisement, dated May 30, 1827.] We may not, indeed, be able to call our times “times of much leisure”. They are times rather of much fussy activity and much dissipated energy, when “quick returns” are eagerly looked for in the religious as well as the commercial world. But so much the more is the warning needed.
The men of the sixteenth century, who gave us the English Prayer Book, had been brought up from childhood among the influences breathed by the ancient forms of the Church’s devotions. These forms, partially disfigured though they had come to be by error and superstition, yet presented to view, after all deductions, a wonderful achievement of religious impulse, working itself outward in liturgical constructive art, as wonderful in its own proper sphere as the great Gothic cathedrals of England are in another. The men who gave us our Prayer Book were at once reverent and bold. Their strong conservatism never took the shape of an obstinate refusal to recognize and, so far as might be, to supply defects and amend disfigurements and abuses. Well will it be if in future movements for liturgical change our leaders are animated by a like spirit.
The practical good sense which us a rule characterizes the great body of English Churchmen will, I believe, place effective obstacles in the way of any attempt to shift by liturgical change the accepted position of the Church in respect to doctrine. Great and momentous evils could not fail to follow liturgical alterations effected in the interest of any theological school or party. Indeed, such a course would not improbably end in breaking up the Church into two or more rival bodies, each filled with the keenest animosity of party spirit. As it is, men among us belonging to divergent schools manage to live and work happily within the same communion. Occasionally extreme men on each side suffer something, perhaps, of uneasiness and discomfort; but more generally even violent partisans, by a kind of natural instinct of self-preservation, are unconsciously wont to satisfy themselves fairly well by dwelling on what in the Prayer Book seems to make for their own tenets, and overlooking what makes the other way. Perhaps it is, for the time, no loss to us that what Laud wrote in His Majesty’s Declaration (still prefixed to the Thirty-nine Articles), when he pronounced that “men of all sorts take the Articles of the Church of England to be for them,” may be applied with equal truth when we substitute “Prayer Book” for “Articles”. If ever the necessity arises, as I trust it never may, the most strenuous efforts should be made by every lover of peace and unity to oppose any change that would alter, or even be suspected of altering, the balance of doctrinal truth as it is now held in our Book of Common Prayer.
The Prayer Book has been again and again subjected to minute study for the purposes of party polemics. Its language, its grammatical constructions, even its punctuation, have each been examined, as they have been cited in the support of this or that interpretation of some crucial passage. I am very far from thinking such inquiries unimportant; but it is desirable to make plain that in the following pages it will be my endeavour to avoid questions of doctrinal controversy, and to confine myself chiefly to exhibiting some of the historical connections of certain parts of the Prayer Book, and to illustrating the methods of literary and liturgical workmanship employed by the English divines, to whom we are indebted for so precious a treasure.
II. The general history of the Prayer Book as the legally authorized service book of the Church of England has been told again and again. There are readily accessible several books, some elementary, others more full and precise, which treat of the successive revisions that have changed the service books of medieval England into our present Book of Common Prayer. In the following pages some knowledge of the salient facts will be taken for granted. It is assumed that the reader is acquainted with the general character of the First Prayer Book of Edward VI (1549), and with the more striking alterations in Edward’s second book (1552). The points of noteworthy difference between the latter and Elizabeth’s Prayer Book (1559) are only some three or four. The additions and rubrical alterations introduced (under doubtful authority) by Janes I (1604) are not without interest. They were almost all embodied and legally sanctioned at the last revision under Charles II (1662).
The true sense of many parts of the Prayer Book can only be gathered after a study of the successive changes. But discussions of this kind will be only incidentally dealt with in the following pages.
Quite apart from the consideration of controverted questions, an historical interest gathers round many parts of the Prayer Book. Those who love their Prayer Book, and are constantly using it, will, I believe, find it yet further endeared to them as they come to know more of the history of its constituent parts. Thus few, I fancy, will doubt that our sense of the exceeding preciousness of the Creed, sung or solemnly recited in the service of the Eucharist (not less as an act of worship than as a profession of faith), can be justly estimated only after we have made ourselves acquainted with the struggles and pangs of the ancient Church, out of the midst of which it had its birth. As we learn its story we feel it touched with the pathos of the Church’s sufferings and dangers, and suffused with the glow of her triumph in the rescued honour of her Lord. Again, is it not something that stirs us to know that the Gloria in excelsis had in the Eastern Church a place of honour as early, at least, as the age of St. Chrysostom and St. Gregory of Nazianzum? Or do we turn to the ancient Psalm that goes by the name of the Creed of St. Athanasius, we shall find that some of the perplexities that distress so many vanish wholly, or, at all events, are much reduced, if we succeed in reconstructing by an exercise of the historical imagination the actual conditions amidst which it emerged into being. Again, does it not add a fresh charm to the Collects of our Prayer Book to know that we are offering our supplications in forms that are substantially those that have been used by our forefathers from the time that the Anglo-Saxon people abandoned their pagan creed for the worship of the true God? Is it nothing to us that they have been the common possession of Western Christendom, at least since the days of Gregory the Great?
Even the prayers of more modern origin are often coloured by associations that are very sacred. Whatever the personal faults or weaknesses of some of the English Reformers may have been, to them we owe an inexpressible debt of gratitude. The Collect for the second Sunday in Advent, in which we pray God that we may read His Holy Scriptures as we ought, assumes a new interest when we recall that it was penned by the men who made the Bible a possession accessible to the people of England. In the service for the Baptism of Infants our Reformers substituted for the Gospel appointed in the medieval Manuals of England the beautiful passage from St Mark which alone records how Jesus took little children into His arms and blessed them. To me it does not detract from, but rather adds to, the recognition of the gain thus effected, to know that this change came to our Prayer Book through Martin Luther. And it is with no less pleasure that we should make our acknowledgments to a Spanish Franciscan and Cardinal of the Roman Church for the admirable suggestion of the lectionary system that secures for our people the orderly reading year by year of the whole Bible, or all but the whole. To come to a later period, does not the Prayer for the High Court of Parliament, excellent in itself; assume a new interest when we know that it was, in all probability, composed by one who was himself a victim to the injustice of those who claimed to be the Parliament of England, by him whom his late successor on the throne of Canterbury [Archbishop Benson.] has rightly styled “the martyr Laud”? And again – for the Church knows no parties – it is something to remember that the Prayer Book owes one of its chief treasures, the chastened ardour of the General Thanksgiving, to the pen and the heart of the Puritan, Edward Reynolds. We can hardly fail to study the Preface to the Prayer Book with a closer attention when we connect that admirable expression of sound principles and good sense with one of the wisest, most reasonable, and most acute thinkers of his age, Robert Sanderson, whose sermons and university lectures are among the great classics of English theology. Even the rubrics link themselves with an honoured name, for many of the manifest improvements in the ritual directions of our present Prayer Book are traceable to the long-continued liturgical studies of John Cosin, who endured ignominy, imprisonment, and finally exile for his loyal adherence to Church principles, and whose works on the Canon of Scripture and Papal Transubstantiation are a complete refutation of the suspicions of Romanizing, to which he had been so unjustly exposed. Other illustrations could be added, but these may suffice to show in what a variety of directions the Prayer Book is linked to history, both ancient and modern.
We propose to investigate the liturgical methods and literary workmanship of the divines of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to whom we owe the Prayer Book as we now possess it. An attempt is made to place the reader in the position of Cranmer and his associates when they undertook to give to the Church of England her public services in the English tongue. It will be seen, though this has seldom received the attention it deserves, that their labours went far beyond a mere rendering of the originals into the vernacular. They exercised a critical judgment on the material before them. Apart from the removal of corrupt doctrinal accretions, as they regarded them, a careful examination of the documents makes manifest that the Reformers sought after early sources in dealing even with questions not involved in their controversy with Rome. Thus the doctrine of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was not in dispute, yet they were not content to take as the true text the “mass-creed” of the Sarum Missal. It is beyond reasonable doubt that, according to the best lights of their day, they sought after a more correct text by consulting such collections of Acts of the ancient Councils as were then available. Similarly, they were not content with the text of the Athanasian Creed as it stood in the mediaeval Breviaries of England. It will be seen that they consulted a Greek text in the very natural (though mistaken) belief that the document was originally written in Greek. Other illustrations of their critical spirit will be exhibited as we proceed. All we desire to emphasize here is that we should form a totally inadequate conception of the greatness of the task the Reformers set before them if we were to leave out of view their inquiring and critical spirit and their desire to return to antiquity in the whole field of doctrinal teaching. They made their mistakes, as in their day was inevitable; but this need not diminish our admiration of their eager wish to build throughout upon what they believed to be the best established and most secure foundations. Their purpose and the spirit in which they pursued it make them examples to all who may hereafter have occasion to deal with questions of liturgical revision or liturgical adaptation.
Again, we shall only gain a true conception of the literary skill exhibited in the Reformers’ work when we compare it with other attempts to render into English the Latin of the old service books. The crudeness, stiffness, and lack of rhythm in both earlier and subsequent efforts in the same direction will quicken our thankfulness to God that the work was entrusted by Him to those by whom in fact it was with His aid undertaken.
No attempt has been made to hide or explain away what appear to be defects or mistakes. The subsequent changes (often improvements) made in the service books of the sister or daughter Churches are frequently referred to. And a possible revision of the English Prayer Book, not in a doctrinal but in a liturgical sense, has been constantly before the mind of the writer.
Chapter 1 – The Principles of the English Liturgical Reform – The Influence of Foreign Ecclesiastics – Cardinal Quignon’s Breviary and Its Influence on the Prayer Book.
The English Prayer Book is, in the main, a revision of the pre-Reformation service books. These service books exhibit singular skill in their general construction and marvelous richness, variety, and beauty in details. But they were marred in many places by their assertion or suggestion of mediaeval corruptions in doctrine; and, further, they were ill-suited, by reason of the complexity of their elaboration, for services intended to be understood and taken part in by the general body of the lay people. [An account of the liturgical forms of the medieval Church of England, which is at once simple in style and scholarly in its methods, will be found in Dr. Swete’s recent volume, Church Services and Service Books before the Reformation.] The English revision was undertaken in a spirit in which revolt against medieval abuses, both doctrinal and practical, was conjoined with a strong ecclesiastical conservatism. Change for the sake of change was foreign to the sentiments of the leaders of the English Reformation. The practice of the early Church and “the mind and purpose of the old Fathers” [“Concerning the Service of the Church,” which formed, with some small differences, “The Preface” of the Prayer Book of 1549.] seemed to them to indicate principles which, if given effect to, would supply the people of England with a form of worship at once simple, intelligible, and free from the superstitious accretions of later times. So far from aiming at novelty, the reformed Prayer Book was, wholly in theory, and to a large extent in fact, a return to antiquity. The very first sentence of the Preface of the Prayer Book of 1549 appeals to the result of the inquiry to which one would be led, “if a man would search out by the ancient Fathers” the original design of the “common prayers in the Church”. And the keynote thus early struck rules all the succeeding paragraphs. The “godly and decent order of the ancient Fathers” as regards the reading of Holy Scripture was found to be “these many years passed,” “altered, broken, and neglected”. Further, “notwithstanding the ancient Fathers had divided the Psalms into seven portions,” all of which were to be recited, “now of late time a few of them have been said daily (and oft repeated) and the rest utterly omitted.” Again, while in the primitive Church “St. Paul would have such language spoken to the people in the Church as they might understand and have profit by hearing the same, the service in this Church of England these many years hath been read in Latin to the people, which they understood not.”
The First Prayer Book of Edward VI as well as the second owes much to foreign influence. In truth we have less historical evidence for the influence of external agency on the second book than we have for such influence on the first.
Before Cranmer and his colleagues had attempted any revision of the service books, ecclesiastics in high station abroad had been sensible of the need of a simplification and purification of the Roman Breviary. Pope Clement VII had directly enjoined this task on one of the most eminent of his Cardinals, the Franciscan, Francisco de Quinones (known generally in this country as Cardinal Quignon), a Spaniard of noble family, and one of the trusted councilors of Charles V. Clement did not live to see the completion of this work. It was published at Rome in 1535 (March 1st) with a dedication to Pope Paul III, and with a concession from that Pope prefixed, in which he permits the secular clergy to substitute its recitation for that of the “old office”. The book came probably at once into widespread use, for we find that by July, 1536, no less than six reprints were issued, of which one was published at Venice, two at Paris, and one at Antwerp. [See the Preface to Legg’s edition, Cambridge, 1888.]
The influence of this work on the English Prayer Book was very considerable. England was not yet isolated from the great currents of thought which affected the ecclesiastical world of Europe, and a movement of this kind initiated at Rome would at once be felt in this country. The recent discovery among the MSS. in the British Museum of Cranmer’s draft for a reformed Latin Breviary much on the lines of Quignon shows us some of the steps towards the much more important change of 1549. [See Gasquet and Bishop’s Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer.] When the English Reformers were engaged on the work of liturgical revision it must have encouraged them to recall how several of the faults which they were attempting to amend had been acknowledged by a great ecclesiastic of the Roman curia, and even by the Pope himself. Without naming Quignon’s revision, the preface of the first English Prayer Book (which with some few alterations we still retain under the heading “Concerning the Service of the Church”) made free use of his preface; and, in fact, some of its paragraphs consist of a slightly modified translation of the very words of Quignon.
Thus Quignon complains that, as regards the reading of Holy Scripture in the Church’s service, little by little there had grown a wide divergence from the ordinances of the ancient Fathers, inasmuch as that, while originally it was designed that certain books of the Bible should be read through at certain seasons of the Church’s year, now they were scarcely more than begun; and he cites as examples the mode in which Genesis was dealt with at Septuagesima and Isaiah at Advent. We now do no more, he says, than merely take a taste (degustamus) of the several books. And in place of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament other things have been substituted, unworthy to be compared with them for serious importance (gravitas) and for usefulness – things that afford exercise for the tongue rather than the mind. This is the indictment of the Breviary made, not by a Protestant Reformer, but by a Roman Cardinal. Quignon aimed at a more continuous reading of Holy Scripture, and in larger portions than were to be found in the short lessons of the old Breviary; and to this end he would, in addition to lengthening the lessons, omit Antiphons, Responds, Capitula, many Hymns, and other things that impeded the reading of Holy Scripture. This same course was adopted by the English Reformers, with the modification that not merely many, but all Hymns were swept away.
The total omission of Hymns in the English “common prayer” was probably due to a recognition of the extreme difficulty of giving a dignified metrical and rhymed version of those of the Breviary Hymns that might otherwise seem suitable to be retained. The rendering of the Veni Creator Spiritus in the Ordinal of 1549 (rehandled in 1662) [The reference is to the second of the two versions in our present Ordinal. The first is probably to be attributed to Cosin.] is the only specimen we possess; and though it is not without a certain antique gravity, it does not cause us to regret that no other attempts of this kind were imposed upon us as constituent parts of the worship of the Church of England. While the prose translations and original compositions in prose of the period which has given us the first Prayer Book are (speaking generally) models of grace and dignity, English verse had not yet assumed a form which would give it a permanent hold on our esteem and affections. Verse in this country was still in a somewhat inchoate condition; and we have certainly to be thankful that English renderings of the Breviary Hymns were not at that time made part of the English Prayer Book. We have suggested what seems a probable reason for the total omission of Hymns; but it is right to observe that the introduction of metrical Hymns into the hour-services of the West appears to have been comparatively late. [“At Rome hymns do not appear to have been admitted into the office till after the twelfth century.” – Gasquet and Bishop, Edward VI, etc., p. 19.]
It is obvious that so far as relates to the reading of Holy Scripture the general principles laid down by Cardinal Quignon were frankly adopted by the English revisionists. They would have much more of the Bible than was to be found in the pre-Reformation Breviaries; they would have all, or nearly all, of each book of the Bible read in consecutive parts; they would, like Quignon, free the service from “Responds (Responsories), Invitatories, and such like things as did break the continual course of the reading.” Further, as regards even details, it will be found on a comparison of the appointed lessons of the first Prayer Book with those of Quignon’s Breviary that the influence of the latter is very marked.
Again, in respect to the recitation of the Psalter, the English revisionists adopted the language of Quignon in his complaint that in the old Breviaries a few of the Psalms had been daily said (and oft repeated), “and the rest utterly omitted.” But while Quignon, still retaining the whole number of the canonical hour-services, arranged for a weekly recitation of the whole Psalter, the English Reformers, reducing the number of services to Morning and Evening Prayer, were wisely content that the Psalter should be recited once in the month.
Lastly, in the simplification of ritual directions, the complex rules of “the Pie,” our Reformers followed in principle the guidance of Quignon, though in giving effect to the principle they were more sweeping, and, as some of us will perhaps think, went too far in wholly removing liturgical features that characteristically marked the various Church seasons. Quignon had justly observed that “by reason of the multitude and perplexity of the rules, the confusion was very great,” [Legg’s Edition, p. xxiv.] “and that “the order was so perplexed, and the arrangement of the prayers so difficult, that sometimes there was little less labour in finding out what was to be read than in reading it when it was found out.” [Ibid., p. xx.] This language, it will be remembered, is put with yet greater emphasis, and probably greater truth, in the English Prayer Book. [“The number and hardness of the Rules called the Pie, and the manifold changings of the Service, was the cause, that to turn the Book only was so hard and intricate a matter that many times there was more business to find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out.”] And though the working out of the desire for simplification was different, it is beyond question that our Prayer Book is here, as well as in the other particulars already noticed, largely indebted to the labours of the Roman Cardinal.
The Breviary of Quignon deserves careful study; and the material for such study has now been put within the reach of all interested in liturgiology by the publication of Dr. J. Wickham Legg’s edition (Cambridge, 1888) of the first form of the Breviary, [The hostile criticism of the Sorbonne caused Quignon to make some important changes which appeared in subsequent editions.] i.e., that form which so largely influenced the character of the English Prayer Book. But even the glance which is all that we have been able to bestow upon it, helps us to understand that the English Reformers in revising the daily Office were not engaging in a work hitherto unattempted.
Quignon had retained in his Breviary all the canonical hours. The English Reformers who, as practical men, were dealing with the problem of producing a vernacular service for the people as well as the priest, discarded altogether the services for the hours of Tierce, Sext and Nones, and with very considerable skill conjoined the principal elements of Matins, Lauds, and Prime to form our “Morning Prayer,” and of Vespers and Compline to form our “Evening Prayer”.
Quignon’s labours were confined to the reform of the Breviary, and accordingly his influence on the English Prayer Book is to be looked for only in the services for Morning and Evening Prayer.
A few particulars as to the life of this remarkable man may be briefly stated. He was a grandson of Don Alvaro de Luna, Constable of Castille, the famous Spanish Minister of State in the first half of the fifteenth century, who had done much to consolidate the royal authority in opposition to the powerful arid turbulent nobles of the time, and whose tragic death upon the scaffold (1453) at Valladolid is one of the most affecting pictures of the reverses of earthly fortune. After the manner of the day in respect to the education of boys of good family, the young Quignon was placed as a page in the household of Cardinal Ximenes. In due time he took the religious vows of the Franciscans, and by his own merits and the influence of his noble birth was rapidly advanced from dignity to dignity till he became “General” in 1522. He was held in special esteem by Charles V. When Pope Clement VII was besieged in the Castle of St. Angelo after the sack of Rome by the imperial troops, it was through the laborious exertions of Quignon that he was granted his freedom (1527). For these services Clement rewarded him with a cardinal’s hat. By the succeeding Pope, Paul III, Quignon was much valued, and was employed by him in Germany to support the interests of Rome in the attempts then made to force or win back the Protestants to obedience. In 1539 Quignon was appointed to the bishopric of Cauria, in the kingdom of Spain, and in the next year to that of Palestrina. His death (1540) followed quick upon the latter appointment. Quignon was a zealous defender of the rights and privileges of the Franciscan order, and in 1530 published a folio volume entitled Compilatio omnium privilegiorum Minoribus concessorum (Seville). But he is best known for his work in the reformation of the daily offices; and his Breviary, with some emendations, was for several years a favourite in France, as is testified to by the numerous editions that appeared from the press at Paris and at Lyons between 1536 and 1557.
Chapter 2 – The Influence of Luther, Melancthon, and Bucer on the First Prayer Book of Edward VI, and Thus Upon Our Present Prayer Book.
The First Prayer Book of Edward VI owes much to other foreign ecclesiastics as well as to Cardinal Quignon; and many features traceable to German sources are still embodied in our Prayer Book. It was both natural and reasonable that the English Reformers should look with interest towards the great religious movement on the Continent, and to the action there taken in the direction of liturgical reconstruction. More particularly the reforming efforts of the Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann von Wied, Prince Elector of the Empire (who in the end died, like Cranmer, excommunicated by Rome), attracted the attention of our Archbishop. Archbishop Hermann, though, as it would seem, not himself a man of any considerable erudition, had called to his aid Martin Bucer and the learned Philip Melancthon, the pride and wonder of the University of Wittenberg. With their aid Hermann put forth, first in German (1543) and afterwards in a Latin form (1545), a book which had a very large influence upon the English Prayer Book. An English translation of the Latin appeared in 1547 entitled, “A simple and religious consultation of us Hermann, by the grace of God Archbishop of Cologne and Prince Elector, etc., by what means a Christian reformation, and founded in God’s word, of doctrine, administration of the Divine Sacraments, of ceremonies ... may be begun,” etc. The demand for this book appears to have been so considerable that a second (and revised) English edition appeared in 1548. In the following year the first English Prayer Book appeared.
Our Litany owes several suffrages to Hermann; and some of the most beautiful features in our two great sacramental services, that for the Holy Communion and that for Holy Baptism, are distinctly traceable to the work of Bucer and Melancthon as embodied in Archbishop Hermann’s Simplex ac pia Deliberatio, or, to be quite exact, its original form in the German tongue, which sometimes appears to approach our English more closely. Thus the suggestion of the “Comfortable Words” came from this source, and three out of the four sentences are taken directly from it.
And (though I have not seen it hitherto noticed by commentators) the suggestion of the beautiful, and here most appropriate, verse, “Come unto Me all that travail,” etc., which has been generally supposed to be an original and independent act of the English Reformers, may be traced not improbably to a passage in the preliminary discourse on the Lord’s Supper in Hermann’s work, where we read (fol. lxxxvii., verso), “So great a benefit, therefore, of our Lord Christ, freely offered, men ought not despise, but rather receive with the utmost eagerness and the greatest thankfulness, mindful of these blessed words of the Lord inviting us to Himself: ‘Come unto Me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you,’ for with this food and this drink He refreshes and revives (retreat) to life eternal.”
It may be remarked that in Hermann the sentences of Scripture (which, in addition to the three in our service, contained John 3:35 and the beginning of 36, and Acts 10:43) are placed between the Confession and the Absolution. And it may be questioned whether that is not a more fitting position for them than that which they occupy in our service.
Again, to this source may be traced several expressions in the Exhortations and in the Confession and Absolution. [I shall not discuss the question whether the variations of our Prayer Book from the old English Missal in the narrative of the Institution of the Eucharist, contained in the Prayer of Consecration, are due to the Mozarabic or to the Brandenburg-Nuremberg Kirchen-Ordnung (1533). I lean rather to the latter. Material for a comparison of the three forms, English, German, and Mozarabic, is conveniently exhibited in Gasquet and Bishop’s Edward VI, etc., appendix vi.] Yet in dealing with these forms the English Reformers showed an independent and critical spirit, making alterations in them as they thought fit. If they did not regard the ancient forms of the Church’s worship as too sacrosanct to be touched, it was not likely that they would feel scruples in dealing, as wisdom suggested, with the productions of even such eminent men as Luther, Melancthon, and Bucer. [Thus while the opening words of the Cologne Confession are beyond doubt the source of the corresponding words in our own, we are at once sensible of the marked difference in the words which follow: – “Omnipotens, aeterne Deus, Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, creator omnium, judex cunctorum hominum, agnoscimus et deploramus nos in peccatis conceptos et natos, ideoque ad quaevis mala pronos,” etc.]
Another feature of our Communion Service that was in part suggested by Hermann is the form which in our present Prayer Book appears as the second of the two alternative Post-Communion Prayers. But here our English Reformers were unable (obviously for doctrinal reasons, which must not here be discussed) to follow German guidance beyond the general conception and the opening words.
Again, our Prayer “for the whole state of Christ’s Church,” though vastly superior to the two corresponding alternative forms in Hermann, “pro omnibus hominum statibus et necessitatibus Ecclesiae,” owes perhaps as much to the latter as to the prayer for the Church in the Canon of the Sarum Missal. Though it seems to be due mainly to the original work of our Reformers that we possess this prayer in all its comprehensive scope and tender beauty of expression, it may be remarked, in passing, that the words just quoted from Hermann, as well as the words “pro universali statu ecclesiae” in a rubric of the Sarum Missal (see the nine collects for Good Friday), make it more probable that the word “whole” (in the expression, “the whole state of Christ’s Church”) was used by the Reformers in the sense of “entire,” “complete,” “universal,” rather than, as is sometimes suggested, “healthy,” or (as it appears in one old English formula) “the good state” of the Church militant here on earth.
The exquisitely tender and beautiful Benediction with which our Communion Service closes owes something, I think, to Hermann, or perhaps to the Brandenburg-Nuremberg Order of 1533. The first part, “The peace of God which passeth all understanding,” etc., had appeared substantially in 1548 as the conclusion of Cranmer’s Order of the Communion, where the words, “in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord,” run closer to the verse of Philippians (4:7), on which it was based. But the insertion of the word “and” before “in His Son,” etc., was certainly a little awkward. The awkwardness of construction was got rid of in 1549 by striking out the “in”. It might have been better if the “and” had been struck out. But even as it stands, it is a beautiful and impressive close to the service.
The commentators have not, so far as I know, been able to find an exact parallel to the second half of the Benediction in the medieval service books. The words “be amongst you and remain with you always” seem to have been suggested by Hermann’s “Benedictio Dei Patris, et Filii et Spiritus sancti nobiscum, et maneat in aeternum. Amen,” which in the English translation (1548) appeared as “The Blessing of God .... be with us and remain with us forever.” The change of us into you marks Cranmer’s sense of the authoritative priestly character of the act of benediction. The Brandenburg-Nuremberg Order had given the form in the halting shape, “Der segen Gott des Vaters ... sey mit euch unnd bleybe allzeyt mit uns allen.”
Our Order for Baptism is even still more largely affected by the form put out in the name of Archbishop Hermann. In truth we owe more to it than to the pre-Reformation Manuals of the Church of England. And it is particularly interesting to observe that Melancthon and Bucer in preparing the book for Hermann had resorted largely to the Kirchen-Ordnung for Brandenburg and Nuremberg; while this work in turn is, as regards the Baptismal service, a transcript of the second edition of Luther’s Tauff-buchlin (1527). Thus we owe to Luther (1) some suggestions for the first address; (2) much of the striking prayer, “Almighty and everlasting God,” etc., with its allusions to Noah, the children of Israel passing through the Red Sea, and the baptism of Christ in Jordan [This prayer has been considerably modified since 1549. The parallelism, however, between Hermann’s book and the form of 1549 is very close.]; (3) the choice of the Gospel from St. Mark; (4) much of the “brief exhortation” immediately following, including the beautiful words, “Doubt ye not, therefore, but earnestly believe, that ... He will embrace him with the arms of His mercy, that He will give unto him the blessing of eternal life, and make him partaker of His everlasting kingdom” [A few words of the Latin of Herman’s Pia ac simplex Deliberatio may be transcribed – “Nec dubitate eum et vestros infantes sic in sacro baptismate suscepturum, et complexurum esse ulnis misericordia suae, et benedictionem vitae eternae et sempiternam regni Dei communionem iis collaturum.”]; (5) the prayer immediately following almost word for word [The English in Daye’s translation (1547) will be found in Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer (2nd Edit.), p. 412.]; (6) to some extent the following address.
Those who will go to the trouble of carefully comparing the originals with the close or, sometimes, paraphrastic translation by our English Reformers will see many instances of careful and even minute rehandling. Thus Hermann in the Prayer after “the brief exhortation” reads, “We give Thee eternal thanks (gratias agimus tibi aeternas) that Thou hast vouchsafed to call us to the knowledge of Thy grace and faith towards Thee. Increase and confirm this faith (auge et confirma hanc fidem) in us evermore,” etc. Now “eternal thanks,” though capable of explanation, is not quite obvious in its meaning. In our Prayer Book it becomes “humble thanks”. Again, “knowledge” of God’s grace and “faith towards Him” are both spoken of; and so in the English (though not in Hermann) we pray that our knowledge may be increased, and that our faith may be confirmed. [In 1552.] Such little touches as these show the care with which the work of the Reformers was done. Indeed, I do not know any single instance in which the English form is not an improvement upon the form in Hermann that was its source. Another example of the character of the English Reformers’ workmanship will be found in their mode of dealing with the first prayer in the service for Baptism; and in this case we find the Reformers revising themselves, for the improvements were made in the Prayer Book of 1552. It has been the fashion with many to decry the revision that resulted in the Prayer Book of 1552; and it is no part of our task to discuss the question of the changes that are supposed to bear upon doctrine. But no one can doubt that in the Second Prayer Book many improvements of a literary kind were effected, and changes made which, while they do not affect doctrine, yet exhibit a finer sense of the exact appropriateness of thought and feeling to the special occasion. Thus, in the prayer referred to, the Reformers in 1549, following Luther more closely, dwelt upon the destruction of “the whole world” by the flood except eight persons, and dwelt too on the thought that “Thou didst drown in the Red Sea wicked King Pharaoh with all his army.” In the Second Book the prayer assumed substantially its present form, and we are content to let the mind rest on the salvation of Noah and his family, and on the safe guidance of the children of Israel through the Red Sea without emphasizing these by the more explicit contrast exhibited in the earlier form. I cannot conceive anyone wishing in this respect to go back to the First Prayer Book and Martin Luther.*
*[It may interest the reader to see the opening sentences of this prayer (1) as first put out by Luther; (2) as it appears in Hermann’s Simplex ac pia Deliberatio; and (3) as in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI:
(1) “Almechtiger Ewiger Gott der du hast durch die sindflutt nach deynem gestrengen gericht, die ungleubige welt verdampt, and den gleubigen Noe selb acht, nach deyner grossen barmhertzikeyt, erhalten. Vnd den verstockten Pharao mit alien seynen ym rotten mer ersewfft, und deyn volck Israel trockenn durch hin gefuret, damit dis bad deyner heyligen tauffe zukunfftig bezeychnet.” Luther’s Taufbuchlein, 1523. (2) “Pater omnipotens Deus qui olim impium mundum horribili judicio tuo per diluvium perdidisti et solam familiam pii Noe, octo tantum animas, pro ineffabili misericordia tua conservasti, et qui obduratum AEgyptiorum Regem, Pharaonem, cum omnibus copiis et virtute ejus bellica submersisti in maxi rubro, populumque tuum Israeliticum siccis pedibus transire fecisti, et in his lavacrum regenerationis Sacrum Baptisma adumbrare voluisti.” Hermann’s Simplex ac pia Deliberatio. (3) “Almighty and everlasting God, which of thy justice didst destroy by floods of water the whole world for sin except eight persons, whom of thy mercy (the same time) thou didst save in the Ark: and when thou didst drown in the Red Sea wicked King Pharaoh with all his army, yet (at the same time) thou didst lead thy people the children of Israel safely through the midst thereof: whereby thou didst figure the washing of thy holy baptism.” First Prayer Book of Edward VI. It is plain that our Reformers followed neither form precisely, and, as I venture to think, improved upon both.]
It seems a quite unwarranted fancy to suppose that the words “by water” in the first prayer of our service for Baptism are to be connected with “save” [Noah and his family] and not with “perishing,” the word immediately preceding. The comma which some printers have been impudent enough to place after “perishing” is unwarranted either by the sense, or the text of the “Sealed Books,” or the manuscript attached to the Last Act of Uniformity.
Again, our service for Confirmation in its departures from the medieval rite has certain important resemblances to the Lutheran form. The idea of Confirmation being preceded by catechetical instruction is common to both. In the mediaeval Church of England Confirmation soon after infant Baptism was enjoined under penalties. The Constitutions of the Diocese of Worcester in 1240 direct that fathers and mothers should be warned that, if the opportunity of a bishop being in the neighbourhood is not taken advantage of for the Confirmation of their child within the space of one year from its birth, they will be suspended from entering the church. [Wilkins, Concilia, tom. i., p. 667.] A few years later a Synod at Chichester also made one year the permissible limit. [Ibid., p. 688.] The Synod of Exeter in 1287 extended the time to three years. [Ibid., tom. ii., p. 132.] At Durham, at an earlier date, it was ordained, perhaps on account of the great extent of the Diocese, that the penalty should not fall upon the parents till seven years after the birth of the child. [Ibid., tom. i., p. 576.]
The insisting upon preliminary instruction before the laying on of hands was a feature that marked the German Reformation. There are among the numerous Kirchen-ordnungen of the Lutheran Churches several examples of Catechisms to be taught to candidates for Confirmation. Our own Catechism was formerly placed in the Prayer Book under the heading “Confirmation”. And, though now it forms a distinct section in the contents of the Prayer Book, it is entitled, “A Catechism, that is to say, an Instruction to be learned of every person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop.” The open profession of the faith and of obedience at Confirmation formed no part of the mediaeval service. It is, on the other hand, a characteristic feature of the Lutheran documents, and it figures prominently in our English service. Up to 1662, it is true, the bishop’s question put to the candidates did not appear; but in the earlier forms of the Prayer Book the intention of the service is made apparent in the preface, viz., that the candidates “being instructed in Christ’s religion should openly profess their own faith and promise to be obedient to the will of God”; and it would seem that it was intended that “the Bishop or such as he shall appoint,” should, at the time of the Confirmation, “appose” the candidates, at his discretion, in the Catechism; and that it was in this way they were to openly profess their faith and promise their obedience.
One of the most beautiful and affecting prayers [It has been told of the late Bishop of Lincoln (Christopher Wordsworth) that he never said this prayer without deep emotion. And it is certain that he was not the only bishop who has been sensible of the touching pathos of the words.] in any service of the Church, that which in Confirmation follows the laying on of hands, owes one of its most exquisite phrases to Hermann’s book. The bishop says, “upon whom ... we have laid our hands, to certify them, by this sign, of Thy favour and gracious goodness towards them. Let Thy fatherly hand, we beseech Thee, ever be over them, let Thy Holy Spirit ever be with them,” etc. In Hermann’s book the prayer had preceded the laying on of hands, and the words ran, “that when we shall lay our hands upon them in Thy name and shall certify them by this sign that Thy fatherly hands shall ever be stretched forth upon them, and that they shall never want Thy Holy Spirit,” etc. [From Daye’s English edition of Hermann’s Consultation. This prayer can be traced still further to a like form in the Ordnung der Kirchen zu Cassel of 1539. See Richter’s Die evangelischen Kirchenordnungen, Erster Band, 304.]
The practical difficulties that must have presented themselves in the case of the bishop “apposing” the candidates “in the Catechism “at the time of the Confirmation, and the absence of any open profession of faith and obedience in case of a private examination beforehand, probably led the revisers of the Prayer Book after the Restoration to reconstruct the service, and give it to us in its present shape.
This may not be an unsuitable place to observe that the present service is not quite appropriate to the occasions, now so common, when adults form some, or even a considerable proportion, of the candidates, and also to the occasions when many of the candidates (having received Baptism at the hands of non-conformist ministers) have never had Godfathers and Godmothers, and when, indeed, no promises on their behalf were made by anyone at their Baptism. When occasion offers the Church of England may, in this respect, learn something from the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, at the last revision of its Code of Canons (1890), gave permission to the bishop to substitute for the Preface a suitable address, and to modify the question, “Do ye here in the presence of God,” etc., with its acknowledgment by the candidates that they were bound to believe and to do all those things that their Godfathers and Godmothers undertook for them at their Baptism. Anything like unreality should be cleared away from this most solemn service. [It is a different question whether permission should be given to the bishop, as in Scotland, to sign the candidate with the sign of the Cross. Those who have witnessed the Scottish rite (made legal by the Canons of 1890) will testify to the solemn emphasis added by the form in which each candidate is severally called by his or her name, thus: “N., I sign thee with the sign of the Cross and lay my hands upon thee in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Defend, O Lord, this Thy servant,” etc. This gives a vivid sense of the personal application of the prayer. But it must be acknowledged that it involves the necessity of each candidate being presented separately, which adds much to the length of the service when there are many candidates – a thing to be avoided, not so much perhaps for the sake of the bishop as for the sake of those confirmed or about to be confirmed, who for the most part find the long waiting very trying.]
It seems strange that the American Church, when it lately (1892) put forth a revised Prayer Book, did not deal with this difficulty. The difficulty is probably greater in the United States than even in England, in view of the larger number of adults from Presbyterian and other bodies that are constantly seeking admission to the Episcopal Church. It is no doubt a gain that the reading of the Preface may be (by a permissive rubric) omitted. But the lumbering and awkward form of the question in the American book does not meet the case of those who, as infants, were validly baptized in those religious communities which do not require any promises to be made on behalf of the child to be baptized. [The question in the American Prayer Book runs thus: – “Do ye here, in the presence of God and of this congregation, renew the solemn promise and vow that ye made, or that was made in your name, at your Baptism; ratifying and confirming the same; and acknowledging yourselves bound to believe and to do all those things which ye then undertook, or your sponsors then undertook for you?”]
Once more, to Hermann’s Simplex ac pia Deliberatio we are indebted for a striking feature in our Marriage Service. The priest’s joining together of the right hands of the bride and bridegroom, and the accompanying sentence, “Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder,” has been described as “a noble peculiarity of the English rite.” But I do not think it is to be found in any of the pre-Reformation Manuals of England. It has come to us apparently from Hermann. And the same remark applies to the priest’s declaration to the people, “Forasmuch as N. and N. have consented together,” etc. The two forms run in close parallelism; but “the giving and receiving of a ring” [In the First Prayer Book of Edward VI it is here “gold and silver,” though in the earlier part a ring had been used.] corresponds to the German “giving of rings each to other,” according to the variety of local usage. [The exchange was evidently not universal in Hermann’s diocese, for the direction runs “Tum si forte annulos habeant, eos invicem sibi digitis inserant.”]
Our Reformers deleted the medieval rubric directing the bridegroom to put the ring first on the thumb with the words, “In the Name of the Father”; then on the first finger, “In the Name of the Son”; then on the second, “In the Name of the Holy Ghost”; and lastly on the third finger with the word “Amen,” where it was to remain, “because,” says the Sarum rubric, “a certain vein goes from the third finger (medico) [That is, the fourth finger if the thumb be reckoned.] to the heart.” Probably it had become known that the third finger had no special preeminence above the thumb and the other three fingers in the possession of a vein that goes to the heart.
Our service for the Burial of the Dead probably owes the introduction of the beautiful feature of the ancient sequence, “In the midst of life we are in death,” to Hermann’s book. [See p. 161.] In Hermann’s book, too, we find the lesson from 1 Corinthians 15 suggested as a portion of scripture to be read and explained after the funeral was over. But the lesson in Hermann, commencing, like ours, with the words, “Now is Christ risen from the dead,” ended with the words “that God may be all in all,” at the close of verse 28. By this course, it is true, we lose the glorious verses, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” etc., but, on the other hand, it may, I think, be seriously questioned whether the introduction of the obscure verse, “Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead?” and still more of the recondite discussion and apologetic argument involved in verses 36–41, is quite appropriate to the sorrow of hearts bereaved. The objection to our present lesson is not that it is too long, but that much of it is somewhat out of harmony with the occasion. It is within the experience of not a few that there is something inappropriate and harsh to those who really mourn in the introduction, at the solemn hour of the burial of some loved one, of such a verse as verse 39. It would be easy to meet the difficulty by introducing the lesson in some such words as “Hear the words of St. Paul written in the first Epistle to the Corinthians” – “Now is Christ risen ...” to the end of verse 28, and then to add, “And again St. Paul saith, Now this I say, brethren” (verse 50), to the end of the chapter. Hermann, it may be added, suggests this latter passage as an alternative lesson, and also supplies, as other alternatives, Philippians 3:20–21, and Romans 6:8, to the end of verse 11.
The Scottish Episcopal Church, by a Canon of the year 1890, ordained that “with the sanction of the Bishop another lesson may be substituted for that in the Book of Common Prayer.” In the Diocese of Edinburgh permission, under this provision, has been given to use (1) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to the end of the chapter, [This is a funeral Epistle of the Sarum use, and has a like place in the Prayer Book of 1549. It is read at the burial of laymen in the Greek Church, and in the corresponding service of the Russian Trebnik. It is now an alternative lesson in the Irish Prayer Book.] or (2) Revelation 7:9 to the end of the chapter. Under the same provision the use of St. Mark 10:13 to the end of 16 has been sanctioned permissively on the occasion of the burial of an infant or little child. [If this lesson is used, the following prayer has been sanctioned in the diocese of Edinburgh for use immediately after the lesson: – “O Lord Jesu Christ, who didst take little children into thine arms and bless them, open thou our eyes, we beseech thee, that we may perceive that thou in very goodness hast taken this little child into the everlasting arms of thine infinite love, and hast blessed him with the joys of thine eternal kingdom, who livest,” etc.] Yet one cannot but feel that for the burial of infants we need a much modified service; and here some useful hints might be had from the Great Euchologion of the Greek Church, and the corresponding service in the Russian Trebnik, in each of which there is a separate service for the burial of an infant.
A few words may be said on the compiling of this book of Archbishop Hermann, which has in so many points affected our Prayer Book. We have the authority of Melancthon [Epist. p. 546.] for saying that it was Bucer who composed the forms for Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, though Melancthon read them through before publication. [Melancthon and Bucer were assisted in their work by Hedio and John Pistorius.] Bucer’s work was not, in the main, original. He took as his chief guide the Kirchen-Ordnung put out in 1533 for the margraviate of Brandenburg and for the city of Nuremberg. In this latter work the scholarly Osiander and Brentz had a chief hand. It may be observed that it was somewhere about this time that Cranmer visited Nuremberg, and there made the acquaintance of Osiander, with whom he became very intimate and whose niece he married. This association with Osiander would be likely to secure from Cranmer attention to the Kirchen-Ordnung, in the drawing up of which his friend had a principal share.
But again the Brandenburg-Nuremberg Order in respect to the service for Baptism drew largely upon Luther’s little office for Baptism. The number and the variety of strains in the pedigree of the English Prayer Book is indeed great.
Whether as a matter of fact Martin Bucer helped to determine the character of the changes made in the Second Prayer Book of Edward VI may be open to some doubt. While Regius Professor of Theology at Cambridge, he had been invited to give his opinion upon the First Prayer Book, and he drew up his criticisms in the form known as his Censura. In a large number of instances the changes made in 1552 run on the lines of his suggestions, in which the Regius Professor of Theology at Oxford, another very eminent foreigner then in England, the learned Florentine, Peter Martyr Vermigli, concurred. But it may be questioned whether the actual changes made did not arise out of an independent movement in the same direction on the part of Cranmer and his colleagues. It is certain that neither Bucer nor Peter Martyr was admitted to the inner counsels of the divines engaged upon the revision. But whatever may be thought as regards the influence of Bucer on the Second Prayer Book, there can be no question as to the influence he had indirectly exerted upon the construction of the First. The Ordinal, too, as will presently be pointed out, probably owes something to Bucer.
Bucer had secured a high reputation in Germany for learning and for moderation. His life belongs properly to the history of the Reformation on the Continent; yet a brief sketch of the leading incidents in his career may be permitted here. He was born in 1491 at Schlettstadt near Strassburg. At the age of fifteen he was admitted to the Dominican convent of his native town. The Prior was so struck by his talents that he sent him to study at the University of Heidelberg, where he made singular progress in Greek and Hebrew, and afterwards in theology. At Heidelberg Bucer became acquainted with some of the writings of Erasmus; and the disturbing effect produced by these was intensified by writings of Luther which then fell into his hands. Before long he threw himself heartily into the reforming movement. His learning was generally acknowledged; and there was scarcely one of the more important of the numerous conferences between the Reformers and the Roman Catholic theologians, which make so prominent a feature in the religious history of Germany at that period, in which Bucer did not appear. His moderation, large-minded tolerance, and courtesy in debate, excited general admiration, and he soon became one of the most honoured and influential of the leaders of religious reform. Contarini, who had served as Papal Legate at the diet of the Ratisbon, is reported to have said on his return that Martin Bucer by reason of the wide extent of his learning in theology and philosophy, and the acumen and charm (felicitas) shown in his argumentative efforts, “could singlehanded have been a match for all our [Roman Catholic] doctors.” At a later period Bucer took an important part in the futile efforts to reconcile the differences between the divines of the Lutheran and Swiss schools of theologians. The publication of the Interim, which he could not subscribe, made him willing to accept Cranmer’s offer of security in England. His reputation stood high in the learned world; and when Edward VI nominated him Regius Professor of Divinity, the University of Cambridge received him with applause. The climate told upon his health, and in February, 1551, he died. His funeral at Great St. Mary’s was attended by the whole University and by a vast concourse of the students and townspeople. Among the funeral sermons delivered in his praise was one by Matthew Parker, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. On the accession of Mary the enemies of the reformed faith vented their futile spite by exhuming his body and burning it at the stake. What were supposed to be his ashes were again given honourable burial on Elizabeth’s coming to the throne.
It is all but certain that to Martin Bucer’s hand we owe the suggestion of a considerable part of our Form and manner of making, ordaining, and consecrating of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. In Bucer’s Scripta Anglicana (1577) there appeared a work giving what appear to be thoughts and suggestions for the construction of an ordinal. An examination of its contents and a knowledge of the circumstances of the appearance of the first English Ordinal in March, 1549 (i.e. 1550 according to our way of counting) leaves scarcely a doubt that this was not, like the Censura, a criticism on an existing work, but rather a form which he had (probably at the request of Cranmer) submitted to the authorities of the Church of England when they were engaged upon the task of framing our Ordinal. The differences between the two documents in their doctrinal aspect are more striking than the resemblances. Bucer’s work is written with no clear apprehension of the essential distinction between the offices of Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. The ecclesiastical standpoint of the German divine is far removed from that of the framers of the English Ordinal. Yet it is plain that many of his thoughts and many of his turns of speech were adopted and wrought into the English book. To exhibit this in detail would occupy more space than can be allowed in the present work. But it may be stated that the long address of the Bishop to those about to be ordained Priests, which commences “You have heard, brethren, as well in your private examination,” etc., seems throughout to be a rendering of Bucer’s Latin, treated with such freedom as we find the Reformers employing elsewhere in their translations from more ancient sources.
A writer in the Church Quarterly Review (April, 1897), who can be no other than Dr. Richard Travers Smith (to whom must, I believe, be assigned the credit of first calling attention to the true connection between Bucer’s work and the English Ordinal [In his pamphlet, We ought not to alter the Ordinal, (Dublin), 1872.]), remarks, “From a literary point of view it is interesting to note the admirable skill with which the English editor, doubtless Cranmer, manipulated the cumbersome composition of Bucer, and brought it to the noble form which we know so well. ... He [Bucer] had the defects in style, and in clearness of thought, which so many Germans have since displayed, but along with them the learning and copiousness which have made their works stores of suggestion for men of better literary powers.” The parallelism between the two documents will be found exhibited in full (and more than six pages of the Church Quarterly are filled in this way), so that it is needless for me to do more than direct the reader’s attention to a feature in the liturgical structure of our Prayer Book, which, till pointed out by Dr. Smith, had escaped the notice of the commentators. [On some further illustrations of the obligations of Cranmer to Luther’s work, see Appendices H and I.]
Chapter 3 – The Influence of the Greek Liturgies and of the
When the Reformers undertook to give to the English people an English Prayer Book, cleared of medieval superstition and reduced to conformity with the faith of the primitive Church, they entered upon a great work. It was natural for them to look around for help. The English service books with which they had been familiar from their childhood might well supply the framework and much of the material for their design. But large questions were involved. We have already seen how they put under contribution the service books that had been the outcome of the reforming movement in Germany. We have seen, too, that for much they were indebted to the reformed Breviary of the Spanish Cardinal Quignon, more particularly in respect to the simplification of daily prayers and the introduction of the continuous reading of Holy Scripture. But the liturgical researches of Cranmer were not restricted to these quarters. We have positive evidence that Cranmer, at least as early as 1544, had been studying the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. [“Messrs. Gasquet and Bishop have shown that the printed sources of information as to the Greek Liturgies both in the original and in Latin translations were abundant before 1549. Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer, p. 187, note.] And at this day we have in the “Prayer of St. Chrysostom” (which now closes not only the Litany, but also both Morning and Evening Prayer), a precious relic of his inquiries. It seems probable also that some of the petitions of the Litany are due to the same source.
It seems likely, in addition, that the Communion Service (or Liturgy proper) of the First Prayer Book of Edward VI (where the Invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the elements in the prayer of consecration appears as a new feature, unknown to the Roman and old English missals) bears a trace of the influence of this Liturgy. But, of course, without the actual possession of the text of any Greek Liturgy, it was a matter of common knowledge among theologians that the Greek Church made the express Invocation of the Holy Spirit an essential in the consecration of the Eucharist. Again the Mozarabic Missal, which we can say, with a confidence little short of certainty, was in the hands of Cranmer, [See below.] had exhibited a large number of examples of a prayer that the Holy Spirit would bless the elements. Hence Cranmer may well have hesitated to determine practically whether the Roman theory of consecration (which made the recital alone of the words “Hoc est enim Corpus meum,” etc., the essential and effective factor of consecration) represented the true and primitive form. The form of words here adopted in the First Prayer Book has certainly an air of hesitancy and caution. It seems to indicate a desire to comprehend both the Eastern and Western conceptions. The form runs: “Hear us, O merciful Father, we humbly beseech thee, and with thy Holy Spirit and word vouchsafe to bl+ess and sanc+tify these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ.” This seems to me a deliberately composite structure, and (so far as I am aware) has no parallel in either the East or the West. [I take it that the term “word” here refers, as understood by Cranmer, to the formula of institution. See below.]
The Invocation of the Holy Spirit was removed from the Second Prayer Book of Edward, and has never been restored in England. But Cranmer’s original form has borne fruit. In 1637 in the noble, but ill-fated, Booke of Common Prayer for the use of the Church of Scotland (commonly, though not quite correctly, called Laud’s Liturgy) the words, with some modification, were restored as follows: “Hear us, O merciful Father, we most humbly beseech thee, and of thy almighty goodness vouchsafe so to bless and sanctify with thy word and Holy Spirit these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine, that they may be unto us the body and blood of thy most dearly beloved Son; so that we receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of the, same his most precious body and blood: who in the night,” etc.
The subsequent variations in this form in the Scottish Church during the eighteenth century need not be discussed here. [See for full particulars the author’s Annotated Scottish Communion Office: an historical account of the Scottish Communion Office and of the Communion Office of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America. 1884.] But the consecration of Samuel Seabury as the first Bishop of the American Church by three Scottish Bishops on November 14th, 1784, was an event which brought about, shortly after, the adoption by the American Church of a somewhat like form of Invocation. Seabury for his own diocese (Connecticut) put forth (1786) a Communion Office [Reprinted in facsimile by Dr. Hart (2nd edition, 1883). It may be also found in McGarvey’s Liturgiae Americanae. 1895.] almost precisely the same as the Scottish. And the whole Church of the United States soon after adopted this feature, but in a modified form. In the American Prayer Book the words run thus:–
“And we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.” This beautiful form is used through the length and breadth of the great Church of the United States. Thus the quiet and scholarly studies of Archbishop Cranmer have at length borne most rich and plentiful fruits.
In these days when approaches have been made towards the Holy Orthodox Church of the East, it is a matter of no small importance that the Anglican Communion possesses Liturgies, like the Scottish and American, in which the express Invocation of the Holy Spirit has a place.
When we turn to consider more particularly how it was that the form of consecration appearing in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI took shape, we are met with difficulties. The expression “thy Holy Spirit and word” is (as has been said) very peculiar. The only conjecture that I have to offer is that Cranmer was led to the introduction of the expression “and word” from his studies in Justin Martyr and Irenaeus. We find him in his Answer to “Stephen Gardiner, late Bishop of Winchester,” in 1551 writing as follows: “Do you not see how much the words of Irenaeus, by you alleged, make against yourself? These be his words after your citation, ‘When the chalice mixed, and the bread broken receive the word of God, it is made eucharistia’”; and again, “Doth not Irene say here plainly that ‘the chalice mixt and the bread broken after the word of God (which you call the words of consecration) is made eucharistic of the body and blood of Christ?’” [See Works of Cranmer relative to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Parker Society), p. 266.]
Again, Cranmer knew as well as Gardiner the passage from Justin, cited by the latter in the following words, “We be taught the food wherewith our flesh and blood be nourished by alteration, when it is consecrate by the prayer of his word,” etc. [See Works of Cranmer relative to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (Parker Society), p. 263.] We need not delay to consider whether this translation is accurate, it is sufficient for my purpose to show that Cranmer must have been familiar in these two early writers with language that might readily suggest the phraseology of his prayer of consecration.
Cranmer’s appeal, as indeed is true of the appeal of all the great English divines, was not merely to Christian antiquity, but more especially to the earliest Christian antiquity. Referring to Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, he speaks of them as among “those authors which were nearest unto Christ’s time, and therefore might best know the truth herein.” [Ibid., p. 263.] Neither of these writers in express language speaks of the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and it seems not improbable that the omission of this invocation from the Second Prayer Book may have been due to Cranmer’s independent second thoughts leading him to revert to the belief that the word (i.e., as he, as well as Gardiner, seems to have understood the term, viz., in the sense of the recital of the words of institution) was the truly primitive form of consecration. The Greek liturgies bearing the names of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom would very naturally have far less authority with him than these writers of the second century. Both Gardiner and Cranmer were probably incorrect in the sense they attached to the term “Word,” which seems to refer to the Divine Logos; but that question need not be discussed here. It is worth observing that in a liturgical MS. recently discovered at Mount Athos, which purports to represent a service book of Serapion (called Scholasticus), Bishop of Thmuis, in Egypt, a contemporary and acquaintance of Athanasius, the invocation is an invocation not of the Holy Spirit, but of God’s Holy Word.” [See an account of this document in the Guardian for February 15th, 1899 (p. 223), where the writer of the article says, “The Invocation of the Word in the Epiclesis is characteristic of Egyptian theology, and would probably be prior in date to that of the Holy Spirit.” The text of the Serapion fragments will be found in Altchrist. liche Liturgische Stucke, edited by G. Wobbermin (Leipzig, 1899.)]
We now come to say something of the contributions to the formation of the English Prayer Book that came to it from the ancient Spanish service books to which the name Mozarabic is commonly given. Francisco Ximenes, not less eminent as a statesman than as an ecclesiastic, the greatest patron of learning of his day in Spain, had, as Archbishop of Toledo, [He did not receive the Cardinal’s hat till 1507.] published in 1500 certain church services of great antiquity under the title, Missale mixtum secundum regulam beati Isidori dictum Mozarabes. [The Breviary appeared in 1503.] The word Mozarabes carries one back in thought to the time when Christians in Spain, to escape persecution, had adopted the customs of their Arab conquerors. The word is of Arabic origin; and a Mozarab, as we are told, was one who had assumed Arab modes of life. The Mozarabic liturgy, then, has been regarded by many liturgical scholars as the liturgy used by the conquered Christians of Spain. However this may be, it still survived in actual use in certain places in the days of Ximenes; and he sought to save it from extinction by appointing it for use in one of the chapels of his cathedral (which chapel he endowed for the support of thirteen chaplains); and, further, by printing certain copies from manuscripts, which were unfortunately in a somewhat mutilated condition. Only a few copies were printed; and the book being of extreme rarity, the question arises as to how Cranmer got sight of it. It must be remembered, however, that at the time of the marriage of Katherine of Aragon with Prince Arthur, and for several years after, the intercourse between England and Spain was close and frequent. But in whatever way we may suppose the attention of Cranmer to have been drawn to this work, the similarities between parts of the services for Baptism in the First Prayer Book and certain prayers of the Mozarabic rite are too close to allow us to doubt that there is a real connection between the two forms, and that the Archbishop was in possession, whether in MS. or in print, of at all events the part of the Mozarabic rite relating to the benediction of the font. [It is true that the Benedictio Fontis in the Missale Gallicanum Vetus, which will be found in Muratori (Liturgia Romano Vetus, etc., tom. ii., coll. 740, 741), contains much of the same matter; but Mr. Burbidge, in an article in the Guardian (March 12th, 1890) on “The ancient liturgy of Spain and its influence upon the Book of Common Prayer,” has shown conclusive reasons for rejecting the supposition that the Gallican Missal was the source from which Cranmer drew. I lay little stress on the fact that no printed copy was known in modern times till Cardinal Tommasi published the Liturgy in 1680. Mr. Burbidge considers that several of our collects were affected by a knowledge of the Mozarabic Missal; but, I confess, his reasoning does not seem to me conclusive.]
Subsequent revision of the Prayer Book has obliterated some of the more striking parallels as they appeared in the Prayer Book of 1549, but the parallels that still remain may be seen exhibited in Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer.
The treatment of his original by Cranmer is much like his treatment of other matter derived from ancient sources. He translates some parts literally into English. Other parts he deals with in a spirit of criticism: he excises, modifies, amplifies as he thinks best. Thus the exorcism of the water in the Mozarabic form is removed and the prayer converted into a supplication for the Holy Spirit “to assist us and to be present at this our invocation.” The character of other changes may be indicated by a few examples. “Sanctify this fountain, thou that art the sanctifier of the human race,” became, “Sanctify this fountain of baptism, thou that art the sanctifier of all things.” “Grant that whosoever here renounces the devil may triumph over the world. Amen,” became, “Grant to all them which at this fountain forsake the devil and all his works, that they may have power and strength to have victory and to triumph against him, the world, and the flesh. Amen.” While a petition, which it is better to give in the Latin, “Ut per ministerium nostrum tibi consecratus, aeternis ad te virtutibus, aeternis praemiis consecratur. Amen,” became, “Grant that whosoever is here dedicated to thee by our office and ministry may also be endued with heavenly virtues and everlastingly rewarded,” etc. [The following parallels (which have since disappeared through revision of the service) between the Prayer Book of 1549 and the Mozarabic Benedictio Fontis may be noted: (1) “Whosoever shall confess thee, O Lord, recognize him also in thy kingdom. Amen.” “Quicunque in hoc loco confessus fuerit, tu eum recognascas in regno. Amen.” (2) “Grant that whosoever here shall begin to be of thy flock may evermore continue in the same. Amen.” “Quicunque hic tuus esse coeperit, tuus esse non desinat. Amen.” And other parallels could be exhibited. See Missale Gothicum secundum regulam Beati Isidori, etc. (Cardinal Lorenzana’s edit., Rome, 1804), cal. 455.]
We have now briefly noticed the four principal quarries from which our Reformers drew the material upon which they set to work, viz., the service books of the mediaeval Church of England, the German Kirchenordnungen, together with the Latin of Hermann’s Simplex ac pia Deliberatio, the Greek liturgies, and the Mozarabic liturgy.
We next turn to consider some of the structural changes made in the work of adapting the mediaeval service books and incorporating into them the new material.
Chapter 4 – Structural Changes in the Daily Offices: Gains And Losses – The Invitatory and the Antiphon – The Third Collect at Evening Prayer.
Of the seven, or more properly eight, “Hour Services” of the pre-Reformation Church of England, known as Nocturns or Matins, Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sext, Nones, Vespers, and Compline, our Reformers, when constructing services that were intended for the people as well as the clergy, set aside altogether Tierce, Sext, and Nones. Matins, Lauds, and Prime, by curtailment and ingenious adaptation, were reduced into the form of our English Matins, or Morning Prayer; and similarly Vespers and Compline were combined and reconstructed, and became our Evening Prayer. So happily was this work accomplished that very few, unacquainted with the actual history of the Prayer Book, would ever suspect that our present daily offices were the outcome of a process of piecing together parts of different services and compressing them. The services as we now possess them have an entirely satisfying air of unity.
To adequately appreciate the ability with which this work was accomplished, it would be necessary to examine at length the whole of the five services thus dealt with. It must suffice here to say that all the more important liturgical elements of the older services were carefully preserved.
The recitation of the Psalter was a leading feature of the pre-Reformation services. This was retained, and with the great improvement that the whole of the Psalms are now said, and not, as in actual practice before the Reformation, “a few of them daily said and the rest utterly omitted.” [See “Concerning the Service of the Church” in the prefatory matter of the Prayer Book.]
The lessons (lectiones) of the old service books were taken, some from Holy Scripture, some from legends of the Saints, some from the writings of the Fathers. Our Reformers confined the lessons wholly to the Holy Scriptures, including parts of the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. And, what was of primary importance, they so arranged the lessons that substantially the whole of the Scriptures are read in the course of the year. Indeed before the adoption of the New Lectionary (1871), made legal in England by 34 and 35 Vict. c. 37, the New Testament, with the exception of the Revelation of St. John, was read through three times every year in the service of the Church. At present, excepting Revelation, parts of which are not read, and parts read only once, it is read through twice, and the arrangement is such that the Gospels and Epistles are read through both at Morning and at Evening Prayer. Previous to 1871 those who could attend the daily service only in the evening never heard the Gospels, and those who attended only in the morning never heard the Epistles. On the whole the New Lectionary has been well received; but it would be absurd to claim for it that it is beyond improvement. As to the most suitable place for ending a lesson, there may often be ground for a reasonable variety of opinion. In no case, I think, in the New Lectionary is there the strain put formerly upon the conscience of the over-scrupulous rubrician on April 24th, August 23rd, and December 21st, when, to be quite correct, he was bound to conclude the second morning lesson in the words, “And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying, Here endeth the second lesson”; or, again, on the evening of October 16th, when the conclusion of the lesson (Wisdom 8) would be, “I prayed unto the Lord, and besought him, and with my whole heart I said, Here endeth the first lesson.” But there are even in the New Lectionary some divisions of the lessons that reconsideration might improve; and in a new revision of the Lectionary helpful suggestions will be found in the American Lectionary (1892).
But, whatever improvements are yet desirable in our Lectionary system, there are none who can question the great gains to the people of England from the continuous reading of the Holy Scriptures. We know well that it is no less important a part of worship to listen to God’s voice than to utter our own petitions.
It is a matter more open to variety of opinion whether our Reformers were not over-hasty in their total rejection of the beautiful liturgical devices known as the Invitatory and the Antiphon. A striking difference between the Divine Office of medieval England and our daily Service of Morning and Evening Prayer – a difference not altogether to the advantage of the modern form – arises from the greater richness of the older services in features that marked the various seasons and holy days, festal and penitential.
Great simplicity was aimed at by the Reformers, but to attain this end it appears to me that they sacrificed to an unnecessary extent the variety of the older forms. Thus, to take the most remarkable example, we read in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI, immediately before the Venite, “Then shall be said or sung without any Invitatory this Psalm, Venite exultemus, etc., in English.” Now the Invitatory was generally a short sentence, divided into two clauses, which was said or sung before and after the Venite, and which in whole or in part was intercalated between certain of the verses of the Psalm. It was intended to strike, as it were, the keynote of thought and feeling especially appropriate to the day or the season. Let it be admitted that the intercalating of one or both clauses did (as is said of it in the prefatory discourse of the Prayer Book entitled “Concerning the Service of the Church”) “break the continual course of the reading of the Scripture,” as here represented by Psalm 95. But it may fairly be open to question whether, when applied (even in its most elaborate form) to such perfectly familiar words as those of the Venite, it in any degree obscured the sense. The Invitatory, it seems to me, resembled in a manner the varied organ accompaniment that we are now familiar with when the Creed is recited on a single note. Or, to seek closer parallel, afforded by literature, it is much like the refrain said wholly or in part after the successive verses of some of our ancient ballads. These refrains did not always fit precisely into the logical construction; but they gave and maintained an emotional colouring which much enhanced their pathos or their mirth. How this device may be employed in verse by a man of genius, with an effect scarce short of magical, can be learned from Dante G. Rossetti’s Troy Town and Sister Helen.
Let us take an example of an Invitatory from the Sarum Breviary, and exhibit how it was used. The Invitatory for the first Sunday in Advent was: “Behold, the King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour.” We work out the manner in which this Invitatory was used as follows:–
The two Rulers of the Choir together intone the word Behold, and at once the Choir sings, the King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
Then the Rulers say, O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in him with Psalms.
The Choir. Behold, the King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers of the Choir. For the Lord is a great God; and a great king above all gods. In his hands are all the corners of the earth: and the strength of the hills is his also.
Choir. Let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers of the Choir. The sea is his and he made it, and his hands prepared the dry land. O come, let us worship and fall down: and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is the Lord our God: and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.
The Precentor or Succentor intones, Behold.
Choir. The King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers. Today if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts: as in the day of provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness. When your fathers tempted me: proved me and saw my works.
Choir. Let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said: It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways. Unto whom I sware in my wrath: that they should not enter into my rest.
Choir. Behold, the King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, etc.
Choir. Let us go forth to meet our Saviour.
The Rulers intone, Behold.
Choir. The King cometh: let us go forth to meet our Saviour. [The sense of the rubric (Sarum Breviary, fascic. I, coll. xvii., xviii.) is not in all parts clear; and it will be seen that I differ in some particulars from the interpretation of Procter and Wordsworth (as given at col. mdxv.).]
The reader is now in a position to judge whether at all, or how far and in what way, the old use of the Invitatory injuriously interfered with the recitation of the Venite.
I am not so bold as to suggest the revival of the rather elaborate arrangement which has been exhibited above. But I would urge that the Invitatory, if used as directed in the reformed Breviary of Cardinal Quignon – that is, sung in full once before the Venite and once after its gloria, without any intercalation – would serve a very useful purpose. As our Morning Prayer now stands there is no distinction, for example, between the service of Christmas Day and that for Ash Wednesday till the Proper Psalms are reached. And still worse is the case when there are no Proper Psalms. There is nothing to mark the first Sunday in Lent from the first Sunday after Christmas till we reach the Lessons. While, if the Invitatory were adopted, even in Quignon’s modified form, the proper keynote of the service would be struck at an early stage.
A few specimens of Invitatories are here given as suggestions, some of them doubtless capable of improvement. Christmas Eve: “Today ye shall know that the Lord will come: and early in the morning ye shall behold his glory.” Christmas Day: “Christ has been born for us: come, let us adore.” Easter Day: “Alleluya, Alleluya; Christ has risen today; Alleluya, alleluya “(Sarum); “The Lord has risen indeed, Alleluya” (Roman). The Ascension of our Lord: “Alleluya. Christ ascending into heaven, come, let us adore. Alleluya.” Whitsunday: “Alleluya. The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the earth. Come, let us adore. Alleluya.” All Saints’: “Come, let us adore the Lord; for he is glorious in his saints” (Sarum); “Come, let us adore the Lord, the King of kings; for he is the crown of all saints” (Roman.)
The Reformers tell us that for the same reason for which they “cut off” Invitatories they also “cut off” Anthems – that is, the Antiphons of the Psalms in the mediaeval offices. The Antiphon may be roughly described as a short sentence prefixed to a Psalm or group of Psalms, and repeated at its close. It was intended to point to the special thought which it was designed to emphasize in the recital of the Psalm or Psalms on any particular occasion. As Dr. Neale puts it, the Antiphon “pitches the keynote of the Psalm, as the Invitatory of the Office.” [See Essays on Liturgiology, etc. (2nd edition), p. 15, where much interesting information on Antiphons may be found.] As it was not intercalated in the body of the Psalm it did not in any sense break the reading of the Psalm. The Antiphon was most commonly a verse of the Psalm to which it was prefixed, and its recital pointed to the special thought in the Psalm which it was desired on each particular occasion to emphasize. Thus, to take the Christmas Psalms and their Antiphons in the Sarum Breviary, the Antiphon of Psalm 2 was: “The Lord said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee”; that for Psalm 19 was: “The Lord cometh forth as a Bridegroom out of his chamber”; that for Psalm 45 was: “Full of grace are thy lips, for God hath blessed thee forever.”
The same Psalm was not always antiphoned with the same verse. Indeed, one of the special merits of the Antiphon was its adaptability. Thus Psalm 2 was a Proper Psalm for Easter Day as well as for Christmas, and for Easter its Antiphon was: “I asked my Father, Alleluya, and He gave me the Gentiles, Alleluya, for mine inheritance. Alleluya.” Once again, Psalm 2 was a Proper Psalm for Good Friday, but now its Antiphon was, “The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together: against the Lord and against his anointed.” Again, we have seen how Psalm 19 was antiphoned for Christmas Day; but as it occurred on Sundays in Advent it was antiphoned with the verse, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armour of light.”
The modern Paris Breviary (the use of which has now been abolished by the Pope) was often very happy in the manner in which it illuminated the mystical sense of the Psalms by the construction of Antiphons embodying New Testament language, which threw back a flood of bright light upon the obscurer utterances of the older dispensation. Thus, on Easter Day we find as the Antiphon to Psalm 16, “In that God raised Him from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, He saith on this wise, Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.”
The subject is a tempting one; but enough has been said to show that this ingenious and beautiful device, though, it is true, not always employed with discretion in the old Breviaries, contains in it great possibilities. And I believe that, at least for the greater Holy Days, it would not demand superhuman skill to arrange a set of Antiphons that would be a help rather than a hindrance to the devotional use of the Psalter. A rubric permissive of the use of such Antiphons is all that should be aimed at; and there can be little doubt, I think, that the advantages of such a system would before long lead to its extensive, if not general, adoption.
The use of the Antiphon was not confined in its application to the Psalms. The New Testament Canticles, Benedictus and Magnificat, exhibit some fine examples of this beautiful liturgical feature. Most notable among these is the series of antiphons, known as the Greater Antiphons, to the Magnificat, which marked the approach of Christmas, and commenced on December 16th. This day was commonly noted in the old Kalendars with the opening words of the first of the series, O Sapientia – “O Wisdom, which hast issued forth from the mouth of the Most High,” etc. And though the note in the Kalendar disappeared, together with the Antiphons, from the earlier Prayer Books, the words “O Sapientia” found their way back into the Kalendar in 1561, and at the last revision in 1662 they obtained a place in it duly authorized by Convocation and by Parliament. It seems to me that the seven “Oes” as they stand in the present Roman Breviary are free from anything to which an Anglican Churchman could object, and only need a skillful rendering to be accepted with general applause. [The same could not be said of the Antiphons, “O virgo virginum,” and “O Thoma Didime,” in the Sarum series.]
Another beautiful feature of the pre-Reformation Office, the respond to the lessons, excellent as they were in the case of the short lessons and capitula then in use, do not seem to me capable of being adapted with advantage to the modern lectionary system of the Anglican Churches.
We have said that it would be difficult to detect the composite character of our present Matins and Evensong, formed though they were by the union of distinct services in the old Breviaries. Perhaps, however, one instance may be found where the perfect appropriateness of an ancient collect is obscured by its dislocation from its original surroundings. There are few, if any, more exquisitely beautiful forms in the Prayer Book than the third collect at Evening Prayer: “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord: and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night, for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” But it is not so easy to enter into its full meaning in the broad flood of daylight at half-past two or three o’clock on a summer afternoon as at the solemn, closing hour of the day, when the ancient Compline was recited, after which men sought their rest in sleep. In a much less degree, but yet in a sensible measure, the superiority of the position of the Nunc Dimittis as placed at the end of the day will be felt. He would, perhaps, be reckoned a bold man who would suggest a substitute for either of these forms at an early Evening Prayer. [As regards the Nunc Dimittis, we must remember that the Reformers supplied an alternative in the Deus Misereatur.] But still the more perfect fitness of their position in the ancient services must, I think, be acknowledged. Nor can I wonder that at the late revision of the Book of Common Prayer in the Church of Ireland it was permitted, at discretion, to use as an alternative, “O almighty Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe,” etc. (the second of our post-communion collects), instead of “Lighten our darkness,” etc. We can become used to any familiar form of words, however incongruous, by not thinking about them; but the fact remains, “this night” is an expression that is not appropriate to an early afternoon service.
We now turn to consider the manner in which the Reformers dealt with their material in detail. [I have purposely avoided touching on the early variations in the use of the Antiphon. On this the reader should consult Batiffol’s Histoire du’ Breviaire Romain, chap. iii. § 1. Again, if it is desired to know the variations in the mode of singing the Invitatory on “simple feasts,” “double feasts,” etc., the practice of Sarum will be found in W. H. Frere’s Sarum Customs, pp. 37–39.]
Chapter 5 – Primitive Elements of the English Prayer Book – The Kyrie.
Some of the liturgical forms embedded in the English Prayer Book come down to us from remote antiquity. Putting out of view the very large body of material derived from Holy Scripture, which we find in the Lessons, the liturgical Epistles and Gospels, the Psalms, the Biblical Canticles, and the Versicles and Responses, etc., we possess certain devotional elements whose histories extend back till they are lost in the mists and shadowy uncertainties that hang round much of Christian life and worship in the infancy and childhood of the Church.
A striking example of these primitive elements is found in what is sometimes styled “the lesser litany,” that pathetic cry of penitence and awe which finds utterance in the words:–
“Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.”
It is interesting to observe that the services of the Latin Church, from which we have immediately derived this childlike utterance of the heart, have retained it in its Greek form. The Missals, the Breviaries, and other Latin service books give the words as “Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison.” And it seems not unreasonable to suppose that the use of the form in the West dates from the period when the early Christian Church at Rome was still, in the main, a Greek-speaking community. Its brevity, its frequent repetition, its use in most of the Church services probably gave it such a hold upon the memory, and had clothed it with such sacred associations that men were unwilling to let it go when the rest of the service was ceasing to be intelligible and had need of a Latin interpretation. It seems probable that it held its ground much in the same way as the Hebrew “Amen” and “Alleluia” held their ground among the Hellenists or Greek-speaking Jews.
From Rome and the Italian provinces the use of the Kyrie spread (but not very rapidly) to the Church in Gaul. As late as the Council of Vaison (A.D. 529) we find the enactment: “Since as well in the Apostolic See as throughout the whole of the provinces of the East and of Italy the sweet and very wholesome custom has been introduced of saying, with much frequency and great devotion and compunction, Kyrie eleison, it has pleased us also that in all our churches that holy custom should be introduced at Matins, at Mass, and at Vespers.” [II Concil. Vasense, cap. 5.]
There is no reason to doubt that, some seventy years later, this practice, by that time a custom of the Gallican as well as the Roman Church, was introduced into Britain (if, indeed, it were not already known there) by St. Augustine of Canterbury (A.D. 597).
But the Kyrie scarcely needs external evidence to its antiquity. It carries with it the almost unmistakable characteristics of primitive spontaneity, directness, and simplicity. How impossible it is by any effort of imagination to conceive a commission of modern divines, say a committee of Convocation, sitting round a table with their sheets of foolscap, blotting paper, and quill pens, and devising the Kyrie eleison. They might possibly be able to give us a fairly respectable collect in imitation antique; but the impassioned cry of the Kyrie belongs to the intensity and the freshness of primal and spontaneous emotion. It is as natural as a groan from a wounded creature. Its accents are the accents of pain, or of pity; but they are intermingled with a tone of hope. They are the tearful pleadings of a child with a merciful Father.
It seems to me a matter for regret that the great men to whom we owe the English Prayer Book were not content in their rendering of the Kyrie with the large indefiniteness of the original. The addition of the restrictive words “upon us” is not, on the whole, a gain. And when the opportunity presents itself on the occasion of a future revision, I would fain hope that those who are responsible may make bold to go back to antiquity, and restore to us the simpler form –
“Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.”
The ear would soon become accustomed to the change; and the heart would be carried forth beyond itself and its needs, and experience a new sense of the unbounded amplitude of the Divine pity. Like the illimitable vastness of the open sky, the infinite power of the Almighty encompasses the universe of His creation. No less wide, no less complete in its enfolding, is the reach of the mercy of Him whose mercy is over all His works.
The supplication, “Lord, have mercy upon us,” occurs in the Old Testament Scriptures, [See LXX., Isaiah 33:2, Psalm 123:3 (twice repeated). Compare Psalm 6:3.] and it is, probably, from the Psalms of the Septuagint Version that the phrase was instinctively adopted for liturgical use by the early Greek-speaking Christians. The addition of the second clause, followed by the repetition of the first, may be more reasonably conceived as the natural outcome of profoundly earnest feeling finding expression in a Christian atmosphere than as any deliberate design to offer entreaties addressed severally to each of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. This latter conception looks more like a device of the ingenuity of the age of commentators than a natural product of the simple emotions of the primitive age of the Church.
At later periods various rules (all savouring more or less of the artificial) enjoined the use of the formula, three times, six times, twelve times, forty times, etc. Very common was the threefold repetition of each clause: and in the first reformed Prayer Book this was retained in the opening of the service of the Eucharist, although it had been abandoned in the reconstruction of Matins and Evensong. In the Second Book of Edward, when the recitation of the Commandments was introduced, the Kyrie in its original form disappeared here altogether. But the Responses to the Commandments came in a measure to supply its place.
The last revision of the American Prayer Book supplies a suggestion well worthy of careful consideration in the event of a future revision of the English Communion Office. Within the last few years the practice of omitting the Commandments has grown to be very common in English churches. It is, of course, quite illegal, and therefore, on that ground, justly censurable. But when celebrations are very frequent, something may be pleaded for a relaxation of the obligation of the present rubric. In the American Prayer Book we find a permissive rubric, sanctioning the omission of the Decalogue, “provided it be said once on each Sunday”; and the further rule is added, “whenever it [the Decalogue] is omitted, the Minister shall say the Summary of the Law, ‘Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’” etc., which is to be followed immediately by, “Lord, have mercy upon us; Christ, have mercy upon us; Lord, have mercy upon us.” Thus the Kyrie is restored to its old place. Some, no doubt, would be glad to see it restored without the recitation of the Summary of the Law, but there seems good reason for hesitating to effect a total removal from the outset of the service of the solemn public witness to the law of righteousness (whether expressed in the Decalogue or in its New Testament counterpart) as demanded of all who would be meet partakers of the Holy Sacrament. [In the present English Book of Common Prayer “the lesser litany” appears in ten of the services, viz. (1) Morning Prayer, (2) Evening Prayer, (3) Litany, (4) Matrimony, (5) Visitation of the Sick, (6) Burial, (7) Churching of Women, (8) Commination, (9) Forms of Prayer to be used at Sea, (10) Ordering of Deacons, etc.; and in each case it immediately precedes the Lord’s Prayer.] The Scottish Communion Office permits, as an alternative to the Decalogue, our Lord’s Summary of the Law. The practice originated in the last century, and its legality is now fully recognized; and the response runs almost in the form of the English response to the tenth Commandment, “Lord, have mercy upon us, and write these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.”
Chapter 6 – Primitive Elements of the Prayer Book (Continued) – The Gloria in Excelsis.
The Gloria in excelsis is among the most ancient of the elemental forms of the Book of Common Prayer. The most careful investigator of this hymn in this generation, Rev. E. C. S. Gibson, [Now Dr. Gibson, Vicar of Leeds.] in his scholarly article in the Church Quarterly Review (October, 1885), after discussing the evidence, sums up as follows: – “All we can say is that the hymn cannot be later than the fourth century, while it may well be two or three centuries earlier. In the midst of so much uncertainty as to its date it is useless to inquire who was its author.”
This magnificent hymn is a product of the Eastern Church. Very characteristic of its source is the rushing storm of praise and jubilation with which it opens. Words seem to fail to express the glowing ardour of devotion: – “We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.” Even the dignified grandeur of the Te Deum pales before this superb outburst of adoring praise.
To those familiar with the different liturgical styles and methods of the East and the West there is scarce need of external evidence (which we have in abundance) to establish the Oriental origin of this glorious doxology. [It is known in the East as “the Great Doxology,” as distinguished from the Gloria Patri, which is styled “the Little Doxology.”]
The earliest known manuscript form of this hymn is to be found in the great Codex Alexandrinus, which Cyril Lucar, Patriarch of Constantinople, “the rash and hapless reformer of the Eastern Church,” gave – a right royal gift – to our king, Charles I, and which now forms what is perhaps the chief treasure of the British Museum. This great manuscript of the Bible may, in the judgment of Dr. Scrivener, “belong to the fourth century; it cannot be later than the beginning of the fifth.” [Westcott and Hort consider that it is certainly of somewhat later date than the middle of the fourth century, and add that the best judges assign it to the fifth. See Introduction to the N. T., p. 75.]
But attention should be directed to the fact that in this MS. the Gloria in excelsis (entitled there “A Morning Hymn”) is given a place with the Scripture canticles immediately after the Psalter. Before the MS. was written the hymn had obviously already attained a rank of such distinction as to be given a place among the inspired songs of the Bible.
“The unchanging East” is a phrase which, as applied to liturgical matters, doubtless much exaggerates the general immobility of the Oriental Churches. But in this particular instance the early position of this hymn is retained, and it is still sung as “a morning hymn” (as also in the Eastern Compline), while it has no place in the service of the Eucharist. And even in the West, when the Gloria in excelsis first came into use it was used at Matins on Sunday. [Rule of S. Caesarius of Arles, about the beginning of the sixth century.] In the Irish Church of the seventh century it was used (as in the modern Greek Church) both morning and evening. [See Mr. F. E. Warren’s edition of the Antiphonary of Bangor, ii. p. 75.]
We need not here attempt any inquiry into the date of the introduction of the Gloria into the service of the Mass. [Dr. Gibson’s article in the Church Quarterly Review details the evidence with much fullness.] It was there our Reformers found it; and in the Prayer Book of 1549, in the office entitled “The Supper of the Lord and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Mass,” it was retained in the opening part of the service, where it had stood in English Missals for several centuries, indeed not improbably from the time of St. Augustine of Canterbury. [It was preceded by the introit, the Lord’s Prayer, the collect, “Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open,” etc., and the Kyrie.] In the second revision (1552) it was removed to the concluding part of the service, where it stands in our present Prayer Book. To neither part of the service can it be said to be inappropriate; but, though I am sensible that one may be favourably prejudiced by familiar associations, it seems to me that there is a peculiar fitness in its bringing to a close the great Christian sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Even the supplications for mercy, which are so marked a feature of the later part of this great hymn, are not unsuited to the devout heart which is conscious of the unworthiness of the miserable imperfections of its best devotions.
The reasons which prompted this change of position are not obvious. It may be imagined that it was felt that its use in immediate juxtaposition with the extensive didactic element (introduced in 1552) in the recitation of the ten commandments was somewhat unsuitable. But, however this may have been, I see no good reason for regretting the change.
More questionable, it seems to me, was the rule of the reformed Prayer Book that the Gloria should be said on every occasion when the Eucharist is celebrated. In the Church of England in pre-Reformation times the rule (put roughly) was that it should be said on Sundays and Festivals only, and not at all during Advent or the period from Septuagesima to Easter. Each rule, no doubt, is attended by both gains and losses. The simplest and quietest of “said” Eucharists may indeed, at any season, well claim that the great thanksgiving of the Gloria forms a fitting conclusion to the rite. And again, it is to be always remembered that the Gloria is not only a hymn of adoration and of gratitude, but of suppliant entreaty. The prayer for mercy, repeated with such tender and wistful earnestness, imparts to the concluding section of the Gloria a note of penitence that is distinctly audible amid the triumphant praise. But there is certainly a sensible loss in reducing to one uniform level the services of the penitential and festal seasons of the Christian year. Even Easter and Christmas are now distinguished for us from Ash Wednesday (setting aside the Epistle and Gospel) only by the few words of the proper Prefaces. A rubric, if thought expedient, permissive in form (in some such words as, “The Gloria in excelsis may be omitted on ordinary weekdays, and also during the whole of the seasons of Advent and Lent”), would by many be felt as a liturgical gain.
The interesting question of the variations in the text of the Gloria in early times must not occupy us here. [The English reader will find the texts of the hymn as it is found in the Apostolic Constitutions, the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Antiphonary of Bangor, exhibited in parallel columns by Mr. F. E. Warren in his Liturgy of the Ante-Nicene Church (S.P.C.K.).] We turn to consider how our Reformers dealt with the text of the hymn as it stood in the old English Missals. With the exceptions about to be noticed they simply translated it closely and literally from the Latin. Indeed, the only very important variation is that the words “Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis” become in English “And in earth peace, good will towards men.” Here we must recognize a clear example of an exercise on the part of the Reformers of the critical spirit applying itself to textual emendation. The change may perhaps be sufficiently accounted for by the conviction of the revisers that the text of the Greek Testament, as it was then in their hands, in the editions of Erasmus, represented more truly than the Latin, the words of the Christmas hymn of the heavenly host (Luke 2:14). But it is just possible that the Reformers had got sight of the hymn as it appeared in some of the Greek service books; for in these the reading is, and, I believe, has been, all but invariably the nominative – ευδοκία. [See Gibson in Church Quarterly Review (October, 1885), p. 4.] Again, the English Bible then in current use gave the words, “Peace on the earth, and unto men a good will.” [Bible (Whitchurche, 1549).]
Other changes are (1) the insertion of the word “God” before “the Father” in the clause “Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father”; and (2) the omission of the word “Jesu” before “Christ” in the clause now appearing as “Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost.” I cannot offer any account of the origin of these two changes. They have not, so far as I know, any support from either printed or manuscript texts, which could have been known at the time. [The text (marked by many peculiarities) in the Antiphonary of Bangor reads “ad dexteram Dei Patris.”] When opportunity offers it might be well to revert to the authentic Western text.
It was not till the Second Prayer Book of Edward that we find the clause, “Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us,” which appears in our present Prayer Book. I am disposed to suspect that it originated in a clerical or printer’s error, which, in this conjunction of clauses so much alike, might very easily occur. But it is, perhaps, right to mention a conjecture of Mr. W. E. Scudamore, though I confess it appears to me rather far-fetched and fanciful. “Our priests,” he writes, “had been accustomed to the trine repetition of the clause, qui tollis peccata, etc., ‘that takest away the sins,’ etc., in the Agnus Dei, which they said at their Communion; and they would certainly miss it. Through the introduction of this clause, as the petition is addressed to the ‘Lamb of God,’ we have the Agnus Dei, but little changed, embedded, so to speak, in the substance of the Angelic Hymn.” [Notitia Eucharistica (second edition), p. 795.] It is not very easy to conceive that the temper of mind which carried through the revision of 1552 would be sensitive to the sentiments here imagined. But, however this may be, we heartily concur with Mr. Scudamore in his observation that “all must acknowledge that it [the introduction of this clause] adds much to the solemn deprecatory character of that hymn, which is so suitable when we have dared to draw thus near to God, and to receive that of which none are or can be truly worthy.” [Ibid., p. 796.] If this change originated in an error, it was a very happy error. [It is interesting to notice that the Codex Alexandrinus supports the form adopted by the revisers of 1552. Could it be possible that they had seen some Greek text in which the reading appeared?]
In conclusion, the text of the Authorized Version of the Bible (Luke 2:14), “Glory to God in the highest,” is closer both to the Greek and to the Latin than “Glory be to God on high,” but the latter was the reading in the English Bible “appointed to be read in churches” in 1549; and one can understand how natural it would have been to adopt it. In the Scottish Communion Office the hymn opens with “Glory be to God in the highest”; and though, perhaps, the matter may be considered of small importance, I cannot but think that this reading, more true, as it is, to the sense of the original, deserves to be substituted for the Prayer Book form when an opportunity for revision offers itself. The worship of God is a thing too sacred to justify the perpetuation of even a little blemish, if it may be removed without scandal or offence.
I have only to add that a knowledge of the fact that the Gloria in excelsis was used in early times in the West, as well as the East, as a Hymn for the daily office, and not for the Eucharist, should lead English critics to moderate their language in condemning the American Church for permitting (not, be it observed, enjoining) this Hymn to be sung at Morning and Evening Prayer, at the end of the Psalms, instead of Gloria Patri. Yet, though defensible on antiquarian grounds, the usage (which, I believe, is highly exceptional in actual practice in American churches) may seem with reason to have less to commend it than our rule, which restrains its use to the occasion of the Church’s great sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the Eucharist.
Chapter 7 – Elements of Early Date – The “Te Deum.”
The detached fragments of ancient services already noticed came to the Western Church from the East, and have been fitted into Western devotions. One may think of them as of those fragments of rock left by some ice floe on a shore far from their place of origin, and afterwards inserted in the structure of a human dwelling. With the Te Deum it is different. Though resemblances, more or less close, to several of its phrases may be found in Greek services, we may say, with all but absolute certainty, that its original language was Latin, and, with a high degree of probability, that the place of its origin was Southern Gaul. [See the able articles on the Te Deum and Gloria in excelsis [by Rev. E. C. S. Gibson) in the Church Quarterly Review for April, 1884, and October, 1885; and the Bishop of Salisbury (John Wordsworth) in Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, s. v. Te Deum laudamus. To which may be added Dom G. Morin in the Revue Benedictine (Fevrier, 1844), who takes a different view.]
1. In the present state of our knowledge speculation as to the authorship of the Te Deum can be little better, it seems to me, than a not very profitable guesswork.
As regards, however, the date of the Te Deum, we cannot be far wrong if we assign it to some time between the closing years of the fourth century and the middle of the fifth. As we now possess it, or perhaps in a form with some curtailment of the concluding verses, it has been widely used in the Church for probably little short of fifteen hundred years. It seems, from its titles in some of the older MSS., to have been originally used as a morning hymn for Sundays. Rome, always conservative in matters liturgical, had not admitted it for ordinary Sunday use as late as the ninth century; but gradually it made its way till it became universal in the West. It would be foreign to our purpose to discuss at length the various occasions upon which it was employed in worship; it must suffice to say that in England before the Reformation the general rule was that it should be said on all Sundays and Festivals excepting those that fell in Advent and the period between Septuagesima and Easter.
When we come to consider closely the structure and contents of the Te Deum, the intention and design of the composition are far from obvious. An examination of the older MSS. helps us to a certain extent. It would, I think, strike any careful reader of the Te Deum, as it stands in the Prayer Book, that the last eight verses, which are all (with the exception of the verse, “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin”) quotations from Scripture, make an artificial cento lacking in unity of conception and simplicity of impulse. Now, the MSS. show in this part such variations, irregularities, and omissions, as suggest that it had not the same origin or authority as the earlier part. These concluding verses (mainly from the Psalms) are strung together without any clear system or definiteness of purpose. Anyone can observe the carelessness with which the singular number in the last verse – “O Lord, in thee have I trusted: let me never be confounded” – follows the use of the plural in the preceding verses. Now, it has been pointed out [See Church Quarterly Review, October, 1885, p. 20.] that most of these verses, including “Vouchsafe,” etc., are appended to the Greek Morning Hymn, the Gloria in excelsis, in one or other of its early forms. They constitute a kind of antiphon to it. And it has been suggested, with what seems to me much probability, that when the Te Deum came to be used in the West as the morning hymn in lieu of the Gloria in excelsis, some of these versicles associated with the latter in actual use, came by-and-by to be attached to the Te Deum in transcription, though forming no part of the original.
I am disposed to regard verse 21 – “Make them to be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting” – as the true ending of the original Te Deum. It forms the fitting climax to the preceding historical representation of the work of redemption wrought by the incarnate “King of glory”.
2. Setting aside, then, the very loosely articulated appendix of the last eight verses in the form now in use, the Te Deum divides itself into two distinct sections, the second commencing with the words, “Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.” Indeed, so entirely distinct and unconnected are these two sections that if, in ignorance of the manner of such early compositions, we were to judge from internal evidence alone, we should be almost tempted to believe that we had here two quite distinct hymns, one placed immediately after the other. For in the text, as we now possess it, it is impossible to believe, as has been sometimes imagined, that the first part is addressed to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The first verse – “We praise thee, who art God; we confess thee who art Lord” – would indeed readily lend itself to that supposition; but the next verse (“the Father everlasting”), [Aeternum patrem. The expression in Isaiah 9:6 (applied in the view of the Church to Christ) rendered in our A.V. “the everlasting Father,” is in the Vulgate, “Pater futuri saeculi.”] and still more the words of verses 11–13 – “the Father of an infinite majesty; Thine honourable, true and only Son; also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter” – are absolutely fatal to the notion that the first part is an anti-Arian hymn addressed to Christ.
It is worthy of observation in this connection that a similar abrupt transference of address from the First to the Second Person of the Trinity may be found in the Gloria in excelsis. Such changes are indeed after the manner of Christian antiquity, and afford no presumption against the unity of the authorship of either of these hymns.
3. A few words may be said by way of comment on the text of the hymn as it appears in the Sarum Breviary, and the mode in which the Reformers dealt with the task of translation.
The heading of the Te Deum in the Sarum Breviary represents the hymn as the Canticle of Ambrose and Augustine on the occasion of the baptism of the latter. [“Canticum Ambrosii et Augustini in baptismo ejusdem Augustini editum.” Sar. Brev. (Procter and Wordsworth), fasc. ii. col. 27.] With their usual masculine good sense our English Reformers drew their pen through this statement, which, as we know, was a tradition of comparatively late origin.
The translation of this noble hymn was by no means an easy task. The Latin diction carried with it associations of an age long passed away. The Reformers who gave us the Prayer Book of 1549 were doubtless further embarrassed – embarrassed rather than aided – by the existence of translations of the Te Deum already in currency among the laity. The Bishop of Salisbury (John Wordsworth) [Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 1129.] has justly observed that their work here was not a new translation, “but merely a revision based apparently on a reminiscence of several existing forms.” He adds that these latter “may plausibly be ascribed to Cranmer”; but the influence of renderings much earlier than any that could have come from Cranmer’s pen is very apparent. Thus, for example, the phrase “the glorious company of [the] apostles” (gloriosus apostolorum chorus) we find in the early Prymer (circ. 1400?) printed by Maskell [Mon. Rit. (2nd edit.), iii. 16. See also pp. 239, 241.]; and “Whanne thou haddest overcome the scharpnesse of deth” (devicto mortis aculeo) we find in other MSS. of early date. [Douce MS. 246 (Bodleian) in Maskell, p. 241.] It would certainly be natural for the Reformers to seek to avoid variations from the form put forth in the Primer of 1546.
4. Of the translation as we now have it, it must be admitted that in a few places it is deficient in accuracy, and fails to convey in its completeness the force and beauty of some of the verses of the original. I do not complain of the first verse, for the words, “We praise thee, O God,” as a rendering of “Te Deum laudamus,” sufficiently convey the sense; and I cannot think how a closer rendering in tolerable English could be given without a flavour of pedantry. The old English, “Thee, God, we preyse,” [In Douce MS. 246 (Bodleian), printed by Maskell (Mon. Rit., iii. 239).] is no better; for, whether we retain or remove the commas, “God,” according to the English idiom, is certainly not an objective, but a vocative.
5. In verse 17 we suffer a distinct loss in the rendering of “devicto mortis aculeo” by the phrase “when thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death.” The reference is unquestionably to 1 Cor. 15:55–56 for though Jerome’s Vulgate reads here stimulus, the word aculeus was used in the earlier Latin Version; and we find it in quotations from, or references to the verses in the Epistle to the Corinthians, in Tertullian, Cyprian, Augustine, and in the Latin translation of Irenaeus. It was the word used in the Latin Church before Jerome’s revision had come into use. [But even the Vulgate at Apoc. 9:10, descriptive of the locust-like creatures which had stings in their tails (aculei erant in caudis) might reasonably have led the English translators to picture to themselves death with his sting.]
The Primer of 1535 read “Death’s dart overcome.” But this, though picturesque, presents a different imagery to that suggested by the Latin text.
6. In verse 16, “When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man,” etc., is the rendering of “Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem,” etc. The sense of the Latin, as it stands, is certainly not very clear, and the early variant readings here show that a difficulty was felt in remote times.
I cannot concur with those who think that the old Irish text, “Tu ad liberandum mundum suscepisti hominem,” etc., represents the original; first, because it is extremely difficult to believe that the parts of Europe where (as we have reason to believe) the hymn originated should (by homoeoteleuton or otherwise) have wholly lost such an important word as “mundum,” while remote Ireland should have got possession of the true reading; and, secondly, because I am aware of a tendency shown in Irish texts to make what was imagined to be better sense of an obscure reading. [An example will be found in the Irish form of the Gloria in excelsis (Antiphonary of Bangor, F. E. Warren’s edition, vol. ii. p. 31). Where the ordinary text declares that we give thanks to God for His great glory, the Irish form reads what, at all events at first sight, gives better sense, “We thank Thee for Thy great mercy.” To thank God for His great glory might certainly seem, when first considered, a somewhat strange expression. Another example is furnished also by the Bangor Antiphonary (p. 21), where the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed reads “Credo et in Spiritum sanctum ... sanctam esse catholicam ecclesiam.”] But, taking the text which the Reformers had before them, two possible senses (each encumbered with a harshness of construction) presented themselves: (a) “When Thou wert about to assume man (i.e. human nature) in order to deliver him”; and (b) “When Thou wert about to undertake to deliver man.” The first of these has much support from the use by patristic writers of the expression “suscipere hominem” (in reference to the Incarnation); the second has the advantage of avoiding the harsh “ad liberandum” without an expressed noun-substantive, but on the other hand leaves us with the difficulty of “suscepturus” used absolutely.
In the rendering they adopted the Reformers were probably mistaken, but their action was deliberate, for certain earlier English versions had gone the other way. It may suffice to quote the rendering given in the Primer of 1535 [Burton’s Three Primers, p. 82.] (which in many points is followed by the Prayer Book of 1549):–
“Thou (when thou shouldest take upon thee our nature to deliver man) didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.”
The language of the original of the three verses commencing with “The glorious company of the Apostles” was almost certainly suggested originally by a reminiscence of the beautiful last chapter of S. Cyprian’s De Mortalitate. [This connection was pointed out long ago (1682) by Bishop Fell in the notes to his edition of S. Cyprian.] “Gloriosus Apostolorum chorus” was rendered “the glorious company of Apostles” in at least three early English copies [See Maskell, Mon. Rit., iii. pp. 16, 239, 241.]; and again in the Primer of 1535 we read exactly as in the Prayer Book, “The glorious company of the Apostles.” I do not know that a better word could be substituted. [Perhaps it is worth noticing that in the pre-Hieronymian Latin at 1 Reg. x. 5, we read chorus prophetarum.] “Choir” would suggest associations foreign to the original.
“The goodly fellowship of the prophets” (Prophetarum laudabilis numerus) comes to us also from the Primer of 1535, and gives the meaning fairly well; though the fact that “fellowship,” as signifying “a body of persons in company,” is now obsolete, must blur the sense for a very considerable number in every large congregation at the present time. [“Yet Tennyson, in the distinctly archaic diction of his Passing of Arthur, gives us: – “The sequel of today unsolders all | The goodliest fellowship of famous knights,” etc.]
The Bishop of Salisbury has pointed out that numerus was often used as a technical military term in the Roman army for a certain large body of troops. We find it used not infrequently by such Latin writers as Tacitus, Pliny, and Suetonius, for a cohort, or some such division of the army. And it may perhaps be that in these three verses, as the Bishop suggests, we have a crescendo in regard to numbers, reaching its climax in the “noble army” of the third verse. [But it is to be observed that the words of Cyprian, “Illic Apostolorum gloriosus chorus: illic Prophetarum exultantium numerus, illic Martyrum innumerabilis populus,” etc., do not go to support the notion of a military allusion.]
The question of interest, as regards the third of these verses, is this: What is the meaning of “candidatus exercitus”? Most recent commentators concur in seeing here a reference to the vision in the Apocalypse (7:9, 13–14) of the great multitude whom no man could number, who bore palms in their hands, and had come out of great tribulation, and had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, and they would have the words translated “white-robed army”. It is certainly an attractive interpretation, and not improbably correct, but it is possible that the thought of the author of the Te Deum was slightly different. “Candidati “was a word applied in the Roman military terminology to certain picked troops, especially distinguished for bravery, highly honoured, and possessing many privileges, who formed the bodyguard of the emperor, and were the elite of the army. If numerus (as Bishop Wordsworth suggests) is to be taken as a military word of art, I would suggest that perhaps candidatus ought to be taken with a similar reference. At all events, this may account for the use of the word “noble” by our Reformers.
It has been conjectured that the troops styled Candidati were so called from their wearing some external garment of a white colour. Certainly St. Jerome, in his notice of Nepotianus, who afterwards abandoned the imperial army for the monastic life, mentions that “in militia Palatii” he wore hair-cloth “sub chlamyde et candenti lineo.” It seems to me that there may have been a mingling of images in the mind of the author of the Te Deum. Thus he would naturally think of the martyrs as clothed in white, but he regards them as warriors of the cross, not as a turba magna (Apoc., 7:9), but as an exercitus. Again, they are represented by St. John as “standing before the throne,” and so the thought of the candidati, or guard of the imperial throne, would not be unnatural. [It is worth observing that, while the Vulgate of Jerome (Apoc. 7:14) reads “dealbaverunt eas [stolas] in sanguine Agni,” the Vetus, or pre-Hieronymian version, reads “candidas eas facerunt.” Compare Tertullian, Scorpiace, 12, “et laverunt vestimentum suum, et candidaverunt ipsum in sanguine Agni.” We have seen another illustration of the Vetus, rather than the later Vulgate, suggesting the language of the Te Deum in the use of “aculeus mortis” rather than “stimulus.” Discounting the eight concluding verses, I think it is plain that the Te Deum must have been composed before St. Jerome s revision had come into general use.]
In the early Primers, printed by Maskell, we find the words in question rendered by “the white oost of martirs,” and in the Primers of 1504 and 1535 “the fair fellowship of martyrs.”
The three versicles might perhaps be rendered fairly well as follows:–
“The glorious band of the Apostles,
The goodly company of the Prophets,
The white-vestured army of Martyrs.”
[Perhaps “white-robed”; but if the military imagery is taken to be dominant, the more indefinite “vesture” may seem, rather than “robe,” more suitable to the picture of a soldier.]
7. In the rendering “make them to be numbered with thy saints” the Reformers followed the Latin text of the current Sarum Breviaries, though perhaps the more correct reading is not numerari, but munerari. It should be observed that the notion of reward does not necessarily enter into the latter word. Munerare is to bestow a gift, and if what is probably the earliest and most correct text [“Aeterna fac cum sanctis gloria munerari.”] be adopted here, it might be rendered (with the Bishop of Salisbury [Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 1125.]) “Make them to be gifted in company with the saints with eternal glory,” or, in somewhat more rhythmical English (though not keeping quite so close to the Latin), Grant them to enjoy with the saints the glory everlasting.”
Constant familiarity with the Te Deum of the English Prayer Book, and the many sacred associations that gather round its rhythmical and dignified language, may well make us averse from any attempt to alter it. Still, the fact remains that perhaps none of the great hymns embodied in the Prayer Book has suffered more in the process of translation. And the man of genius, one may hope, may yet be found who will give us the sense of this glorious hymn more closely and yet in a manner not less marked by harmony and rhythm. [A further discussion of the phrase candidatus exercitus and some additional observations on the structure of the Te Deum will be found in Appendix D. The mode in which two other of the Prayer Book Canticles – Benedicite and Magnificat – have been dealt with by the Reformers is discussed in Appendices E and F.]
Chapter 8 – The Translation of the Apostles’ Creed.
In dealing with the Creeds our Reformers appear to have accepted as material for translation the current text of the Apostles’ Creed, as it was found in the pre-Reformation service books of England. But in the case both of the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds we shall find reason for believing that they examined, and, as they thought, amended the texts as these were found in the old English Missals and Breviaries.
The Apostles’ Creed. It would be impossible here to discuss the interesting questions connected with the origin and early history of the (so-called) Apostles’ Creed. It must suffice to say that it is of great antiquity, and, in the shape we have it, is a product of Western Christianity. The Creed was known to the people of England in their vernacular tongue from remote times; and we possess a large number of versions of it in Anglo-Saxon and early English. [Several of these will be found printed in Heurtley’s Harmonia Symbolica.]
The belief that the Creed was composed by the Apostles lingered long in England, and finds expression in the works of some of our eminent divines. But it is worth observing that in the authoritative dogmatic formularies of our Church we find the Reformers using language that suggests that no decision had been arrived at by them on that subject. In the Articles of Religion (1552) we find in Article VII (corresponding to VIII in our present Thirty-nine Articles) the following: – “The three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’ Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed, ought thoroughly to be received,” etc. Indeed, down to 1662 the Creed is not in the English Prayer Book styled “the Apostles’ Creed”. This wise reticence may be favourably contrasted with the foolishly uncritical statement of the Catechism (commonly known as the Catechism of the Council of Trent) [Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad Parochas, Pii V. Pont. Max. jussu editus (1566), Pars I. c. i. qq. 2, 3.] published by order of Pope Pius V for the use of parish priests in the Roman communion, where we read that the holy Apostles, “under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,” divided the Faith into twelve articles, and that this profession of the Faith, “composed by themselves,” they called symbolum. As early as 1548 Cranmer, with excellent good sense, remarked of the statement “that the Creed, which is commonly and universally used to be said by the common people, was made by the twelve apostles,” that though “it may be so,” “yet it is a great offence to the clergy to affirm for certain the thing that is to themselves uncertain.” [Remains and Letters (P.S.), p. 515.] The sentiment here expressed is reflected, as we have seen, in the Articles of 1552, and perhaps also in the avoidance of the term “Apostles’ Creed” in the Prayer Book till 1662.
Questions as to the correct translation of the Apostles’ Creed are more numerous than might be at first supposed. Thus, for example –
1. Those interested in theology are aware that some theologians draw a distinction between the sense of Credo in Deum and such expressions as Credo Deum and Credo in Deo. The distinction is probably unreal; but it was, perhaps, an attempt to indicate the supposed pregnant sense of the former that suggested the renderings “I bileve into God Fader almygti ... and into Jesu Crist, his onli Sone” in a fourteenth-century rendering. [Heurtley, 96.] The English tongue obviously does not tolerate such a construction, which only puzzles without enlightening.
2. It was certainly sweet old English, and perhaps conveyed the sense better to the unlettered people, when we find the reference to the Mother of our Lord, in certain of the early versions of the Creed, expressed in the words “born of Marie Maiden,” or “of the Maiden Marie”. But by the sixteenth century “the Virgin Mary” was a well-established phrase.
3. The name of the Roman governor under whom the Saviour suffered was rendered as “Ponce Pilate,” a form retained from the earlier popular versions of the Creed; and so it stood at Matins as late as 1662. In the Creed too, as given in the Catechism, the little boys and girls of England down to the same date learned to speak of “Ponce Pilate”. Canon Simmons assures us that “Ponce Pilate” is a form which still lingers in English cottages. [Lay Folks’ Mass Book (Early English Text Society), p. 223.] But even in 1549 there seemed to be an inclination towards the form which has now become general among English-speaking people; for we find “Pontius Pilate” in the Nicene Creed of 1549, and even (“Poncius Pilate”) in the Apostles’ Creed, as given in its interrogative shape, in the order for Public Baptism. The quaint “Ponce Pilate” was a consistent attempt to give both the Latin words an English form. “Pontius Pilatus” is consistent, and so is “Ponce Pilate”; but the now securely established “Pontius Pilate” is, when we think of it, as faulty as “Marcus Antony” or “Horace Flaccus”.
4. How was descendit ad inferos to be translated? Here every English translator had to face the difficulty presented by the fact that we have but one word to render the two biblical terms “Hades” and “Gehenna”. The scriptural locus classicus on this article of the Creed is Acts 2:27, 31. No doubt it required some boldness on the part of the Revisers of the English New Testament in 1881 to substitute “Hades” for the familiar word “hell” in this place; but they were fully justified in what they did. It is far better where the gravest interests of truth are concerned, to use a word that at least does not mislead, though it may not enlighten, and may only provoke the question, “But what does it mean?” Had the Reformers adopted here a similar course many stormy clouds of misapprehension and vexatious controversy would never have arisen. It is only right, however, to remember that they had something to say by way of excuse. They were not translating the Creed for the first time; it had been, in one version or another, in the mouths of the people for centuries, and I suppose in every Anglo-Saxon and English version, certainly in all those with which I am acquainted, the word “hell” is to be found in this place. [The plural “hellis” (Prymer, circ. A.D. 1400, printed by Maskell) and “helles” (in a fifteenth-century Prymer, also printed by Haskell) seems to be an attempt to render the plural “inferos,” even as in the same documents in the fifth article we read “from deaths” (a mortuis); and in the sixth “heavenes” appears to be a rendering of the plural “coelos”.] And the common belief, which finds expression in the old “mystery plays” of the “Harrowing of Hell,” gave a wider sense to the word than it possesses in the beliefs of those who use the word “hell” in the exclusive sense of the place of the lost.
When the American Church first entered on the task of revising the Prayer Book, it was proposed (in the General Convention of 1785) to omit this article altogether. In June, 1786, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to say that they “saw with grief” ... that in the Apostles’ Creed “an article is omitted, which was thought necessary to be inserted with a view to a particular heresy, in a very early age of the Church, and has ever since had the venerable sanction of universal reception.” Yet, in spite of this protest, the first authorized Prayer Book of the American Church contained the permissive rubric, “Any churches may omit the words, He descended into Hell, or may instead of them use the words, He went into the place of departed spirits, which are considered as words of the same meaning in the Creed.” And so the rubric stood till the last revision (1892), when the permission to omit without the substitution of the alternative words was removed. [“The rubric now runs: “Any churches may, instead of the words, He descended into hell, use the words, He went into the plat of departed spirits, which are considered as words of the same meaning in the Creed.”]
5. In the phrase “He rose again (resurrexit) from the dead” there is no general agreement among the old English versions in the insertion of the word “again”; several have the word, and several have not. It is doubtless an attempt to give the force of re in composition, suggesting a restoration to an original condition. And it is difficult to conceive the perversity of mind that could suppose that the occurrence of the word suggests that our Lord had risen from the dead on a previous occasion. Yet the American revision in the eighteenth century struck out the word. But it has since been restored. The Americans could have cited for the omission several English Primers, including that of 1538.
6. “From the dead” (a mortuis), as one would fancy, is a very obvious rendering; yet it was not at once arrived at. “From death” is the common form of the early versions. “From death” we find to be the common form in the dogmatic documents and books of devotion of the reign of Henry VIII. Cranmer himself, in a version of which he says, “This Credo I have translated as nigh as I can conveniently, word for word, according to the Latin,” [In 1538, or perhaps 1542. See Remains and Letters (P.S.), p. 83.] wrote “from death”. The Prayer Book of 1549, though it directs the Creed to be said “in English” at Matins, omits to print its text. In the Prayer Book of 1552 we reach “from the dead”.
7. An error for which there is no excuse is the rendering, “the resurrection of the body” (carnis resurrectionem). [Pearson (Exposition, art. xi.) observes, “Though we have translated it in our English Creed, the resurrection of the body, yet neither the Greek nor Latin ever delivered this Article in those terms, but in these, the resurrection of the flesh.”] It appears at least as early as the Necessary doctrine and erudition for any Christian man; set forth by the King’s Majesty of England (1543). [This work may be found in Formularies of Faith put forth by authority during the reign of Henry VIII, edited by Dr. Lloyd.] The Creed, as there given, was followed with only very slight variation in the Prayer Book of 1549, as part of the Catechism; and thence it passed into the text of Morning Prayer in the Prayer Book of 1552. We learn, on the authority of St. Jerome, that certain followers of Origen admitted the resurrection of the body, but denied the resurrection of the flesh. [Epist. 84, ad Pammach. et Ocean. de erroribus Origenis.] Ruffinus, indeed, remarks that whether we use “flesh” (caro), as in the language of the Creed (secundum communem fidem), or “body” (corpus), as the Apostle Paul expresses it, we must believe as the Apostle has defined.
That no doctrinal significance can be connected with this change from the customary language of the earlier English versions of the Creed is apparent from the fact that in the Creed, as it appears in an interrogative form in the Office for Public Baptism in the Prayer Book of 1549, we find “resurrection of the flesh,” and that in 1552 the same form is directed to be used in the Visitation of the Sick. In both places the same words are retained in our present Prayer Book. There are disadvantages in such a variation in the form of the Creed; and, considered as a translation of the Latin, “resurrection of the flesh” should in all places be restored.
8. Another question which we have positive evidence for stating was before the minds of the Reformers, or, at all events, of Cranmer, is the question whether in the words, “I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholick Church; the Communion of Saints,” etc., the force of the preposition “in” is extended to “the holy Catholick Church” and the following terms. Do we “believe in” the Church, and the Communion of Saints, and the Forgiveness of sins, or do we only believe that there is a holy Catholick Church, and that there is the Communion of Saints, etc.?
It was chiefly the great authority of St. Augustine that led the Theologians of the West to conceive that the words “to believe in” were properly applicable only to God, the Trinity in Unity, and consequently to each of the three Persons. [The question is discussed with his customary learning by Pearson in his Exposition of the Creed.] The question was a topic of discussion among the great mediaeval schoolmen; and the current opinion of the day is found expressed in the Necessary Doctrine and Erudition for any Christian Man (1543) set forth by the King’s authority, and commonly known as “The King’s Book,” where we read, “In this Creed the said manner of speaking, I believe in, is used only in the three articles which concern the three Persons in Trinity, that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” [Formularies of Faith put forth by authority in the reign of Henry VIII, p. 229.] Again, Cranmer, in his own translation of the Creed, already referred to, [See above.] gives the following: “I believe in the Holy Ghost: And that there is an holy Catholic Church: ... And that there shall be resurrection of the body,” etc. [Compare (p. 89, note) the old Irish “esse catholicam ecclesiam.”]
It is happy, I think, that eventually the Reformers gave us the Creed in its present English form, for it is highly questionable whether the distinction of the Latin Fathers and schoolmen is not wholly illusory. [Ruffinus, in his commentary on the Apostles’ Creed, is very emphatic: “Non dixit in sanctam ecclesiam, nec in remissionem peccatorum,” etc. But we must remember that his Creed was, “Et in Spiritu Sancto; sanctam ecclesiam,” etc.]
The points that have been here presented (and others could be added) may show us – what we are very liable to forget – that even the rendering of so familiar a formula as the Apostles’ Creed was not all plain sailing, and that there were several difficulties, more or less considerable, to be encountered and dealt with.
Chapter 9 – The Nicene Creed, as Dealt With in Our English Version.
In dealing with the Apostles’ Creed our Reformers accepted the text of the old Latin service books of England, and tried to give a translation into suitable English. In the case, however, of the “Mass Creed,” as it was called – that is, the Western form of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Symbol recited at Mass – there is reason to believe that they were not content to accept the text as it was to be found in the Sarum and other English missals.
1. An indication pointing this way will be found in the omission of the word “holy” from the clause “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. This omission has been by some attributed to inadvertence – a supposition in itself highly improbable in the case of those who were dealing with so venerable a formula of the Faith. But the omission can be accounted for if we suppose that the Reformers had been keeping themselves abreast of the well-known theological writings of their time. I have elsewhere [Church Quarterly Review (July, 1879), in the article entitled “The Anglican Version of the Nicene Creed.”] discussed this question at length; and it must suffice to say here that had they turned to Merlin’s work on the Councils, of which there had been published editions in 1524 (Paris), 1530 (Cologne), and 1535 (Paris), or to Peter Crabbe’s, published in 1538 (Cologne), or to Carranza’s, published in 1546 (Venice), they would have found this Creed again and again printed in what claimed to be the Acts of the ancient Councils, without the word “holy” in this place. And if, in fact, the Reformers were mistaken, they are not to be blamed for following the best lights of their day, as afforded in the works of such distinguished historical scholars of the Roman communion. Jacques Merlin was an eminent scholar, a Canon and Grand-penitentiary of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, where he lies buried. Crabbe was a Belgian Franciscan, a man of much learning, and violently opposed to Protestant doctrines. Carranza had eventually a wider and more distinguished reputation than either Merlin or Crabbe. He was a learned and brilliant teacher of theology at Valladolid, when his Summa Conciliorum was published; and was afterwards elevated to the Archbishopric of Toledo. [Before his elevation to the archiepiscopal dignity he was in attendance on Philip in England, and became confessor to Queen Mary Tudor. He was eagerly interested in the restoration of the Roman Church in England. Before the end of his days he himself fell under the suspicion of the Inquisition, and was for many years a prisoner at Rome.]
More recent research would perhaps lead us to believe that the original form of the Creed did in fact read “holy”; and if this supposition is made good, it would certainly be proper, when occasion offers, to restore it to our English version. [A Roman Catholic controversialist some time ago is said to have made a point, in a sermon, of this omission. “Holiness is not esteemed a mark of the Church by Anglicans.” He did not mention that twice a day the Church of England recites the words “the Holy Catholic Church” in the Apostles’ Creed.] But the matter is noticed here to show the critical spirit in which our Reformers dealt with these ancient documents. If they erred, they erred with the best ecclesiastical scholars of their time.
2. The First Prayer Book of Edward VI gave nothing corresponding to the clause cujus regni non erit finis. This, I suspect, was also due to critical inquiry. For the text of the earlier part of the Creed – that part which in the strict sense of the term was Nicene – they might have looked to the Greek of R. Stephens’ Ecclesiasticae Historiae (1544), as well as to Latin versions; and everywhere they would have found that the clause in question was wanting. It was, however, restored in the Second Prayer Book (1552) in the form “whose kingdom shall have none end.” [In 1662 “no end”. Conjectures as to the reason for the restoration will be found in the article of the Church Quarterly Review (already referred to), p. 381.]
3. In the expression “begotten of his Father” (where the Latin is ex Patre natum) the English, like the original Greek of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed as recited at Chalcedon, uses the same word here, and later on in “begotten not made,” where the Latin is genitum non factum. This is a gain. But it must be acknowledged that the word his is not happy: the clause should run “begotten of the Father,” as in the Greek.
4. “God of God,” etc. (Deum de Deo, etc.). “Of” was a better rendering of de (εκ in the original) in the sixteenth century than it would be now. Thus of in the sense of from, or out of, is frequent in the Authorized Version of the Bible; and in most connections it is not even now misleading. [The Revisers of the N.T. (1881) have occasionally found it proper to change “of” into “from”.] But in the phrases of the Creed now before us it will be acknowledged by everyone who has had much experience in teaching the young and the uninstructed that the use of this preposition confuses the sense, and is, in fact, often suggestive of strange notions. We find in one of the editions of Edward’s Second Prayer Book “God of Gods,” an error which points to the way in which the sense is even now sometimes misunderstood. Yet, even apart from the general objection to making any change in the familiar language of so venerable a formula, both from and out of are, perhaps, too suggestive of separation to be substituted here. Something might be gained if the clause was printed thus: “God, of God; Light, of Light; very God, of very God.”
5. The expression “The Lord and giver of life” stood thus in the Prayer Book of 1549; and so it stands in the Sealed Books (1662), and their original, the MS. Prayer Book attached to the Act of Uniformity, which is the primary legal authority for our present text. Modern editions have often in recent times given us “The Lord and Giver of life,” in the endeavour, possibly, to suggest the sense of the Dominum et vivicantem of the Latin, and to avoid the ambiguity of our English which might mean “the Lord of life and the giver of life”. The present Prayer Book of the Church of Ireland, followed by the present American Prayer Book, inserts a comma after “Lord”. This is an improvement; but the true solution is, together with the comma, to repeat (as in the original Greek) the article before “Giver of life,” reading thus: “The Lord, and the Giver of life.” It may be observed that, though the Creed as recited at the Council of Chalcedon inserted the word “and,” the best text of the Creed at the earlier Council of Constantinople [Mansi. Tom. iii. p. 565.] is without the “and”. Very solemn and dignified would that form be – “I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, The Giver of life.”
6. “I believe one Catholick and Apostolic Church.” The Reformers inserted “I believe,” and without following it by “in”. The Creed in the missals gives the context thus: “Et in Spiritum Sanctum ... Et unam, Sanctam, Catholicam, et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. “The best Greek text has “in” before “one holy catholick and apostolick Church.” [εις μίαν, κ. τ. λ.] Knowing, however, the common notion in the West as to the peculiar sense of credo when followed by in, we must presume that our Reformers understood that “ecclesiam” in the Latin text was governed, not by “in,” but by “credo” (see above). In other words, that which the translators of the Nicene Creed wished to convey was what Cranmer had written some years before in his translation of the Apostles’ Creed in his Annotations upon the King’s Book, [Remains (P.S.), p. 83.] namely, “I believe in the Holy Ghost: and that there is an holy Catholick Church.”
The Reformers, if they suffered at all in the translation of the Nicene Creed from having to approach the task without the suggestions which even inferior work by forerunners in such labours so often affords, were at least free from the embarrassment of having to take into account any English version that had established itself in popular esteem. The meaning of the mass-creed was unknown to the general body of the English people. The customary direction to the lay people was that they should say in English the Apostles’ Creed while the priest was reciting the Nicene Creed. [See Canon Simmons’ Lay Folks’ Mass Book (Early English Text Society), pp. 19–22.] It was probably as sensible a direction as could be given at the time; but we have all, clergy and people, much cause to be thankful that now the whole body of the faithful can with united voice join in the one great Creed, which is the utterance of the faith of the West and the East alike. [From this general statement one has, of course, to except the clause relating to the Double Procession.]
Chapter 10 – The English Version of the Athanasian Creed.
As the case of the Nicene Creed, so also in respect to the “Confession of our Christian Faith commonly called the Creed of St. Athanasius,” it is evident that the Reformers were not content with working upon the Latin texts supplied in the medieval service books of England. Influenced, most probably, by the belief so long entertained, that the Creed was of Eastern origin, and the composition of the Greek-speaking Bishop of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, it was not unnatural that they should look for a Greek text, as more likely to be correct than the Latin. But whatever may have been their reasons for so doing, it is certain that they placed before them a Greek text, which in some places determined the language of the English translation. Daniel Waterland (1724) was, I think, the first to make clear that our Reformers had in some places, where the Latin and Greek texts differ, followed one of the forms of the latter. [Critical history of the Athanasian Creed. Works, vol. iii.] For our purpose it may suffice to notice four verses where the differences between the English and the Latin of the English Breviaries are thus accounted for. (1) Verse 12 reads: “As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated,” etc. In the Latin the order of the words is “non tres increati nec tres immensi”; but a Greek text, published by Bryling at Bale (about 1540?), gives the order as in the Prayer Book. Earlier English versions, such as that commonly attributed to Wyclif, that in Hilsey’s Primer (1539), and that in a Psalter printed by Whytechurch (1542?), had followed the order of the Latin. But the change in the order of the words in this verse, if it stood alone, would be hardly sufficient in itself to enable us to feel confidence that it was the Greek text that determined the English order. We must take this instance in connection with those that follow. (2) Verse 27: “Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Here, again, in the use of “rightly” instead of the Latin “faithfully” (fideliter) the English follows the Greek (ορθως). (3) Verse 40: If our Reformers had followed the Latin, our English would have run, “which except a man believe faithfully and firmly (firmitergue).” But in the Greek there is nothing corresponding to the words “and firmly”; and the words are absent from the Prayer Book.
(4) Verse 38 presents a more doubtful case. The Latin, adopting a barbarous construction, reads, “Omnes homines resurgere habent,” “have to rise,” “must rise”. The Greek is simply αναστήσονται, “shall rise again”. This instance, however, might possibly be only an imperfect attempt to render the sense of the Latin. Yet we should remember that Hilsey’s Primer had read “must rise,” and Whytechurch’s Psalter “have to rise”. [See Swainson’s Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, etc., pp. 491, 493–5, where other less marked indications of the influence of the Greek are given.] So, on the whole, this too seems to make in favour of the use of a Greek text.
We now know that the Reformers made a mistake in supposing the Greek text to be the original. But the mistake was a natural one to make, and it does not detract from our feeling of admiration for the design and intention of those who made it their object to build their work on what they believed to be the earliest and most authoritative text. [Several years ago I attempted to show that the word “incomprehensible” in verse 12 is not used (as most commentators assume) in its obsolete sense of “unmeasured,” “infinite” (as an equivalent of the Latin immensus), but as a translation of ακατάληπτος in its most common sense of “not to be comprehended by the intellect,” that is, in the now general, and in the sixteenth century common sense of the English word “incomprehensible”. Elsewhere when our Reformers desired to translate the Latin “immensus” they used “infinite,” as in the Te Deum, “The Father of an infinite majesty”. Compare also the English and Latin of the first of the Thirty-nine Articles. In the English translation of the Paraphrase of Erasmus 1548 we read, “Considering that the nature of godly things is incomprehensible, yea to the highest wits of men or angels,” etc. John Fryth (who perished at Smithfield in 1533) writes; “How incomprehensible are his [God’s] ways.” The argument is more fully set forth in a little paper by the writer, entitled Quaestiunculae Liturgicae, 1886.]
In all the editions of the Prayer Book down to that of 1662 this creed is simply styled “this Confession of our Christian Faith”. Yet the wording of the seventh (now the eighth) of our Thirty-nine Articles of Religion would lead us to think that while the Reformers had their scruples as to the real origin of “that which is commonly called the Apostles’ Creed,” they were without doubts as to the origin of “Athanasius’ Creed”. Before, however, the last revision of the Prayer Book scholars had begun to question the view that Athanasius was its author, and it was doubtless the impression thus created that led the revisionists of 1661 to insert in the rubric the words “commonly called the Creed of Saint Athanasius”.
One may inquire why, if the early Reformers believed this Creed to be the work of St. Athanasius, they did not call it in the Prayer Book “the Creed of St. Athanasius”. I fear it is impossible to give an answer that is quite satisfactory. In the Sarum Breviary it had been entitled “Symbolum Athanasii” when written in extenso in the office for Prime, but in frequent rubrical directions it had been referred to simply as “Quicunque,” or “Psalmus Quicunque vult”. I would welcome a better explanation of the action of the Reformers in dropping the name of Athanasius, and must content myself with offering the following conjecture. The motive which ruthlessly removed from the Kalendar of the First Prayer Book of Edward VI the name of every saint who cannot claim to be recorded in the New Testament may have here been at work. In Cranmer’s Litany of 1544 the concluding prayer, “Almighty God, which hast given us grace at this time with one accord,” etc., had been styled, in the margin, “A Prayer of Chrysostome.” But in the First Prayer Book this title was removed. It may be due to the same sentiment, rather than to critical doubts as to the authorship, that the Te Deum is not assigned, as in the Sarum Breviary, to the authorship of Ambrose and Augustine. It would seem as though the desire throughout was to base the Prayer Book on the ground of its conformity with the teaching of Holy Scripture, and not on any human authority, however venerable.
The offence given to many good Christian people by the “minatory” (or, as they are often called, “damnatory”) clauses of the Athanasian Creed cannot, I believe, be ever wholly removed by any attempt at a new and more correct translation of the best authenticated Latin text. But some mitigation of the offence would, no doubt, be found in one or two obvious corrections. As early as 1636 the scholarly James Wedderburne, Bishop of Dunblane, had, in view of the approaching publication of the Book of Common Prayer for the use of the Church of Scotland, suggested certain improvements in the translation of the Athanasian Creed for the consideration of Archbishop Laud. And when the book appeared in 1637, we find one of the verses commonly objected to had been, by a closer rendering of the Latin, deprived of much of its harshness. The original of the verse that runs in the English Prayer Book, “He therefore that will be saved: must thus think of the Trinity,” is “Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat.” The Scottish Prayer Book gave the verse, “He therefore that would be saved: let him thus think of the Trinity.” It would seem that even as early as 1637 the sense of “will,” as implying “desire” or “wish,” was becoming obsolete, or at least that “will” was more readily regarded as the sign of the future tense than as implying volition. And again, “let him thus think” is a really more accurate rendering of “ita sentiat”.
By a curious inconsistency the opening words, “Whosoever will be saved” (Quicunque vult salvus esse) were allowed to stand as in the English Prayer Book. I have reason to believe that the fault was not Wedderburne’s.
The correction of these two verses would, of course, be an obvious duty on the occasion of a new revision of the Prayer Book. But the other verses to which objection has been raised are scarcely capable of any mitigation of their real or seeming harshness. Some small gain might be found in rendering “ut teneat” (in the first verse) by the words “that he hold fast,” rather than “that he hold.” In the common language of our time “to hold” this or that doctrine is no more than “to believe” it; while “to hold fast,” which seems to be the real sense of tenere in this passage, leads the mind to the thought of a constant adherence to the faith professed. It lays the emphasis not on orthodoxy, but on the moral qualities of fidelity and constancy. The same thought comes out in the correct text of verse 29; for, while the Greek text of our Reformers reads “believe rightly,” the more authentic Latin reads “believe faithfully.” And again, the last verse of the Creed in the Latin lays stress upon constancy in the words fideliter firmiterque.
If we are right in believing that the Psalm Quicungue vult originated in Southern Gaul in the fifth century, at any time during the long-continued and barbarously cruel persecution of the Catholics by the Arians all along the coast of North Africa, or while the Arian persecution in Gaul itself was still fresh in men’s memories, nothing would be more natural than laying great stress on the moral obligation of not surrendering the faith under the temptations of bribery or under the pressure of terror. If we are correct in believing that these were the historical surroundings when the Psalm had its birth, we can more easily understand that the stress of thought lies, not upon orthodoxy merely, but upon loyalty, and that its condemnations are directed not against either unbelief or misbelief, as such, but against apostasy through fear or favour. [This will be found treated at some length in a pamphlet by the author, entitled Helps from History to the true sense of the minatory clauses of the Athanasian Creed. (Edinburgh: R. Grant & Son, 1897.)]
That ut teneat in the first verse might well be rendered by “that he hold fast,” finds, in my opinion, support from the following passages from the Vulgate:–
(a) 1 Thess. 5:21, “hold fast that which is good,” stands as “quod bonum est tenete” in the Vulgate.
(b) Rev. 2:13, “thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith.” In the Vulgate “tenes nomen meum,” etc.
(c) Rev. 2:25, “that which ye have already, hold fast till I come.” Vulgate, “id quod habetis tenete.”
(d) Rev. 3:11, “hold that fast which thou hast” Vulgate, “tene quod habes.”
(e) Col. 2:19, “not holding the Head”. (Revised Version, “not holding fast the Head”). Vulgate, “non tenens caput.”
(f) 1 Cor. 11:2, “keep the ordinances” (Revised Version, “hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you”). Vulgate, “tenetis.”
Compare, too, 2 Thess. 2:15 in Greek and Latin.
(g) Heb. 4:14, “let us hold fast our profession” (Revised Version, “let us hold fast our confession”). Vulgate, “teneamus confessionem.”
(h) Mark 7:8, “ye hold the tradition” (Revised Version, “ye hold fast”). Vulgate, “tenetis.”
Some recent writers, in their desire to lessen the difficulties presented by the minatory clauses, have alleged that we should render “salvus esse” in the first and last verses, not by to be saved, but to be safe. I am unable to accept this distinction, because I think both the usage of the Latin Vulgate and the context in the Quicunque make plain that it is eternal salvation that is referred to. See Acts 2:21, “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (σωθήσεται): Vulgate, “salvus erit”. Again, Rom. 5:9, “being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved (σωθησόμεθα) from wrath through him”: Vulgate, “salvi erimus” 1 Cor. 3:15, “he himself shall be saved (σωθήσεται); yet so as by fire”: Vulgate, “salvus erit”. See also 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Tim. 2:4, etc.
After all has been said in explanation of the minatory clauses, the question remains, Is the Quicunque vult, as it now stands, or even after all shall have been done in the way of securing a more correct text and a better translation, well fitted for use by the general body of the people that crowd our churches on the great Festivals? Can we expect of them that acquaintance with the probable circumstances of the origin of the Creed (as revealed by ancient ecclesiastical history) or the exercise of the historical imagination, which alone makes the minatory clauses intelligible in their true sense? We need not refer to the attempt made in 1689 to explain the difficulties by a note, or to the somewhat similar attempt made by the Convocation of Canterbury (but rejected by that of York) as appears in the Reports presented to the Queen in 1879.
It has only to be added that the Athanasian Creed was removed from the Prayer Book of the Church of the United States of America, and has not been restored to it; and that the Church of Ireland, while retaining the Creed, untouched, in the Prayer Book, has removed the rubric enjoining its use in the public services of the Church. [It is interesting to find Bishop Jewel as early as 1564, noticing that some attributed the Athanasian Creed to Eusebius of Vercelli. (Defence of Apology in Parker Society’s edit. of Works, iii. 254.) For further information on early printed Greek versions of the Creed, and on some minor points connected with our English translation, see Appendix G.]
Chapter 11 – The Collects – The Literary Treatment of the
Latin Originals – The New Compositions.
The artistic merits and literary beauty, no less than the devotional excellence of the Collects of the English Prayer Book, have been acknowledged with a remarkable fullness of testimony from various quarters. The great majority of these forms are either close translations, or, more commonly, somewhat amplified paraphrases of Latin Collects, which can be traced, through the medieval service books of England, to authorized devotions of the ancient Church of Rome. These prayers are almost all to be found in certain collections that are known as the Sacramentaries of St. Leo, St. Gelasius, and St. Gregory. Many of them belong to the sixth, and some to the fifth century, or may even possibly mount higher still.
The special form or structural plan of the Collect is peculiar to the worship of the Western Church. The prayers in use in the Eastern Church are commonly much longer, more elaborate, and more ornate. The characteristic of the Collect is the presentation of (ordinarily) a single petition, preceded by the invocation of God’s Name, and followed by a pleading of the merits of Christ, or by such an ascription of honour to Him as serves for an implicit recognition of His power to obtain for us an answer to our supplications.
Among the English Puritans the shortness of the Collect form was, from the time of Elizabeth downwards, a frequent subject of reproach. Collects, as well as versicles and responses, were probably included in the unseemly scoffs of the Puritan protagonist, Cartwright, when he objects to the Prayer Book “that instead of such prayers as the primitive churches have used and those that be reformed now use, we have divers short cuts and shreddings, which may be better called wishes than prayers.” And as late as the Savoy Conference (1661) we have representatives of the same party declaring that they are satisfied concerning “the lawfulness of a liturgy,” provided, among other things, that it be not “composed of too short prayers”. Hooker, in a well-known passage of the Ecclesiastical Polity (v. 33), replied to Cartwright in language that is applicable to the Collects as well as to what liturgiologists call the preces (that is, the versicles and responses) which are a marked feature of the English Prayer Book, as they had been of the earlier service books. He accepts the defense of St. Augustine, which is, in effect, that the “vigilant and erect attention of mind, which in Prayer is very necessary,” would be “dulled by continuance if prayers were few and long”; and he adds that the “piercing kind of brevity” better expresses “the quick and speedy expedition, wherewith ardent affections, the very wings of prayer, are delighted to present our suits to heaven.”
The same objections to the brevity of the Collects were repeated in the next century, [As a stroke of controversy it was a smart saying, in reference to the alleged coldness and brevity of the Collects, that the Church “casteth forth her ice like morsels.”] and at the time of the Great Rebellion were replied to by many of the Church divines, notably by Henry Hammond in his work entitled, A view of the new Directory, and a vindication of the ancient Liturgy of the Church of England, and by Jeremy Taylor in his courageous and brilliant Apology for authorized and set forms of Liturgy. Of the Collects the latter writer, in his own characteristic style, says, they “are cleared from a neighbourhood of tediousness by their quick intercision and breaking off,” and adds, most truly, that they “are made energetical and potent by that great endearment per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum.” [Works (Eden’s Edition), vol. v., p. 245.]
The late Archdeacon Freeman, whose taste was doubtless affected by his familiarity with the more elaborate devotions of the Eastern Church, complains of what seemed to him an undue severity in the old Latin collects, and of a terseness carried to excess. The richness, indeed, and the glow that are displayed in the Eastern prayers cannot be questioned. They are often marked by great beauty, but occasionally they are disfigured by an extravagance of fancy that is grotesque, and, I would venture to say, by an overlaying of colour that may, not unjustly, be styled tawdry. Yet it need not be contended that the Collect form is so entirely satisfying that there is no place for prayers constructed on a different plan. Indeed, our Prayer Book has several examples that show us what may be done, and has been done, in the more ample and copious manner. The Prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, the two post-Communion Prayers, the Prayer for the Queen’s Majesty in the daily Office, and several Prayers in the occasional Offices may be pointed to as instances.
The Reformers, in their rendering of the Latin Collects, have, in a very large number of instances, shown themselves not quite content with a strictly literal rendering. Partly this was no doubt due to the difference in the genius and character of the two languages. The close compacted sense, the conciseness of the Latin, could not by any ingenuity be lucidly conveyed into equally terse English. But I think there are indications that Cranmer and his fellows were conscious of a certain baldness or undue severity, and of a certain deficiency of warmth that detracted from the acknowledged merits of some of the Latin Collects. It was not, perhaps, due wholly to considerations of rhythmical effect (of which they were indeed great masters) that they were so liberal in their addition of adjectival epithets that impart an emphasis, a colour, and a touch of feeling which we should now, with our experience, very reluctantly surrender. Thus the introduction of “Almighty” before the Name of “God” in various places seems to me a kind of natural homage of the heart that loves to dwell upon the divine attributes. And when “merciful” becomes “most merciful,” may it not be attributed to a profound sense of unworthiness rather than to a seeking after a rhythmical cadence?
Occasionally a whole phrase is inserted with a like object. If there be an element of truth in the view expressed by Archdeacon Freeman, “that the somewhat cold shade of the ritual mind of St. Leo, deep and exact rather than lofty or genial, has rested, ever since his day, on the devotions of the West,” [Principles of Divine Service, vol. i., p. 375.] it must be admitted that the English Reformers did something to remove the reproach. Thus in the wonderfully beautiful Collect for the Sunday next before Easter there is a suggestion of humble gratitude in the phrase, “of thy tender love towards mankind,” which at the very outset strikes the true keynote of feeling. It suffuses the whole prayer with its flush of emotion, and we could not let it go. Let us remember that it is to Cranmer and his companions that we owe it. Take the Prayer Book in your hand, and compare this Collect with the following rendering of the original in the Missal for the Laity (put out with approbation by Bishops of the Roman Communion in England):–
“O almighty and eternal God, who wouldst have our Saviour become man, and suffer on a cross to give mankind an example of humility; mercifully grant that we may improve by the example of his patience, and partake of his resurrection. Through.”
Now, the design here was, no doubt, to translate the Latin and nothing more, [I do not trouble myself to inquire whether, even in literalness of rendering, “to become man” is as good as our “to take upon him our flesh,” as an equivalent of nostrum carnem sumere, or whether “our flesh,” as an equivalent of carnem sumere, or whether “suffer on a cross” is quite the proper rendering of crucem subire.] and the translation serves its purpose fairly well. But who can question the superiority of the Prayer Book Collect as an utterance of the heart in devotion? The man, whoever he was, to whom we owe this jewel of great price, was stirred by feeling as he wrote; and feeling overflows in the introduction of the phrase already referred to, and of the instinctively chosen epithet “great” when speaking of the humility of our Saviour. The rendering in the Missal for the Laity is almost as crude as a schoolboy’s “crib”. Its movement is felt to be as stiff and wooden as that of an automaton, when set side by side with the life and grace of our own English. It would be easy to multiply illustrations.
The warm glow of emotion which touches and brightens many of our Collects, at points where it is lacking in the originals, has for me all the appearance of being the natural and genuine outcome of a devout mind stirred by the work upon which it was engaged. It raises before my mind’s eye the picture of the translator on his knees as he wrote. [Let those who complain of the coldness of the English Collects recall the testimony of one of the sanest and most judicial of English theologians, Bishop Sanderson, who declared the English Collects to be “the most passionate ... expressions that any language ever afforded”; and let them ask themselves whether the coldness complained of may not be due to a lack of warmth on the part of those who use them.]
Again, even in cases where there has been some departure from the sense of the original there is not unfrequently a real gain in the change. Who would prefer “unseen good things” (bona invisibilia) to “such good things as pass man’s understanding” (sixth Sunday after Trinity)? Or is there anyone who would prefer “Who makest the minds of the faithful to be of one will” (fourth Sunday after Easter) to (as in 1662) “Who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men”? It is nothing short of what Mr. Matthew Arnold (in dealing with another subject) styles “natural magic,” to find “Ecclesiam tuam ... illustra” converted into “Cast thy bright beams of light upon thy Church” (St. John the Evangelist). Other amplifications are scarcely less happy; as when “ut inter mundanas varietates” (fourth Sunday after Easter) becomes “that so among the sundry and manifold changes of the world.” Or, again, “who seest that we are destitute of all power” (second Sunday in Lent) seems meagre by the side of “who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves.” In the second collect at Morning Prayer the exquisite phrase “whose service is perfect freedom” has been spoken of as “inferior” to the Latin, “cui servire regnare est” (whom to serve is to reign). But who will say that he would substitute the latter for what we have?
Again, in some cases the condensed and even crabbed Latin seems intractable for a literal rendering. Let the reader try to render “Deus virtutum, cujus est totum quod est optimum,” and then compare his version with the opening words of the Collect for the seventh Sunday after Trinity. Phrases like “quos in soliditate tuae dilectionis instituis” (second Sunday after Trinity); “cujus providentia in sui dispositione non fallitur” (eighth after Trinity); “et merita supplicum excedis et vota” (twelfth after Trinity), are all happily dealt with, perhaps more particularly the last, with its haunting alliteration “and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve.”
This last instance recalls to mind another. In the following example the ear of the translator was familiar with an alliteration in the Latin, and probably felt a deficiency in the English rendering till he lighted on an ingenious and happy device for conveying the music of the original. It is found in the first of the occasional collects at the end of the Communion Service, where “ut inter omnes viae et vitae hujus varietates” becomes “that among all the changes and chances of this mortal life.” [This Collect in the original belonged to a Mass to be said “for those on a journey”. In days when the perils of “the way” filled men with anxiety, the appropriateness of its language must have been deeply felt. When the Collect was changed into one for ordinary use it was natural to set aside the reference to “varietates viae,” but those accustomed to the combination “viae et vitae” would, as I conceive, miss the alliterative effect.]
Let it be freely admitted that the work of the translator, or paraphraser, is not all equally good; that here and there valuable thoughts have been missed altogether or marred in the transfer to another tongue; that even a few real errors may be discovered; yet, after all deductions, there is substantial truth in the statement of the late Dean Burgon that in countless instances “they [the Reformers] have transfused the curtest, baldest, and darkest of the Latin Collects into truly harmonious and transparent English.”
Dr. Bright, in the very valuable essay on the Collects, which he has contributed to the volume entitled The Book of Common Prayer with Commentary for Teachers and Students, has pointed out what he calls “a few real mistakes”. It is right that they should be noted down; and it will be the bounden duty of those in authority when the opportunity offers to amend such errors as seriously or injuriously affect the sense. But it may be questioned whether among the instances cited there may not be somewhere what is called an error was in reality a deliberate change made for a good reason, or a reason that at least seemed good. There are certainly two cases, however, where a very sensible loss has been suffered through changes introduced in 1549, and I would urge again, as I have done on a former occasion, [See “Literary Aspects of Prayer Book Revision,” in the Contemporary Review, September, 1871.] that these errors, when the occasion offers, should be dealt with.
1. In the Prayer Book of 1549 the beautiful Collect for the Sunday after Ascension Day was constructed from the yet more beautiful Antiphon of the Magnificat in the old vesper service for the Ascension. Eight hundred years before that time its sweet words were linked with the last hours of Bede, for we are told how when the dying saint came to chant the words “leave us not comfortless” (ne relinguas nos orphanos) he “burst into tears and wept much.” But now observe the point: the Antiphon is addressed to Christ our Lord. It was He who promised that He would not leave His disciples comfortless. It was He who said, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” Hence we have in our present Collect a halting inconsistency. It is addressed to the Father, but undoubtedly the original thought, when the “King of Glory” was addressed, carried the worshipper to the jubilant Psalm of the Ascension, where the everlasting doors are invoked to open so that “the King of Glory,” the ascending Lord, might come in. It would not be difficult to readjust this Collect to its great advantage. [On the suggestion of the Antiphon I venture to offer what, I think, may indicate the line to be followed: “O Lord of hosts, the King of glory, who hast ascended with great triumph above the heavens, we beseech thee leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither thou, O Lord, art gone before; who livest and reignest,” etc.]
2. The other case is the Collect for the fourth Sunday in Advent. This in the mediaeval service books was also addressed to our Lord Christ; and it may be restored to its original character by changing the conclusion to the customary formula, “who livest and reignest,” etc. “The prayer thus becomes the Advent cry of the Church to her Lord ‘Come among us’; of the Bride to the Bridegroom ‘Come quickly, Lord Jesus.’ The prayer is thus applicable, though in different degrees, whether we direct our thoughts chiefly to the final Advent, or, as Dr. Neale takes for granted it was designed, to the Advent, through the Incarnation about to be celebrated at Christmas, the prayer speaking ‘with dramatic effect,’ which he justly remarks, ‘permeates every ecclesiastical office,’ and entreating the Lord ‘to be born for our sakes,’ as if the work of redemption were not yet begun; or in the direction towards which, as I fancy, its original intent may perhaps have looked, viz., that other Advent of the Lord ever being repeated upon earth in the fulfillment of His words, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him and he with me.” [I have here made use of words from my article in the Contemporary Review, above referred to.]
Chapter 12 – The Collects (continued) –
The Revision of 1662 – Attempted Revision of 1689.
It would be wrong, in our gratitude to the Reformers of the sixteenth century, to forget what we owe to the Revisers of the Prayer Book more than one hundred years later (1661). They did excellent work, not only in the delicate and difficult task of rehandling some of the earlier forms, but in themselves contributing some precious offerings to our rich treasury of devotion. Among the minor verbal changes made in 1661 were the substitution generally of “who” for the already archaic “which,” when referring to a person, though, somewhat inconsistently, “which” was allowed to stand in the Lord’s Prayer; the change of “penance” into “repentance” (St. John Baptist’s Day); the frequent insertion of “O” before “God” or “Lord” in the opening addresses of the prayers, and such alterations as “prepared for them that love Thee” for “prepared to them,” etc.; “Church” substituted for “congregation” (e.g., Collect for the sixteenth Sunday after Trinity), which word had already come to be used all but exclusively for persons meeting in some particular building for divine worship. Here and there in other places it may be questioned whether we have gained or lost by the changes made, as when (twentieth Sunday after Trinity) the fine old phrase, “that we being ready both in body and soul may with free hearts accomplish,” etc., gave place to “may cheerfully,” etc.; or when (sixth Sunday after Trinity) “that we loving Thee in all things” was changed into “that we loving Thee above all things.” [The original combined both thoughts – “ut te in omnibus et super omnia diligentes,” etc.] “But in the great majority of cases none will doubt that the changes are real improvements. Take, for example, the ending of the Collect for St. John the Evangelist’s Day, which up to 1662 ran as follows: “... by the doctrine of thy blessed apostle and evangelist, John, may attain to thy everlasting gifts, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This certainly cannot compare for beauty with our present ending, which so happily seizes upon and amplifies the imagery of light, suggested by the “bright beams” of the opening words. Scarcely less meritorious is the improvement in the Collect for St. Stephen’s Day, which formerly ran thus: “Grant us, O Lord, to learn to love our enemies, by the example of thy Martyr, St. Steven, who prayed for his persecutors to thee, which livest,” etc. It is also to the last Revision we owe the fine phrase, “who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men,” which was substituted for “which dost make the minds of all faithful men to be of one will,” an expression which, though nearer to the original Latin, is likely to perplex, and is also, by reason of the crowd of monosyllables, somewhat wanting in musical cadence.
The Revisers of 1661 have left us some admirable examples of entirely original work, which may well stand comparison with the very best of the earlier Collects. Let the reader take his Prayer Book and read carefully the Collect for Easter Eve, and I think he will acknowledge that, judging by the standards of literary feeling and liturgical fitness, we have here a very delicate and exquisite piece of skillful workmanship. This Collect, [That is, in the form in which we now possess it, for some suggestions were no doubt derived from the somewhat confused and lumbering Collect for Easter Eve in the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637.] as well as the beautiful Collects for the third Sunday in Advent, the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, and the first Ember Collect, are with considerable probability attributed to the pen of Bishop Cosin. He had for many years been engaged in studies upon the Prayer Book, which, however little likely when he began his researches to be of any practical use, made him an authority of much weight when, so unexpectedly, the work of liturgical revision was undertaken after the Restoration. [It is not unlikely that Cosin’s researches had been stimulated by the designs of the Puritan party in Parliament as early as 1641, to make liturgical changes in the direction which it favoured.] It is thus that not unfrequently in many departments of inquiry the retired student rises in an emergency into the man of practical influence.
In the Easter Eve Collect, as we possess it, there is a slight change made from the form in which it appears in one of Cosin’s annotated copies of the Prayer Book. There it ran, “... by continual mortifying our corrupt affections our sins may be buried with him.” [So also it ran in the Scottish Prayer Book.] To whomsoever it was due, the slight touch that has brought the wording to its present shape has effected a marked improvement in its imaginative colouring.
The great merits of the Collect for the third Sunday in Advent must not blind us to the beauty of the old Collect for which it was substituted, and which, if slightly modified, should have been saved from oblivion by being preserved somewhere in the Prayer Book. It ran thus: “Lord, we beseech thee, give ear to our prayers, and by thy gracious visitation lighten the darkness of our hearts, by our Lord Jesus Christ.” The necessary modification referred to arises from the fact that the original, in the Sarum books, was directly addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and our English (following the Latin) should have ended, “who livest,” etc. The imagination had placed itself in the position of those who sat in darkness waiting for the visitation of Christ, which was realized at the Nativity; and the first Reformers here were guilty of, at best, a liturgical oversight, which marred the appropriateness of the Collect as proper to the Advent season, and tended to make easier the total removal of what might have been easily emended.
Before 1661 the Collect for Easter Day was repeated on its octave, so that the substitution of a new Collect for the first Sunday after Easter only removed from that place a Collect that had been, and remained, in use through the whole of Easter week.
It is worthy of observation that the very beautiful Collect inserted in 1661 for the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany (up to that date, if there happened to be a sixth Sunday, the propria of the fifth were ordered to be repeated on the sixth) is so framed as to be no less appropriate to the approach of Advent than to the season of the Epiphany, being so adapted, as we may suspect, in view of the rubrical direction that, “if there be any more Sundays before Advent Sunday [than twenty-five] the service of some of those Sundays that were omitted after the Epiphany shall be taken in,” etc.
The first of the Ember Collects, added in 1661 to the Prayer Book, would seem to be due to the pen of Cosin; at all events, it is to be traced at least as far back as to the Collection of Private Devotions, which he had published in 1627, [Whether it is an original composition of Cosin or is derived from an earlier source I am unable to say.] and in which the prayer appears almost exactly as it now stands in the Prayer Book.
Our appreciation of the splendid treasury of devotion that we possess in the Collects of the Prayer Book cannot but be much heightened by the knowledge of the fact that at one period since the last revision we were in serious danger of an authoritative adoption of alterations in the worship of the Church, which, viewed as a whole, the sounder liturgical taste of our own age cannot but regard as in a high degree vicious both in design and in workmanship. On the accession of William of Orange it was sought to propitiate the Protestant dissenters, to whom, politically, he was so largely indebted, by a revision of the Prayer Book with a view to making it more agreeable to their opinions and tastes. In September, 1689, a Royal Commission was issued to ten bishops and twenty other divines of the Church of England. Among other directions they were ordered “to prepare such alterations of the Liturgy ... as might most conduce to the good order, and edification, and unity of the Church of England, and to the reconciling as much as possible of all differences.” In considering the results of the labours of this Commission, which have only in recent years been made known to the world in their completeness, [In a “blue book,” being a “Return to an address of the House of Commons, March 14, 1854.” This was again issued in 1855 by S. Bagster & Sons, under the title, The Revised Liturgy of 1689.] it is outside my scope and purpose to treat of such few changes as seem to have been suggested by a desire to modify the expression of the Church’s doctrine in a Puritan direction. I am concerned with this projected revision only in its liturgical and literary aspects, and here, more particularly with the Collects, which were subjected to very many alterations, though in the great majority of cases there is no new doctrinal colouring imparted by the changes made. Indeed, in but few instances does there seem any design in the alterations other than that of lengthening the prayers, chiefly by incorporating in them scriptural language drawn from the epistle for the day. A few examples will show that the results are sadly unsatisfactory through the over-packing of the prayer with thoughts having little cohesion with one another. Take the Collect for the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany: “O God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great temptations and dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature in many things we offend all, grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; that being faithful unto thee, obedient to our governors, rendering to everyone their due, and doing that which is good, we may be graciously accepted of thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Again, the Collect for the second Sunday after Trinity runs thus: – “O Lord, who never failest to help and govern them who continue steadfast in thy fear and love, keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and give us grace to fear and love thee above all things, and to have bowels of compassion towards our brethren; that so we may have confidence towards thee and whatsoever we ask we may receive of thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” These specimens sufficiently illustrate the mistake of overcrowding thought, which is the common vice of the work of 1689. Moreover, as compared with the untouched Collects of the Prayer Book, it will also be admitted that they fail in rhythmical beat and musical cadence. It is seldom indeed that we find any of the Collects of this revision that have sufficient merit to attract or hold us. They are mostly diffuse and flatulent, and lack the cogent concinnity of the prayers for which they are proposed as substitutes. We have to be thankful that we have escaped them.
Occasionally we find in this proposed revision a useful hint or happy suggestion. Thus few, I think, save the dullest opponents of all change, can have the hardihood to allege that the opening of the “Prayer for the clergy and people” is not fitted to perplex and possibly mislead. Even highly intelligent persons have been known to suppose the sense to be that “Bishops and Curates” present such specially formidable obstacles to the grace of God that we have to appeal to the Lord as to Him “who alone worketh great marvels.” And, at all events, the collocation of words is open to the fairly-put objection that it is “subject to be ill-interpreted by persons vainly disposed.” [Calamy’s Life of Baxter, p. 452.] The change of address (in 1689) to “Almighty and Everlasting God, the giver of all spiritual gifts,” appears to me a change decidedly for the better. And it is on the same lines that the Church of the United States has adopted the prayer in the form, “Almighty and Everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift,” etc., though it seems to me that the wording of 1689 reads better. [It is strange that the Church of Ireland in the recent revision of the Prayer Book allowed this fault to stand uncorrected.]
Some other useful hints may be found in other parts of the work of the Royal Commission. Thus a short suffrage for Parliament in the Litany is a gain, as allowing the omission (when the Litany is said) of the rather long Prayer for the High Court of Parliament. Another suffrage is inserted in the Litany for the King’s “forces by sea and land”. It is certainly a defect in our Offices that they contain no express prayer for the army and navy that protect the Empire. Again, the suffrage for “all sick persons” is expanded into “all sick and dying persons,” which offers a suggestion worthy of consideration and capable, perhaps, of being expressed more happily, as e.g. “for all sick persons, and all them that are in peril of death,” or simply “for the sick, and for the dying”.
The Royal Commissioners included among them some of the ablest and most accomplished writers of the day, as Patrick, Stillingfleet, Tillotson, and Burnet, each of whom (according to the statement supplied by a contemporary likely to be well informed – Dr. William Nicholls) [Apparatus ad Defens. Eccles. Angl., p. 95.] had his share in the reconstruction of the Collects. Bishop Patrick composed the first draft; Bishop Gilbert Burnet (according to our authority) supplied further touches, adding “force and spirit” to the compositions, which were then submitted to the judgment of Stillingfleet; while the final “polishing” of the work was entrusted to Tillotson, whose chastened eloquence was at the time and for long after highly admired. Yet, how poor is the result of their labours. It is plain that they had no just conception of the essential character of the collect form. Their studies had not been largely in the liturgical writings of the ancient Church, and their style was affected by the current taste of the day. Above all, as always in the work of committees, there is too frequently exhibited a lack of simplicity and unity of impulse. A committee is as ill-suited to write a collect as to write a sonnet. It is indeed true that we have reason to be grateful for what we have escaped.
Chapter 13 – The Litany-Historical Occasion of the First English Litany –
Notices of Historical Associations – The Prayer of St. Chrysostom –
Possible Influence of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom in
Suggesting Some of the Petitions – Faulty Accumulation of
Objects of Prayer in One Petition – Suggestion of a Remedy.
Special interest attaches to the Litany as being the first of the public prayers set forth by authority to be said or sung in the English tongue.
Without entering on the subject of the early antiquities of litanies, or “processions” (as they were often called) it may be mentioned that beside the use of litanies enjoined in the old Breviaries for Lent and the Rogation season, it was a common practice to use this form of devotion on the occurrence of any special trouble or calamity falling upon the country. Thus in August of 1543, the year preceding the publication of the first English Litany, we find that in consequence of excessive rain, “to the great hurt and damage of the corn and fruits now ripe upon the ground,” the King directed Cranmer to command the suffragans of the province of Canterbury “to cause such general rogations and processions to be made incontinently within their dioceses, as in like case heretofore hath been accustomed in this behalf accordingly.” Cranmer therefore enjoined that such public “supplications and suffrages” should be made on Wednesdays and Fridays (qualibet quarta et sexta feriis) that God, remembering His mercy, would have pity upon His people. These litanies were in the Latin tongue.
In the following year (1544) heavy clouds of trouble of another kind overshadowed England. The country was engaged in war at the same time with Scotland and with France. Hertford’s invasion of the former country in the May of this year, and the burning of the city of Edinburgh was a striking demonstration of the power of England, but it did not subdue the spirit of the Scots, and the war was continued with much vigour, and, unfortunately, much ferocity on both sides. The war with France was a yet more serious matter. And while the hearts of Englishmen were filled with anxiety, Henry, whose character, however shamefully discreditable, was marked by a strong vein of religious, or, if the term be preferred, superstitious sentiment, gave order for “general processions” [i.e. litanies] [In mediaeval times the litanies were sung in procession sometimes within the church, sometimes in the churchyard, and on certain occasions along the streets or roads of the parish. Hence the word “Procession” was commonly applied to the service itself.] “to be said or sung with such reverence as appertaineth,” in all cities, towns, churches, and parishes of the realm, to the end that God would allay the “most cruel wars, hatreds, and dissensions” that prevailed so widely. But in this case we have the beginnings of a great change in the worship of the English people. “Forasmuch,” say the royal letters, “as heretofore the people, partly for lack of good instruction and calling, partly for that they understood no part of such prayers or suffrages as were used to be sung and said, have used to come very slackly to the procession when the same have been commanded heretofore, we have set forth certain godly prayers and suffrages in our native English tongue.” [Wilkins’ Concilia, iii. 869; Cranmer’s Remains and Letters (P.S.), p. 494.] Here is the first beginning of our priceless English Prayer Book.
It was, then, the disturbed condition of the greater part of Europe, or, to use the King’s words, “the miserable state of all Christendom ... so plagued with the most cruel wars, hatreds, and dissensions,” and more especially the wars, against Scotland and against France, in which England itself was engaged, which made the occasion for the publication of the first English Litany as enjoined for actual use. The object of the war with the Scots, it may be remembered, was to secure the person of the royal infant who afterwards figured so largely in history as the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, as a bride for Prince Edward.
A comparison of our Litany with the pre-Reformation English litanies will help us to see what was specially suggested by the circumstances of the time. Thus the petition that God would “give to all nations unity, peace, and concord” seems to be new, at least in England. Again, when we remember that Henry VIII was just about to lead his army in person into France, we can appreciate the special significance of the words with reference to the King: “That it may please thee to be his defender and keeper, giving him the victory over all his enemies.” [The words italicized do not occur in the pre-Reformation Litanies.]
Once again, in the same connection it may be mentioned that in one of the Sarum litanies a rubric directs that “if it shall be necessary in time of war” certain versicles or preces shall be used. These appear in our Litany, and run from (and including) the versicle “From our enemies defend us, O Christ” down to the end of “Graciously hear us, O Lord Christ.”
In days of national peace and prosperity good people, I suppose, understand “our enemies” in a mystical sense, as “our spiritual enemies,” and so make them in a fashion not inappropriate. Yet I cannot but admire the wisdom of the medieval Church when she practiced an economy in the expression of intense and pathetic entreaty. To use such language every Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday in the year is to leave us bankrupt in the day of calamity.
As illustrating the purpose of the Litany of 1544 a passage may be cited from “An Exhortation to Prayer” prefixed to it when first published:–
“And here specially let us pray for our most dear and sovereign lord, the king’s majesty, who doth not only study and care daily and hourly for our prosperity and wealth, but also spareth not to spend his substance and treasure, yea, ready at all times to endanger himself for the tender love and zeal that he beareth towards this realm and the subjects of the same: who at this present time hath taken upon him the great and dangerous affairs of war. Let us pray that it may please Almighty God, Lard of hosts, in whose hands is only wealth and victory, mere fully to assist him, sending his holy angel to be his succour, keeper, and defender from all his adversaries, and from all evils. Let us pray for our brethren that bend themselves to battle for God’s cause and our defense, that God may grant them prosperous success to our comfort and the increase of his glory. Let us pray for ourselves that remain at home that Almighty God defend us from sin, sickness, dearth, and all other adversities of body and soul.” [The Exhortation and Litany will be found printed in an appendix to Mr. Clay’s volume, Private Prayers put forth by authority during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, etc. (P.S.), pp. 563 sq.]
There can scarcely be a reasonable doubt that both the Exhortation to prayer and the Litany to which it is prefixed are due to the pen of Archbishop Cranmer. The literary and liturgical merits and demerits of his workmanship on this part of the Prayer Book will be considered more particularly hereafter. At present I would only call attention briefly to certain features characteristic of the period of its origin that have since disappeared.
The invocation of the Saints was a striking feature in most of the mediaeval Litanies. Immediately after the petition in the opening, “O Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy upon us,” there followed long lists of names, including those of St. Mary, of Archangels, of the apostles, of many early and later saints, martyrs, confessors, etc., each one being followed by the words, “pray for us”. [Research into Christian antiquity may enable the scholar to attach some notion to most of the names of saints invoked; but for the vast majority of the clergy who chanted the processions we may well believe that it was an exercise of the tongue, rather than of the heart or the understanding when they pattered, “S. Euprepia, S. Candida, S. Basilissa, S. Balbina, S. Pientia, S. Victoria, S. Corona, S. Felicula, S. Julita, S. Sapientia, S. Fides, S. Spes, S. Charitas, S. Crescentic, S. Emerentiana, etc., etc., etc., pray for us.”]
The time when Cranmer prepared the first English Litany was a time of transition. Nine years later the invocation of Saints was formally declared by the Church of England to be “a fond thing, vainly feigned, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God.” (Articles, of 1553, No. xxiii.) But as yet our Reformers had not reached this stage, and Cranmer did no more than substitute for the long lists of names three invocations (in two of which those invoked were grouped together), as follows: – “Saint Mary, Mother of God our Saviour Jesus Christ, pray for us; All holy angels, and archangels, and all holy orders of blessed spirits, pray for us; All holy patriarchs and prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins, and all the blessed company of heaven, pray for us.” Five years later in the First Prayer Book of Edward (1549) these invocations were all deleted.
Another note of the time found in the Litany of 1544, which continued to hold its place in both the Prayer Books of Edward, shows itself in the petition, “From all sedition and privy conspiracy; from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities; from all false doctrine and heresy ... Good Lord, deliver us.” The policy of Queen Elizabeth when she came to the throne was one of conciliation towards her Roman Catholic subjects; and the reference to the Bishop of Rome and “his detestable enormities” was in 1559 struck out of the Litany. She and her advisers could not have anticipated the “detestable enormity” of her pretended deposition by Pius V, or the plots for her assassination hatched in Romish seminaries abroad.
The reader of the petition of the Litany as cited above may have noticed that the removal of the clause relating to the Bishop of Rome is not the only difference observable between this form of words and that which now stands in our Prayer Book. Here, again, the history of the English people has impressed itself upon their forms of worship. The Great Rebellion of the seventeenth century and the destruction by the sectaries of the whole external framework of the Church of England were evils the possible recurrence of which the Church had indeed cause to dread. And so at the time of the Restoration the Church and nation added to its prayers the supplication that the good Lord would deliver them from “rebellion” and from “schism”. [John Cosin, Bishop of Durham, to whose liturgical labours, extending over many years of his life, our Prayer Book, as we now have it, owes much, was apparently the divine who suggested the addition of these two words. He had been himself a sad sufferer from both the schismatic and rebellious spirit of the age.] No passage of equal brevity in the Prayer Book is for the well-instructed English churchman more crowded with historical associations.
In the Litany of 1544 we find the Prayer of St. Chrysostom. This shows us that already Cranmer had been making some study of the Greek Liturgies. In the Invocation of the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine in the Communion Service of 1549 we have another illustration of the same truth. But here I would point out what seems to be the way in which “A Prayer of Chrysostome” found its way into the Litany. The prayer is to be found in St. Basil’s as well as in St. Chrysostom’s Divine Liturgy (i.e., Service for the Eucharist). But St. Chrysostom’s Liturgy had been translated into Latin by Erasmus at the request of Fisher, Bishop of Rochester; and this translation was afterwards printed in the Bale edition of St. Chrysostom’s Works (1539); while again St. Chrysostom’s Liturgy (unaccompanied by St. Basil’s) had appeared in Greek, with a Latin translation at Venice, in 1528. [The Roman edition of 1526 contained both St. Basil and St. Chrysostom. See Appendix A, p. 227.] If Cranmer’s acquaintance with St. Chrysostom’s Liturgy was due to either of these works it would sufficiently account for his giving the prayer the title it bears. It is not at all improbable that Cranmer was unacquainted with the Liturgy of St. Basil.
How it is that the Prayer of St. Chrysostom came to be used at the close of the Litany in the first case (for it was not placed at the end of Matins and Evensong till as late as 1662) may, I think, be easily accounted for. Cranmer, when preparing the Litany (which more than most parts of the Prayer Book derives its material from very varied sources), would naturally have thought of the Litany – sometimes called the “Deacon’s Litany” – which occurs in the early part of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. Closely connected with this “Deacon’s Litany” is the prayer eve are considering.
It may be suspected that not only this concluding prayer, but also some of the petitions of our Litany are traceable to the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. Thus while the pre-Reformation English Litanies in one of the petitions prayed for “our Bishops,” but did not mention Priests and Deacons, our reformed Litany prayed that God would illuminate “all Bishops, Pastors, and Ministers” (not altered in sense, but made more definite in the “Bishops, Priests, and Deacons” of 1662). Similarly, the Greek “Deacon’s Litany” prayed for “our Archbishop” [i.e., of Constantinople], and also expressly for “presbyters” and “deacons”. The prayer that God would “give to all nations unity, peace, and concord” (already referred to) has a close counterpart in the Greek (though not in the old English) Litany, where we find a petition “for the peace of the whole world,” and “for the unity of all.”
Again, when Cranmer sought to shorten the recitation of the Litany by grouping together several distinct petitions in one, [See the Litany of 1535 in Burton’s Three Primers, p. 128.] and produced the curiously incongruous collocation of “all that travel by land or by water, all women labouring of child, all sick persons and young children; and to show thy pity upon all prisoners and captives,” he may have been emboldened to do so by the scarcely less unsatisfactory petition of the “Deacon’s Litany”. [We give the Latin rendering of the Venice edition of 1528: “Pro navigantibus, viatoribus, egrotis, laborantibus, captivis.” The resemblance is certainly curious.]
Again, so far as I know, there is no tolerably close parallel in the Western litanies to the words, “That it may please thee to succour, help, and comfort all that are in danger, necessity, and tribulation “certainly no parallel so close as that which is to be found in the “Deacon’s Litany” in the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. [“Ut liberet nos ab omni tribulatione, ira, periculo, et necessitate,” as in the Latin rendering of the Venice edition of 1528.]
And here it may be remarked in passing, with reference to the petition for all “that travel by land or by water,” etc., that the future liturgical reformer of the Anglican services has an obvious duty in the readjusting of this petition, though it may be at the cost of having to introduce a new suffrage by breaking this one up into two or even three. The matter would call for careful treatment by those possessed of liturgical feeling and literary skill. Merely as a rough suggestion the following will indicate what is meant:–
“That it may please Thee to support and comfort all sick persons, all women with child, and all nurseling children.” [Nurseling children. This is what is doubtless meant. Compare the “infantes” in Hermann’s Litany, and the “teneros infantes” of the Latin Orarium of Henry VIII (1546), which is a contemporary translation of the English Litany. “Babe” is a good classic word. See Luke 2:12, 16; 1 Peter 2:2 (“new born babe”). If we had had originally here “all nurseling babes,” how attached we should have grown to the phrase. “Women with child” suggests for us a different notion from “labouring of child”; but the extension of thought to a time accompanied by anxiety, and often by suffering, would by many be thought a gain. Hermann reads “pregnant women,” and the Latin Orarium (1546) of Henry VIII reads “feminas gravidas”.]
“That it may please Thee to protect from danger all that travel by land or by water.”
“That it may please Thee to show Thy pity upon all prisoners and captives.”
The ancient Litanies gained much by allowing the mind to dwell on the several distinct thoughts presented. I am not so unpractical as to think lightly of the gain of greater expedition, effected by grouping the petitions together; but for all ordinary occasions the saving of time might be secured more satisfactorily by allowing, or enjoining, the omission of certain of the preces and collects in the second part of the Litany which commences with the Lord’s Prayer, and which is more especially suited for penitential seasons or times of great calamity. By this suggested abbreviation of the second part of the Litany on ordinary occasions we should also attain something of that wise economy of emotional utterance which characterized the use of Litanies by our forefathers.
In the recent revision of the Prayer Book of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, before the words “O Christ, hear us” there has been inserted the rubric, “The Minister may, at his discretion, omit all that followeth to the Prayer, We humbly beseech Thee, O Father, etc.” Though one may perhaps be disposed to doubt whether the rubric has been inserted in exactly the right place, yet the advantage of some such permission would, I am sure, soon commend itself. Here the Church of England has something to learn from the daughter Church.
Chapter 14 – The Litany – Cranmer’s Workmanship.
The Litany is based largely on the pre-Reformation Litanies of the Church of England; but other sources were consulted, and there is some original and, apparently, independent work. On the whole our English Litany must be judged one of the noblest works in the whole range of liturgical literature. But we must not allow natural affection for this beautiful form of prayer to blind our eyes to the blots which occasionally mar its excellence. On some particulars about to be commented upon there will be, doubtless, divergence of sentiment and opinion. The prescription of long usage and old associations makes it very hard to form an unprejudiced judgment in matters of this kind; and, besides, there are in some cases reasonable grounds for difference.
1. The old Litanies of England in the entreaties addressed severally to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, and to the Three in One, used simply the words “have mercy upon us” (miserere nobis). I can imagine how easily one might argue that Cranmer’s addition of the words “miserable sinners” is the suitable expression of a profound penitence, and always befitting the true Christian. Yet, for myself, I feel that the large simplicity of the original is preferable. We must remember that Cranmer undertook the work of preparing other litanies for festival days, and actually accomplished some of them. Unfortunately these Litanies have disappeared; and it must be feared that they are irrecoverably lost. We cannot say, then, with any confidence that he would have made any difference here on festal days. But a litany especially prepared for a time of profound anxiety may not be exactly, and in every particular, the most suited for ordinary use. A liturgist dealing with a whole service book will, I repeat, be wise if he exercises a certain emotional economy. There is such a thing in prayer as overemphasis, and to make everything emphatic is to make nothing emphatic. But I say no more on this.
2. “O God, the Father of heaven” (Pater de coelis Deus) is in English, as is well known, a puzzle to the young and uninstructed. There is no authority either in the Sealed Books or in the MS. attached to the Caroline Act of Uniformity for the device of some modern printers, who put a comma after the word “Father”. Nor, even if it possessed authority, would it really help the sense. Nor, again, can I commend the practice followed by some of the clergy of emphasizing the word “of,” which is wholly unilluminative, and suggests perhaps no other thought to the worshipper than that the parson is a funny fellow.
But first of all, what is the meaning of the original? There seem to be two alternatives: (a) The liturgical language of the Western Church is dominated by the usage of the Latin Bible. In the Latin Vulgate de coelo (more rarely de coelis) occurs scores of times in connection with the notion of movement from (literal or tropical), as, for example, an angel from heaven, a voice from heaven, fire from heaven, light from heaven, bread from heaven; or, again, God is said to thunder from heaven, to hear from heaven, to look down from heaven; and just as we speak of God hearing from heaven, so here we pray that He would manifest forth His mercy from heaven. In thought, de coelis would, on this theory, be connected with miserere, and not with Pater. (b) The position of the word “Deus” in the expression Pater de coelis Deus miserere nobis would seem to suggest the connection of de coelis with the preceding word Pater. [As in the phrase in the Greek of Luke 11:13, where the Vulgate reads “Pater vester de coelo dabit spiritum bonum,” and the Vetus, “Pater vester coelestis.”]
The preference must, I think, be given to the second of these interpretations. But how are we to give the same in English, so that it may be understood of the people? “O God, heavenly Father” would tend to obscure the vivid distinction in the first three petitions – of “God, the Father,” “God, the Son,” and “God, the Holy Ghost”. Making bold (but not more bold than Cranmer and his colleagues in a hundred places), we might, I fancy, best meet the requirements of the case by a paraphrase (and the cramped Latin almost demands it) like the following, which expresses the sense and has its own rhythmical beat: “O God, the Father, who dwellest in the heavens, have mercy upon us”; or, “O God, the Father, from thy heavenly throne, have mercy upon us.”
3. “O God, the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son.” The words italicized are an addition of the English Reformers; and one is puzzled to conceive with what object the doctrine of “the Double Procession” is intruded into this pathetic pleading of the heart. I should suppose that those who attach most importance to the Western form of the dogma would admit that this is not the place for it. From a liturgical point of view here is an ugly blot, and it should without doubt be removed. If it be urged that the rhythmical balance of the three petitions would be seriously disturbed, it would be easy to insert some more appropriate clause. Without carefully weighing the various considerations that affect a problem which is not at the present moment presented for practical solution, it may suffice to offer such suggestions as “O God, the Holy Ghost, who helpest the infirmities of thy people, [See Rom. 8:26.] have mercy upon us”; or, “O God, the Holy Ghost, who makest intercession for thy servants, have mercy upon us”; or, “O God, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, have mercy upon us.”
4. The fourth petition in the old Litany of the English Church was simple. It ran: Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis. This was amplified in 1544 into “O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, one God, have mercy,” etc. And in the Prayer Book of 1549 the expanded dogmatic statement, “Three Persons and one God,” was inserted, not to the advantage of the prayer. [The epithets “blessed and glorious” may be due to a reminiscence of a Sarum antiphon to the Athanasian Creed.]
The deprecations and supplications which follow are an adaptation of materials mainly from pre-Reformation Litanies. And it is worth observing that Cranmer’s national sentiments did not prevent him resorting to what seemed of value in the Roman, Lutheran, and Greek sources, as well as in the Sarum, York, and Hereford uses. The work is, on the whole, executed with masterly skill, and in a spirit that is eclectic and marked by a wise liberty of choice. From a literary view-point the vast superiority of the Litany of 1544 to that in the Primer of 1535 [Printed in Burton’s Three Primers.] will, on a comparison of the two, be instantly apparent.
Here and there, it may be, there is a loss through not adhering more closely to the originals. Thus, the repeated objections of the Puritans to the prayer for deliverance “from sudden death” might have been obviated if the meaning of the Sarum words “a subitanea et improvisa morte” had been more fully conveyed into the English. Hooker (E. P. v. 46), in a beautiful passage, observes: “Somewhat there is why a virtuous mind should rather wish to depart this world with a kind of treatable dissolution, than to be suddenly cut off in a moment; rather to be taken than snatched away from the face of the earth. ... Our desires will and may lawfully prefer one kind [of death] before another.” Whatever may be thought of the value of this defense of the clause before us, the objection raised would have been wholly obviated if the notion of the original had been more adequately conveyed. [The Primer of 1535 had given “From sudden and unprovided death”. It is not easy to give a suitable and brief English rendering; but the notion doubtless is “from death that takes man suddenly and unprepared”; “from death that is sudden and unprepared for.”]
Again, “from fornication” lacks the fuller and more penetrative significance of the Latin, “a spiritu fornicationis”. But it has the advantage of being simpler and more direct. [It was, I suppose, Hosea 4:12, 5:4 (spiritus fornicationum. Vulg.) that suggested the Latin phrase. The A.V., like the Vulgate, following too literally the Hebrew plural, gives “the spirit of whoredoms”: the R.V. gives “the spirit of whoredom”. One could have wished that Cranmer had taken the Anglo-Saxon rather than the Latin word.] And perhaps the metaphorical sense that attaches to the word in the passages in Hosea, which seem to have suggested the Latin phrase, may have led Cranmer to prefer the plain speaking of our Litany. If it were thought well (and it has unquestionable advantages) to break up the petition into two, we might follow the Sarum litany in the first. The petitions would then run thus –
“From the spirit of whoredom, and all uncleanness of mind and body,
Good Lord, deliver us.
From all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil,
Good Lord, deliver us.”
Indeed, in the case of several of the petitions of the Litany we should gain much by reverting to the pre-Reformation plan of limiting the attention in each petition to one, or at any rate but very few, subjects of thought. And if it be objected that this would prolong the recitation or singing of the service, the true remedy has been indicated elsewhere. [See above.]
As to the sources of the various suffrages of our English Litany, Dr. Bright’s excellent commentary printed in Blunt’s Annotated Book of Common Prayer is so full as to leave almost nothing to be desired. [As illustrative of the expression “Father of heaven” (p. 154), the following may be given from an Inventory of Church ornaments seized for the King (Henry VIII): “Item: paid to Barnes a Goldsmith for new trimming of an image of the Father of heaven, without a back and a foot.” (Dugdale’s Monast. Angl. i. 66.) It has been thought well to add (in Appendix II) a more detailed illustration of the influence of Luther’s Litanies (in Latin and German) on Cranmer’s work.]
Chapter 15 – The Ancient “Sequence” Media Vita, And Its Form in the Service for the Burial of the Dead.
Few, if any, of the services of the Prayer Book have departed farther from the pre-Reformation rite than the “Order for the burial of the dead.” This was inevitable with the change of opinion as regards the fitness or the value of prayers for the departed. In the first Prayer Book of Edward such prayers still found a place; but they were removed from the second with the doubtful exception of the petition “that we with this our brother and all other departed in the true faith of thy holy name may have our perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul,” when God will have accomplished the number of His elect.
Our “Order for the burial of the dead,” as we now possess it, is nevertheless a service of extraordinary beauty, as is acknowledged not only by members of our Church, but by very many of other religious communions who have come to feel its power when standing at the graves of acquaintances and friends.
There is no feature in the service more profoundly solemn and majestic than the awe-inspiring anthem commencing with the words “In the midst of life we are in death.” This element of the service has an interesting history. It is very largely a translation of an ancient “Sequence,” which can be traced back, at least, to the eleventh century, and is probably of a yet earlier date. By many writers this anthem has been attributed to Notker, a Swiss monk of the Benedictine monastery of St. Gall at the close of the ninth century. A tradition, which has recently been discovered to be of but late origin, describes it as having been suggested to Notker on the occasion of his watching some workmen engaged in the giddy and perilous task of constructing a bridge at Martinstobel, a mountain gorge through which the river Goldach makes its way from St. Gall to the Lake of Constance. Notker is generally regarded as the inventor of the “Sequence,” a form of composition intended to be sung to the prolonged and elaborate musical cadences previously associated with the last syllable of the word Alleluia, which on festal days ended the “Gradual” at Mass. But the evidence that Notker was the author of this particular “Sequence” is not conclusive. [See Julian’s Dictionary of Hymnology, p. 720.]
It is not surprising that this sublime anthem laid its hold upon the hearts of men. In Germany more particularly its use was frequent in mediaeval times. It was sung on occasions of solemn mourning and at the dread moment before armies entered on the shock of battle. It was associated with days of trouble and disaster. And indeed (so strange are the perversions to which superstition may give rise) we have evidence that it was sometimes sung in church as a kind of imprecation or incantation directed against an individual who was regarded with hostile feelings, for the Council of Cologne, held in 1310, passed a canon forbidding Media Vita to be sung in any church “contra aliquas personas” without the bishop’s special license. [Canon xxi. “Quod non fiant imprecationes nec cantetur Media Vita contra aliquas personas,” Mansi, Tom. xxv. col. 242.]
In the mediaeval Church of England Media Vita is to be found as an antiphon to the Nunc Dimittis, to be sung on the third Sunday in Lent and repeated every day till the fifth Sunday. [Brev. ad usum Sarum, Fascic I. col. dcliii.; Fascic II. col. 229. It is also found in the York Breviary and in the Aberdeen Breviary.] It might therefore seem not unlikely that the English Reformers, when constructing their new Burial Service, should think of these well-known words as very appropriate. Yet, as a matter of fact, the use of this anthem in our Burial Service seems to have been suggested by Hermann’s Cologne Order of 1543, or its Latin rendering the Simplex ac Pia Deliberatio (1545). In these forms the Media Vita is permitted to be sung while they are bearing the corpse to the grave, and in the earlier of the two we find that the first two lines of Luther’s paraphrase and amplification (1524) –
“Mitten wir im leben sein
Mit dem Tod umfangen” –
are transcribed. This is of importance, for the words in our English, “Thou most worthy Judge eternal, suffer us not at our last hour for any pains of death to fall from thee,” have nothing corresponding in the Latin of the Lenten antiphon of the English Breviaries; but the last three lines of Luther’s hymn –
“Du ewiger Gott
Lass uns nicht entfallen
Von des rechten Glaubens Trost” –
have resemblances to the words in question which cannot be overlooked. Still the differences between our form and these lines of Luther appeared to me so considerable as to lead me to believe that our Reformers must have had another model before them; and after much search I think I have at last discovered it.
It would seem that some time before 1539 Myles Coverdale had published a little volume entitled Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes, drawen out of the holy Scripture, for the comforte and consolacyon of such as love to rejoyse in God and his worde. The title bears neither the author’s name, nor the year, nor the place of printing; but in the first edition of Foxe’s Acts and Monuments there is a list of books forbidden in the Injunctions issued by Henry VIII in 1539, and among those attributed to Coverdale is one styled Psalmes and Spiritual Songes drawn out of the holy Scripture. This seems to be not unreasonably identified with the Goostly Psalmes, etc. [See the remarks of Dr. Cotton cited at p. 533 of Remains of Myles Coverdale (P.S.), in which volume the little work is reprinted.] Among the poems in the volume is one entitled Media Vita; and this is a rather close metrical translation of Luther’s “Mitten wir im leben sein.” The first verse of Coverdale may be transcribed, and it will, I think, be evident that the form in the Burial Service has certainly been largely influenced by the concluding six lines, though the earlier part of our form follows the original Latin.
“In the myddest of our lyvynge
Death compaseth us rounde about:
Who shulde us now sucour brynge
By whose grace we maye come out?
Even thou, Lorde Jesu, alone:
It doth oure hartes sore greve truly
That we have offended the.
O Lord God, most holy
O Lord God most myghtie
O holy and mercyfull Savioure,
Thou most worthy God eternall,
Suffre us not at our last hour
For any death from the to fall.
Now, with this before us, it is plain that the Latin of the Sequence in the words “Sancte Deus, Sancte Fortis, Sancte et misericors Salvator” is not the immediate source of our triple invocation. Again, in the Latin we have nothing precisely corresponding to the last three lines of Coverdale’s verse. Whether “most worthy” is altogether satisfactory, as applied to “God” by Coverdale, or to “Judge” in our form, need not be discussed. The real account, I suspect, of the introduction of “most worthy” is that it was originally chosen to fill up the meter of the line. The change of “for any death” into “for any pains of death” is a manifest improvement.
The account, then, which I would offer (as a reasonable conjecture) of the process by which our present form was reached is this. On Cranmer’s turning for suggestions to Archbishop Hermann’s liturgical publications he found in the German form (1543) the direction “While they bring the corpse to the grave there may be sung
Mitten wir im leben scm
Mit dem Tode umbfangen;
or Aus tieffer noth, or other like hymn.” The two specified hymns are both metrical hymns from Luther’s pen. We may next suppose Cranmer casting about for a rendering of Luther’s Mitten wir, etc., into English verse. Coverdale’s In the myddest of our lyvynge, published some ten years previously, was suggested to him. But after consideration Cranmer rejected this, abandoned the attempt at a metrical hymn, and turned to the original Latin of the Sequence. But, though Coverdale’s hymn could not be accepted as it stood, the noble language of the concluding lines of the first verse was just such as would strike a master of rhythmical style like Cranmer; and Luther’s thought as expressed in “Suffer us not at our last hour,” etc., was too precious to let go though it had no place in the Latin.
This seems to me the most probable account of the process of construction of our “In the midst of life”; and it is offered for acceptance till some more satisfactory account based on fuller information is forthcoming. [See Appendix C for the method in which the versicles following the Antiphon have been wrought into our Burial Anthem.]
Chapter 16 – Some Minor Problems in the
Translation of the Latin Forms.
Of the thousands who thankfully use the English Prayer Book there are but few who reflect on the difficulties attending scores of questions that presented themselves for solution to the divines who undertook the task of substituting a vernacular for a Latin service book. Several of the most familiar formulas in constant use, which now run glibly over the tongue, were reached only after many tentative efforts; and some of them when closely examined suggest that perhaps a further rehandling might have endowed the English Church with something even more satisfactory than what she possesses. Taken as a whole, we can gladly acknowledge that the Reformers have given us the sense of the originals in dignified and harmonious English. And it only enhances our gratitude to consider the difficulties they had to encounter.
A sacred diction had to a large extent to be created. The Primers and other popular forms of devotion had, to be sure, done something. But in the main it is to Coverdale’s Bible and the Prayer Books of Cranmer and his colleagues that we are indebted for the language, so apt, so stately, so tender and winning, in which religious thought and feeling has been wont to find utterance for the last three hundred and fifty years.
The free renderings of the ancient collects, loyal in spirit, and yet unembarrassed by any over-close adherence to literalness, seem to me the greatest literary triumph of the English Prayer Book. [When loyalty to the sense is spoken of, exception must, of course, be made in cases of deliberate rejection of pleading the merits of the saints, etc.] These have been already considered. We turn to examine some of the cases where old and well-established formulas of the Latin service books had to be transferred into the vernacular. In these, in the Canticles, and more especially in the Creeds, there is clearly apparent a desire to be closely accurate in the renderings. In the prayers Cranmer and his colleagues, to our great advantage, allowed themselves a wider latitude.
1. The conclusion of “Gloria Patri”. We are very familiar with the words, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.” And it requires some little effort to imagine how difficult they were of attainment, and how slowly they were achieved. The Latin “Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen,” was evidently a hard problem to deal with. Not to go further back, we have the Primer (about A.D. 1400) printed by Maskell [Mon. Rit., vol. iii.] giving us, “As it was in the bigynning, and now, and evermore, and into the world of worlds. So be it.” More than a hundred years later, in the Primer of 1535, [Burton’s Three Primers set forth in the Reign of Henry VIII.] we read “As it was in the beginning, as it is now, and ever shall be. So be it.” Here we have (a) the verb repeated and the tense altered, so as to suit the adverbs of time; and (b) the difficult “in saecula saeculorum” silently skipped. In the Primer of 1539 the same form is reproduced. The Litany of 1544 was Cranmer’s work; but he had not yet reduced the formula to its final shape, for it runs, “As it hath been from the beginning, is, and shall be ever, world without end. Amen.” Here we have palpable errors in “hath been” and “from the beginning”; but an attempt is made to render “in saecula saeculorum” by the phrase “world without end”. [In the Prayer Book version of the Psalms we have four examples: Psalm 41:13, “world without end. Amen”; Psalm 45:18, Psalm 90:2, Psalm 106:46, “world without end, and let all the people say, Amen.”] “World” was still sometimes used in the sense of its Anglo-Saxon original (weoruld) as equivalent to an “age” or “period of time” (literally and originally, according to Mr. Skeat, “the age of a man,” “a lifetime”). It still carries this sense in such phrases as “this world and the world to come.” The King’s Primer of 1545 (probably also Cranmer’s work) makes a distinct improvement: “As it was in the beginning, and is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” In the Prayer Book of 1549 the first “and” was dropped, in my judgment to the disadvantage of the form, which by its repetition of the word had brought out with more clearness the threefold division – “the beginning,” the present, the future. Though we may not be wholly satisfied with our English rendering, it would not be at all easy to say how it could be improved.
2. Sursum Corda, etc. St. Cyprian takes us back to remote times. As Bishop of Carthage he suffered death in A.D. 258 for the offence, in the words of the judicial sentence, of “having long been a ringleader in impiety against the gods of Rome.” In a little treatise of his On the Lord’s Prayer he makes reference to the customary use in the service of the Church of the exact formula which the Reformers had to deal with, and which continues to this day to be a portion of the Latin Mass. When urging the duty of throwing oneself with all earnestness into prayer, and banishing wholly all carnal and worldly thoughts, Cyprian says: “The priest in the preface preceding the prayer prepares the minds of the brethren with the words Sursum corda; and when the people reply Habemus ad Dominum they are reminded that they ought to give their thoughts to nothing else than the Lord.” [De Oratione Dominica, c. 31.] This is not only a very early but a very lucid testimony; we are supplied with the priest’s words of exhortation and the people’s response. Yet, early as it is, there can be little doubt that the Latin was only a translation of a yet earlier Greek form.
There is a primitive simplicity, if we should not rather say an abrupt and elliptical rudeness in the manner, which testifies to its early date. Indeed, the highly condensed character of the style is attended by certain uncertainties as to the exact sense. Thus our Reformers have rendered Sursum corda by “Lift up your hearts”; but it might just as well be rendered “Let us lift up our hearts.” And this latter is, as a matter of fact, the form pointed to by the ancient Liturgy of Alexandria (St. Mark’s). [Άνω ημων τας καρδίας (Brightman’s Eastern Liturgies, p. 125.) Similarly, but more fully, in the first person we have it in the Liturgies of St. Basil and St. Chrysostom, Άνω σχωμεν ημων τας καρδίας.] And the first person plural in the next versicle, “ Let us give thanks,” etc., may be regarded as leaning in the same direction. But it would seem that the Western way of understanding the highly abbreviated formula, Sursum corda, was that followed by the Reformers. A work ascribed to Alcuin paraphrases the expression in the words “Direct your hearts from earthly cares upwards to the Lord.” [In Hittorpius’ De Divinis Ecclesiae Catholicae Officiis, etc. edit. 1568.] Again, the English Reformers had before them Archbishop Hermann’s Order for “the Supper” in German (1543); and there the rendering was, “Lift up your hearts.” [Erheben euwer hertzen. See Richter’s Evangelische Kirchenordnungen, ii. 43.] I do not object to the rendering of the Prayer Book; I only point out that it presented a problem which had to be solved one way or another.
The response Habemus ad Dominum is uncouth Latin, and its meaning is not quite clear. It was probably the difficulty it presented that caused the substitution in the Mozarabic Missal of the words Levamus ad Dominum. It is not impossible that our Reformers were acquainted with this Spanish rite, for Cardinal Ximenes had printed the Mozarabic Missal in 1500. [There may be some uncertainty whether some peculiarities in the language of our Prayer of Consecration are due to a Lutheran source or to the Mozarabic Missal; but it is worth comparing the Sarum Missal, as it approaches the words of Institution, with the corresponding part of the Mozarabic. (a) “Who the day before he suffered took bread into his holy and venerable hands, and having lifted up his eyes towards heaven to thee God Almighty, his Father,” etc. (Sarum). (b) “Our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and giving thanks, blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, saying,” etc. (Mozarabic). The resemblances of this latter form to our Prayer Book are considerable. But Messrs. Gasquet and Bishop have pointed out still closer resemblances between our form and the form prepared for the use of Brandenburg and Nuremberg, 1533. See their very valuable work, Edward VI and the Book of Common Prayer, p. 444 sq.]
But Hermann’s Cologne book, 1543, also gives “We lift them up to the Lord” (Wir erheben die zum Herren).
We now come to what I take to be a real blot on the Reformers’ work of translation of this part of the service. It occurs in their rendering of Vere dignum et justum by “It is very meet,” etc. As the English runs, it would seem as though the Priest were dissatisfied with the utterance of the people, “It is meet and right so to do,” and would improve upon it by saying, “It is very meet,” etc. In reality what the Priest does is not to further enlarge the statement made by the people, but merely to reassert it with emphasis. The real sense is “Truly it is meet,” etc., “It is indeed meet, etc.” [Compare the Greek of the Liturgy of St. Mark, Αληθως γαρ άξιόν εστιν και δίκαιον κ. τ. λ. (Brightman, p. 125.)] Closer to the true sense, and at the same time more dignified, would be some such rendering as, “Verily it is meet, right,” etc.; or, “It is truly meet, right,” etc. By a singular perversity many of the clergy in reciting these words make a point of emphasizing “very”. While this small but yet ugly mistake remains in our Liturgy, the priest may help towards suggesting the true sense by emphasizing “is”. He is merely, let him remember, giving an emphatic reassertion of the people’s words, and is not improving upon them.
The remainder of this liturgical form is not a very close translation. The English does not attempt to represent every word [Vere dignum et justum est, aquum et salutare nos Tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus.]; and the introduction of the words “and our bounden duty” suggests the suspicion that possibly our Reformers had seen some MS. of the Liturgy of St. James, where the words “becoming and dutiful” occur. [πρέπον τε και οϕειλόμενον (Brightman, p. 50).]
The punctuation of the English missals (where it existed) would not carry any great weight with the Reformers; yet they were perhaps mistaken in not rendering the terms of address to the Divine Being in the form “Holy Lord, Almighty Father, Everlasting God.” [Without punctuation, “Domine sancte Pater omnipotens aeterne Deus.” Archbishop Hermann’s Cologne form of 1543, reads simply, O heiliger Vater ewiger Gott. But his Latin of 1545 gives the usual form.]
The Common Preface runs tolerably close to the corresponding passage in the old missals. If we may venture on conjecture, the omission of “with thrones and dominions” (see Col. 1:16), which followed the words “with Angels and Archangels,” was perhaps due to a feeling that the terms would be unintelligible to the people; but, nevertheless, it is to be regretted. [Hermann’s form may have suggested the omission. It runs: “Tibique cum omnibus sanctis tuis Angelis et dilectis filiis sine fine canamus.” – Simplex ac pia Delib., fol. xcvi.] While “all the company of heaven” might very well give place to “with all the multitude of the heavenly host”. [“Cumque omni militia caelestis cxercitus.”] On the other hand, we must heartily admire the ingenious and artistic way in which the words “we sing the hymn of thy glory” is converted into the noble language of our service: “We laud and magnify thy glorious name,” words equally appropriate to the service whether it be sung or said.
3. The versicle and response, “O God, make speed to save us,” etc.
Let us try to put aside old associations with familiar words, and let us ask ourselves how this versicle and response of the old Breviaries ought to be dealt with. The Latin runs: “Deus in adjutorium meum intende”; “Domine ad adjuvandum me festina.” We put aside the use of the plural “us” (which was not introduced till 1552) for the original singular. It was plainly part of a well-considered plan, consistently carried out, and will, I should suppose, be generally acknowledged to be a gain. There are obvious objections (despite any theory as to the priest and people being both spokesmen of the one body, the Church) to an arrangement which makes the Priest say, “O Lord, open thou my lips,” and the people respond, “And my mouth shall show forth thy praise.” But what strikes one on looking at the Latin is that adjutorium and adjuvandum, suggestive of the same thought, should find some corresponding equivalents in English. One notices in Prayer Book translations an inclination (also observable in the earlier translations of the Bible) to vary the language when the effort should rather have been to preserve the sameness or close cognate relations of the language of the original. Nor in the case before us is it merely a matter of translation. We have here an example of the impulse (often illustrated in liturgical forms) of reiterating the same thought with either no variation or but slight variation. In fact, we have here the first verse of Psalm 70 divided into versicle and response, and exhibiting the parallelism of thought which is a characteristic of Hebrew poetry.
Now, what our Reformers appear to have done was to look to the original Hebrew as well as to the Latin before them; and the result appears to be due to reminiscences of both. The Latin variation intende and festina are as faulty as the English (for the one verb in the Hebrew applies to both clauses); faulty too is the suggested relations of adjutorium and adjuvandum. The English variation make speed and make haste sets the worshipper speculating (that is, if he thinks at all) as to what is the difference between “making speed” and “making haste”. If it is desired to retain the form at all it should run someway thus:–
“Priest. O God, haste thee to deliver us.
Answer. Haste thee, O Lord, to help us.”
I say, if it is desired to retain this versicle and response; for, putting aside antiquarian grounds for wishing them retained (and I admit these are not to be lightly regarded), the rejection of the versicle and response from the American Prayer Book results in the following very noble sequence:–
“O Lord, open thou our lips.
Answer. And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.
Here, all standing up, the Minister shall say,
Glory be to the Father, etc.
Answer. As it was,” etc.
On its intrinsic merits this arrangement has much to commend it. We ask of the Lord that He would open our lips, declaring that then our praises would follow; and, rising to our feet immediately, without any further intervening thought, we burst into the praise of the Triune God. [For a further consideration of the opening versicles see Appendix B, 230.]
Chapter 17 – The English of the Prayer Book –
Its Literary Style – The Psalter – Coverdale.
Some few parts of the present Prayer Book date from the reign of James I, and a few from the final revision under Charles II; but the main body of its contents represents the English of about the middle of the sixteenth century, and in some places, as we shall afterwards see, of a considerably earlier period.
In the Prayer Book Psalter we possess a noble monument of a diction characterized by an archaic stateliness, yet possessed withal of a singular freedom of movement. It abounds in happy turns of expression, and furnishes not a few examples of the tenderest grace and most delicate beauty. In point of time the Psalter, taken, as it was, from the Great Bible (of which editions appeared in 1539, 1540, and 1541), represents the earliest English of the Prayer Book. As regards minute accuracy, it is, as a translation, inferior to the Authorized Version; but on the whole the sense and spirit of the original is substantially and successfully conveyed. This splendid gift to England we owe to the native genius and painstaking labour of the sturdy Protestant, Myles Coverdale, afterwards Bishop of Exeter.
In 1535 appeared Coverdale’s great work, Biblia: The Bible, that is the Scripture of the Olde and New Testament, faithfully and truly translated out of Douche [i.e. German] and Latyn in to Englishe. In this Bible we have the original basis of our Prayer Book Psalter. But Coverdale was not quite satisfied with the outcome of his labours, and the result was numerous further corrections, which were embodied in the Psalter of what, from its size, was called the Great Bible (1539). Our present Prayer Book Psalter is thus (with certain exceptions to be afterwards noticed) Coverdale’s original work as subsequently revised by himself. [Coverdale’s Bible (1535) was the first complete printed Bible in the English tongue.]
Though Coverdale was not unacquainted with Hebrew, he probably felt his deficiencies to be so considerable that he thought it wise to rely mainly on the previous labours of others. Mr. Westcott (now Bishop of Durham), writing in 1868, [A general view of the history of the English Bible, p. 213.] says of Coverdale’s Bible: “Coverdale certainly had some knowledge of Hebrew, by which he was guided at times in selecting his rendering; but in the main his version is based on the Swiss-German version of Zwingli and Leo Juda (Zurich, 1524–9) and on the Latin of Pagninus. He also made use of Luther and the Vulgate.” Mr. Westcott also makes plain that in his subsequent revision of his own work, Coverdale was much influenced by the Latin translation (1534–5) of another distinguished German scholar, Sebastian Munster. But while in endeavouring to reach the sense of the original, he made use of the labours of foreign scholars, the force, vivacity, and charm of the English rendering is entirely his own. Indeed, not only the version in the Prayer Book, but also that in the Authorized Version of the Bible, owes much to Coverdale, as is evident on a comparison of the latter with his work.
Mr. Westcott thus contrasts the Prayer Book Version with that in the English Bible: “Coverdale, like Luther and the Zurich translators [i.e. Zwingli and Leo Juda], on whose model his style was formed, allowed himself considerable freedom in dealing with the shape of the original sentences. At one time a word is repeated to bring out the balance of the two clauses: at another time the number is changed: at another time a fuller phrase is supplied for the simple copula, now a word is resolved; and again a particle, or an adverb, or a pronoun, or even an epithet is introduced for the sake of definiteness: there is in every part an endeavour to transfuse the spirit as well as the letter into the English rendering. The execution of the version undoubtedly falls far below the conception of it: the Authorized Version is in almost every case more correct: but still in idea and tone Coverdale’s is as a whole superior, and furnishes a noble type of any future revision.” [p. 264.]
Another scholar of our time, the late Dr. Scrivener, whom no one can justly accuse of any lack in appreciation of minute. accuracy, in his account of the Authorized Version complains of “the prosaic tone of its version of the Psalms, which,” he remarks, “however exact and elaborate, is so spiritless as to be willingly used by but few that are familiar with the version in the Book of Common Prayer, a recension which, though derived immediately from the Great Bible, is, in substance, the work of that consummate master of rhythmical prose Bishop Miles Coverdale.” [The Authorized Edition of the English Bible,1611, p. 139.] If we understand by “prosaic tone” a lack of rhythmical balance and grace of diction, Dr. Scrivener’s censure is not unjust; but it may be questioned whether in a rendering which sets before it precision and accuracy as the paramount consideration, there must not of necessity be a sacrifice in other directions. Nor can the work of a committee, whether dealing with prayers or the poetry of devotion, ever attain the formative unity of impulse that comes of a single mind and is essential to true poetry, whether in prose or verse.
Mr. Earle has observed with good reason that “the beauty of Coverdale’s translation must have counted for much with Cranmer and his associates in the institution of the monthly recital of the whole Psalter, and in reconciling congregations to the practice.” [The Psalter of the Great Bible of 1539, edited by Rev. J. Earle, Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford.] The same writer also remarks: “In this Psalter we take the English language at its happiest moment. The Psalter of 1539 is the mellowed product of the whole medieval period, and there is just enough of the influence of the New Learning perceptible in it to make us aware by what a hairbreadth’s escape it stands apart from the ordinary modish type of sixteenth century English.” And again, the Psalter “is a choice example from the school of Tyndale and Coverdale and their companions. And as Tyndale took not new English, but an old and ripe and settled diction, such as was used by plain staid men in discoursing of serious matters, therefore his language belongs to the generation of those that taught him, and it carries us back some way into the fifteenth century. But while we recognize the strain from which it descends, we at the same time discover in it something of a new departure.” [p. xlvii.] And certainly, without any deliberate or even conscious seeking on the part of Coverdale after an archaic style, such as is frequently apparent in modern devotional compositions, we may take it that there would have been an instinctive avoiding of language that was either trivial or newfangled. [The latest testimony to the merits of Coverdale’s Psalter is from the pen of Professor Driver, the object of whose work, The Parallel Psalter, is to correct the inaccuracies – “inaccuracies which were unavoidable at the time” – of Coverdale. Dr. Driver writes as follows: “Though made upwards of 360 years ago, it is still – save for occasional archaisms, to be noted presently – perfectly intelligible; its style is bold and vigorous, and at the same time singularly flowing and melodious; its phraseology, while thoroughly idiomatic, and of genuinely native growth, is dignified and chaste. Coverdale, it is evident, most have been a natural master of English style, and must have possessed a natural aptitude for finding felicitous turns of expression, and for casting them into harmonious and finely-rolling periods.” – Parallel Psalter, Introduction, p. xxiv.]
Attention may here be called to an injustice done to Coverdale’s Psalter by the neglect of the printers of the Prayer Book to indicate, as he had done, words and phrases which he embodied in his text, although he regarded them as either not forming part of the original, or as, at least, of doubtful authority. We are familiar with the use of italics in the Authorized Version for a like purpose. In the Psalter as used for purposes of devotion, it is perhaps as well that questions of textual criticism should not be presented; and I do not complain of a usage that has come down to us from the Sealed Books of 1662. [Those concerned in the issue and correction of these Books were, as guardians of the legal text, certainly blameworthy in not adhering to the text of the MS. Prayer Book attached to the Caroline Act of Uniformity.] But Coverdale is not to be blamed. As examples of what is referred to we may cite Psalm 1:5, where Coverdale had placed (in 1539) the words “from the face of the earth” within the marks of parenthesis, and Psalm 13:6, where the words “yea, I will praise the name of the Lord most Highest” are treated in a similar way. Again, in Psalm 14 three whole verses (5, 6, 7) are thus bracketed. The MS. Psalter attached to the Act of Uniformity (1662) adheres to these distinctions, but the Sealed Books disregard them. In the cases referred to, and others like them, the words are renderings of the familiar Latin text, which, though they might be deficient in authority, Coverdale was, naturally enough, reluctant to omit.
Myles Coverdale has the honour of having given to Englishmen the first complete printed Bible (1535) in their mother tongue, and to the Church of England for her daily use the priceless treasure of her Psalter. His memory should be dear to every Churchman. Of his early history we know little. He is believed to have been (like Wyclif) a native of the north of Yorkshire; and 1488 is generally assigned as the year of his birth. At an early period we find him as a member of the house of Austin Friars at Cambridge, of which Robert Barnes (who afterwards suffered martyrdom) was Prior. Under Barnes the “New Learning” was cultivated; and Coverdale is believed to have been one of the little band of Cambridge scholars who studied together in private at “the White Horse,” a house which came by-and-by to be spoken of with mingled scorn and fear as “Germany”. What appears to be the earliest of the extant letters of Coverdale, dated 1527, and signed “Frere Myles Coverdale,” is addressed to Thomas Crumwell, and has a genuine ring about it: “Now I begin to taste of holy scriptures: now honour be to God. ... Nothing in the world I desire but books, as concerning my learning: they once had, I do not doubt but Almighty God shall perform that in me which he of his most plentiful favour and grace hath begun.” This looks like a making preparation for his work of translation. Not long after, Coverdale makes his way to Germany, and it was from a foreign press that his Bible of 1535 was issued. [From what particular press is one of the vexed question of bibliography.]
We next find Coverdale in Paris engaged under Crumwell’s patronage in preparing and seeing through the press the Bible of which the first edition appeared in 1539, and which from its large folio size is known as the Great Bible. This work brought the Psalter very nearly into the condition in which we have it in the Prayer Book. Many small improvements were made in the edition of 1540 (which appeared with a Preface from the pen of Archbishop Cranmer). Whether these latter changes were the work of Coverdale himself (as is not improbable) or of Cranmer, “that master of lyrical and liturgical prose,” as Professor Earle supposes, it seems impossible to say. It is apparently from this edition that the Prayer Book Psalter was transcribed. [See below.]
Crumwell was executed in July, 1540; and, whether connected or not with this event, it is certain that in this year Coverdale disappears from England, and it was not till 1548 that we find him contemplating a return home, after what he speaks of as “an exile of eight years”. He spent some time of his exile at Tubingen, and was afterwards appointed to a pastoral charge at Bergzabern, in Alsace.
Coverdale was a quiet and diligent student, possessed of but few of the qualities that would commend him to rapid advancement in times of political violence and ecclesiastical intrigue. But in August, 1551, he was appointed to the bishopric of Exeter. While in residence he was diligent as a preacher, and, despite the considerable diminution of the available revenues of the see at this time, it is recorded that he was “a great keeper of hospitality ... liberal to the poor, and courteous to all men.” Indeed, his distress at the sufferings of the poor showed itself even when the occasion did not directly suggest it. As early as 1535 we find him, in the “Prologue to the reader” prefixed to his Bible, bursting forth into the following earnest exhortation: – “I beseech thee, thou that hast the riches of this world, and lovest God with thy heart, to lift up thine eyes, and see how great a multitude of poor people run through every town: have pity on thine own flesh, help them with a good heart, and do with thy counsel all that ever thou canst, that this unshamefast begging may be put down, that these idle folks may be set to labour, and that such as are not able to get their living may be provided for. At the least, thou that art of counsel with such as are of authority, give them some occasion to cast their heads together [This same phrase is used by Coverdale in Psa. 83:5, where the A.V. reads “consulted together”.] and to make provision for the poor. Put them in remembrance of those noble cities in other countries, that by the authority of their princes have so richly and well provided for their poor people, to the great shame and dishonesty [discredit] of us, if we, likewise receiving the word of God, show not such like fruits thereof.” [Another entreaty on behalf of the poor will be found in his Prologue to the New Testament, 1538.] Coverdale had been always a poor man, and continued to the day of his death a poor man; he knew the pinch of poverty, and never lost an opportunity of urging the claims of the poor on Christian love and wisdom.
On the accession of Mary, Coverdale was, of course, deprived of his office, and indeed ran a considerable risk of sharing the fate of Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. While he was kept in detention, a special letter was addressed, on his behalf, to Mary by the King of Denmark (to whom his brother-in-law was chaplain), and Coverdale was allowed to leave England for Denmark. After various wanderings he at length reached Geneva, where we may suppose that he, like so many others of the exiles, learned to doubt the propriety of retaining in a reformed Church the use of vestments so long associated with the corruptions of Rome. At any rate, on his return to England, after the accession of Elizabeth, his anti-vestural scruples seem to have prevented his restoration to his bishopric. The same cause may have frustrated Grindal’s efforts to have him appointed to Llandaff. [Fuller (Church History of Britain, Book ix. c. 34) thinks it more probable that it was due to his age and infirmities that he was not restored to Exeter.] But a post was found for him in the living of St. Magnus, near London Bridge (1564). His poverty at the time was so great that now, at the age of seventy-six, he was forced to entreat Cecil to obtain a remission from the Queen of the firstfruits. The words of his letter are so sad and touching that some of them may be transcribed. He asks Cecil to represent to the Queen, not only how destitute I have been since my bishopric was taken from me, and that I never had pension, annuity, or stipend of it these ten years and upwards: but also how unable I am either to pay the firstfruits, or long to enjoy the said living (I going upon my grave, not able to live over a year) her Majesty, at the contemplation hereof may most graciously grant me the first-fruits of the said benefice, which her Highness must needs have again anew when I am gone. ... If now, that poor old Myles may be provided for, it please your Honour to obtain this for me, I shall think this enough to be unto me as good as a feast.” There is surely something pathetic in this pitiful pleading of one, now broken by age, who had in former years done such invaluable service to England and the English Church. At the very time when “poor old Myles” penned this sad letter, every congregation in the land was offering its praises to God in words that had taken shape under the plastic molding of his hands. His living, under the pressure of those who were then enforcing liturgical conformity, was resigned in 1566.
In London “Father Coverdale,” as the old man was affectionately called, had a great following of the citizens, who thronged the churches where he preached: He was not altogether without compensation for the losses which he had suffered. He died May 20th, 1567.
The merits of the Prayer Book Psalter have for very many the witness that grows of long experience in its use. Yet it would be absurdly untrue to say that it is incapable of improvement. Many of the difficulties of the Psalter, no doubt, can never be removed, however accurate may be the translation. There are some difficulties which are inherent in all lyric poetry written under circumstances and conditions of which we are ignorant, or with which we cannot be more than very imperfectly acquainted. Yet there are others which a wise, conservative, cautious, and reverent revision might do much to lessen or remove.
I am indeed far from thinking that there may not be a very genuine expression of religious emotion in the use of language that conveys little or no intelligible meaning. I would temper men’s laughter at the old lady in the story who spoke with feeling of “that blessed, blessed word, Mesopotamia”. It need not be doubted that very sincere devotion often uttered itself in the Neuma or Jubilatio of the early medieval Church, when the a of the last syllable of Alleluia was made the subject of a prolonged and elaborate passage of music. Yet one cannot but sympathize with those who devised the Prosa or Sequentia of intelligible words to take its place. In like manner I am sure that many devout hearts are quite undisturbed by the unintelligible character of some of the verses of the Psalter. But one cannot but wish that the obscurities were as far as possible cleared, so that those who think about what they sing may be able to follow the apostolic exhortation, and that while they sing with the spirit they may sing with the understanding also.
Dr. Driver’s Parallel Psalter is a work which every student of the Prayer Book must receive with sincere gratitude, and which, I must needs believe, cannot fail to give a very sensible impetus to the desire for an authoritative revision of our Prayer Book text. It possesses a moderation of tone and a fullness of recognition of the merits of our existing Prayer Book Psalter and of the hold that it possesses upon the affections of English churchmen, which are not less essential than scholarship to the bringing about of the desired end. Nothing that could be said by the present writer is entitled to carry the weight of the following passage from Dr. Driver’s “Introduction,” enhanced as it is in authority by the citation from the Bishop of Durham.
“I should feel rewarded,” writes Dr. Driver, “if my volume were in any degree to pave the way for what must surely be seen by many to be a desideratum, viz, a revision of the Prayer Book Version, which while not altering its general character, or disturbing its melodious rhythm, might remove misleading archaisms, and correct the more serious mistranslations by which it is disfigured. Coverdale, it is true, perfected a style of Bible translation, which, while the English language remains what it is, will not, in its general features, be readily excelled; but these general excellences of Coverdale’s work would not, we may rest assured, be impaired by the introduction into it of corrections in detail, conceived in the same spirit, and adapted so as to harmonize with it. On this subject I rejoice to be able to quote the weighty and pertinent remarks of Bishop Westcott: – ‘This is not the place to enter further in detail into the mistakes of the Prayer Book Psalter. It is not, perhaps, too much to hope that the unquestionable errors of rendering and form may be dealt with by competent authority at no distant period. ... If such a revision were undertaken, it should be guided by the spirit of Coverdale. The precise and literal exactness which is required in a version of Scripture for study is not required in a version for use in public service. For such a purpose the main object must be to secure a plain and rhythmical expression of the sense of the original, even at the sacrifice of the letter; and anyone who will compare the Prayer Book Psalter with the original will be able to convince himself that the changes which are needed to remove distinct mistakes could be made without injury to its general character.’ These words,” adds Dr. Driver, “I cordially endorse. The Prayer Book Version of the Psalms, though sufficient for the requirements of the sixteenth century, does not meet the requirements of the nineteenth or twentieth century, and the rich and manifold spiritual thoughts of which the Hebrew Psalmists were the unique exponents deserve to be placed more adequately before those who habitually read the Psalms for devotional purposes than they are placed by the Version which is now generally in use. At the same time for such purposes minute and verbal exactitude is not necessary; a ‘plain and rhythmical expression of the sense of the original, even at the sacrifice of the letter,’ is as much as it would be needful to aim at; and a gentle and sparing revision of Coverdale’s version, preserving intact its general characteristics, and retaining wherever possible its familiar features, is all that would be required.”
There is, after the most careful study, no disguising the fact that the Prayer Book Psalter is in some places unintelligible, and in some other places, where a meaning c n be attached to it, that meaning is not the meaning of the original. Obscurities, for reasons already noticed, must always attend the lyric poetry of a remote age; but it is surely a duty to make these obscurities as few as we can. No reasonable man can doubt that the translation of the Psalms in the Revised Version of the Bible is helpful in scores of difficult passages in giving greater intelligibleness and greater force and spirit to what we read. And I cannot doubt that a revision of the Prayer Book Psalter, carried out in the spirit indicated by Bishop Westcott and Dr. Driver, would make the Psalter even yet more valued and loved than it is at present.
Before concluding this chapter it may be observed that the Latin headings of the Psalms in the Prayer Book have given rise to the unfounded notion, among those who have not examined into the matter, that our translation was made from the Latin text of the pre-Reformation Breviaries. But these headings seem to have been retained only for convenience of reference by those accustomed to the daily recitation of the Latin Psalter, among whom the Psalms were more familiarly known by their first words than by their numbering. Indeed, one might be disabused of the error referred to by noticing such instances as Psa. 62  Nonne Deo? “My soul truly waiteth, and Psa. 45  Eructavit cor meum, “My heart is inditing.”
Additional note to Chapter XVII on some of the differences between the Psalter of the Great Bible of 1539 and the Great Bible of 1540.
Attention has already been called to the fact that many small changes were made in the Psalter of the edition of the Great Bible which appeared in 1540. As has been said, it is impossible to say whether they were due to Coverdale or to Cranmer. Long passages indeed of the Psalter may be read in the Great Bible of 1539, which correspond exactly with the text in our Prayer Book. But in many places we see the touch of a revising hand. A few examples may be cited:–
(a) Psa. 2:1: “Why do the heathen grudge together” (1539) becomes “Why do the heathen so furiously rage together” (1540). “Grudge” in the sense of “murmur,” “complain,” was not obsolete; and we have it in that sense not only in the Psalter (59:15) but also in the Authorized Version (James 5:9). Yet it very inadequately expressed the sense of the original in this place.
(b) Psa. 12:2: “dissemble in their heart” (1539) becomes “dissemble in their double heart” (1540). The rendering of 1539 might be defended, because “to speak with a double heart” is “to dissemble”; but it was felt probably to be a pity to lose the expression “double heart” [“an heart and an heart”: Hebrew). Luther reads und lehren aus uneinigem Hertzen.
(c) Psa. 12:5: “Now for the troubles’ sake of the needy” (1539); the word “comfortless” is inserted (1540) before “troubles”. I will not pretend to say why; though I suspect it was designed to substitute “comfortless” for “needy” (the former giving the sense of the Hebrew better), and that by a clerical or printer’s error it got placed as we now have it.
“And because of the complaint of the poor” (1539) is much improved (1540) by changing “complaint” into “deep sighing.”
(d) Psa. 15:4. The whole phrase “is lowly in his own eyes” is inserted in 1540. This seems to be suggested by the Jewish interpretation of difficult language, on the sense of which good scholars are even now divided. Coverdale, writing to Crumwell in 1538, speaks of his consulting “the interpretation of the Chaldee”; and the Targum gives the meaning as “despised is he in his own eyes and worthless.”
These may be taken as specimens of the more important changes made in the Prayer Book Psalter. Others of less significance are frequent, such as –
(e) An obvious correction in Psa. 5:6: “the Lord will abhor both the bloody, thirsty and deceitful man” into “bloodthirsty,” etc.
(f) Psa. 7:6: “because of the indignations,” changed into the singular, “indignation”.
(g) Psa. 7:13: “if man will not turn,” into “if a man,” etc.
(h) Psa. 9:15: “is their own foot taken”; omit “own”.
(i) Psa. 10:7: “cursing and deceit and fraud”; omit the first “and”.
Many scores of such changes, a few of which have been noted by Mr. Earle (The Psalter of the Great Bible of 1539, p. xlv.), testify to the desire for making improvements, which was so manifest in all Coverdale’s work. The subject deserves more close examination than it has yet received. Much valuable aid will be found in the laborious collation of various readings of the Prayer Book Psalter by Rev. Frederick Gibson, D.D., Rector of St. George’s Church, Baltimore, U.S.A., appended to Mr. McGarvey’s Liturgiae Americanae (Philadelphia, 1895). See also Driver’s Parallel Psalter for various examples of later changes that have crept into the print. It may be noted that the extraordinary misprint of Yea for Jah in Psa. 68:4 appears in the Sealed Books of 1662, and is therefore the authorized reading of the Church of England. Though a correction (legally unjustifiable) has been generally made, Yea appears in several printed Prayer Books, the latest being perhaps a 12mo. Prayer Book, Cambridge, 1832.
Chapter 18 – The Language and Literary Style of the Prayer Book (continued).
It is generally agreed that it is to the genius of Cranmer we are mainly indebted for the form, style, and diction of the general body of the Prayer Book. His treatment of the ancient collects and canticles has been already dealt with. With some exceptions the language of the parts that are wholly original is scarcely less deserving of admiration. The addresses to the people are for the most part direct, stately, and dignified; and occasionally, as for example in the longer exhortation of the Comminution, they rise to a true eloquence.
As was inevitable in the lapse of time, here and there a word or a phrase has become obscure, or has altered its sense; but the instances which call for change are comparatively rare. The archaic diction, so long as it remains intelligible and not misleading, is to be prized and cherished. There is a fitness in the language of the Church’s devotions being distinguished from the colloquial language of everyday life, even as there is fitness in the places of her worship being built in a style distinct from the architecture of public buildings designed for secular use. None would desire that our parish churches should be constructed after the model of a music hall or a lecture room. And what has been said by the late Bishop Lightfoot of the language of the English Bible [It should be remembered that though the date of the Authorized Version, or rather Revision, is 1611, it is in the main given us in the diction of Tyndale and Coverdale. Hence the harmony in language between the Prayer Book and the English Bible.] may be applied with equal truth to the language of the Prayer Book: “Whatever may have been the feeling in generations past to alter the character of our version, the stately rhythm and archaic colouring are alike sacred in the eyes of all English-speaking peoples.” [A Fresh Revision of the English New Testament, p. 170.] Equally applicable are the words of Archbishop Trench (though the original reference is to the English of the Bible in the Authorized Version): “The words used are of the noblest stamp, alike removed from vulgarity and pedantry; they are neither too familiar, nor, on the other side, not familiar enough; they never crawl on the ground, as little are they stilted and far-fetched. And then how happily mixed and tempered are the Anglo-Saxon and Latin vocables. No undue preponderance of the latter makes the language remote from the understanding of simple and unlearned men.” [On the Authorized Version of the New Testament, etc., p. 33.]
A more direct testimony to the literary merits of the English Prayer Book will be found in the words of one himself a great master of English style, Dean Swift. Writing to the Lord Treasurer he remarks: “As to the greatest part of our Liturgy, compiled long before the translation of the Bible now in use, and little altered since, there seem to be in it as great strains of sublime eloquence as anywhere to be found in our language; which every man of good taste will observe in the Communion Service, that of Burial and other parts.”
In an admirable passage on the prose style of Cranmer, Archbishop Laurence sums up his eulogy in the words: our Liturgy is “the masterly performance of Cranmer and his associates, which has always been admired, but seldom successfully imitated, and never equaled, which is full without verbosity, fervid without enthusiasm, refined without the appearance of refinement, and solemn without the affectation of solemnity.” [Bampton Lectures, p. 23.]
But admiration for the style of the English Book of Common Prayer has not been confined to ecclesiastics of the Church of England. In his own manner (though it may be admitted that it is not the most perfect manner) the late Lord Macaulay was himself, as a writer of English prose, a great master of style – a style, it may be, somewhat florid and artificial, but nevertheless a style of much force and directness. One might readily suppose that the characteristics of the diction and form of the Book of Common Prayer would not have strongly appealed to a literary taste such as his. Yet his admiration finds expression in language of enthusiastic praise. “In general,” he declares, “the style of that volume is such as cannot be improved. The English Liturgy indeed gains by being compared even with those fine ancient liturgies from which it is to a great extent taken. The essential qualities of devotional eloquence, conciseness, majestic simplicity, pathetic earnestness of supplication, sobered by a profound reverence, are common between the translations and the originals. But in the subordinate graces of diction the originals must be allowed to be far inferior to the translations. … The English of our services is English in all the vigour and suppleness of early youth. ... The diction of our Book of Common Prayer has directly or indirectly contributed to form the diction of almost every great English writer, and has extorted the admiration of the most accomplished infidels and the most accomplished nonconformists, of such men as David Hume and Robert Hall.” [History of England, chap. xiv.]
Of the special literary merits particularized by Macaulay, “conciseness” and “simplicity” are, doubtless, due in a large measure to the fact that Cranmer and his associates had from their youth up been thoroughly familiar, through the recitation of their daily Office and the constant use of the Missal and the Manual, with models characterized for the most part by a strict severity of style. It may be, indeed, that here and there the prayers of the Church of England seem unduly lacking in warmth and emotional colour, such as are found in abundance, if not in excess, in the devotions of the Churches of the East. But on the whole we have reason for being thankful that the fault, if it be a fault, leans towards emotional reticence rather than towards emotional effusiveness. What is intended for ordinary daily use by the general body of Christian men and women should not indulge largely in high flights or impassioned utterances. But the good sense and sound literary taste of Cranmer himself may in part be credited with the generally happy result exhibited in the Prayer Book. Certainly some of his younger contemporaries were capable of a diffuseness and verbosity from which we have happily been saved. And more especially do we find excesses of this kind in the Prayers put out by authority during the reign of Elizabeth, as well in its earlier as in its later years. Some of these prayers have all the faults of long harangues turned into the outward semblance of prayer by being in form addressed to the Almighty. Others might serve usefully for meditations in private, but are ill adapted to the solemn dignity of public worship.
It is not improbable that the exiles flying from the persecution of Mary were affected, not only by the doctrinal teaching, but also by the extravagances of the revolt against the old liturgical forms, which marked some of the Continental Reformers. As the years of Elizabeth’s reign went by, we find, in the occasional forms put out by authority for public use, many illustrations of prayers constructed rather after the manner of lengthy polemical orations than on the model of the ancient devotions of the Church. Thus the “Prayer for the estate of Christ’s Church: to be used on Sundays,” put out in 1580, extends to the length of nearly four closely-printed pages of the Parker Society’s collection. [Liturgies and occasional Forms of Prayer set forth in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, p. 576 sg.] And its style and manner may be judged from a few specimens.
“Bow the hearts of all Kings and Princes of the earth to the obedience of thy dearly beloved Son Christ Jesus. If otherwise they show by plain effects that they belong not to thy fold, good Lord, let them feel thy hand, and find against whom they set themselves. Let the blood of thy Saints, which they shed without mercy, make them drunken to perdition. In the meantime assist those that thou tallest to this trial that they may feel thy help and comfort amidst all their sufferings, whilst they shall be assured to be blessed when they suffer for righteousness’ sake, and to reign with thy Son, when they fulfill his sufferings in their flesh, and carry in their bodies the scars and marks of his wounds. O Lord, sanctify their blood that it may water thy Church, and bring a mighty increase and gain to thyself, and a decrease and loss to the kingdom of Antichrist, and to the Princes of the earth, who are become his slaves and butchers. ... Strengthen her [Queen Elizabeth’s] hand to strike the stroke of the ruin of all their superstition, to double into the bosom of that rose-coloured whore that which she hath poured out against thy Saints, that she may give that deadly wound not to one head but to all the heads of that cruel beast; that the life that quivereth in his dismembered members yet amongst us may utterly decay, and we through that wholesome discipline, easy yoke, and comfortable scepter of Jesus Christ, may enjoy his great righteousness, that thy Church may flourish, sin may abate, wicked men may hang their heads, and all thy children be comforted. Strengthen her hand and give her a swift foot to hunt out the bulls of Basan, and the devouring beasts that make havoc of thy flock.”
And so the long and fervid effusion runs its course.
Again, a little later (1585) we find a specimen of what may be called the narrative prayer in the “Thanksgiving for the deliverance of Her Majesty from the murderous intention of D. Parry.” After a thanksgiving for the enjoyment of “the blessed benefits of thy holy word against the mighty roaring of Bulls and Tigers, the enemies of thy Church, daily conspiring round about us, and partly among ourselves, against this realm and specially against the royal person of our blessed Queen, thy humble servant and true handmaid,” the form proceeds: –
“Yet of late time we have fully felt thy marvelous goodness by the discovery of some attempts most apparently taken in hand against her person, by certain wicked unnatural subjects, the stay whereof only hath proceeded, good Lord, by thy most continual tender and fatherly care over her, thy dear beloved daughter and servant, and not by the wit, providence, or strength of any worldly creature, as was most notably to be seen the last year to have been attempted by one malicious and furious person resolutely prepared, by persuasion of others, wicked traitors, to have committed a bloody fact upon her person. ... We are now most urgently stirred up to acknowledge our most bounden duties of praise and thanksgiving by a very late manifestation of thy singular favour, so largely above that former, as, all wonderful circumstances considered, we may compare it with any example of thy most wonderful kindness showed to any kings or nations of old time, testified to us in thy Holy Scriptures.”
And then the Lord is duly informed of the details of Parry’s attempt. [Strype raises a doubt as to whether this form was duly authorized for public worship; but certainly a form on the same lines was authorized the next year.]
The hearts of loyal Englishmen were naturally strongly moved, and the time was critical. Yet one cannot but feel that in solemn addresses to God, the great Ruler of all things, the violence of fierce invective is unsuitable. Shocking and disgraceful as were the attempts upon the Queen’s life, the gratitude of her subjects for her deliverance might have found suitable expression without such language as “the wicked and devilish purpose,” “the crafty, cruel, and traitorous devices of her bloody adversaries,” “ the jaws of the cruel tigers that sought to suck her blood.” [An order of prayer and thanksgiving (1585), Parker Society’s Liturgical Services, etc., p. 585.] And if “Papists” came in for such abusive vituperation, it is not to be wondered at that the Lord was informed that “The Turk goeth about to set up, to extol, and to magnify that wicked monster and damned soul, Mahumet, above thy dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ.” [The Form of Prayer ... to excite all godly people to pray unto God for the delivery of those Christians that are now invaded by the Turk (1565).]
There was, doubtless, amply sufficient cause in the cruel persecutions of Protestants abroad, and in the plots at home for the assassination of the Queen to intensify the warmest indignation against Popery; and it is rather against the importing of abusive language into forms of devotion, and against the vulgar rhetorical style of addresses to the Almighty that our censures are here directed. We have indeed to be thankful not only for what we possess in our Prayer Book, but also for what we have escaped. It is truly remarkable that the great, essential, and abiding motives to devotion as expressing themselves in our Book of Common Prayer have been scarcely touched by the transitory animosities of party. The Preface, it is true, from the pen (1661) of that worthy sufferer and confessor for Church principles, Bishop Sanderson, here and there bears some few traces of a not unnatural bitterness towards the intolerant schismatics of the Great Rebellion. [Possibly there is even a personal allusion to Richard Baxter (with reference to his proffered substitute for the service of the Church at the Savoy Conference) in the words “nor can expect that men of factious, peevish, and perverse spirits should be satisfied with anything that can be done in this kind by any other than themselves.”] But happily the few alterations in and additions to the prayers made at the same time, as, for example, the insertion of the words “rebellion” and “schism” in the Litany, and the occurrence of certain phrases [“That all who profess and call themselves Christians,” etc.] in the “Prayer for all conditions of men” (which we owe to Bishop Gunning) are expressed in such general terms that, though their special reference must have been apparent at the time, they are perfectly appropriate for all times and seasons, and carry with them nothing that could now offend the most sensitive. In the same way most persons will regard with thankfulness the excision, in Elizabeth’s revision, of the petition in the Litany of Edward’s first and second Books, for deliverance “from the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome, and all his detestable enormities”. But what we are chiefly concerned with here is to contrast the extreme and often lumbering diffuseness of many of these occasional forms of Elizabeth’s reign with the close pertinence, force, and simplicity of the great majority of the devotions that come down to us from the days of Cranmer, or were framed, after his manner, by the well-instructed liturgists who dealt with the Prayer Book at the last revision in 1661. For it should be observed that while liturgical studies held a secondary place for some three-quarters of a century, while our theologians were chiefly engrossed with the great controversies with Rome, about the middle of the seventeenth century, there were several scholars in the Church, such as Laud, Wren, Taylor, Sparrow, Hammond, and, notably, Cosin, who were giving considerable attention to the study of liturgies, and whose labours either directly or indirectly exerted their influence upon the revision of 1661. [Nor should we forget a very useful work by a layman, Hamon L’Estrange (elder brother of the well-known writer, Roger L’Estrange), the Alliance of Divine Offices (1659).] The attack upon the Prayer Book which had begun among the Puritans of the preceding century, and had been replied to by Hooker, was renewed with increased vehemence. To defend the Prayer Book with intelligence and in an effective manner put Churchmen upon the critical and historical study of the book itself; whence, as was inevitable, the range of their inquiry became enlarged. But beside the protection against deterioration afforded by the study of good liturgical examples, it is plain from the work they have left us that the revisers of 1661 possessed a literary taste of their own at once sound, vigorous, and delicate. As is pointed out in the chapter of this volume which treats of the Collects, there are specimens of their skill worthy to be compared with the very best of the ancient collects. The rehandling of the workmanship of former times is always a perilous operation; yet in most, if not in all, of the cases where the revisers of 1661 attempted alterations upon preexisting work, it must be acknowledged that the result amply justifies the daring. Some examples of what is here referred to will be found elsewhere. [See above in chapter 12.]
One of the most marked of the literary mannerisms of the sixteenth century was a fondness for alliteration, which sometimes showed itself in such excess as to give a painful sense of affectation and artifice. Alliteration to be at all tolerable in serious writing must be used with a very sparing hand. In a prayer put out on the occasion of “the late terrible earthquake” (1580) the repentant prodigal is described as returning “from the puddle of pleasures and swill of the swine”. But God is ready “to forget and forgive,” for the sake of Christ, “the salve of all sickness and jewel of joy”. And several other examples could be cited. We have to be thankful that the Prayer Book is free from these conceits.
The Exhortation at the beginning of Morning and Evening Prayer has been admired by some as a highly meritorious composition. It may be admitted that in a form, more especially if rarely heard, there may be some need of rhetorical expansion, so that the notion expressed may not be passed from too hastily, but be seized and taken in. It is in this, and not in the attempt to distinguish synonyms that the excuse must be sought (if excuse there be) for “acknowledge and confess,” “sins and wickedness,” “dissemble nor cloke,” “pray and beseech,” “requisite and necessary”. [What Comber says of “acknowledge and confess” is applicable to all the couplets: “We need not be curious in the differences between these words.”] This Exhortation is not, it seems to me, among the happiest products of the liturgical skill of the Reformers. When first inserted as a preface to the following Confession (1552), it may have been desirable for the instruction of the people, who were unaccustomed to join in the daily Office, and could scarcely be expected to comprehend its rationale. But it can hardly be questioned that it has ceased to be an advantage in the ordinary daily service, at all events upon weekdays. It was, doubtless, due to a recognition by the revisers of 1552 that many persons are able to attend church only at the time of Evening Prayer, that induced them to direct the use of the Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution. But the result was to necessitate the recitation of the “Dearly beloved brethren” twice a day. The Act of Uniformity Amendment Act (1872) has very wisely sanctioned the omission on weekdays of the Exhortation, but only in churches not being cathedrals. One can very well understand that in cathedral churches it is proper that the psalms, lessons, and prayers should be said or sung in their completeness, but it is somewhat hard to continue to impose upon them the use of the Exhortation every time the daily Office is recited. It may be remarked that at the last revision (1892) of the American Prayer Book the following rubric was inserted: “On any day not a Sunday he [the minister] may omit the Exhortation following, saying instead thereof, Let us humbly confess our sins unto Almighty God.” And this is perhaps preferable to the somewhat abrupt passage from the Sentences to the Confession. It is, doubtless, more needed in the American Prayer Book than in our own as it now stands; for while all the Sentences in the latter serve, either directly or indirectly, as incentives to confession of sin, there have been introduced into the former a number of Sentences from Scripture of a different character, many of which (though they are, in an admirable way, effective in striking the keynote of the following service whether for festival days or days of penitence) are yet not suggestive of the particular duty of confession. And here the opportunity may be taken to point out the advantage which American Churchmen have secured for themselves in this respect. With ourselves there is nothing of necessity to discriminate, for instance, Christmas Day from Good Friday, or Ascension Day from Whit-Sunday, till the Psalms are reached. Our brethren across the Atlantic have selected certain opening Sentences and appropriated them to certain days. Thus, on Christmas Day the first words uttered by the priest are, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (St. Luke 2:10–11); for Easter the Sentence is, “He is risen. The Lord is risen indeed” (St. Mark 16:6, St. Luke 24:34); for Good Friday, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me” (Lam. 1:12); for Ascension, “Seeing that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16). These examples may suffice to show, in a general way, how this new feature presents itself in the American Prayer Book. [Of more questionable merit is the permissive rubric in the American Prayer Book: “On any day when the Holy Communion is immediately to follow, the Minister may, at his discretion, pass at once from the Sentences to the Lord’s Prayer, first pronouncing, The Lord be with you. Answer. And with thy spirit. Minister. Let us pray.” When this permission is acted upon, it is true we have the beginning of Matins brought back almost exactly to the form of Matins in the First Prayer Book of Edward VI. But when we go still further back to the office for Prime in the Sarum Breviary, which contributed several features to our Morning Prayer, we find that Edward’s first Book had failed to reproduce the element of the Confiteor, Misereatur, and Absolutio; and we may well believe that, quite apart from the supposed influence of the foreign Reformers, a recognition of the deficiency suggested the restoration of a Confession and Absolution in Edward’s second Book, although both the language of the forms employed and the position assigned to them in the service were novel.]
The exhortations and addresses to the people to be found in the Order for the Holy Communion are excellent examples of simple, direct, and vigorous prose. And the original prayers of the same service, dating from the sixteenth century, are marked by a dignity and tender grace that place them among the most precious of the Church’s possessions.
Chapter 19 – Archaisms and Obsolete Words.
It can hardly be questioned that the fact of the smallness of the number of words in the Prayer Book that have become obsolete (in the sense of being unintelligible or misleading) is largely due to the constant public use of the forms therein contained. The same remark applies to the language of the Authorized Version of the Bible, and its justice is confirmed by the very considerable proportion of obsolete words that we find in the chapter headings and marginal readings, which were not customarily read aloud. [Thousands of habitual and well-instructed Bible readers are unaware that the word “whirlpool,” meaning a large fish or other large sea animal, appears at Job 41:1 (margin); that the provincialism (still used in Scotland) of “cheating” (for putting into a coffin) may be found in the chapter heading of the fiftieth chapter of Genesis, where we read that Joseph “dieth and is chested,” or, that “monarchy” (2 Kings 15:1, margin) is used of Jeroboam’s sole rule as distinguished from his partnership in the kingdom with his father. This last example, it may be added, appears for the first time, according to Dr. W. Aldis Wright, towards the close of the seventeenth century.]
There are certainly a very large number of words and phrases in the Prayer Book (including the Psalter) that no longer have currency in literature or the language of daily converse, but the great majority of these are perfectly intelligible. The admirable and delightful Bible Word Book of Dr. W. Aldis Wright and the no less entertaining Bible English of Mr. T. L. O. Davies should be in the hands of all students of the Prayer Book; and to them the reader may be referred for detailed proofs of what appears in brief in the following pages. The slight change in form serves no more as an effective disguise of the meaning than the variations of fashion in dress prevent the recognition of familiar features. Some of the words have a quaint air about them, but we make no doubt as to their sense. None needs to be informed that an “inhabiter” is an “inhabitant,” that “ensample” is “example,” that “estate” is “state,” that “domination” is “dominion,” that “governance” is only antique for “government,” “alway” for “always,” “many one” for “many a one,” and so forth. Similarly, the inflection of verbs and the construction of sentences are often such as have passed out of ordinary use; but it is highly exceptional when any obscurity as to sense is caused by the retention of the old forms. Even in the case of words which have certainly shifted in sense, the context is frequently such as to make the meaning plain. There is no one, probably, who could hesitate as to the sense of “how amiable are thy dwellings.” Nor will what is intended by “a moth fretting a garment” cause any perplexity.
There are, however, a few words that are, it is to be feared, positively misleading to the uninstructed, and of these, one or two, which even persons generally well informed are likely enough to take in a wrong sense. Thus, when the minister declares, in the service for the Public Baptism of Infants, that God “favourably alloweth this charitable work of ours in bringing this infant to his holy baptism,” it is not only poor and ignorant people who understand this as an assertion only of God’s permitting infant baptism, while in truth it is much more than this, being an assertion of His commendation. The word, as here used, is from the Latin allaudare, “to praise”. In the Psalter, “The Lord alloweth the righteous” (11:6) may puzzle us; but in the passage in the Service for Baptism “alloweth” now conveys a sense too weak – it misleads. Illustrations of this use of allow may be found in the Authorized Version of the Bible at Rom. 14:22: “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth,” where the Revised Version reads “approveth”; and at 1 Thess. 2:4: “But as we were allowed of God,” etc., where the Revised Version reads “approved”. [Compare also Luke 11:48, Acts 24:15, and Rom. 7:15.]
“Prevent,” because, I suppose, it occurs in some very familiar prayers, is more generally understood. It puzzles and suggests inquiry; yet there must be thousands of our less-instructed people who take the word in a wrong sense. Lover of old English as I am, I feel that there are higher claims than those of the linguistic and literary antiquarian. And I am convinced that it would be a plain duty, when an opportunity occurs, to make the necessary changes in the Collect, “Prevent us, O Lord,” and in the Collect for Easter, as well as in the Psalms (18:18, 21:3, 119:148). The same motive would make me favour the modernizing of “conversations” in the first of the Exhortations “when the minister giveth warning for the celebration of the Holy Communion.” The word has disappeared, I believe, altogether from the Revised Version of the New Testament. And (what may not be generally known) we have before us the precedent of the Revisers of 1661, who reduced to its present form the Collect for Innocents’ Day, where formerly the words ran: “mortify and kill all vices in us that in our conversation our life may express thy faith, which with our tongues we do confess.”
In this connection we may recall how ingeniously the Revisers of 1661 dealt with the obsolete word “depart” (in the active sense “to separate”) as it occurred in the Marriage Service. The sound of the familiar words was scarcely altered when “till death us depart” became “till death us do part.” It would have been well if the Revisers had listened to the suggestion of the Presbyterian commissioners at the Savoy Conference as regards another word occurring in the Marriage Service. It was a very reasonable request, when, with reference to the words, “ With my body I thee worship,” they said, “The word worship being much altered in the use of it since this form was first drawn up, we desire some other word may be used instead of it.” [Cardwell’s History of Conferences, etc., p. 330.] The American Prayer Book from the first has omitted the whole clause; and I would not offhand say that this is not the best expedient. One regrets, it must be acknowledged, to part from an old expression that comes down to us from pre-Reformation Manuals of England. But one of the most solemn moments in the life of any man or woman imperatively demands the plainest language and the clearest intelligibility.
The same principle suggests that the word “let” in the Collect for the fourth Sunday in Advent should be dealt with. It may be observed that in every passage in the Authorized Version where the word occurs plainly in the sense of “hinder” it has been altered in one way or another by the Revisers. A change is of less importance in the rule, “All priests and deacons are to say daily the Morning and Evening Prayer either privately or openly, not being let by sickness, or some other urgent cause”; for it may be assumed that those concerned know the meaning. Similarly, in most of the rubrical directions we may very well indulge the linguistic antiquarian with the old words that he loves, for here they can do no harm. And so “surcease” may stand in the Ordination Service, and “advertise” (in the sense of inform or notify) in the preliminary rubrics of the Order of the Holy Communion.
On the other hand, in one rubric at least it may be desirable to be more intelligible. In the rubric of the Marriage Service which enjoins, under certain conditions, that the solemnization shall be deferred “if any do alledge and declare any impediment,” both words, “alledge” and “declare,” have shifted meaning in a very material way. “To allege” in the language of today means no more than “to state” or “to assert”; in the language of the Prayer Book it means “to adduce proofs in support of a statement,” as in Acts 17:3. Again, “to declare” is generally used now with no other signification than “to affirm,” while in old English it meant “to show clearly” or “to make plain”. It is obvious that cases may arise where the misunderstanding or the true understanding of this rubric would have a very practical effect on the action of the objector or of the officiating clergyman.
The Psalter is the oldest English in the Prayer Book; and, moreover, we must remember that the arrangement for its monthly recitation in sections for Morning and Evening Prayer does not suffice to make its language very familiar to the great mass of the people, who are present only on Sundays and many perhaps at only one service. To these two causes, and more especially the latter, may probably be attributed the large proportion of words in the Psalter that have passed out of ordinary use. Dr. Driver [Parallel Psalter, Glossary II.] has thought right to explain no fewer than 137 archaisms (not a few of them occurring many times in several places of the Psalter) and adds that “as many as 170 or 180” additional archaisms, “which are not of a kind liable to be misunderstood,” may be enumerated. But though it is interesting to notice and illustrate the use of the words and forms of expression that appear in Dr. Driver’s glossary, it is certain that very many of them are such as to cause no serious misunderstanding; and one may hope that most of them may be retained intact in any future revision. Still there are, after all due allowances have been made, a considerable number of places where the sense is lost, or obscured, or perverted, by the retention of the archaic word or phrase. One of the most common of these misleading archaisms is “after” – taken not as commonly among us with reference to time, but in the sense of “according to,” “in proportion to” – as in Psa. 90:15, “Comfort us again now after the time that thou host plagued us.” It appears also in the Litany, “Deal not with us after our sins,” a phrase which has been sometimes misunderstood. The following may also be mentioned: “coasts,” as topographical boundaries with no suggestion of the sea; “grin,” not to make a face, but to make a noise – “to snarl” (Psa. 59:6, 14); “grudge,” meaning “to murmur,” “to grumble”; “health,” meaning “welfare” generally, not merely bodily welfare; “instantly,” meaning “urgently,” “earnestly”; “lust,” meaning “strong desire,” not necessarily sexual; “monster” (“I am become as it were a monster unto many,” Psa. 71:6), as not suggestive of either great physical bulk or great moral enormity, but merely an object of wonder, a “marvel”; “to order,” not “to command,” but “to set in order,” “to direct”; “ravish,” not with reference to violence done to women, but, generally, “to seize violently”; “reproof,” not a “rebuke,” but a “disproof,” a “confutation” (Psa. 38:14); “set by” (Psa. 15:4), meaning “to value” or to honour”; “sometime,” meaning “formerly”; “a high stomach,” meaning “a proud heart”; “strange,” meaning “foreign”; “to tell,” meaning “to count”; “to tempt,” meaning “to put to the test”; “wholesome,” meaning “saving”; “worship,” meaning “honour,” not confined to God. Such words, and perhaps a few others, would probably have to be dealt with. Of course, there are very many other words where the shifting, more or less, impairs the sense; but very seldom, I think, to such a degree as to render change necessary. [A technical word like “shawm” (Psa. 98:7) may very well stand. It is told of one of the royal Dukes, sons of George III, that in his later years he got into the habit of often expressing himself aloud in church, and that on one occasion, when Psa. 98 came in the course of the service, he was overheard saying, “Shawm, shawm: I suppose a musical instrument”; and probably every reader makes the same correct explanation for himself. The word “curate” seems to have at an early date moved in sense towards its now generally accepted meaning. A letter of Cranmer, dated probably 1537, is addressed, “To my well-beloved doctor Snede, vicar of Rye, and in his absence to the curate there.” (Remains and Letters, p. 357.) In the phrase “Bishops and Curates” it should be dealt with.]
Chapter 20 – Miscellaneous Observations and Suggestions
1. The need of a larger selection of Proper Psalms; the American “Selections”.
2. The State Prayers – Prayers for the Sovereign too frequent, and reflect the sentiment of Tudor times rather than that of our day.
3. Occasional Prayers; need of a larger supply; suggestions from the action of the Church of Ireland and the American Church.
1. To those who are regular attendants at the daily morning and evening services of the Church, there is much to be said in favour of the unbroken recitation of the Psalter from end to end within the month. It secures a familiarity with its whole contents not easily to be attained in any other way. Yet none, I suppose, would desire that the Proper Psalms for Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Day, Ascension Day, and Whit-Sunday, should be surrendered to give more completeness to the ideal of a full monthly recitation. The question arises, on the contrary, whether the principle already conceded in the appointment of Proper Psalms for these days might not with advantage be extended. This was the view accepted by the Convocations of Canterbury and York as expressed in the Reports presented to Her Majesty the Queen in 1879, in which Proper Psalms were suggested for the following days, in addition to the days already so distinguished: Advent Sunday, Circumcision, [The Convocation of Canterbury suggested that the Psalms for Christmas Day may be used on the Sunday after Christmas, unless it be the Feast of the Circumcision, and that the Psalms for Easter Day and Ascension Day may be used on the Sunday next following those Festivals respectively. But the Convocation of York did not concur in this suggestion.] Epiphany, Purification, Annunciation, Thursday before Easter, Easter Even, Trinity Sunday, St. Michael and All Angels, and All Saints. [The Psalms assigned to each day may be found conveniently in The Convocation Prayer Book, Murray, 1880.]
At the last revision of the American Prayer Book, Proper Psalms were adopted for all these days except the Thursday before Easter, and Proper Psalms were added for the Feast of the Transfiguration, which was at the same time inserted in the Table of Feasts to be observed, and for which Proper Lessons and a Proper Collect, Epistle, and Gospel were assigned. We venture to think that the application of the principle might be even yet further enlarged. [Under the authority of the Code of Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Bishop of Aberdeen has permitted Proper Psalms for Easter Eve, Easter Monday, and Easter Tuesday; the Bishop of Argyll for Epiphany, Maundy Thursday, Easter Eve, the Feast of the Dedication of a Church, and for Evensong on Feasts and their Eves, and, more striking still, for Evensong on Sundays.]
Let us look the facts in the face; our large congregations are found ordinarily only on Sundays. The advantages of a continuous recitation of the Psalter do not exist for them. Might not at least the Sundays, or some of them, in such seasons as Advent, Lent, and from Easter to Pentecost, be marked by the appointment of Psalms more appropriate to the season than such as may often happen to fall on these days?
On ordinary occasions it is perhaps, on the whole, no loss that Psalms, meditative and didactic, penitential and jubilant, succeed one another in irregular fashion, according to the mere accidents that seem to have most frequently determined the order of the several Psalms that make up each of the five books of the Hebrew Psalter. [The Books themselves may, however, be regarded as constructed, in the main, with a view to grouping together the productions of certain supposed authors. – See Driver’s Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, pp. 349–351.] Occasionally, it is true, the transition of feeling, as we pass from one Psalm to another, is somewhat abrupt or even violent and harsh. But, speaking generally, the varying moods to which expression is given are not ill-suited to the mingled sorrows and joys, penitence and humiliation, gratitude and chastened gladness that make up so much of the life of every Christian. It is the amazing variety of the Psalter, together with its abiding realization of God’s presence, that has made it the cherished book of devotion for the whole Church Catholic.
For the great majority of our congregations, I am well content that, with the addition of Proper Psalms for special days, as suggested above, our present order of reciting the Psalter should continue; yet there are many congregations where it, might often be a real gain to be able to substitute other Psalms for those that may happen to be appointed for some particular day of the month. The American Church has made a table of Twenty Selections of Psalms, any one of which Selections may be used instead of the Psalms for the day of the month, though not instead of the Proper Psalms. I do not know whether this permission is, in actual practice, often made use of; but it is to me certain that there are many congregations of uneducated people from whom it would be unreasonable to expect that exercise of the cultivated historical imagination which is absolutely necessary for entering with profit into the sense of some of the Psalms.
2. The State Prayers.
It has been told of the late Prince Consort that on one occasion, when he had expressed his aversion to the frequency with which prayers for the Queen occur in the services of the Church of England, someone observed, “Surely your Royal Highness cannot think that the Queen can be prayed for too much,” to which the Prince is said to have made answer, “Not too much, but too often.” And probably there are few candid persons who will not admit that the complaint was just.
Partly the sense of the undue frequency of such prayers may be referred to the accumulating the Morning Prayer, Litany, and Holy Communion in close succession. But even when these services are used separately, the objection still exists as regards the Daily Office and the Holy Communion, though it be in a lessened degree. Even when we think of the Sovereign mainly as the representative symbol of that civil government and order, without which the fabric of society must crumble into dust, it may still be questioned whether some modification and adjustment of these frequent prayers are not desirable. As regards Morning and Evening Prayer, we must acquit Cranmer and his associates of any blame. When the services ended with the third Collect, the Versicle, “O Lord, save the Queen [King]” was not followed shortly after by another prayer for the Sovereign. It was appropriate, and could make a claim to some liturgical precedent. But at the last revision, at the instance, as it would seem, of Cosin (borrowing the suggestion from the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637), the “five prayers” were added after the third Collect. It would not be difficult, if it were desired that some fuller prayer than that of the Versicle should appear, to abbreviate the prayers for the Queen and for the Royal Family, and, perhaps, to combine them together.
The prayer, “O Lord our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings,” etc., has been much and deservedly admired for the solemn dignity of its opening. Yet there are at least two particulars in which it is capable of improvement. We know from Holy Scripture (Rev. 19:3, and 17:14) that it is He whose “name is called the Word of God,” that has on His vesture and on His thigh the name written, “King of kings and Lord of lords,” that it is “the Lamb” who is the “Lord of lords and King of kings”; and in accord with this thought the original of this prayer was addressed to the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and opened in the following sublime language, “O Lord Jesu Christ, most high, most mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, the very Son of God, on whose right hand sitting dost from thy throne,” etc. [This prayer is found in two early books of private devotion, one of these being entitled Prayers or Meditations ... collected out of holy works by the most virtuous and gracious Princess Katherine, Queen of England, France, and Ireland. The colophon gives the date as November 6, 1547. I am not aware that the prayer has yet been traced to an earlier source.] We have seen already (in chapter 11) instances where our Reformers injured the thought of collects by altering the address. Here, again, we find the same fault.
But once again, considering the real position of the monarch as an element in our present constitutional government, the expression, “the only Ruler of princes” smacks too much of Tudor times. It raises before the mind’s eye the position of the imperious Henry VIII, whose will was law, and of whom any of his subjects, including his unhappy wives, might well think with dread. It is only mere antiquarianism that could wish it retained in days when the power of the monarch is reduced to the shadow of a shade. The clause could be omitted without detriment either to the thought or to the flow of language; and the prayer would still be entitled to the eulogy passed upon it by Archdeacon Freeman, when he wrote: “The Western ordinary ritual may be searched through and through without bringing to light anything comparable for sublimity of address to the opening of our prayer for the Queen’s Majesty.” [Principles of Divine Service, vol. i, p. 375.]
When we turn to the service of the Holy Communion, we have not only the petition for the Queen in the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s Church, but also the two alternative prayers, thrust in, very unsuitably, immediately between the response to the Tenth Commandment and the Collect for the day. The simplest and best course would be to strike out both these prayers; but, if that were thought too drastic a measure, we might adopt the course taken by the Church of Ireland, where the following rubric appears in this place, “Then shall follow one of these two Collects for the Queen (except when the Queen has been prayed for in any service used along with this Office), the priest standing as before,” etc.
The American Church (borrowing the suggestion from a usage of the Scottish Church) [This began in Scotland when the Jacobite sentiments of the great majority of the Scottish clergy and the rigour of the penal laws made it undesirable to pray by name for either “King James” or “King George.”] substituted for the Collects for the king the Collect, “O Almighty Lord and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern both our hearts and bodies in the ways of thy laws and in the works of thy commandments,” etc., a prayer that comes not inappropriately as a reinforcement of the responses to the Decalogue.
In the Prayer for the High Court of Parliament the epithets, “most religious and gracious,” as applied to the Sovereign, have at various times given rise to cavil. The attempt made to defend the term “most religious,” on the ground that “religious” was in old English used as expressive of attention to the outward forms of religion, is unavailing in the face of the fact that even the outward forms have had scant consideration from some English sovereigns to whom the words were applied. Nor can I accept the apology that some of the Eastern Liturgies exhibit language equally laudatory of the emperors. The words in our English prayer may have been really not unsuitable when first used of Charles I in occasional forms put out in 1625 and 1628. But it was indeed unfortunate that the Prayer Book of the Church of England should have adopted such language with reference to his profligate son, Charles II. In the great outburst of loyalty at the Restoration, and probably in ignorance of the real character of the young king, it was not unnatural that a form which was ready at hand should be incorporated for permanent use in the Prayer Book. But the complete shifting of the sense of the word “religious” has made the term as thus applied a mockery during the reigns of too many of our sovereigns. Very wisely has the Church of Ireland, since it acquired its independence, reduced the form to the words “under our Sovereign Lady the Queen at this time assembled.” At no time in our history could the change be effected with less apprehension of misunderstanding than in the reign of our good and gracious Queen Victoria.
3. Occasional Prayers.
(a) In the prayer For Rain (which dates from 1549) we find in the opening words, “O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all them that “seek thy kingdom and the righteousness thereof,” an interpretation of St. Matthew 6:33, which differs from that with which we are familiar from the Authorized Version, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” [It is true that occasionally “his” is used in the Authorized Version in places where we, in modern English, would use “its” (e.g., 1 Cor. 15:38, Acts 12:10); but it is all but certain that the use of ‘his” at Matt. 6:33 is a correction (in accordance with the Greek) of “thereof”.] In the prayer we have in fact an interesting survival from the versions of Tyndale and Coverdale, which persisted even in the Genevan New Testament.
In the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637 we find a rehandling of this Collect. First, we find that the opening of this Collect and the opening of the prayer In the time of Dearth and Famine, are interchanged; and, secondly, in their new place the words are made to run, “O God, heavenly Father, which by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all them that seek thy kingdom and thy righteousness.” etc. [In some fragments of a suppressed edition of the Scottish Prayer Book of (probably) 1636 which I discovered some years ago, and have described in the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society (1893–94), the prayer For Rain ran as in the English Prayer Book. The change effected in the published Prayer Book of 1637 is an interesting example of the care bestowed upon it.]
Yet though the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637 was a potent influence on the English revision of 1661, the old error of 1549 still remains in the English Prayer Book.
(b) The prayer For Fair Weather is not quite suitable to the dull, sunless, rainy weather, with yet no overwhelming rainfall, that is not uncommonly so injurious at certain seasons to the crops in this country. There is something exaggerated in the reference to the Noachian deluge that “drowned all the world except eight persons”. An alternative form should be provided. The American Church evidently felt the objection stated, for it has removed the allusion to the deluge; but the form adopted does not seem quite satisfactory. [The following prayer has been authorized for use in the diocese of Edinburgh as an alternative to that in the Book of Common Prayer: “Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, who art the Author and Giver of all good things, look, we beseech thee, in thy loving kindness upon us thine unworthy servants, and grant to us at this time such sunshine and fair weather that we may receive the fruits of the earth in their season, to our comfort and the glory of thy holy Name, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Advocate. Amen.”]
(c) The prayer to be used In the time of War and Tumult has not, happily, been said for many a day. But, should political complications involve this nation in the necessity of an appeal to the dread arbitrament of arms, we might very probably be not less loyal to our country though we might find it hard to use of our enemies such language as “abate their pride” and “asswage their malice”. [The American Church has very properly made the changes indicated as desirable.]
(d) Nothing is more certain than that we need a great enlargement in the collection of “Prayers and thanksgivings upon several occasions.” The Church of Ireland has introduced: – (1) A Prayer for Unity [From the Office for the Queen’s Accession.]; (2) For a Sick Person; (3) On Rogation Days; (4) On New Year’s Day; (5) For Christian Missions; (6) A Prayer for the General Synod of the Church of Ireland to be used in all churches and chapels on the Sunday preceding the meeting of the General Synod and during the Session of the Synod – a prayer that makes one sensible of the lack of public prayer for the Convocations of Canterbury and York [Some of the Scottish Bishops have put out forms of prayer for their Diocesan Synods and for the Representative Church Council.]; (7) A Prayer to be used in Colleges and Schools (a prayer, which is based on the prayer Pro docilitate, composed by Erasmus, apparently at the desire of Dean Colet, for the use of the scholars at St. Paul’s School, London); and (8) A Thanksgiving for Recovery from Sickness. [It may be mentioned that the Church of Ireland has also enriched its Prayer Book by adopting from the First Prayer Book of Edward VI the exquisitely beautiful collect, “God, which makest us glad with the dearly remembrance of the birth of thy only Son,” etc., to be used at a second celebration of the Holy Communion on Christmas Day, and similarly, for a second celebration on Easter Day, the Collect “O God, who for our redemption,” etc. (from the same source), used in 1549 “afore Matins” with the Easter anthems.]
The American Church, beside prayers corresponding more or less closely to those in our Prayer Book, now possesses (1) A Prayer to be used at the Meetings of Convention which (with certain alterations) is to be said for both the Diocesan and the General Conventions; (2) For the Unity of God’s People; (3) For Missions; (4) Two alternative prayers to be used on Rogation Sunday and the Rogation Days, for Fruitful Seasons; (5) For a Sick Person; (6) For a Sick Child; (7) For a Person or Persons going to Sea; (8) For a Person under Affliction; (9) For Malefactors, after Condemnation [i.e., as the contents of the form show, after condemnation to suffer death). There are also some new special forms of thanksgiving; but what has been said is sufficient to show the sense of the need of a larger number of special supplications and thanksgivings than the English Prayer Book supplies. In fact the need of a large increase of such forms, duly authorized, is a grave want.
Reasons for thinking that the Venice edition (1528) of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom was the main source of Cranmer’s “Prayer of Chrysostome” in the Litany of 1544.
In an article contributed to the Guardian (August 17th, 1898) I discussed the immediate source of our “Prayer of St. Chrysostom” at considerable length. It must be due, one must suppose, to the extreme rarity of the Venice edition that scholars had not earlier observed the remarkable resemblances between the Latin translation, which there accompanies the Greek text, and Cranmer’s English. The Latin runs as follows:–
“Qui communes has et concordes nobis largitus es supplicationes, et qui duobus aut tribus convenientibus in nomine tuo petitiones tribuere pollicitus es: to et nunc servorum tuorum petitiones ad utilitatem expleas, tribuens nobis in praesenti saeculo cognitionem tuae veritatis et in futuro vitam aeternam concedens.”
If Cranmer had this book before him, he would have had the Greek of the prayer facing the Latin translation; yet it is worth observing (1) that Cranmer’s phrase “two or three gathered together in thy name” seems to have been suggested rather by his way of understanding the “duobus aut tribus convenientibus” of the Latin than by the original, συμφωνουσιν. Erasmus had given the meaning more correctly as “quando duo aut tres concordant in nomine tuo.” Again (2) our English “supplications” corresponds with the Venice “supplicationes”; while Erasmus had written preces. And once again (3) our English “petitions” corresponds with the Venice “petitiones,” where Erasmus had rendered the Greek by postulationes.
On the other hand, the words “O Lord” (in the phrase “fulfill now, O Lord”), which have nothing corresponding to them either in the original or in the Latin of the Venice edition, find something of a parallel in the “ipse nunc quoque Domine” of Erasmus.
On the whole, it would seem that the phenomena presented by Cranmer’s rendering can be sufficiently accounted for if we suppose him to have had open before him the Venice edition of the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom (1528) with its Greek and Latin on opposite pages, together with Erasmus’ version in the Bale edition of Chrysostom’s works (1539) which we know was one of the books in the library of the Archbishop.
Cranmer was, no doubt, a competent Greek scholar, and did not need a translation to help him; but with the Latin as well as the Greek before him (if our conjecture be correct) nothing is more likely than that his turns of expression were influenced by it. It is likely enough that convenientibus (which we may remark appears also in the translation of Hervetus included in the volume with his translation of Cabasilas’ De divino altaris sacrificio, Venice, 1548) was meant to express the notion of “agreeing together”; but it looks very like as if Cranmer, taking it in the sense of “coming together” and remembering Matt. 18:20 (“For where two or three are gathered together in my name”: so Coverdale), gave us the English of the prayer as we have it without any effort to follow the Greek more closely. It was quite after Cranmer’s manner to use some liberty in his renderings, aiming rather at conveying the spirit than at a very close verbal translation.
At the phrase “knowledge of thy truth” the Venice edition of 1528 reads “cognitionem tuae veritatis,” and Erasmus simply “cognitionem veritatis”; but I cannot lay stress on this, for a glance at the original Greek would have shown Cranmer that the Venice rendering was that which should be followed.
Again, if we are right in the conjecture offered above, that the suffrage in our Litany for those that are “in danger, necessity, and tribulation” was suggested by a similar suffrage in the Deacon’s Litany, it is certain that Cranmer either independently corrected the curious rendering by Erasmus, “ut liberet nos ab omni tribulatione irae (sic) et necessitatis (sic),” or else was led to see the real meaning of the Greek by the Venice rendering given at p. 149.
On the opening Versicles at Morning and Evening Prayer.
A few words may be added with advantage to the rather slight treatment given to the opening versicles of Morning and Evening Prayer in chapter 16.
It would seem that at the time of Amalarius, Priest of the Church of Metz, that is, about the beginning of the ninth century, the Gloria Patri followed immediately at Matins upon the words, “O Lord, open thou my lips,” with its response, “And my mouth,” etc. Amalarius (De eccl. officiis., iv. 9) writes: “In nocturnali officio (i.e., Matins) dicimus primo Domine, labia mea aperies: Et os meum annunciabit laudem tuam. Deinde sequitur Gloria.” If we are right in our inference, we find that the noble form adopted by the American Church has ancient liturgical precedent.
The true rationale of the versicle, Deus, in adjutorium, etc., with its response, seems to be a continuation and amplification of the thought expressed in the petition that God would open our lips. If God does not open our lips, we cannot praise Him; but, further, in setting forth His praise we need His continual help. These later versicles are a petition for God’s help in the saying of the office upon which we are entering. The early commentator Walafrid Strabo (a little later than Amalarius) says that Deus, in adjutorium, etc., is placed at the beginning of all the offices, except the Mass, and that its object is to seek the divine aid, “ut invocatio divinae opitulationis, initio cujuslibet actionis assumpta, faciliorem faciat et postulandi constantiam et obtinendi virtutem.” (De rebus eccl., c. 25.) The English Reformers, in their wish to follow more closely the sense of Psalm 70:1, which is the original of the versicle and response, have given us the petition that God would “make speed to save us,” which, of course, tends to obscure the original purport of the versicles. If, then, it is desired to preserve the original intention, it would not be difficult to select a versicle and its response, supplicating God’s help.
The case before us is of interest, as showing us how difficult it was to rehandle the old offices without loss; and here, as it seems to me, the Reformers have injured the natural flow of thought and feeling.
The compilers of the old Primers were (not like those who framed the Prayer Book of 1549) content with the Latin text as it stood in the Breviaries, and set themselves merely to render the words into English. Thus:–
(a) Maskell’s Primers (Mon. Rit., iii. 3).
“God, take heede to myn help.
Lord, hige [hie] thee to helpe me.”
[So, too, the Primer printed by Mr. H. Littlehales (London, 1892).]
(b) The Goodly Primer, 1535. (Burton’s Three Primers, etc., p. 72.)
“O God, bend thyself into my help.
Lord, haste thee to help me.”
This text is followed by Bishop Hilsey’s Primer of 1539. (Burton’s Three Primers, p. 335.)
(c) Primer of Henry VIII, £545. (Burton, p. 462.)
“O God, to help me make good speed.
Lord, make haste to succour me.”
While treating of the opening versicles it may be observed that the words, “O Lord, open thou my [our, 1552] lips,” follow the King’s Primer, Hilsey’s and the Primer of 1535, while the earlier Primers printed by Haskell and Littlehales follow the Latin more closely, thus:–
“Lord, thou shalt open (aperies) my lips.”
The turning of the statement into a prayer will be felt by most persons as a manifest gain.
The First Prayer Book, like the Breviaries, confined this versicle to Matins. With questionable judgment it was also prefixed to Evening Prayer in 1552. Of course, in a very real sense the prayer, expressed or implied, that God would open our lips, is applicable to any service and to any act of worship; but its special appropriateness is to the beginning of the day and the beginning of the service. Again, the introduction of the saying of the Lord’s Prayer “with a loud voice” in 1549, and still more the prefixing, in 1552, of the Sentences, Exhortation, Confession, and Absolution, have marred somewhat the sense of the versicle as the very first words of the service. In the Sarum Breviary the priest is directed to say Pater noster and Ave Maria, but these were acts of private devotion, and the rubric runs, “Postea sacerdos incipiat servitium hoc modo, ‘Domine, labia mea aperies.’”
In the First Prayer Book, “Praise ye the Lord” (varied by the form “Hallelujah” from Easter to Trinity Sunday) was without any response, and the service proceeded at once to “O come, let us sing unto the Lord,” as if in prompt reply to the invitation. In the Second Prayer Book the alternative “Hallelujah” was struck out, but still there was no response. It was not till the Scottish Prayer Book of 1637 that we find added the form, “The Lord’s Name be praised,” which (like many other changes in the Scottish Prayer Book) was adopted in England in 1662. Why was this addition made? I think it was probably due to the fact that in a very large proportion of churches it was not possible, or at least, as a matter of fact, was not the usage, for the choir immediately to commence the singing of the Venite. The minister said, “Praise ye the Lord,” and then he was himself called upon to say the first verse of the Venite. The want of a response was felt, and it was supplied for a practical purpose.
Additional Notes on the Burial Anthem.
1. Of the versicles, three in number, which follow the antiphon, Media Vita, in the Sarum Breviary, at least two have been ingeniously wrought into the texture of our Burial Anthem. Rendered into English the three versicles run as follows:–
(a) “Cast us not away in the time of age, when our strength faileth. Forsake us not, O Lord. Holy God, Holy One and mighty, Holy and Merciful Saviour, deliver us not to bitter death.”
(b) Shut not Thine ears to our prayers, Holy One and mighty, Holy and Merciful Saviour, deliver us not,” etc.
(c) “Thou, who knowest the secrets of the heart, be merciful to our sins (parce peccatis nostris), Holy and Merciful Saviour, deliver us not,” etc.
There is, first, to be observed that the markedly artificial treatment of the refrain (full in the first versicle, less full in the second, and reduced still further in the third) is wholly set aside. This seems to me to make much for the naturalness and spontaneity that marks our Burial Anthem. It will be also observed that the order of b and c is reversed, while the thought of a (though the expression of the thought is largely due to Luther’s hymn) brings the whole to a close. This is a fine example of the courageous independence of Cranmer and his colleagues, and the result seems to me very admirable.
2. It is strange to find in the text of the Prayer Book of 1549, “ Shut not up Thy merciful eyes to our prayers.” This reading, when we look at b, must surely have arisen from an error of the scribe or of the compositor. Strange it is also that this reading was not rectified till the revision of 1661, when “shut not up” became “shut not,” and “eyes” was changed into “ears”.
Further Notes on the phrase “candidatus exercitus” in the “Te Deum,” and on the structure of that Hymn.
In addition to my treatment of the subject in chapter 7 there are a few further observations to be made on the mode in which the Te Deum was dealt with by the English divines of the sixteenth century, to whom we owe our Prayer Book.
1. The suggestion as to the possible military allusion of the word “candidatus” seems to me to call for fuller illustration than is given in the text of chapter 7. It is unreasonable to expect that readers will always go to the trouble of looking up references, more especially when the works in which they are to be found are not always easily accessible.
It may be that examples of the use of the word “candidati” for picked troops of the empire are to be found earlier than the time of the Emperor Gordian (239–244); but certainly in his reign a body of those whom, in modern phraseology, we should style the Household Troops was formed into a cohort known as the Candidati. As Ducange (s.v.) puts it, the cohort was formed of men of known bravery. Men of family or of wealth sought admission to its ranks. It enjoyed the place of highest distinction among the troops of the palace. It formed a bodyguard of the Emperor, and from its numbers were selected many of those destined for high military command. It may perhaps be with a side glance towards these honoured soldiers that St. Cyprian (De Lapsis, c. 2), when speaking of those who had borne the persecution with courage and constancy, exclaims: “Adest militum Christi cohors candida, qui persecutionis urgentis ferociam turbulentam stabili congressione fregerunt.” In the works of Prudentius there is a hymn (Peristeph. I.) in honour of the martyrs Emetherius and Cheledonius, two soldiers who had been in the Imperial Army. Comparing the rewards of those who served Caesar and of those who served Christ, the poet exclaims –
“Christus illic candidatis praesidet cohortibus,
Et throno regnans ab alto damnat infames deos.”
(Lines 67, 68).
Claudian, “the last of the classics,” about the same time probably alludes to the Candidati of the Roman Army when, in his verses on the Emperor Honorius, he speaks of him on a triumphal occasion as “borne aloft amid the snow-white cohorts.” [“Atque inter niveas alte veherere cohortes” (De IV. Consulatu Honorii Augusti, line 568).]
It appears from St. Jerome’s Life of St. Hilarion that one of the miracles of that famous exorcist was performed on a candidatus of the Emperor Constantius, who had been afflicted from childhood by a demon. [Vita St. Hilar., Migne, P.L., tom. xxviii. col. 39.] The word candidatus occurs several times in Ammonius Marcellinus, and everywhere for a soldier of the imperial bodyguard. In the battle with the Persians, when the Emperor Julian received his mortal wound, it was his candidati, themselves overwhelmed by the throng of fugitives, who sought to warn their loved leader of the danger to which he was exposing himself. (Lib. XXV. cap. iii.). When the wounded Emperor Valens had been removed from the battlefield by his candidati, and had met a frightful death amid the flames of the burning cottage, only one, a candidatus, escaped, and it was on his testimony that the Goths learned that the Emperor had perished (Lib. XXVI. cap. xiii.). At a later date we find the Byzantine historian, Procopius, preferring to transliterate rather than to translate the word. [Ουτος ανηρ βασιλέως μεν Ιουστινιανου δορυφόρος, επει ες τους Κανδιδάτους καλουμένους τελων έτυχε κ. τ. λ. De Bello Gothico (Lib. III. cap. xxxviii. edit. Dindorf (1833), tom. ii. p. 441.]
It is no part of my purpose to treat of the military antiquities of the later Empire; but, if we would gauge the possibilities of the military allusion which I have supposed to be hidden in the language of the Te Deum, it is necessary to be fully alive to the frequency of the use of the word in its military sense. [Other examples of the use of the word may be found in Ducange. In the notes to Dindorf’s edition of Ammonius Marcellinus (tom. ii. 131) it is stated, on the authority of Sirmond, that there is an ancient inscription, marking the burial place of (apparently) an officer of the candidati, in the church of St. Peter ad Vincula in Rome, which runs, HIC • POSITUS • EST • ANT(?)IOCHOS • CANDIDATVS • PRIMICER.]
Knowing the influence which German forms exerted upon our Book of Common Prayer, I thought it desirable to inquire how Luther had rendered the phrase which appears as “the noble army of martyrs”. But it is plain that here his “der reinen Marterer Schaar” presents a thought quite different from ours.
2. At page 88 I have pointed out that the use of the word “aculeus” in the Te Deum raises the presumption that this hymn was composed before St. Jerome’s revision of the Latin version of the Holy Scriptures had come into general use. To this may be added that the phrase, “Lord God of Sabaoth,” points in the same direction. In Isaiah 6:3 Jerome translates the Hebrew word and gives us “Lord God of hosts” (Dominus Deus exercituum), while the older Latin version retained the Hebrew word “Sabaoth”. And it is in this latter form that the passage of Isaiah is cited by St. Ambrose, St. Hilary, and, indeed, St. Jerome himself in his Epistles. [The expression, “the majesty of thy glory,” has arisen, I suspect, from a “conflation” of two Latin renderings of the verse in Isaiah. Ambrose has “the whole earth is full of his majesty.” While Jerome (Epist. ad Dermas., tom. iii. 517) substitutes “glory” for “majesty,” as will be found also in his Vulgate. A marginal correction by one scribe, inserted into the text by his copyist, would account for the text as we have received it.]
3. Since the publication of the first edition of this book an accomplished liturgical scholar, Rev. W. C. Bishop, has presented in the pages of the Guardian the following arrangement of the verses of the Te Deum, which seems to me to exhibit the structure of this great hymn more satisfactorily than any analysis with which I am acquainted. Of course, the versicles at the end are set aside as being no part of the hymn in its original form:–
“Te Deum laudamus:
Te Dominum confitemur:
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli,
Tibi Caeli, et universae Potestates,
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant –
“Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,Dominus Deus Sabaoth:
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.”
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia –
Patrem immensae maiestatis,
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium,
Sanctum quoque Paracletum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe;
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu, ad liberandum [mundum] suscepturus hominem,
non horruisti Virginis uterum:
Tu devicto mortis aculeo,
aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes in gloria Patris,
iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus tuis famulis subveni,
Quos pretioso sanguine redemisti:
Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.”
Mr. Bishop remarks that a glance will show “(1) that the great break is after Paracletum Spiritum; (2) that the first part of the hymn consists of three-line stanzas, with the exception of the Sanctus (which is, of course, a scriptural quotation) and the last stanza, in which the three lines are preceded by an introductory clause.”
4. The perusal of the original, as thus exhibited, makes plain that our English rendering obscures more than one point. Confining ourselves to the English, we find the Angels, the Heavens, and the Powers crying aloud; but we are not told what it was they cried aloud. It needs the Latin to see that all these spiritual beings are represented as joining in the cry of the Cherubin and the Seraphin. We also unhappily lose the solemn and emphatic triple repetition of the words “to Thee”.
It would undoubtedly be well that authority should be given for removing the period, or full stop, after the word “Sabaoth,” and for substituting a lighter punctuation. For the following verse – “Heaven and earth ... Thy glory” – is part of the ascription of praise uttered by the ranks of the heavenly hierarchy. A reference to Isaiah 6:3 shows plainly that it was a reminiscence of this passage which suggested the amplified language of the verse in the Te Deum now under consideration. [The introduction of the word “Cherubin” is obviously due to the ancient identification of the four “living creatures” of Revelation 4 (who also sang the “Sanctus”) with the Cherubin.] It is certain that this feature is often missed. Many Cathedral “Services” present a setting of the words which makes manifest that the musical composers have failed to grasp the sense. The Prayer Books of Edward and of Elizabeth (if we may trust the generally accurate reprints of the Parker Society) have a period after “Sabaoth”. And the same is true of the Book Annexed of 1662 and the Sealed Books. The printers both before and after 1662 have occasionally ventured with advantage, though without authority, to point here with a semicolon. And this course has been followed under due legal sanction both in the Church of Ireland and in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. [For the Sealed Books I have relied on the edition of the Book of Common Prayer issued by the Ecclesiastical History Society, under the charge of A. J. Stephens, 1849.]
It was natural for our Reformers to follow, as they did substantially, the system of verse division and of punctuation which they found in the old Service Books. In using the heavy point after “Sabaoth” they did not depart from preexisting practice. Nor is there any objection to this if it were permissible (and there seems to be no good reason for regarding it as not permissible) to employ the device of inverted commas to indicate the extent of the language that formed the ceaseless cry of the angelic hierarchy.
Verses of similar grammatical structure, that is, having the verb at, or close to the end of the last verse, are to be found in the succeeding group of verses referring to the praises of the apostles, prophets, and martyrs. Our English translators in this latter case (probably as it was felt to be more in accord with the genius of the English tongue) repeat the words “praise Thee” in each verse. And it was presumably the fact that the object of the verb “cry” extended in length to a couplet of verses that prevented the same course being followed as in the latter case. Considering the extreme difficulty of the task, we have indeed to be grateful for the measure of success that attended their efforts; but the result is by no means faultless. The force of habit and the powerful fascination of old associations, and, most of all, familiarity of the rhythmical cadences of the well-known words, will probably be a permanent barrier to change. The chant system, with its merits and its defects, as employed in the musical rendering of this glorious hymn makes also in the direction of a strict conservatism. But the closest literal rendering gives a very noble and dignified result –
“To Thee, all Angels,
To Thee, the Heavens and all the Powers,
To Thee, Cherubin and Seraphin,
With voice unceasing cry aloud,
‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth,
The Heavens and the Earth are full of the majesty Of Thy glory.’”
The “Benedicite” as dealt with in the Book of Common Prayer.
The treatment of the Benedicite by our Reformers does not present so many interesting problems as those which were involved in their efforts to represent the Te Deum in the English tongue; yet on examination we discover certain features which are well worthy of consideration.
The first thing one observes is that the text of the Sarum Breviary was not followed. In the pre-Reformation Service Books the Benedicite was presented in an abbreviated form. The great refrain, “Praise him and magnify him forever” (Laudate et superexaltate eum in secula) closing every verse of the canticle, as it appears in the Prayer Book, was in the Breviary expunged from all the verses except the first, the last (“O Ananias, Azarias,” etc.), and (in a form grammatically modified to suit the opening words) the verses, “O let the earth,” etc., and “O let Israel,” etc.
Another feature of the Breviary (departed from by our Reformers) was the grouping of what makes two verses with us into one verse. This will be best understood from the following specimens:–
“O ye Angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: O ye Heavens, bless ye the Lord.
O ye Waters that be above the firmament, bless ye the Lord:
O ye Powers of the Lord, bless ye the Lord.”
By these two devices the Song of the Three Children could have been chanted in the medieval Church in perhaps less than half the time which it occupies with us.
All the Primers, so far as I am aware, follow, as was natural, the arrangement of the Breviaries. But the first Prayer Book of Edward VI. shows a change. In this case, as in others, the Reformers were not content with the text of the Breviary, but looked to the original sources for a better text. They turned to the canticle as it appears in the deuterocanonical addition to the third chapter of the Prophet Daniel. [The Reformers were, no doubt, unacquainted with the fact, but a fact it is, that in the repetition of the refrain after every verse they were going back to the use of one branch of the Church in our islands. See Antiphonary of Bangor (Warren’s edition), part ii. p. 8.]
In this case, as in that of the Psalms, the compilers of the Prayer Book turned (in 1549) to Coverdale for their English version. The first Prayer Book of Edward follows Coverdale with almost exact precision. A verse or two will show how it ran.
“O all ye works of the Lord, speak good of the Lord: praise him and set him up forever.
O let the earth speak good of the Lord: yea, let it praise him and set him up forever.”
Coverdale’s version was from the Greek, or, as he puts it, “after Theodotio’s translation.” One can see that there was something of a not very happy straining after literalness. It is enough to say that few will be disposed to express a preference for the form of the refrain in the first Prayer Book when compared with that which took its place in the second, and which is retained to the present day.
It may be added that in the Breviary, after the conclusion of the verse “O Ananias,” etc., there are two verses, framed in conformity with the language of the canticle, in which praise is offered to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. They may be rendered thus –
“Let us bless the Father and the Son with the Holy Ghost:
let us praise and magnify him forever.
“Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven:
and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and magnified forever.”
For this was substituted by our Reformers the words of the Gloria Patri.
It is obvious that, as the verse in the Breviary ran, there was something faulty, something awkward in the use of the word “him” (eum). The sense, of course, is sufficiently obvious. The Three Persons are named; and when the word “him” is used it must refer to the Trinity in Unity. But the expression is certainly awkward. Much superior to the form in the Breviary is that which we find at the close of Benedicite in the Antiphonary of Bangor, “Let us bless the Lord, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost: let us sing (hymnum dicamus) and magnify him forever.” Looking at the canticle as a whole, we have reason to be thankful that our Reformers broke away from the medieval tradition. The refrain after each verse, and the giving a verse to each several object of the Creator’s power in detail, as in the original, is from the view-point of liturgical art a real gain.
The opportunity may be taken here of pointing out the real gain of the liberty afforded since 1552 of using either the Te Deum or the Benedicite at any time of the year as the canticle after the first Lesson. The first Prayer Book had required the Te Deum to be used “throughout the year, except in Lent, all the which time, in place of Te Deum shall be used Benedicite omnia opera Domini Domino in English.” A moment’s consideration makes clear that, while Benedicite is one unbroken song of jubilant adoration, the Te Deum has mingled with its triumphant praise the tenderest pleadings for mercy, the acknowledgment of human weakness, and the memories of the humiliation of the “King of glory,” when He took upon Him to deliver man. Setting aside a false antiquarianism and looking at things as they are, I think few will be found to claim Benedicite as, in itself, more suitable than Te Deum for a penitential season. [Mr. Frere, in his New History of the Book of Common Prayer (based on Mr. Procter’s well-known work), remarks, “Benedicite is especially suitable to the first Lesson of some particular days (e.g. Septuagesima Sunday and the nineteenth Sunday after Trinity) or as a substitute for Te Deum on Sundays during Lent; but its use on weekdays in Lent is no longer required by the rubric, and it is not in itself as suitable for such a position as Te Deum, which contains humble prayer as well as joyful worship” (p. 384). It is difficult to perceive why the reason assigned by Mr. Frere for the suggestion of the use of Te Deum on weekdays in Lent is not equally applicable to Sundays in Lent. There is no doubt that some change to mark the season (and the remark applies also to Advent) is desirable; but at least in “choirs and places where they sing” the object could probably be attained by the selection of the more somber “services” or musical settings of the Te Deum. At any rate, it is certain that there is nothing suggestive of a penitential season – nothing which is not radiant with joyful praise in the language of Benedicite from one end to the other. We may add that Mr. Frere’s remark is expressed (no doubt unintentionally) in language that might suggest that our present rubric does require the use of Benedicite on Sundays in Lent.]
The reader will remember that in the medieval use Benedicite was not substituted for Te Deum in the penitential seasons, but Te Deum was omitted. The rubric of the Prayer Book of 1549 is not a continuance, even in an imperfect form, of the ancient rubrical directions. If Benedicite had continued to be sung every Sunday at Morning Prayer, the omission of Te Deum would have a significance which is not attained by the substitution. In my opinion the rubric of 1549 was a lame and wholly inefficient attempt to effect a very laudable object.
The truth is that the Sarum rule of omitting the Te Deum on Sundays in Lent and Advent was by no means universal in the medieval Church. The late Dr. John Mason Neale has observed that “there are great varieties with respect to the Te Deum. In the Benedictine order it is said on all Sundays both of Advent and Lent; at Lyons the case was the same, although it was altered at least as long ago as 1780.” [Essays on Liturgiology (1867), p. 35. To these instances may apparently be added the Mozarabic rite. See Breviarium Gothicum (Migne’s edit.), col. 944.] As our present rubric gives perfect liberty in the matter, those who consider that on its merits Te Deum is the more suitable canticle for these seasons can have the satisfaction of knowing that the use of Te Deum is not without high ecclesiastical precedent.
It seems to me to be a matter much to be regretted that our Reformers, in their desire for simplicity, abandoned altogether, with the one exception of Benedicite, the use of the several Scripture Canticles which had a place at Lauds on successive weekdays. Much more suitable than Benedicite for Lent and Advent would have been the choice, from the Sarum Lauds for Monday, of the exquisitely beautiful Song of Isaiah (12:1–6), with its mingled sense of sin and of gratitude for God’s mercy. Let the reader judge for himself.
“I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord: for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me.
Behold, God is my salvation: I will trust, and will not be afraid.
For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song: and he is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy: shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say: Give thanks unto the Lord.
Call upon his name: declare his doings among the peoples, make mention that his name is exalted.
Sing unto the Lord for he hath done excellent things: let this be known in all the earth.
Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.”
Should a canticle yet more marked by a penitential character and by the tearful pleadings of fear and sorrow be preferred, the Song of Hezekiah (Isa. 38:10–20), which was sung in the Sarum Lauds for Tuesday, supplies what is needed.
If the time ever comes when the Church of England will attempt to revise and further enrich her Book of Common Prayer, it is to be hoped that consideration will be given to the treasury of sacred song which lies ready to hand in the canticles for Lauds not only in the Sarum rite, but also in the great store of the Cantica of the Gothic Breviary, and in the old Paris Breviary, which is marked by a number of noble canticles drawn from the Apocrypha. [See Neale’s Essays, p. 38.]
In the larger use of Scriptural Canticles we should come more into line not only with the Churches of the Western Communion, but with the Holy Orthodox Church of the East, which, beside Benedicite, Benedictus, and Magnificat, utilizes for her worship seven other Scriptural Canticles, or Odes, as they are styled, in the Daily Offices.
On the Prayer Book rendering of the “Magnificat”.
The Magnificat, as it appears in the Book of Common Prayer, is by no means among the happiest efforts of the liturgical skill of the English Reformers. We may conjecture that here, as in some other instances, they were hampered by an unwillingness to depart very widely from vernacular renderings current among the people. Certainly the influence of the Primers is apparent, and no less apparent is the influence of the Vulgate. I need not discuss the question in detail, but it seems to me that nothing but conservatism of a stupid type would prefer the corresponding language in the Prayer Book to the emphatic contrast brought out in the rendering of the Revised Version of the New Testament, “He hath put down princes from their thrones, and hath exalted them of low degree.” One might bear with the less expressive “He hath put down the mighty from their seat” but the words, “and bath exalted the humble and meek,” are positively misleading. Even if the Prayer Book had been content with the words “and hath exalted the humble,” it would yet have tended to obscure the sense by transferring our thoughts from the lowliness of external estate to a moral quality. But the error is made emphatic by the further addition of the words “and meek.” The source of that addition I have not discovered. It is our duty to realize the wrong done by this unhappy translation. Humility of heart was indeed pre-eminent among the countless graces that formed the spiritual dower of the Ever-Blessed Mother of our Lord; but assuredly she would have been the last to have made reference to a grace of which unconsciousness of its existence is almost a necessary factor. I have no pedantic devotion to literalness of translation, but so serious a misinterpretation of the sense as this ought not to be passed over, whenever an opportunity offers for its rectification.
Those who were responsible for the Prayer Book of 1549 had the advantage of possessing the English translations of Tyndale and Coverdale. To neither of these can the principal error be attributed. The former reads in verse 2, “the poure degre off his honde mayden,” and in verse 7, “hath exalted them of lowe degre.” Erasmus, too, had raised his warning voice, “ut intelligas parvitatem, non animi virtutem,” and the question had been one of notorious controversy. It is strange that the error should have been allowed to have a place in the Prayer Book.
Further Notes on “Quincunque vult.”
The Creed of St. Athanasius.
1. When dealing in chapter 10 with the translation of the Athanasian Creed I should have pointed out that there were copies in print (not to speak of MSS.), in ample abundance, of the Athanasian Creed in Greek before 1549. Waterland had pointed to one printed copy of uncertain date, but recent inquiries have established that the Creed had appeared in a Greek form at least as early as 1497, when it was printed in a Greek book of Hours of the Virgin, by Aldus, at Venice. This was reprinted by Aldus in 1505, at Tubingen in 1514, at Hagenau in 1518, again at Hagenau in (perhaps) 1520, at Florence in 1520, at Venice, by the Aldine Press, in 1521, in Paris in 1538, and again at Paris in 1543. [See Canon G. D. W. Ommanney’s Critical Dissertation on the Athanasian Creed (1897), pp. 279–283. A copy of the Paris edition of 1538 is in my possession.]
It is plain, then, that there would have been no difficulty in seeing this Greek text before 1549. That Waterland was not acquainted with the books referred to above is not to his discredit in times when Bibliography was but little studied in England. But the merit of his sagacity in detecting the influence of the Greek version on our translation is by this rather enhanced than diminished.
2. As is well known, considerable difficulties surround the interpretation of verse 24: “Et in hac Trinitate nihil prius aut posterius, nihil majus aut minus.” The Greek of the Aldine text follows the Latin closely. [Ουδεν πρότερον ή ύστερον, ουδεν μειζον ή έλαττον.] The English of the Prayer Book of 1549 ran thus: “And in this Trinity none is afore, nor after other: none is greater nor less than other.” [One of Grafton’s impressions read “or” for the first “nor”.]
The Prayer Book of 1552 read “or” for the first “nor,” but retained the second “nor”. Sometime in Elizabeth’s reign (? 1589) the second “nor” was changed into “or,” though, of course, without authority. But what is more important than the refinement about the double negative, some of the impressions of the Prayer Book of 1552 read the word “another” for the second “other”. This has since been given unquestionable legal authority by the Act of Uniformity of 1662. This change, which has adhered to our form of the Creed, was, perhaps, originally a printer’s error; but, however it originated, it is certainly to be regretted. It suggests a difference which does not exist in the original.
It is a puzzle, which has not yet been satisfactorily solved, how it was our Reformers came to give us, as a rendering of “nihil prius aut posterius, nihil majus aut minus,” the words “none is afore, or after other; none is greater, or less than an another.” Dr. Swainson and Mr. Ommanney have pointed out that there is a Greek text of the Creed which would support this rendering. [Ουδεις ο πρωτος η ο έσχατος, ουδεις ο μείζων η ο ελάττων. See Swainson’s Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, p. 470, and Ommanney’s Critical Dissertation, p. 299.]
But this text is, I believe, known to exist in only three or four MSS.; and there is no reason to suppose that it was known to our Reformers. The well-known Greek text of Aldus, in his Hours of the Virgin, and of his numerous followers, which we may say with confidence was known to Cranmer and his fellows, corresponds here (as has been said) with the accepted Latin text.
In Bishop Hilsey’s Primer (1539) we find the inconsistent and halting rendering, “And in this Trinity there is none before or after another, nothing more or less.” [Burton’s Three Primers, etc., p. 326.] And in an English Psalter of David, printed, as has been thought, in 1542, there is a translation of “The crede or symbole of doctour Athanasius,” in which Hilsey’s rendering of this verse is followed. [The text as given in the Psalter is reprinted in Swainson’s Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds, p. 470.]
Pending further information, I am disposed to think that our Reformers aimed rather at representing what they believed to be the real sense of the words than at merely translating into English what was scarcely likely to convey any sense to those who said the Creed in English. Again, the English word “nothing” might possibly be thought suggestive of material notions foreign to the conception of the Godhead. As we shall see, Luther had adopted a similar course. And there is no doubt that some of the mediaeval Commentaries on the Symbol of St. Athanasius glossed this verse as if “nihil” was to be understood as equivalent to “nullus”. Thus the Stavelot Commentary (assigned to the tenth century), after transcribing this and the following verse, proceeds, “Quia nullus anterior et nullus posterior, nullus inferior et nullus superior.” [This Commentary is printed by Mr. Burns in Texts and Studies, vol. iv., No. 1 (Cambridge, 1896).] And, in the second Commentary in the MS. known as Troyes 804, the comment on this verse contains the words “Non est Pater prior Filio, neque maior; non est Spiritus Sanctus posterior Patre aut Filio, vel minor.” [See Appendix to Ommaney’s Critical Dissertation, p. 505.]
In 1538 there was printed, at Wittemberg, a tractate of Luther, entitled, Die Drey Symbola, in which is contained a German translation of the Athanasian Creed (Symbolum heisst Sancti Athanasii). The verse under consideration is given thus: –
“Und unter diesen drei Personen ist keine die erste, keine die letste, keine die grosseste, keine die kleinest.” [Sammtliche Werke, bnd. xxiii. 256 (Erlangen, 1838).]
This is in sense substantially identical with the sense of the form in the Prayer Book. But an examination of Luther’s translation does not show any trace of its being influenced by Greek texts; nor is there, I think, the least ground for supposing that it in any way affected our English rendering. [It should be observed that Luther does not employ the word “Trinity” (Dreiheit, or Dreieinigkeit) in any part of the Creed. Thus for the verse, “So that in all things, as is aforesaid,” etc., we find, “Auf dass also, wie gesagt ist, drei Personen in einer Gottheit, und ein Gott in drei Personen geehret werde.”]
Though, of course, it is conceivable that when the difficulty of rendering the verse into English suggested itself to our Reformers they may have turned to see how the matter was dealt with in Luther’s translation. There can be little doubt, I suppose, that if the Athanasian Creed appears in a new translation put out by authority, the word “nothing” will take the place of “none”.
Further Notes on the Influence of Luther on the Litany.
1. It is beyond question that many of the most beautiful, affecting, and precious of the suffrages of our English Litany are due to Luther. Research may hereafter show that Luther drew upon the ancient Litanies of Germany for some of the features which we may be tempted to consider as peculiar. But, however this may be, they have come to us from Luther, and would probably have never reached England but for their appearance in the Service Book of the great Reformer, followed as it was to a large extent by Archbishop Hermann.
It is true that here and there minute inquiry can discover certain resemblances to some of the suffrages which must, beyond question, be traced to Luther, in Litanies, whether English or foreign, of medieval times. But such resemblances are mostly of a rather vague and shadowy kind. And it may be asserted with confidence that the actual process by which the English Litany was constructed (always, of course, assuming that the basis is to be found in the old Sarum Litanies) did not consist in the ingenious piecing together of one clause from this medieval Litany and another from that, but by a direct transfer from a German source.
A few examples may be given. [I am here going over old ground, but it is worthwhile presenting in a clear way what any student of Bright’s notes in the Annotated Book of Common Prayer might, if he took the trouble, make out for himself.] And my method will be to cite first (a) the words of the English Litany of 1544, secondly (b) the closest parallels which the late Dr. Bright was able to bring forward from pre-Reformation Litanies, and thirdly (c) the corresponding passages in Luther’s Litany of 1529. Matter common to all Litanies, or, if not common to all, of very general use is here disregarded.
1. (a) ... from battle and murder. (b) ... a ... bello. – Roman and Dominican. (c) a bello et caede. – Luther.
2. (a) By thy baptism, fasting, and temptation. (b) Per Baptismum tuum ... Per Jejunium tuum [separate obsecrations]. – Sarum. (c) Per baptismum, jejunium, et tentationes tuas. – Luther.
3. (a) By thine agony and bloody sweat. (b) “For that agony in which thou offerest thee willfully to death, obeying thy Almighty Father; and thy bloody sweat.” – Golden Litany. [The so-called “Golden Letanye” will be found printed (from a MS. in Lambeth Library) in Maskell’s Monumenta Ritualia (2nd edit.), vol. iii. pp. 263–74.] (c) Per agoniam et sudorem tuum sanguineum. – Luther.
4. (a) In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our wealth. (b) ... (c) In omni tempore tribulationis nostrae ... In omni tempore felicitatis nostrae. – Luther.
5. (a) ... that it may please thee to rule and govern thy holy church universal in the right way. (b) Ut [Sanctam: York and Hereford] ecclesiam tuam regere et defensare digneris. – Sarum. (c) Ut ecclesiam tuam sanctam catholicam regere et gubernare digneris. – Luther.
6. (a) ... to bring into the way of truth all such as have erred and are deceived. (b) ... (c) Ut errantes et seductos reducere in viam veritatis. – Luther.
7. (a) ... to illuminate all bishops, pastors, and ministers of the church with true knowledge and understanding of thy word, and that both by their preaching and living they may set it forth and show it accordingly. (b) Ut Episcopos et Abbates nostros [et omnes gradus ecclesiae] in sancta religione conservare digneris. – Sarum. (c) Ut cunctos Episcopos, Pastores, et Ministros ecclesiae in sano verbo et sancta vita servare digneris. – Luther. [The words in brackets [et omnes, etc.], though not noticed by Bright, I have added to the Sarum form, as being part of the suffrage immediately preceding that which he cites. See Procter and Wordsworth’s edition of the Sarum Breviary, Fascic. ii. col. 252.]
8. (a) ... to bless and keep the magistrates. (b) … (c) Ut Magistratui et plebi nostrae benedicere et custodire. – Luther.
9. (a) ... to strengthen such as do stand; and to comfort and help the weak-hearted; and to raise up them that fall; and finally to beat down Satan under our feet. (b) ... (c) Ut lapsos erigere, et stantes confortare digneris: Ut pusilanimos et tentatos consolare et adjuvare digneris: . . . Ut Satanam sub pedibus nostris conterere digneris. – Luther.
10. (a) ... to defend and provide for the fatherless children and widows. (b) ... (c) Ut pupillos et viduas protegere et providere digneris. – Luther.
11. (a) ... to have mercy upon all men. (b) ... (c) Ut cunctis hominibus misereri digneris. – Luther.
12. (a) ... to forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts. (b) ... (c) Ut hostibus, persecutoribus, et calumniatoribus nostris ignoscere, et eos convertere digneris. – Luther.
These examples do not exhaust the cases where Luther’s Litany has exerted an influence on our Litany. The exquisite collect, “O God, merciful Father, that despisest not the sighing of a contrite heart,” etc., is to be found, indeed, in substance in the Sarum mass “pro tribulatione cordis”; but the suggestion that it should have the place which it now occupies in our Litany comes from Luther, and even its opening words (which in the Sarum mass run, “Deus, qui contritorum,” etc.) took shape from Luther, where the words appear as, “Deus, misericors Pater, qui contritorum,” etc. – Luther.
It is of less interest whether Cranmer borrowed immediately from Hermann or from Luther. It is enough for us in our present inquiry if we show the source from which Hermann derived his form. How much of Luther’s Litany is due to the pre-Reformation Service Books of Germany, and how much to the active mind and warm heart of Luther himself, are questions which I must reserve to another time. But it is obvious that many of the most valued suffrages of our English formula were drawn from Lutheran sources.
That there seem to be indications that Cranmer had Luther’s German Litany before him has already been briefly touched in the Preface to the second edition.
2. I have suggested in chapter 13 that the strange grouping together, in one suffrage of our Litany, of such diverse and somewhat incongruous subjects for prayer as those that travel by land or by water, women labouring of child, sick persons, young children, prisoners and captives, was due to Cranmer’s acquaintance with a petition in the Deacon’s Litany in the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. With our present imperfect knowledge the suggestion still seems to me not improbable. But it is right to point out, as has been shown by Dr. Jacobs (above), that some of the suffrages of Luther’s Litany (1529) have a certain resemblance to our formula, excepting always that in Luther the effect of grouping these subjects of prayer (which nothing but the deadening effect of habit could render bearable) is largely mitigated by the use of four suffrages where we use only one. The suffrages referred to are as follows:–
“That it may please thee to look upon and save those that are afflicted and in peril.
That it may please thee to give safe deliverance to women with child, and plentiful supply to those that give suck.
That it may please thee to cherish and keep infants and sick persons.
That it may please thee to release those in captivity.”*
*[“Ut efflictos [? afflictos) et periclitantes respicere et salvare digneris;
Ut pregnantibus et lactentibus felicem partum et incrementum largire digneris;
Ut infantes et aegros fovere et eustodire digneris;
Ut captivos liberare digneris.”]
The reader will judge for himself whether my suggestion is or is not the more probable. For each something has to be said. Travelers by land or by water, as such, do not appear in Luther. Rightly understood, the laborantes of the (Latin) St. Chrysostom were probably those condemned to work in the mines. Yet such is the suggestiveness of sounds and verbal forms to a mind in creative action, that I conceive that the thought of those who “labour” in another sense of the word may have been brought to Cranmer’s mind by the occurrence of the word in this connection. Again, the prayer in Luther for those who give suck is wholly omitted from the English form; while “young children” has no counterpart in the Greek, though it has in Luther’s “infantes”. But most striking is the fact that in St. Chrysostom there is a close grouping together of the subjects of prayer, which is absent from the separated petitions of Luther.
Someone better acquainted with Luther’s writings than I am may be able to show that Luther himself was influenced by the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom.
The suggestion I have thrown out has reference, it should be observed, to the grouping together of such dissimilar subjects for prayer in the close proximity necessitated by including them in one brief suffrage. But it is right, as Dr. Bright has pointed out, to notice that in the medieval Bidding Prayers the same topics of prayer appear in almost the same order. This will be seen from the following extract from the York Bidding Prayer found in a MS. Manuale, which is attributed to the year 1405 [The Bidding Prayer is printed in Canon T. F. Simmons’ Lay Folks’ Mass Book (pp. 64–67).]:–
“Also ye sal pray for all our parischyns whar-so thai be on land or on water, that god saue them thaim fra al missaunters; and for all wymen that er with chield in this parische or in any other, that God delyuer thaim with joy, and gife the child cristendom and thaim purification; and for al that er sek and sary, that god al-mighthi comforth thaim; and thaim that er in gode lyfe that God hald thaim thare-in; for thaim that er in dette or in dedly synne, or in prison, that God bring tham out thare-of.”
A reminiscence of this very beautiful prayer, or of some other such vernacular form, may very well have suggested the idea of the suffrage under consideration. But, after all has been said, I think that the closeness of the resemblance of our form to the words of the Deacon’s Litany, taken together with the fact that the adoption of the “Prayer of Chrysostom”“ shows that Cranmer had the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom before him in 1544, are almost conclusive as to the source from which he drew his thought.
3. In chapter 13 it was pointed out that much of the latter part of our Litany is a translation of certain versicles or preces, which by a rubric of one of the Sarum Litanies are directed to be said “if it shall be necessary in time of war.” It has been observed that the earliest example we have of the use of these versicles in England was on the occasion of the consecration of a church, for in this connection they are to be found in the Pontifical attributed to Egbert, Archbishop of York (732–766 ?).
A recent writer hence argues for the suitability of this part of the Litany to a time of “peace and joy”. But to make the argument of avail it will be necessary to show that when Egbert made use of this form there was a cessation of the almost constant wars that marked the middle of the eighth century. It was not necessary that there should be wars within the borders of his own diocese to make these versicles appropriate. There was no war within the bounds of England when Cranmer set forth his Litany of 1544. But, as a matter of fact, during the whole of the episcopate of Egbert wars in the kingdoms of both Northumbria and Mercia were of almost constant occurrence. The conditions of life at that period were such that raids and invasions, battle and strife constituted the normal rather than the exceptional state of society. There were indeed but very few years when the prayer, “From our enemies defend us, O Christ,” would demand a mystical interpretation.
Notes on some indications of Lutheran influence on the Marriage and Burial Services, etc.
1. Until Dr. Jacobs had shown it to be otherwise, [Lutheran Movement in England, p. 272.] our English liturgists had been content to assume that certain forms in our Marriage Service were derived from somewhat similar forms in Hermann’s Deliberatio. More recently some of the writers on the Prayer Book have called attention (though without acknowledging the services of Dr. Jacobs) to the direct influence of Lutheran Orders of Marriage, much earlier than Archbishop Hermann’s book. It is only by exact comparison that conviction can be carried. Thus, taking the priest’s pronouncement, “Forasmuch as N. and N. have consented together,” etc., let us compare it first with Hermann’s form, which I will exhibit in the English of the translation published by Daye in 1547. This runs as follows:–
“Forasmuche as than thys Johan N. desireth thys Anne to be hys wife in the Lorde, and thys Anne desireth thys Johan to be her husbande in the Lorde, and one hath made the other a promisse of holie and Christian matrimonie, and have now both professed the same openly and have confirmed it with giuinge of ringes ech to other, and ioininge of handes: I the minister of Christ and the congregation pronounce that they be ioyned together with lawfull and Christian matrimony, and I confirm this their mariage in the Name of the Father, the Sonne, and the Holy Gost. Amen.”
The general resemblance between the two forms is obvious enough; but now let us compare our form with the form found in Luther’s Little Marriage Book. [Ein Traubuchlin fur die einfaltigen Pfarrherrn. I follow the form as in the edition of 1546, which is almost identical with that of 1529, which Dr. Jacobs cites, but which I have had no opportunity of seeing.]
“Forasmuch as Hanns N. and Greta N. seek one another in marriage, and here openly acknowledge the same before God and the world, they have thereupon given one another their hands and wedding rings. I accordingly pronounce them married together, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” [“Weil denn Hanns N. und Greta N. einander zur Ehe begehren, und solchs hie offentlich fur Gott und der Welt bekennen, darauf sie die Hande and Trauringe einander gegeben haben, so sprech ich sie ehelich zusammen, im Namen des Vaters, and des Sohns, and des heillgen Geistes. Amen.”]
It is quite clear that Luther’s form is much closer to ours than Hermann’s is.
2. What I have said (chapter 15) as to the influence of Coverdale’s version of Luther’s great hymn – “Mitten wir in Leben sind | Mit dem Tod umfangen” – seems to have been accepted. [See Frere’s New History of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 638, note, and Pullan’s History of the Book of Common Prayer, p. 240.]
All that I can claim to have done is to show that the language of our noble Burial Anthem took shape under the suggestion of the English of Coverdale. It was long ago pointed out by Archbishop Laurence that Luther’s German hymn had been the source of the petition that God would not suffer us for any pains of death to fall from Him; and viewing the question from its doctrinal side, he argued that our Church did not accept the Calvinistic theory of the indefectibility of grace. [An attempt to illustrate those Articles of the Church of England, which the Calvinists improperly consider Calvinistical (fourth edition), p. 381.] Questions of dogma do not concern us in this inquiry, but it may be remarked that it is to Coverdale we owe the incomparably deeper thought of “falling from God,” rather than of “falling from the comfort of a right faith,” as it was expressed in Luther’s – “Lass uns nicht entfallen | Von des rechten Glaubens Trost.” [It is worth remarking that the title of the extremely rare little volume, Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes, bears a close resemblance to one of the early titles of Luther’s book, Geistliche Lieder und Psalmen. But the English book, though translating some of the contents of the German, has much matter either original or from other sources.]
3. It is possible, as has been pointed out by Mr. Burbidge, that to Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes we owe the idea of the response after the recitation of each of the Ten Commandments as they appear in the Service for the Holy Communion in the Prayer Book of 1552. [See Burbidge’s Liturgies and Offices of the Church (1885), p. 218, note.] For in Coverdale’s collection of verses we find a metrical version of the Ten Commandments, after each verse the refrain “Kirieleyson” occurring. The thought of some such prayer is one that is so obvious that it is perhaps scarcely necessary to look for any source outside the natural feelings of Christian men. I refer to the words of our response, “Lord, have mercy upon us,” etc., for there is more to be said in favour of the commonly accepted view that the thought of prefixing the Decalogue to the Communion Service was suggested by the way in which the Decalogue was prefixed to the ordinary Morning Service in the Liturgy of the refugees from Strasburg settled at Glastonbury – a view which is supported to some extent by the similarity of the part of the concluding response, “Write all these thy laws,” etc., to certain words in the Liturgy referred to.
But my object in noticing this matter at all is to mention that if our Prayer Book owes the suggestion of the response to Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes, Coverdale in turn was only putting into English Luther’s metrical “Die zehn Gebote Gottes,” each verse of which was followed by a Kyrie. [See Dr. Martin Luther’s Sammliche Werke, b. lxv. (1854), 322.]
The Schleswig-Holstein Order of 1542.
The Schleswig-Holstein Order abounds in interest for the liturgiologist; but I cannot do more here than briefly notice the features pertinent to the question whether it presents a mattin service “practically identical” with that of the Prayer Book of 1549. The Schleswig-Holstein book presents us with two forms of morning service – the first, lightly sketched, is for use in the Latin schools, and it may be briefly described as consisting of (1) Three Mattin Psalms; (2) A section (octonary) of Psalm 119, with Gloria Patri; (3) A Lesson from the New Testament; (4) The German Sanctus, or the Benedictus with its Antiphon; (5) Kyrie; (6) The Lord’s Prayer; (7) “O Lord, show Thy mercy upon us,” with the response, “And grant us Thy salvation”; (8) The Salutation, “The Lord be with you,” and its response; (9) A Collect; (10) “Let us bless the Lord,” with its response, “Thanks be to God.”
The second form for Mattins is intended for the use of the Canons of Cathedrals and others. It is much more elaborate, and its parts may be sufficiently described as follows: – (1) The Creed. (2) The Lord’s Prayer. (3) Three (antiphoned) Psalms. (4) Three short Lessons (the first taken from the Old or the New Testament); the Lessons are accompanied with “Jube, Domine, benedicere,” and “Tu autem,” etc., and each Lesson has its Responsory. (5) Gloria Patri. (6) Te Deum. (7) An Antiphon and one of the Canticles, varying each day of the week. When the Antiphon of the Canticle has been repeated, (8) Another Antiphon, followed by Benedictus. (9) Kyrie. (10) Lord’s Prayer. (11) “O Lord, show Thy mercy upon us,” with the response, “And grant us Thy salvation.” (12) “The Lord be with you,” and its response. (13) “Let us pray.” (14) One, or two Collects. (15) “Let us bless the Lord,” with its response; “after the ancient fashion.”
The reader is now in a position to judge for himself whether there is good ground for supposing that Cranmer drew the idea of our Martins from either of these services.
It may be noted in addition that the Versicle, “O Lord, open Thou our lips,” and its response, together with the Versicle, “O God, make speed to save us,” and its response, which appear in Dr. Jacobs’ and Mr. Pullan’s “German Mattins,” are not only not present in the Schleswig-Holstein Order, but Bugenhagen actually gives his reasons why they should not be used.