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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/849

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BREVIARY


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BREVIARY


iarium), signifies in its primary acceptation an abridg- ment, or a compendium. It is often employed in this sense by Christian authors, e. g. Breviarium fidci, Breviarium in psalmos, Breviarium canonum, Breviarium regularum. In liturgical language Brcriary has a special meaning, indicating a boolc furnishing the regulations for the celebration of Mass or the canonical Office, and may be met with under the titles Breviarium Ecclesiastiei Ordinis, or Brev- iarium Ecclesi(B Romirtsw {Romana). In the ninth century Alcuin uses the word to designate an office abridged or simplified for the use of the laity. Pru- dent ius of Troyes, about the same period, composed a Breviarium Psalterii (v. inf. V. History). In an ancient inventory occurs Breviarium Antiphotiarii, meaning "Extracts from the Antiphonary". In the " Vita Aldrici " occurs "sicut in plenariis et brev- iariis Ecclesise ejusdem continentur". Again, in the inventories in the catalogues, such notes as these may be met with: "Sunt et duo cursinarii et tres benedictionales Libri; ex his unus habet obsequium mortuorum et unus Breviarius", or, "Praeter Brev- iarium quoddam quod usque ad festivitatem S. Joannis Baptistaj retinebunt", etc. Monte Cassino about A. D. 1100 obtained a book entitled "Incipit Breviarimn sive Ordo Officiorum per totam auni de- cursionem".

From such references, and from others of a like nature, Quesnel gathers that by the word Brev- iarium was at first designated a book furnishing the rubrics, a sort of Ordo. The title Breviary, as we employ it — that is, a book containing the entire canonical Office — appears to date from the eleventh century.

St. Gregory VII having, indeed, abridged the order of prayers, and having simplified the Liturgy as performed at the Roman Court, this abridgment received the name of Breviary, which was suitable, since, according to the etymology of the word, it was an abridgment. The name has been extended to books which contain in one volume, or at least in one work, liturgical books of different kinds, such as the Psalter, the Antiphonary, the Responsoriary, the Lectionary, etc. In this connexion it may be pointed out that in this sense the word, as it is used nowadays, is illogical; it should be named a Ple- ruirium rather than a Breviarium, since, liturgically speaking, the word Plenarium exactly designates such books as contain several different compilations united under one cover. This is pointed out, how- ever, simply to make still clearer the meaning and origin of the word; and section V will furnish a more detailed explanation of the formation of the Breviary.

II. Contents. — The Roman Breviary, which with rare exceptions (certain religious orders, the Am- brosian and Mozarabic Rites, etc.) is used at this day throughout the Latin Church, is divided into four parts according to the seasons of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. It is constructed of the following elements: (a) the Psalter; (b) the Proper of the Season; (c) Proper of the Saints; (d) the Common; (e) certain special Offices.

(a) The Psalter. — Tlie Psalter is the most ancient and the most venerable portion of the Breviary. It consists of 1.50 psalms, divided in a particular way, to Ix; described later. These psalms formed the groundwork of the Liturgy of the Jews for twelve centuries before Christ, and He certainly made use of these formularies for His prayers, and quoted them on several occasions. The Apostles followed His example, and handed down to the Christian Churches the inheritance of the Psalter as the chief form of Christian prayer. The Church h;js carefully preserved tliem during the lapse of centuries and has never sought to replace them by any other formu- laries. Attempts have been made from time to time to compose Christian psalms, such as the Gloria in


excelsis, the Te Deum, the Lumen Hilare, the Te Decet Laus, and a few others; but those which the Church has retained and adopted are singularly few in number. The rhythmic hymns date from a period later than the fourth and fifth centuries, and at best hold a purely secondary place in the scheme of the Office. Thus the Book of Psalms forms the groundwork of Catholic prayer; the lessons which fill so important a place in this prayer are not, after all, prayer properly so called; and the antiphons, responsories, versicles, etc., are but psalms utilized in a particular manner.

In the Breviary, however, the Psalter is divided according to a special plan. In the earliest period the use of the Book of Psalms in the Office was doubtless exactly similar to that which prevailed amongst the Jews. The president of the choir chose a particular psalm at his o\\ii will. Some psalms, such as xxi, seem specially appropriate to the Passion. Another was adapted to the Resurrection, a third suited the Ascension, while others again are specially referable to the Office of the Dead. Some psalms provide morning prayers, others those for night. But the choice was left in the hands of the bishop or president of the choir. Later, probably from the fourth century, certain psalms began to be grouped together, to respond to the divers requirements of the Liturgy.

Another cause led to these groupings and arrange- ments of the Psalter. Some monks were in the liabit of reciting daily the whole of the 1.50 psalms. But this form of devotion, apart from lessons and other formularies, occupied so much time that they began to spread the recitation of the entire Psalter over a whole week. By this method each day was di- ^nded into hours, and each hour had its o^\ti portion of the Psalter. From this arrangement arose the idea of dividing the Psalter according to specially devised rules. St. Benedict was one of the earliest to set himself to this task, in the sixth centurj'. In his Rule he gives minute directions how, at that period, the psalms were to be distributed at the dis- position of the abbot; and he himself drew up such an arrangement. Certain psalms were set apart for the night offices, others for Lauds, others for Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, others for Vespers and Compline.

It is a subject of discussion amongst liturgists whether this Benedictine division of the psalms is anterior or posterior to the Roman Psalter. Although it may not be possible to prove the point definitely, still it would seem that the Roman arrangement is the older of the two, because that drawn up by St. Benedict shows more skill, and would thus seem to be in the nature of a reform of the Roman division. In any case, the Roman arrangement of the P.salter reaches back to a hoary antiquity, at least to the seventh or eighth century, since when it has not undergone any alteration. The following is its dis- position. Psalms i-cviii are recited at Matins, twelve a day; but Sunday Matins have six more psalms divided between the three nocturns. Thus:^

Sunday — Psalms i, ii, iii, vi-xiv; xv, x\n, xvii; xviii, xi.x, XX.

Monday — Psalms xxvi-xxxvii.

Tuesday — Psalms xxxviii-xli, .xliii-xlix, li.

Wednesday — Psalms Iii, liv-lxi, Ixiii, Ixv, bcvii.

Thursday — Psalms Ixviii-lxxix.

Friday — Psalms lxxx-lxx.xviii, xciii, xcv, xcvi.

Saturday — Psalms xcvii-cviii.

The psalms omitted in this series, namely, iv, v, xxi-xxv, xlii, I, liii, Ixii, Ixiv, Ixvi, Ixxxix-xcii, and xciv, are, on account of their special aptitude, re- served for Lauds, Prune, and Compline.

The series, from Ps. cix to Ps. cxlvii inclusively, are used at Vespers, five each day, except Psalms c.xvii, cxviii, and c.xlii, reserved for other hours.