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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/852

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BREVIARY


772


BREVIARY


turj-. the monastic idea exercised a preponderant influence on the arrangement and formation of the canonical Office. It is possible to give a fairly exact account of the establishment of these Offices in the second half of the fourth century by means of a document of surpassing importance for the history we are now considering: the "Peregrinatio ad Loca Sancta", written about a. D. 3S8, by Etheria, a Spanish abbess. This narrative is specifically a description of the Liturgj' followed in the Church of Jerusalem at that date.

The Offices of Prime and Compline were devised later, Prime at the end of the fourth centurj-. while Comphne is usually attributed to St. Benedict in the sixth centurj"; but it must be acknowledged that, although he may have given it its special form for the West, there existed before his time a prayer for the close of the day corresponding to it.

IV. Co.\fPOXE.\-T P.\RTS OF THE OFFICE. Each of

the hours of the Office in the Roman Liturgj' is com- posed of the same elements: psalms (and now and then canticles), antiphons. responsories, hymns, les- sons, versicles, httle chapters, and collects (prayers). A few words must be said about each of these elements from the particular point of \'iew of the Bre\-iary.

(a) Psalms ami Canticles. — Nothing need here be added to what lias already been said in section II concerning the psalms, except that they are used in the Breviarj' sometimes in order of sequence, as in the ferial Offices of Matins and Vespers, sometimes by special selection, independently of the order of the Psalter, as in Lauds. Prime, Compline, and, in general, in the Offices of the Saints and other feasts. Another point to notice in the composition of the Roman Office is that it allows of the inclusion of a certain niimber of canticles, or songs, drawn from other portions of Holy Writ than the Psalter, but put on the same footing as the psalms. These are: the Canticle of Moses after the passage of the Red Sea (Exodus, xv); the Canticle of Moses before his death (Deut.. xxxii); the Prayer of .Amne the mother of Samuel (I Kings, ii); the Prayer of Jonas (Jon., ii); the Canticle of Habacuc (Habacuc. iii); the Canticle of Ezechias (Is., xxx\-iii); the Canticle of the Three Children (Dan., iii, 26); The Benedicite (Dan., iii, Iii): lastly, the three canticles drawn from the New Testament: the Magnificat, the Benedictus, and the Nunc dimittis.

This hst of canticles coincides more or less with those used in the Greek Church. St. Benedict admits these canticles into his Psalter, specifically stating that he borrows them from the Church of Rome, and thus providing a further argument for the prior- ity of the Roman Office over the monastic.

(b) A?itiphons. — The antiphons which are read nowadays in the Brevian.- are abridged formularies which almost always serve to introduce a psalm or canticle. They consist sometimes of a verse taken from a psahn, sometimes of a sentence selected from the Gospels or Holy Scripture, e. g. " Euge. serve bone, in modico fidehs, intra in gaudium Domini tui"; occasionally they consist of phrases not culled from the Bible, but modelled on its style, i. e. they are the invention of a liturgical author, for example: ■■ Veni, Sponsa Christi, accipe coronam. quam tibi Doniinus praepara\it in seternum". Originally, the meaning of the word, and the function fulfilled by the antiphon, was not what it is now. Although it is difficult to determine precisely the origin and purport of the term, it seems that it is derived from antiphona (avTKpiivT]) or from the adjective avriipuims. and that it signified a chant by alternate choirs. The singers or the faithful were divided into two choirs; the first choir intoned the first verse of a psalm, the second continued with the second verse, the first followed with the third verse, and so on to the end of the


psalm. The antiphoTied chant is thus recitation by two choirs alternately. This term has given rise to technical discussions which cannot here be entered into.

(c) Responsory, whose composition is almost the same as that of the antiphon — verse of a psalm, sentence out of Holy Scripture or of ecclesiastical authorship — nevertheless differs from it entirely as to the nature of its use in recitation or chant. The precentor sang or recited a psalm; the choir or the faithful replied, or repeated either one of the verses or simply the last words of the precentor. This form, like the antiphon, had already been in use amongst the Jews, and appears even in the construction of certain psalms, as in cxxxv, " Laudate Dominom quoniam bonus", where the refrain, "Quoniam in aetemum misericordia ejus", which recurs in each verse, certainly corresponds to a responsory.

(d) Hymns. — The term hymn has a less definite meaning than those of (intipho7i or responsory, and in the primitive liturgies its use is somewhat un- certain. In the Roman Bre^^ary, at each hour either of the day or of the night there is a little poem in verses of different measures, usually verj^ short. This is the hjinn. These compositions were originally very numerous. Traces of hymns may be discerned in the New Testament, e. g., in St. Paul's Epistles. In the fourth and fifth centuries hymnology received a great impetus. Prudentius, SjTiesius, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Hilarj'. and St. .\mbrose composed a great many. But it was above all in the Middle Ages that this style of composition most developed, and collections of them were made, filling several volumes. The Roman Bre%nary contains but a moderate number of hjTnns, forming a real anthology. Some of them are masterpieces of art. It was at a comparatively late date (about the twelfth century) that the Roman Liturgj' admitted hymns into its Brevian,'. In its primitive austerity it had hitherto rejected them, without, however, condemning their emplojTnent in other hturgies.

(e) Lessons. — By this term is meant the choice of readings or of extracts in the Bre\"iary, taken either from Holy Writ or from the Acts of the Saints, or frorn the Fathers of the Church. Their use is in accordance with the ancient Jewish custom, which, in the ser\'ices of the SjTiagogues. enjoined that after the chanting of psalms, the Law and the Prophets should be read. The primitive Church partly atlopted this service of the Sjmagogue, and thus brought into being the service of the night watches. But the course of readings was altered; after a lesson from the Old Testament, the Epistles of the Apostles or their Acts or the Gospels were read. Some Churches somewhat extended this usage; for it is certain that the letters of St. Clement of Rome, of St. Ignatius, and of Barnabas, and the "Pastor" of Hermas were read. Some Churches, indeed, less well instructed, allowed books not wholly orthodox, Uke the Gospel of Peter, to be read. In time lists were made out to fix what books might be read. Muratori's "Canon" and. still better, the "Decrees of Gelasius" may be studied from this point of view with profit. Later on men were not content to confine themselves to the reading of the holy books; certain Churches wished to read the Acts of the MartjTS. The Church of Africa, which possessed Acts of great value, sig- nalized itself in this respect. Others followed its example. When the Divine Office was more de- veloped, probably under monastic influence, it be- came customarj- to read, after Holy Writ, the com- mentaries of the Fathers and of other ecclesiastical writers on the passage of the Bible just previously heard. This innovation, which probably began in the sixth, or even in the fifth, centurj-, brought into the Divine Office the works of St. Augustine, St. Hilarj', St. Athanasius, Origen, and others. To these.