Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/853

This page needs to be proofread.




later, were added those of St. Isidore, St. Gregory the Great, the Venerable Bade, and so on. This new development of the Office gave rise to the compila- tion of special books. In primitive times the Book of Psalms and the books of the Old Testament sufficed for the Office. Later, books were compiled giving extracts from the Old and New Testaments (Lectionary, Gospel, and Epistle Books) for each day and each feast. Then followed books of homilies (Homiliaries) — collections of sermons or of com- mentaries of the Fathers for use in the Office. AH these books should be studied, for they form the constituent elements which later combined into the Breviary.

Further, as regards these lessons, it is well to notice that, as in the case of the psalmody, two lines of selection were followed. The first, that of the order of ferial Offices, ensures the reading of the Scripture, from Genesis to the Apocalypse, in se- quence; the second, that of the order for feasts of the saints and festivals, breaks in upon this orderly series of readings and substitutes for them a chapter or a portion of a chapter specially apphcable to the feast which is being celebrated.

The following is the table of lessons from the Bible. In its essential features, it goes back to a very venerable antiquity: —

Advent — Isaias, and St. Paul's Epistles.

Christmas, Epiphany — St. Paul, following this very ancient order: — Epp. to Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessa- lonians, Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews.

Septwxgcsima and Lent — Genesis and the other books of the Pentateuch.

Passiontide — Jeremias.

Easter and Paschal Time — Acts of the App., .Apocalypse, Epp. of St. James, St. Peter, St. John.

Time after Pentecost — Books of Kings.

Month of August — Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus.

Month of September — Job, Tobias, Judith, Esther.

Month of October — Machabees.

Month of November — Ezechiel, Daniel, the twelve minor Prophets.

(f) Versicles and Little Chapters. — The CapUulum, 3r Little Chapter, is really a very short lesson which takes the place of lessons in those hours which have no special ones assigned to them. These are: Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None. Vespers, and Compline. By reason of their brevity and of their unimportance, they are much less complicated than the longer ones, md no more need here be said about them. The Versicles belong to the psalmody, like responsories ind antiphons; usually they are taken from a psalm, ind belong to the category of liturgical acclamations Dr shouts of joy. They are usually employed after

essons and little chapters, and often talce the place li responsories; they are, in fact, brief responsories. The ferial Preces and the Litanies probably belong

o the category of versicles.

(g) Collects. — Collects, also called prayers, are lot psalmodic prayers; they are of a completely lifferent character. Their place in the Breviary ■hangi'.s little; they come towards the end of the JUice, after the psalmody, the lessons, little chapters, mil versicles, but preceded by the Dominus volnx- ~um, and they gather up in a compendious form the

upplications of the faithful. Their historical origin s a-s follows; During the earliest period, the president if the assembly, usually the bishop, was entrusted A'itli the task of pronouncing, after the psalmody,

hants, and litanies, a prayer in the name of all

he faithful; he therefore addressed himself directly <) God. At first this prayer was an improvisation, ["he oldest examples are to be found in the AiSaxv wr 'kvocriXuv, and in the Epistle of St. Clement of TI.— 49

Rome, and in certain Epistles of St. Cyprian. In time, towards the fourth century, collections of prayers were made for those who were not adepts in the art of improvisation; these were the earliest forerunners of Saoramentaries and Orationals, which later occupied so important a place in the history of the Liturgy. The Leonine, Gelasian, and Gregorian Sacramentaries form the chief sources whence are drawn the collects of our Breviary. It may be observed that they are of great theological impor- tance, and usually sum up the main idea dominating a feast; hence, in them the significance of a festival is to be sought.

V. History op the Brevi.\ry. — In the preceding paragraphs, a certain portion of the history of the Breviary, as a choir book at least, has been given. At first, there was no choir book, properly so called; the Bible alone sufficed for all needs, for therein were the psalms for recitation and the books which furnished the various lessons. It is of course most

Erobable that the Psalter is the most ancient choir ook; it was published apart to fulfil this special function, but with divisions — marks to indicate the portions to be read; and at the end were copied out the canticles recited in the Office like the psalms, and sometimes, following each psalm, came one or more prayers. A study of manuscript Psalters, which has not as yet been methodically undertaken, would be extremely useful for the Liturgy. Then, little by little, as the canonical Office was evolved, books were drawn up to meet the wants of the day — Antiphonaries, Collectaria, etc. In the twelfth cen- tury John Beleth, a liturgical author, enumerates the books needed for the due performance of the canonical Office, namely: — the Antiphonary, the Old and New Testaments, the Passionary (Acts of the Martyrs), the Legendary (Legends of the Saints), the Homiliary, or collection of homilies on the Gospels, the Sermologus, or collection of sermons, and the treatises of the Fathers. In addition to these should be mentioned the Psalterium, CoUectarium for the prayers, the Martyrology, etc. Thus, for the reci- tation of the canonical Office, quite a library was required. Some simplification became imperative, and the pressure of circumstances brought about a condensation of these various books into one. This is the origin of the Breviary. The word and the thing it represents appeared — confusedly, it might be — at the end of the eighth century. .-^Icuin is the author of an abridgment of the Office for the laity — a few psalms for each day with a prayer after each psalm, on an ancient plan, and some other prayers; but without including lessons or homilies. It might rather be called a Euchology than a Brev- iary. About the same time Prudentius, Bishop of Troyes, inspired by a similar motive, drew up a Breviarium Psnlterii. But we must come down to the eleventh century to meet with a Breviary properly so called. The most ancient manuscript known as containing within one volume the whole of the canonical Office dates from the year 1099; it comes from Monte Cassino, and at the present time belongs to the Mazarin Library. It contains, in addition to other matter which does not concern the present inquiry, the Psalter, canticles, litanies, hymnary, collects, blessings for the lessons, little chapters, antiphons, respon.sories, and les.sons for certain Offices. -Another manuscript, contemporary with the preceding, and coming from Monte Cassino. contains Propers of the Season and of the Saints, thus serving to complete the first-mentioned one. Other examples of the Breviary exist dating from the twelfth century, still rare and all Benedictine. The history of these origins of the Breviary is still somewhat obscure; and the efforts at research must continue tentatively till a critical study of these manuscript Breviaries haa been made on the lines