Palmer: Origines Liturgicae 16.
Vol. I: Antiq. of the English Rit., Ch. 2, Sect. I-IV.




| Sect II |




word litany has been used in so many different senses by ancient writers, that persons who were not sufficiently aware of this variety of application have fallen into great errors in attempting to trace the antiquity of various things which have all borne the same name. At first, this term was applied in general to all prayers and supplications, whether public or private. Thus Eusebius speaks of Constantine’s custom of retiring to his tent before a battle, and there propitiating God with supplications and litanies1; and he also says, that shortly before his death, Constantine entered the church of the martyrs at Helenopolis, and there, for a long time, offered supplicatory prayers and litanies to God2. In the fourth century, the word litany became more especially applied to solemn offices which were performed with processions of the clergy and people.

Basil observes to the clergy of Neocæsarea, that [265] litanies which they then used had been introduced after the time of Gregory Thaumaturgus3. The term here seems to mean processional supplications, which could only have come into use after the season of persecution had passed by, and therefore not until after the time of Gregory. On the other hand, we have reason to think that supplications in the church without public processions were more ancient. I think it is therefore not unreasonable to interpret the litanies spoken of by Basil to mean processional litanies. It appears that very shortly after litanies of this kind came into use at Constantinople. Socrates relates, that in the time of John Chrysostom, the Arians of Constantinople, being obliged to perform divine service outside the walls, were accustomed to assemble themselves within the gates of the city, and sing anthems and hymns suited to the Arian heresy for great part of the night. And early in the morning, singing anthems of the same sort through the middle of the city, they went out of the gates, and proceeded to the places where they celebrated their worship4.

Chrysostom, fearful that his people might be induced to join the Arians by these processions, established them on a greater and more splendid scale in his own church. By the liberality of the empress Eudoxia, the people were furnished with silver crosses, bearing wax lights, which were carried [266] before them5. Such processional offices were called litanies, as appears from the life of Chrysostom, by Palladius, where it is said, that the people celebrated their litany in the fields, carrying the cross on their shoulders6. The emperor Arcadius shortly afterwards forbad by an edict7 the heretics to make their litany within the city.

As the word litany was applied to the complex idea of a species of worship connected with public processions; so it was sometimes given to the persons who went in procession: thus Gregory the Great directs seven litanies to proceed from seven different churches8. The service performed on these occasions was also called by the same name. Thus in ancient manuscripts we find the whole office termed litany. Walafridus Strabo says that we are not to call merely the part in which the saints are invocated, the litany, but likewise all the rest of the service9. Again, we find parts of the office thus termed. For instance, in the sacramentary of Gregory, the prayers which anciently followed Kyrie eleëson are spoken of as the litany10; and Benedict [267] and others, speak of the Kyrie eleëson alone, as a litany11. In later times, when the invocation of saints occupied a large portion of the office of the Western litanies, the part that contained this invocation came to be spoken of as the litany. Amidst so many different meanings for this word, it is not easy to preserve the present subject from confusion. I will, however, attempt to elucidate it, by considering, first, the antiquity of special public supplication in the Christian church, and secondly, the nature and rites of those supplications after they became a distinct office.

| Sect I | Sect III |



It is difficult to determine the period, when the custom of public supplication to God, under circumstances of peculiar urgency and importance, was introduced into the Christian church. We are indeed well aware that from the beginning, it has not only been the habit, but the duty of Christians, to apply specially to the throne of grace, when calamities are to be deprecated, or benefits implored, for themselves or for their neighbours. During the captivity of the holy apostle Peter, prayer was made to God for him by the church; and as he found them all assembled together, and praying on his delivery from prison, it is not improbable that they may at that very time have been met together to offer up [268] prayers for him. Tertullian says that drought was removed by the prayers and fastings of the Christians12. Cyprian said that they continually made prayers and supplications for the repelling of enemies, for rain, for the removal or moderation of calamities13. We find by the testimony of Sidonius that supplications for rain and fine weather were customary in Gaul, before the middle of the fifth century14. We read of the emperor Theodosius, in the fourth century, preparing for battle with his enemies, by fasting and prayer to God during the whole night, and by going with the priests and people, and praying in sackcloth in all the churches15. Basil, in a homily delivered during a season of famine and drought, complains that the people did not attend the church to make their litany16. And we read that a solemn litany, or supplication, on account of a great earthquake, was celebrated at Constantinople in the time of the emperor Theodosius the younger, and the patriarch Proclus, about A.D. 43017. It appears from all these circumstances, that [269] public supplications and prayers to God, on occasions of especial urgency, were certainly prevalent in the church during the fourth and fifth centuries. It also is manifest, that supplications were made by the church on the same occasions, from the earliest ages: and there is no improbability that these supplications may always have been made in public assemblies of the church. We know that such supplications were accompanied by fastings; and when we reflect that in the second and third centuries, the Christians were accustomed to meet in church for the purpose of divine worship, on the ordinary fasts of the fourth and sixth days of the week18, we may see good reason for thinking that they also met together to celebrate the fasts, which were enjoined on occasions of great moment. They certainly did assemble for this purpose in the fourth century, both in the eastern and western churches; as we may perceive by the instances above cited from Basil, and the life of Theodosius the Great; and therefore they probably had done so long before.

These supplications were called litanies in the eastern churches, from whence the name passed to the west. Here they were called rogations or supplications, until the name of litany became more prevalent than any other. It is probable that the prevalence of the name of litany in the west, may have arisen from the derivation of recessional supplications from the eastern to the western churches. I have already observed that processions could only have commenced in the fourth century, when the [270] persecutions had terminated and in fact there is no notice of any such custom until that century.

Rogations, or litanies, were customary in Gaul in the fifth century, as we learn from Sidonius, who observes that they were principally for the purpose of praying for rain or fine weather19; but it appears that they were not celebrated at that time with the regularity, solemnity, and devotion which afterwards attended on them. Mamertus, bishop of Vienna in Gaul, on occasion of several dreadful calamities, which about the year 460 fell on the people of that diocese, instituted solemn litanies, or rogations, on the three days immediately preceding the feast of Ascension20. These three days acquired shortly the appellation of rogation days, because they were the only days of the year which were annually set apart for the purpose of celebrating litanies or rogations. The rogation days of Mamertus were before long received throughout Gaul; and they were also received in the English church at an early period, as the council of Cloveshoe appointed that these three days should be kept holy, after the manner of former times21. In Spain they were received at a later period; and at Milan the three rogation days were not celebrated before Ascension, but in the week after22. However, though these three days were set apart for supplications or litanies every year, litanies were also celebrated whenever any particular circumstance rendered it desirable; as, [271] for instance, during drought, or continual rain &C. In the next century after that in which Mamertus lived, another annual litany or rogation was established in the diocese of Auvergne, or Clermont, by Gallus, A.D. 545, who, on occasion of a plague in the city, directed an annual procession from Clermont, to the church of St. Julian the Martyr23.

At Rome, no doubt, litanies were in use at an early period, since we find that in the time of Gregory the Great, A.D. 590, the appellation of litany had been so long given to processional supplications that it was then familiarly applied to those persons who formed the procession. Hence when this patriarch gave directions for the celebration of a sevenfold litany, on occasion of a great pestilence, he spoke thus: " Let the litany of clergy depart from the church of St. John Baptist, the litany of men from the church of St. Marcellus, the litany of monks from the church of St. John and St. Paul, the litany of virgins from the church of Cosmas and Damian, the litany of married women from the church of St. Stephen, the litany of widows ,from the church of St. Vitalis, the litany of the poor and the children from the church of St. Cecilia—24." These different litanies were all to go in procession to some one principal church, where a solemn service was performed. Thus commenced the Litania Septena in the Roman church, which was entitled Litania Major, and was celebrated on the twenty-fifth of March. This litany or rogation does not appear to have been adopted soon by the [272] Gallican church, which preferred the season of rogations appointed by Mamertus; and though formerly received in England, it has long been abolished amongst us. These annual litanies of the western churches appear never to have been received by the oriental churches. Though we frequently read of litanies and processions in the monuments of the east, yet it does not seem that they have ever adopted the seasons of rogation which Mamertus and Gregory appointed. However, they had annual supplications also. Thus we read that an annual litany was celebrated in commemoration of the great earthquake in the reign of the emperor Justinian25. But the litanies of the patriarchate of Constantinople seem only to be celebrated now on occasions of some peculiar urgency, as, for instance, in the time of drought, peril of earthquake, pestilence, storms26, &c. And these certainly appear to have been originally the proper seasons for litanies.

| Sect II | Sect IV |



We have no distinct account of the nature of the service which was used on occasions of peculiar supplications during the earliest ages. That the people fasted and prayed on such occasions we learn from Tertullian; and it may be considered highly probable, that during the first three centuries the service at such times differed but little from that of ordinary fast days. On the weekly fast days the church in some places assembled at the sixth hour, or twelve o’clock, and the service consisted of [273] psalmody and lessons of scripture, which were continued till the ninth hour, or three o’clock, at which time the sacrament was celebrated27. Something of the same sort appears in the western supplications or rogations of later times, where the service began at the third hour, or nine o’clock in the morning, in order to allow time for the procession; and in the latter part of the day the sacrament was also administered28. Psalmody and lessons of scripture were the ordinary exercises of devotion in Christian assemblies, and therefore it is highly probable that they were used in the public offices of supplication for any especial occasion. To this, no doubt we may add prayers made by the bishop or priest at a proper part of the service. In the fourth century, however, we have a distinct reference to the use of psalmody on such occasions. Basil, in a discourse delivered during a season of dry weather and famine, speaks of the public service of a litany as terminating with psalmody. He complains of the small number of persons who attended the office, and of their inattention; and observes, that they watched when the singer should conclude the verses of the psalms, that being delivered from the church, as if from a prison, they might he relieved from the necessity of praying29. In the same place he speaks [274] of this service as a supplication and prayer, and he observes, that the infants who were sent instead of their parents, could not pray as was customary30.

In the nocturnal and processional litanies of the Arians of Constantinople, in the time of Chrysostom, we find that they sung psalms, to which they added certain terminations, composed to suit their own heresy31; and the catholics, by the direction of Chrysostom, adopted this custom of nocturnal and processional psalmody. And from that period to the present, these nocturnal psalms and processions have borne the name of litany in the patriarchate of Constantinople; for even now the litany of that church is chiefly, if not entirely, celebrated in the night, and consists principally of psalmody, as it did in the days of Chrysostom32. The offices performed in the rogations instituted by Mamertus appear chiefly to have consisted of psalmody and prayers, as we learn from Sidonius and Avitus33; but besides this, we find that very long lessons of scripture were read, [275] as appears by the ancient Gallican lectionary34. The service during the procession consisted of psalmody; for we read in the history of Gregory of Tours, that St. Gallus appointed the people to go in procession with psalmody from Clermont to the church of St. Julian35. We also find in the ancient Gallican liturgy, offices for the three rogation days, and collects to be said at different churches in the procession36. It seems that the liturgy was celebrated early in the morning. It is said that a certain blind woman, in the time of Germanus, bishop of Paris, hearing the chorus of singers passing by in the time of the litanies, implored with tears the assistance of Germanus, and having recovered her sight on the third day, went early in the morning to the liturgy in procession with the people37. After the liturgy was over, they probably went in procession to different churches, singing psalms and anthems on the road; and in the churches they recited some prayers, and the collects and lessons, which we find in the Gallican missal and lectionary. Very nearly the same [276] custom prevails to the present time in the church Of Milan. On the days of litanies or rogations, the clergy and people go in procession to several churches, at each of which they recite a litany like ours, a collect, and two lessons. Anthems or psalms are sung all the way from one Church to another38. In the church of Rome the procession is celebrated in a different manner. There the invocation of saints, &c. and most of the prayers, are sung in procession and at each of the churches which is visited only a collect is repeated. The remainder of the prayers and collects are recited in the principal church at the close of the rogation39. The office for the litany, according to the church of Constantinople, consists chiefly of psalmody and precatory anthems, which are either selected from the psalms, or composed in the same style. Besides these, there are prayers by the deacon and people, collects, and lessons. And there are various precatory anthems and lessons for the different occasions which call for the celebration of the litany40.

Before I conclude this section, it may be considered proper for me to notice one peculiarity of the office for litanies according to certain western churches. I allude to those long invocations of saints which occur at the beginning of the Roman litany. None of the eastern churches have ever used this sort of prayers in their litanies. On this subject let Renaudot, a most learned ritualist, be heard. "Litanies, in our manner of speaking, there are [277] none in the oriental churches, although Kyrie eleëson, with which our litanies begin and end, is frequently repeated. Neither do the Greeks know them41."

It is in fact certain, that none of the eastern churches use the invocations of saints which appear in the Roman litanies; and if so, the eastern litanies never could have contained such invocations; for no reason can be assigned why those churches should ever have omitted them, if they had been once introduced. Invocations of saints are then the peculiar characteristic of western litanies. Let me attempt to trace the antiquity of these invocations in the western churches, premising, however, that I make this inquiry solely with the object of ascertaining an historical fact: for there is no occasion whatsoever to prove that such invocations are not of the greatest antiquity in the western churches, in order to justify the church of England for removing them from her litany.

There can be no doubt that these invocations of [278] saints were customary in the ninth century, for they are mentioned by Walafridus Strabo and Amalarius. The former remarks, that "litanies mean not only that recitation of names in which the saints are invoked for the assistance of human infirmity, but all things which are done in supplications are to be called rogations42." From this we may infer, that these invocations must then have been for some time in use, since it was necessary to remark that the name of litany was not to be applied to them alone. Accordingly manuscript litanies, containing invocations, have been discovered by learned men, which appear from internal evidence to be as old as the eighth century43. Beyond this point there appears to be no tangible evidence for the use of invocations in litanies. It is true that innumerable passages have been cited from more ancient writers, to shew that the invocation of saints is more ancient than the eighth century44. But independently of the fact, that most of those passages do not refer to the [279] invocation of saints, but to prayers made to God for the intercession of saints; it is to be observed, that these quotations do not affect the question, which is not concerning the invocation of saints in general, but their invocation in the litany. It appears then that there is no evidence for the use of such invocations in the western churches before the eighth century, even on the most liberal allowance. In this case we must conclude that the invocations of saints were only introduced into the litany about the seventh or eighth century. This conclusion is rendered stronger by the fact, that authors who mention the psalmody and prayers, and lessons of the litany, do not allude to the invocations. Even the form of Kyrie eleison is mentioned, but the invocations are not. If the invocation of saints had been practised in the litany during the fifth and sixth centuries, we should assuredly have found some allusion to it in the writings of Gregory of Tours, of Avitus, or Sidonius, or Gregory the Great, who all speak repeatedly of litanies. But this silence of the Fathers of those ages is well accounted for by the actual production of several most ancient western litanies, in which there is no invocation of saints. Such a one is that used in the church of Milan during Lent, at the beginning of the Liturgy, and immediately before the collect of the day45. [280] According to cardinal Bona, the same sort of prayers used to follow Kyrie eleëson at the beginning of the Roman liturgy, until the ninth century46. Now Gregory the Great, in his sacramentary, gives the prayer used at that place the name of litany; and therefore we may infer, that in his time the prayers of the litany resembled those of the Ambrosian liturgy47. Another ancient litany, from a MS. of the monastery of Fulda, contains no invocations of saints48. And a third occurs in a book of offices ascribed to Alcuin49. It is there entitled, "A Deprecation which pope Gelasius appointed to be sung for the universal Church:" and though there is no reasonable ground for denying that Alcuin compiled this book, yet if any person should choose to do so, it will hardly be [281] denied that the Deprecation is a most ancient document, and that it is not improbable that it is as old as the time of Gelasius. In this formulary there is no invocation of saints, and yet we cannot consider it to be any thing else than the prayer used in a litany or supplication, which, in fact, is the meaning of the title prefixed to it.

Whether the knowledge of such facts as these had any influence on the mind of Walafridus Strabo, who wrote in the ninth century, or not; it is certain that he virtually affirms, that in his time the invocations of saints were believed not to have been originally in the litany. For he says, "the litany of the holy names is believed to have come into use after Jerome composed the martyrology50." With the correctness of this chronology we have nothing to do; but the passage shews, that the opinion in the time of Walafridus was, that the invocations did not originally form part of the litany.

The form in which the prayers of the litany are conveyed, according to which the minister precents or repeats the beginning of each prayer, which the people conclude or respond to, is plainly derived from oriental models. From the earliest period such forms appear to have prevailed in the east, and we find them not merely in the litanies, but in the liturgies and all the other offices of the oriental churches. In the western churches such forms do not seem to have prevailed till a much later period; and we may therefore very fairly conclude, that, when the word [282] litany was imported from the east to the west, and when the Kyrie eleison, which formed the commencement of the eastern litanies, was likewise conveyed to the west, the form of the oriental prayers, and great part of their substance accompanied them.

It appears probable, that, at first, the place at the beginning of the litany, afterwards occupied by the long invocations of saints, was filled up by a frequent repetition of the form Kyrie eleëson. We learn from Gregory of Tours, that on occasion of a litany at Rome in the time of Gregory the Great, the choirs of singers came to the church, crying through streets of the city, Kyrie eleëson51. From this it appears, that in the time of Gregory this form was continually repeated in the procession. And the council of Vaison in Gaul, A.D. 529, appears to recognise this custom: "Because, as well in the Apostolical see, as in all the provinces of the east and of Italy, an agreeable and very salutary custom has been introduced, namely, to use a frequent repetition of Kyrie eleëson, with great earnestness and contrition; therefore," &c.52 It must have been this continual repetition of Kyrie eleëson, in the litany, that gave this form itself the name of litany, which [283] it bears in the rule of St. Benedict53. And we find a trace of the ancient custom of the Roman church in a manuscript ritual, referred to by Mabillon, where, in a litany on the vigil of the Assumption, the people repeated, with tears and prayers, Kyrie eleëson a hundred times, Christe eleëson a hundred times, and Kyrie eleëson again a hundred times54. That the service performed in the procession according to the Roman church is much altered from what it formerly was, will appear by comparing the Roman ritual with the Antiphonary of Gregory the Great55. In this last there are only a great number of anthems appointed to be sung during the procession; in the former there is but one anthem and a psalm, which are followed by the invocations and prayers and penitential psalms. These anthems were certainly sung in the procession formerly; for venerable Bede relates, that Augustine and his brethren, approaching for the first time the city of Canterbury, sang with one voice this litany; "We implore thee, O Lord, in thy great mercy, to remove thy wrath and anger from this city, and from thy holy dwelling, for we have sinned. Alleluia56." This [284] anthem occurs in the Antiphonary of Gregory, above referred to, and is there appointed to he used in the processions57. We also find in the Ordo Romanus that anthems were sung in procession, when relics were carried on the days of litany; and for those anthems it refers us to the Antiphonary58. It is to be noted, however, that the Ordo Romanus speaks as if the repetition of Kyrie eleëson formed a great part of the service: "Let no one then presume to ride, but let all walk with bare feet. Let not women lead the choirs, but let all together sing Kyrie eleëson, and with contrition of heart implore the mercy of God for pardon of their sins, for peace, for deliverance from plague, for preserving the fruits of the earth, and for other necessities59." It appears from [285] this that the Roman office, for procession formerly consisted of many anthems, of a very frequent repetition of Kyrie eleëson, (for which the invocation of saints was afterwards substituted, and of the obsecrations, deprecations, and intercessions, which are still found in the latter part of the litany in the Roman offices. After the procession, no doubt, they repeated in station appropriate collects or prayers but we have no account, I believe, of the reading of any lessons during the Roman litany; though the church of Milan and the churches of Gaul and of Constantinople certainly had lessons in their station, or that part of the office which was performed in the church.

| Sect III | Sect V |



The church of England appears to have received the stated rogation or litany days of the Gallican church at an early period, and from that time to the present, she has reckoned them amongst her days of fasting. Formerly in this church there were processions on all these days, but in the course of time this ancient custom has been confined to one day on which the people still perambulate the bounds of their parishes. According to the injunctions or advertisements of queen Elizabeth, the office for these days was to consist of the two psalms, beginning "Benedic anima mea," of the litany and suffrages, and a homily especially appointed for the occasion. This office was recited in church, on the return of the people from the procession, and in the course of the procession the curate was to admonish the people to give thanks to God, with the [286] saying of the hundred and third psalm; and at the same time he should inculcate these, or such sentences, "Cursed be he which translateth the bounds or dolles of his neighbour60," &c. The repetition of psalms and verses of Scripture in the procession was perfectly accordant with the practice of the church during the fifth century, and afterwards.

Let us however pass from the consideration of this ancient litany or rogation, which appears indeed to bear some of the marks of time; and consider the extraordinary supplications of the church, which are made for rain, for fair weather, in time of rain, dearth, and famine, in times of war, or of pestilence. On these occasions, according to the English ritual, there is no procession, but as in primitive ages, the whole office is performed in the church; and the peculiarity of the offices for these occasions consists in the addition of an appropriate collect to the morning prayer, or litany, according to the day of the week. When these offices comprise the litany, they certainly approach nearest to the practice of primitive ages, at least to that of the eastern churches in early times.

Considering the litany simply as a certain assemblage of prayers ordinarily used in divine service, it may be regarded in three points of view. First, as a termination of the office of morning prayer; in which case we may refer for a confirmation of its antiquity and propriety, to the ancient office of matins, according to the church of Constantinople, when a form of prayer resembling our litany occurs [287] near the conclusion61: and a similar form of prayer is visible in the morning office of the Apostolical Constitutions, which were written in the east, about the end of the third, or beginning of the fourth century62. Secondly, we may consider the litany as a distinct service, said after the morning prayer: and in this case we find a confirmation of our practice in the ancient rites of the English church, where the litany was appointed to be said in the same manner during the greatest part of Lent63.

Thirdly, we may consider the litany as an introduction to the liturgy or communion service: and to prove the antiquity and propriety of this position, we refer to the ancient liturgies of the patriarchate of Constantinople, and of the church of Milan64, and to the liturgy of the Roman church in ancient times; for since the ninth century the litany has not been repeated after Kyrie eleëson in the Roman liturgy65.

The form of prayer in our litany, according to which the minister or priest precents, or repeats the beginning of each petition, and the people respond, has been used in the western churches from a remote period; but we cannot with justice ascribe its origination to these churches. The most ancient western formularies of this kind are too evidently [288] copied from Greek or oriental models, to leave any doubt as to the source from whence they were derived. In fact, we have memorials in the writings of primitive antiquity, which trace back this sort of prayer to the third century in the eastern churches; while it does not appear that there are any notices of a similar practice in the west, until after the introduction of processions, in imitation of the eastern church, which probably took place early in the fifth century. Besides this, the litaneutical form of praying is visible in all the offices of the eastern churches, in the liturgies, the canonical hours, the administration of all rites. In the west it has always been very sparingly used. Of the petitions which are comprised in our litany, it may be observed, that they are generally of remote antiquity in the English church. Mabillon has printed a litany of the church of England, written probably in the eighth century, which contains a large portion of that which we repeat at the present day, and which preserves exactly the same form of petition and response which is still retained. The still more ancient litanies of the abbey of Fulda, of the Ambrosian missal, and of Gelasius, patriarch of Rome; together with the Diaconica or Irenica of the liturgies and offices of the churches of Constantinople, Cæsarea, Antioch, Jerusalem, &c. which all preserve the form of the litany; all these ancient formularies contain very much the same petitions as the English litany. This is in fact so manifest, even to the most superficial observer, that Schultingius could find nothing to blame in the English litany, except the omission of the invocations of saints. "It is not pleasing to him," he says, "that the suffrages and [289] intercessions of the saints are omitted, contrary to the practice of the primitive church, and the custom of ancient litanies66." I reply to this objection, I may remark, first, that the litanies of the eastern apostolical churches have never contained the invocations which appear in many of the western litanies; therefore those, invocations are not essential in the litany. Secondly, the most ancient western litanies do not contain any invocations of saints, and there is no, proof, that these invocations were introduced into them before the eighth century. Therefore the western churches in early times did not use those invocations which now appear at the beginning of their litanies.

If then the church of England had only wished to assimilate her rites to those of the catholic church during the first seven centuries, she would have been obliged to omit the invocations of saints which had for a considerable time been placed at the beginning of her litany. And who will venture to blame the church of England for assimilating her rites to those of the primitive catholic church? The church of England, however, is justified on other grounds for removing the invocation of saints from the litany.

First, it is unnecessary to invoke the saints, by the admission of all parties; and it is so for two reasons; because, first, while we are not commanded by the word of God to invoke the saints we are [290] invited to "call on the Lord in the day of trouble," to "ask " and "receive;" and we have the repeated assurance of Christ, that "if we ask any thing in his name he will do it." Secondly, the Fathers of the church affirm, that the saints departed pray for their brethren in this world: therefore it is not necessary to invoke their prayers, because they are given spontaneously.

Secondly, it is imprudent to invoke the saints, because, as cardinal Cajetan has observed, we have no certain way of knowing whether they can hear our invocations. The catholic church has not taught us that the saints certainly hear any address made to them. Those Fathers who invoked the saints expressed some doubts whether they knew any thing of what passed on earth. But we are certain that God hears every prayer that is addressed to him, and that he is ready to succour to the utmost those that come to him. If, then, we fly from such prayers to invocations of the saints, we exchange a certain means of grace for an uncertainty, and therefore act imprudently.

Thirdly, it was the duty of the church of England to remove all invocations of saints from her litany and other offices, in order to rescue her children effectually from the peril of heresy and blasphemy. The custom of invoking the saints in the offices of the church, or on other occasions, produces at length a conviction in the minds of men, that the saints hear all invocations addressed to them. They who hear the church continually repeating the words "Saint Mary pray for us," must be led to believe that the saint hears this address. Now if it be firmly believed and taught, that the saints always [291] hear invocations, a wide field is opened for the spread of error and superstition. The refinements of schoolmen, as to the mode by which a knowledge of our prayers is said to be communicated to the saints, cannot be intelligible to the capacities of the ignorant and unlearned, nor will they be communicated to them. The majority of Christians are therefore, by the custom of involving the saints, placed in peril of ascribing a natural intrinsic power, little less than divine, to beings who, though invisible to mankind, can hear all prayers addressed to them in all parts of the world. This sentiment, admitted by all to be erroneous and perilous in itself, gives encouragement and impulse to evils which follow from another species of invocation addressed to the saints. Bellarmine, a Romanist, affirms that it is lawful to say, "St. Peter, have mercy upon me, save me, open to me the way to heaven; grant me health of body, grant me patience, fortitude67," &c. If we take such prayers in a literal sense, they are heretical and blasphemous; and as many of the unlearned must necessarily take them in a literal sense, the use of such prayers must lead many persons into heresy and blasphemy.

Now, before the Reformation many prayers of this kind were not only recited in private, but even in the public offices of some churches; and it would [292] not have been sufficient to abolish these prayers, if the invocation of saints to pray for us had been retained. For when erroneous notions of the power of saints had been engrafted on the mind of any person, it would have been impossible to eradicate them while the church continually supplied a ready and popular argument in favour of the ubiquity and universal intelligence of the saints by invoking them. The church of England was therefore justified in omitting the invocation of saints in her litany. First, because the litanies of all churches were devoid of them for seven centuries. Secondly, because they were unnecessary. Thirdly, because they were imprudent. And, fourthly, because they originated and promoted the danger of heresy and blasphemy. And on the same grounds we affirm, that it is the duty of all other churches to follow her example. Those catholic fathers, who in the fourth century invoked the saints, were too well instructed in the Christian faith, either to believe positively that the saints heard our prayers, or that they could aid us in any way except by their own; and they never contemplated the dangers of heresy and blasphemy into which this practice, originally intended for the promotion of piety, has led many of the simple and unlearned.

1 Ton Theon hiketêrias kai litais hileoumenos Eusebii Vita Constantini, lib. ii. c. 14. p. 450. ed. Valesii.

2 Kantautha tô tôn marturôn euktêriô endiatripsas oiô hiketêrious euchas te kai litaneias anepempte tô Theô. Euseb. Vit. Const. lib. iv. c. 61. p. 557. ed. Valesii.

3 All’ ouk hên phêsi tauta epi tou megalou Gregoriou. all’ oude hai litaneiai, has humeis nun epitêdeute. Basil. Epist. 207. ad Cler. Neocaes. (olim 63.) p. 311. tom. iii. ed. Benedict.

4 Autoi entos tôn tês poleôs pukôn peri tas stoas athroizomenoi, kai ôdas antiphônous pros tên Areinên doxan suntithentes êdon kai touto epoioun, kata to pleiston meros tês nuktos hupo de orthron, ta toiauta antiphôna legontes dia mesês tês poleôs, exêesan tôn pulôn. Socrat. Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 8. p. 312. ed. Valesii.

5 Socrates Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 8. p. 313. Sozomen. lib. viii. c. 8. p. 768. ed. Valesii.

6 Palladius Vita S. Joannis Chrysostomi, p. 58. tom. xiii. Oper. Chrysost. ed. Benedict. Montfaucon.

7 Codex Theodosian. lib. xvi. Tit. 5.

8 "Litania clericorum exeat ab ecclesia sancti Joannis Baptistæ, litania virorum ab ecclesia sancti martyris Marcelli," &c. Joannes Diaconus Vita S. Gregorii, lib. i. c. 42. p. 37. Oper. Gregorii, tom. iv. ed. Benedict.

9 "Notandum autem, litanias non tantum dici illam recitationem nominum, qua sancti in adjutorium vocantur infirmitatis humanæ; sed etiam cuncta quæ supplicationibus fiunt, rogationes appellari." Walafrid. Strabo. de Reb. Eccl. c. 28.

10 Sacramentar. Gregorii, a Menard. p. i. "Quando vero litania agitur neque Gloria in excelsis Deo, neque Alleluia canitur." Compare Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 4. No. 3. p. 337, &c.

11 S. Benedict. Regula. "Post hos—supplicatio litaniæ, id est Kyrie eleison," c. 9. In an ancient MS. cited by Martene, describing the rites of baptism, it is said; "Procedit pontifex de ecclesia cum omni ordine sacerdotum, letania cantentes, hoc est, Kyrie eleison, usque dum perveniant ad fontes." Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. lib. i. c. i. art. 18. p. 175.

12 "Quando non geniculationibus et jejunationibus nostris etiam siccitates sunt depulsæ." Tertull. ad Scapulam, p. 71. ed. Rigalt. "Denique cum ab imbribus æstiva hiberna suspendunt et annus in cura est, vos quidem balneis et cauponis et lupanaribus operantibus aquilicia Jovi immolatis—nos vero jejuniis aridi et omni continentia expressi, ab omni vitæ fruge dilati, in sacco et cinere volutantes, invidia cœlum tundimus," &c. Apologet. c. 40. p. 33.

13 "Pro arcendis hostibus, et imbribus impetrandis, et vel auferendis vel temperandis adversis, rogamus semper et preces fundimus." Cypr. ad Demetrian. p. 193. ed. Fell.

14 Sidonius Arvernens. Epistola ad Aprum. "Erant quidem prius (ante tempora Mamerti, sc.) vagæ, tepentes, infrequentesque, atque (sic dixeris) oscitabundæ supplicationes," &c.

15 Ruffinus, Historia, lib. ii. c. 33.

16 Basil. Homilia in famem et siccitatem, tom. ii. p. 64. Oper. ed. Benedict.

17 Nicephor. Hist. lib. xiv. c. 46.

18 See Bingham’s Antiqtiities of the Christian Church, book xxi. c. 3. §. 4.

19 Sidonius Epist. ad Aprum, cited above, p. 268.

20 Gregorius Turon. Hist. lib. ii. c. 34.

21 Concil. Cloveshoviense, 2. can. 16.

22 Martene de Antiq. Eccl. discipl. in div. offic. c. 27, p.514.

23 Gregor. Turon. Hist. lib. iv. c. 5.

24 Vita Gregorii a Joanne Diacono, lib. i. c. 42. p. 37. tom. iv. Oper. Gregor. edit. Benedict.

25 Cedrenus, cited by Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 770.

26 See Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 766. 770, &c.

27 Bingham, Antiquities, b. xiii. c. 9. §. 2. Book xxi. c. 3.§. 4.

28 This appears in the ancient MS. litany of the church of Lyons, published by Martene, p. 520-524. De Antiq. Eccl. Discipl. in Div. Off. In the last, station, which was held at the church of St. Justus, after the litany and the office for the ninth hour were sung, the liturgy was performed. "Hic nonam cantabis cum missa." We find the same custom in the church of Milan. The office for the ninth hour was sung in the seventh station, and the liturgy in the eighth. See Martene ut supra, p. 533.

29 kai epitêrountes pote tous stichous ho psalmôdos sumplêrôsei pote hôs desmôtêriou, tês ekklêsias, kai tês anagkês tês proseuchês aphairethêsontai. Basil. Hom. in Famem et Siccitatem, tom. ii. p. 64. ed. Benedict.

30 Hoia de hêmôn hê proseuchê kai he deêsis, ibid. oligoi loipon met’ emou kai tês proseuchês. ibid. Brephê—oute tou sunêthôs proseuxasthai gnôsin ê dunamin echonta ibid.

31 Sozomen. Hist. Eccl. lib. viii. c. 8. p. 767, 768. ed. Valesii.

32 See Goar, Rituale Græcum, p. 766, &c.

33 "In his autem (rogationibus) quas suprafatus sacerdos et protulit pariter, et contulit, jejunatur, oratur, psallitur, fletur." Sidonius Epistola ad Aprum.

"Sanctus Mamertus sacerdos—totas in ea quam supradiximus vigiliarum nocte, sancto paschæ, concepit animo rogationes; atque ibi cum Deo tacitus definivit, quidquid hodie psalmis ac precibus mundus inclamat." Avitus de rogationibus. "Nec porro magni intererat quod triduum eligeretur, dummodo psalmorum officia, lachrymarum functionibus cernuis persolverentur." Ibid.

34 See Mabillon de Liturgia Gallicana, p. 149, &c.

35 "Rogationes illas instituit, ut media quadragesima psallendo, ad Basilicam beati Juliani Martyris itinere pedestri venirent." Gregor. Turonens. Hist. Franc. lib. iv. c. 5. "Erant autem quadragesimæ dies, et Cautinus episcopus in Brivatensem diœcesim psallendo adire disposuerat, juxta institutionem Sancti Galli, sicut supra scripsimus—ascenso equo, relicto psallentio, solus usque in porticum Basilicæ S. Juliani ambolus urgens calcaneis cornipedem, pæne exanimis percurrit." Gregorius Turon. lib. iv. c. 13.

36 Missale Gothicum ap. Mabillon. Lit. Gall. p. 263-268.

37 "Quædam mulier—dum tempore litaniarum præcæcatis oculis non posset ire cum populo, audiens chorum psallentium, cum lachrymis domini Germani implorat auxilium—clarescente quoque die, ad missam cum populo progreditur mulier in processu." Fortunatus vita S. Germani ap. Surium, tom. iii. p. 416.

38 See Martene de Ant. Eccl. Discipl. in Div. Off. c. 27. p. 532, 533.

39 Rituale Romanum. Ordo in Processione, &c. p. 325-327. ed. Antwerp. 1652.

40 Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 766, &c.

41 "Litaniæ nostro more loquendo, nullæ in ritu orientali sunt, etiamsi Kyrie eleison pluries repetatur, a qua formula litaniæ nostræ incipiunt, et eadem concluduntur. Sed neque Græci illas noverunt. Hanc opinionem habuit Josephus Scaliger, litanias esse illas orationes ubi Kyrie eleison sæpius repetitur, et existimavit a diptychis manasse: ingeniose, sed non vere. Diptycha adhuc conservantur in ritu Alexandrino, ut etiam ipsa vox: neque commune quidquam habent cum ista oratione, quam litaniam vocavit hujus liturgiæ interpres. Sacerdos orat pro omnibus et de omnibus. Diaconus initio cujusque orationis, quarum aliquam et majorem partem sacerdos secreto dicit, alta voce monet circumstantes, ut orent secundum sacerdotis intentionem. Orate pro pace, pro papa, pro ecclesia &c. Populus acclamat Kyrie eleison, ter ut plurimum, aliquando pluries. Nulla sanctorum, ut in litaniis nostris, commemoratio." Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. tom. i. p. 356.

42 "Notandum autem, litanias non tantum dici illam recitationem hominum, qua sancti in adjutorium vocantur infirmitatis humanæ: sed etiam cuncta quæ supplicationibus fiunt, rogationes appellari." Walafrid. Strabo. de Reb. Eccles. c. 28. de Litaniis agendis. "Litaniæ quæ fiunt circa baptisterii consecrationem, intercessiones sanctorum designant pro renascentibus." Amalarius de Eccl. Officiis, lib. i. c. 28.

43 It seems that one of the most ancient litanies containing the invocation of saints is that printed by Mabillon, in the third volume of his Analecta. This litany does not contain the names of any saints who flourished after the end of the seventh, or beginning of the eighth, century. From whence Mabillon conjectures that it may have been used about that time. See Analecta, tom. iii. p. 669, &c. The Irish litanies alluded to by O’Conor, "Appendix to vol. i. of Catalogue of MSS. in Stowe Library," p. 41, 49. seem to be equally ancient.

44 For instance, by Serarius, in his "Litaneutici seu de Litaniis," &c.

45 Missale, Ambrosian. Dominica prima quadragesimæ. "Finita ingressa sacerdos dicat Dominus vobiscum, et Diaconus dicat sequentes preces choro respondente." The prayers are cited by Bingham, Antiquities, b. xv. ch. 1. §. 2; and Bona, Rer. Lit. b. ii. c. 4. n. 3; and it is therefore needless to copy them here. After these prayers comes the collect of the day. See Miss. Ambros. fol. 63, 64. In the same missal, on the second Sunday of Lent, another litany prayer, still more like the Greek litanies, occurs in exactly the same part of the liturgy. See fol. 70.

46 Post Kyrie eleison sequitur hymnus Gloria in excelsis Deo, si dicendus sit, alioquin præmissa populi salutatione Dominus vobiscum dicitur oratio sive collecta; de quibus sigillatim agendum erit, si prius notavero olim diebus, quibus omittitur Gloria in excelsis, immediate post Kyrie, prolixas preces pro omni statu hominum recitari consuevisse, iis prorsus similes, quas Irenicas sive diaconicas Græci vocant, et initio liturgiæ diacono præcinente, choro respondente decantant. Permansit hic ritus in ecclesia Latina usque ad sæculum ix. ut observat Goar in notis ad missam Chrysostomi, n. 62, et nunc etiam permanet in ecclesia Mediolanensi diebus Dominicis quadragesimæ." Bona, Rer. Lit. lib. ii. c. 4. No. 2. p. 337.

47 Quando vero litania agitur, neque Gloria in excelsis Deo, neque Alleluia canitur." Sacr. Gregorii a Menard. p. 1.

48 Tom. iii. Antiq. Liturgicarum, p. 307. "Cujusmodi sunt illa, quæ ex litania vetustissima bibliothecæ Fuldensis transcripsit Wicelius ... atque hæc Wicelius transcribit, ut partem litaniarum in quibus explicandis nunc versamur, quamvis mihi magis probetur hanc litaniam esse litaniam missalem: cujusmodi sunt nonnullæ, in quadragesima in officio Ambrosiano, et plurimæ in omnibus missis Græcorum." This litany is also transcribed by Bingham and Bona, as above.

49 Alcuini Abbatis Officia per Ferias, p. 241. oper. Paris. 1617.

50 "Litania autem sanctorum nominum, postea creditur in usum assumpta, quam Hieronymus martyrologium, secutus Eusebium Cæsareensem, composuit." Walafrid. Strabo. de Reb. Eccl. c. 28.

51 "Hæc eo dicente, congregatis clericorum, catervis, psallere jussit per triduum, ac deprecari Domini misericordiam. De hora quoque tertia veniebant utrique chori psallentium ad ecclesiam clamantes per plateas urbis, Kyrie eleison." Gregor. Turon. Hist. lib. x. c. 1. p. 483.

52 "Et quia tam in sede Apostolica, quam etiam per totas orientales atque Italia, provincias, dulcis et nimium salutaris consuetudo est intromissa, ut Kyrie eleison frequentius cum grandi affectu et compunctione dicatur, placuit etiam nobis, ut in omnibus ecclesiis nostris ista tam sancta consuetudo et ad matutinum, et ad missas, et ad vesperum Deo propitio intromittatur." Concil. Vasens, 2. can. 3. p. 1680. tom, iv. concil. Labbe.

53 S. Benedict. Regula, c. 9. "Supplicatio litaniæ, id est, Kyrie eleison"—c. 11. "Canticum de evangelio, litania, et completum est."

54 Mabillon, Musæum Italicum, tom ii. p. xxxiv. In an ancient MS. cited by Martene it appears that Kyrie eleëson was called litany: "Procedit pontifex de ecclesia cum omni ordine sacerdotum, lætania cantentes, hoc est Kyrie eleison, usque dum perveniant ad fontes." Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. lib. i. c. i. art. 18. p. 175.

55 Antiphonarius Gregorii ap. Pamel. Liturgic. tom. ii. p. 124. Rituale Romanum, p. 326, &c.

56 "Fertur autem quia ad-propinquantes civitati, more suo, cum cruce sancta, et imagine magni regis Domini nostri J

ESU CHRISTI, hanc lætaniam consona voce modularentur: ‘Deprecamur te Domine, in omni misericordia tua, ut auferatur furor tuus et ira tua a civitate ista, et de domo sancta tua, quoniam peccavimus. Alleluia.’" Beda, Hist. Eccl. lib. i. c. 25. p. 6i. ed. Smith.

57 Antiphonarius Gregorii ap. Pamelii Liturgic. tom. ii. p. 124. See also Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Discip. in Div. Off. p. 525.

58 "Antiphonæ vero ad reliquias deducendas, in libro gradali vel Antiphonario quærentibus occurrent per singulos tres dies." Ordo Romanus de Litania minore Rogationum apud Hittorp. p. 89.

59 "Nemo ibi equitare præsumat, sed discalceatis pedibus omnes incedant. Nequaquam mulierculæ ducant choros, sed omnes in commune Kyrie eleison decantent, et cum contritione cordis Dei misericordiam exorent pro peccatis, pro pace, pro peste, pro conservatione frugum, et pro cæteris necessitatibus." Ordo Romanus ibid. It would seem that the words of this passage confirm the antiquity of those litanies already noticed, which do not contain the invocation of saints. The petitions of these litanies are not exactly in the form of the more recent litanies. thus; "Ut fructus terræ dare et conservare digneris—Resp. Te rogamus audi nos:" but thus; "Pro aëris temperie ac fructu et fœcunditate terrarum precamur te—Resp. Domine miserere:" Bona, Rer. Lit. lib. ii. c. 4. §. 3: or thus; "Pro jucunditate et serenitate pluviæ, atque aurarum vitalium blandimentis, ac prospero diversorum operum cursu, rectorem mundi Dominum deprecamur—Resp. Domine exaudi et miserere." Deprecatio Gelasii Papæ. ap. Alcuin. Officia. Opera, p. 241. Paris. 1617.

60 See Injunctions of Edward VI. in Sparrow’s Collection of Articles, p. 8, and of Elizabeth, p. 72.

61 Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 54.

62 Apost. Const. lib. viii. c. 37. The prayers for the faithful there referred to are contained in c. 10. of the same book.

63 Breviar. Sarisb. pars hyemalis fol. 68. The litany was said with the gradual psalms, after the office for the third hour, from Monday in the first week of Lent, to Wednesday before Easter, whenever there was no proper service of Sundays or holy-days.

64 Liturgia Basilii Goar, p. 159. Chrysostomi ibid. p. 64. Missale Ambros. apud Pamelii Liturgic, tom. i. p. 328, 329.

65 Bona, Rer. Lit. lib. ii. c. 4. No. 2. p. 337.

66 "De hac litania idem judico quod de litaniis Lutheranorum antea dixi, nempe mihi non placere quod sanctorum suffragia et intercessiones contra praxin priscæ ecclesiæ, et morem antiquarum litaniarum, de quibus antea copiose et iterato dixi, prætermittantur." Schultingii Biblioth. Eccl. tom. iv. pars 2. p. 133.

67 "Est tamen notandum, cum dicimus, non debere peti a Sanctis, nisi ut orent pro nobis, nos non agere de verbis, sed de sensu verborum: nam quantum ad verba, licet dicere: S. Petre miserere mei, salva me, aperi mihi aditum cœli: item da mihi sanitatem corporis, da patientiam, da mihi fortitudinem, &c. dummodo intelligamus, salva me, et miserere mei orando pro me, da mihi hoc et illud tuis precibus et meritis." Bellarminus de Sanct. Beatit. lib. i. c. 17. 

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