Palmer: Origines Liturgicae 24.
Vol. II: Antiq. of the English Rit., Ch. IVd, Sect XI, - Sect.XV.

 Chapter IV cont’d.



An exhortation or address to the people at this part of the liturgy did not generally occur in the rites of the Christian churches during the very first ages; we cannot therefore claim for it the antiquity which belongs to most other parts of our liturgy. However, exhortations delivered to the people during the divine liturgy, at a different time from the sermon, are not without parallel in very ancient rites. In the primitive Gallican and Spanish liturgies an address to the people called Praefatio [100] occurred very nearly at this place, immediately before the general prayers for all men, while the address in our liturgy occurs immediately after them. In this exhortation they were informed of the principal events which they were assembled to commemorate, and thus were prepared to listen with more attention and devotion1. In the liturgy of Antioch, used for a great length of time by the Syrian monophysites, there is an address from the deacon to the people, which nearly corresponds in position with our exhortation. It is placed before the salutation of peace and the beginning of the solemn thanksgivings and prayers2. It consists chiefly of praises and thanks to God, and prepares the minds of the faithful, by speaking of the body and blood of Christ then shortly to be received. What may be the antiquity of this address I know not, but many reasons induce me to think that it is more recent than the separation of the monophysites and orthodox in A.D. 451.

It appears, therefore, that the position of our exhortation is not by any means without parallel in ancient liturgies; and in the exhortation itself we recognise the very life and soul of primitive devotion and orthodox faith.


As we have now entered on a part of the liturgy which must be regarded as peculiarly preparatory, it may be well to remark, that the preparation of the people in ancient liturgies was generally of three kinds: first. the preparation of repentance; secondly, [101] of faith; thirdly, of charity. The English liturgy provides for the first in the confession and benediction, or absolution of penitents, which will be reviewed in the next section. The second is provided for by the repetition of the Constantinopolitan Creed. The third is accomplished by us in the exhortation to charity, which occurs in the middle of the address, which I consider in the present section. In the primitive church it was customary for the faithful to testify their charity by mutual salutations some time before the distribution of the sacrament3. In early ages, the common salutation of friendship was a kiss; even within our own age such a custom has (I apprehend) existed in some foreign countries. In the eastern churches, the men sat at one side of the church, the women at the other; so that when the kiss of peace was given, according to the apostle Paul’s directions, no sort of impropriety could occur4. In the west, whatever might have been the original custom, certainly in after-ages [102] men and women prayed indiscriminately in the churches. This circumstance, combined with the alteration of the habits of common life, and the decline of Christian sanctity in the great body of the faithful, rendered it no longer possible to continue the apostolic kiss of peace. But instead of substituting some other salutation, which would have at once suited the manners of the age, and fulfilled the apostolic injunction, an entirely different course was adopted. A relic or picture, entitled the osculatorium, was passed from one person to the other; and all that part of the congregation who kissed this memorial, thought only of venerating it5. Thus the apostolical custom became extinct both in letter and spirit; and all that remained at the period of the English reformation was the name of the osculum pacis. If our reformers omitted a name, which had long been connected with a practice that led to superstition, and often to idolatry, they at least substituted in its place an exhortation, which was intended to promote that internal charity which the apostolical salutation of peace was meant to express. The salutation occurred before the Anaphora or solemn prayers and consecration in the patriarchates or exarchates of Antioch, Cæsarea, Constantinople, Alexandria, and Ephesus, and in Gaul and Spain6. In the English 1iturgy, [103] the exhortation, which at present supplies the place of this salutation, occurs exactly in the same position as the salutation did in the ancient Gallican and Spanish liturgies, namely, after the commemoration of the living and dead, and before the form Sursum corda, "Lift up your hearts7." In the liturgies of Milan, Rome, and Africa, the salutation of peace followed the solemn prayers and consecration, and immediately preceded the actual communion8. In most of the eastern liturgies, and in those of Gaul and Spain, a prayer for peace and charity followed or preceded the salutation. But it is more than doubtful whether such prayers were used in the most primitive times, though in some churches they may be traced back with a degree of probability to the fifth or fourth century.



Independently of the self-examination and repentance which the primitive church required from the faithful, preparatory to the reception of the sacrament of Christ’s body and blood; we find that in some churches there was a general confession of sins made by the people during the liturgy; after which, the bishop or priest pronounced a benediction or absolution of the penitents. I shall consider this more at large, by viewing separately the forms of confession and absolution which occur at this part of the English liturgy.


It was generally the office of the deacon, in the primitive church, to make proclamations in the assembly, to command silence, to invite to prayer or psalmody, and to direct the attitudes which befitted attention or reverence9. However, if the deacon was not present, the priest himself might very properly fulfil this office. In the liturgy of the church of Jerusalem, the deacon addressed the people thus before communion: "Draw near with the fear of God, with faith, and charity10." This address plainly resembles the commencement of our own, to which we have added an exhortation to the people to confess their sins.


It has been very anciently the custom in many churches for the priest or the people to confess their sins in the liturgy, either aloud or in silence. In the liturgies of Rome and Milan, in early times, the priest made a long confession of his sins in silence, after the catechumens had been dismissed, and the linen cloth laid11; and at the same time the people also may have probably made a similar confession and prayer in secret. In the ancient western [105] missal, published by Illyricus, there is an apology or confession of the priest, and a prayer of the people for him, immediately after the elements are placed on the table and offered and before the canon begins12. This instance perhaps accords more nearly with the position of our confession than any other. In the middle ages the secret apology of the priest and people became obsolete, though we have good reason for thinking that it had prevailed from the most primitive ages. A confession and absolution were placed at the beginning of the liturgies of Rome and Milan; and this custom having been introduced into England also, the confession and absolution stood at the beginning of our liturgy, when it was to be revised in the reign of Edward the Sixth13. At present the confession occupies a place in our liturgy much more consistent with the primitive Roman and Italian liturgies, than the modern Roman missal itself prescribes. In the liturgy of the orthodox of Jerusalem we find, exactly in this place, a long apology or confession of the priest14, in which he acknowledges the sins of himself and the people, and implores God to have mercy upon them. This form occurs between the osculum pacis, which is represented by our exhortation, and the form of Sursum corda, as our confession does.

In the liturgy of the church of England before the reformation, the priest confessed his sins before the choir, or people, who prayed for him when he had concluded. The people then confessed their [106] sins, and in turn the priest implored the divine benediction upon them15. We have now united these confessions; the priest or one of the ministers repeats the confession, and both priest and people approach God together, as sinners needing God’s pardon and absolution. In the liturgies of Alexandria, Antioch, Cæsarea, and Constantinople, though we find the priest confessing his unworthiness and weakness in the sight of God, yet we do not perceive the solemn confession of priest and people which has so long been used in the liturgies of the west.

If we cannot directly trace all the words and expressions of our confession to primitive liturgies, we find examples of confessions in very old rituals, which in substance are not materially unlike our own.

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have [107] mercy upon us Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father.

For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee in newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy holy Name; Through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.

A te Domine supplex in confessione peto veniam et indulgentiam de universis meis malis, et iniquitatibus: quicquid ab infantia mea usque in hanc horam in cogitatione, locutione, et operatione, et delectatione mala, et deliberatione turpissima in conspectu tuo peccavi. Multo Domino peccavi, et innumerabilia et graviora sunt super arenam maris,. In omnibus malis miser sum, misericors es, miserere mei16.



Tribue mihi indulgentiam omnium delictorum meorum .. et doce me facere voluntatem tuam cunctis diebus vitæ meæ, Salvator mundi qui vivis &c.17


The benediction or absolution of the penitent faithful has always been committed to bishops and presbyters in the Christian church. No instance can be assigned from antiquity in which the deacons and ministers of Christ’s church were permitted during the liturgy to give the benediction.

The benediction or absolution of those who have confessed their sins, is always, in the present case, according to the rule of the English church, performed by the bishop, if he be present, and if he is not present, by the presbyter. There was scarcely any ancient liturgy which did not contain a benediction of the people before communion. In the liturgy of Caesarea, about the year 370, the deacon proclaimed to the people, "Incline your heads to the Lord," and then the bishop blessed them, saying, "O Lord our Ruler, Father of mercies and God of all comfort; bless, sanctify, keep, strengthen, and defend those who have bowed down their heads unto thee; remove them from every evil work, fit them for every good work, and grant that they may without condemnation be partakers of these pure [108] and life-giving sacraments, for the remission of their sins, and the communion of the Holy Ghost18." In the ancient Alexandrian liturgy we find the benediction before communion termed the absolution, and approaching to the form and substance of our own. After an introduction, which it is unnecessary to transcribe, the priest proceeded thus: "May thy servants and handmaidens, therefore, be absolved by the mouth of the holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and by the mouth of me a sinner, thy unworthy servant. O Lord our God, thou art he who takest away the sins of the world; receive the repentance of thy servants and handmaidens. Cause the light of life to shine upon them, and forgive them their sins; for thou art good and merciful, O Lord our God; long-suffering, and of great mercy, and righteous. Whatever we have sinned against thee, O Lord, in word, deed, or thought, pardon, absolve, forget, for thou art the gracious lover of mankind. O Lord our God, grant that we may be all absolved, and with us absolve all thy people19."

The absolution which occurs at this place had long been used in the English liturgy at the very beginning of the service. But it is certainly much more consistent with primitive customs to reserve this benediction, as we do now, to a considerably later period. In the ancient liturgy of the monophysites of Antioch, a benediction occurs in this part of the liturgy, namely, after an exhortation of the deacon, and before the osculum pacis, and the form of Sursum corda20. The ancient western [109] liturgy published by Illyricus contains a confession of the priest and prayers of the people for him, just at this place, as I have observed21. We are not, therefore, without several precedents in antiquity both for the substance and the position of our absolution. The following extract from the ancient liturgies of the English church will shew the source from which our absolution is derived.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of his great mercy hath promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto him; Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins; confirm and strengthen you in all goodness; and bring you to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.



Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimittat vobis omnia peccata vestra: liberet vos ab omni malo, conservet et confirmet in bono, et ad vitam perducat æternam22.

In the liturgy of the orthodox of Jerusalem, a prayer of perhaps the seventh or eighth century contains the following petitions, which are not dissimilar: Kai nun deometha sou kurie ho Theos hêmôn, teleias philanthrôpias axiôson hêmas, orthotomêson tên hodon hêmôn, rizôson hêmas en tô phobô sou, kai tês epouraniou basileias aziôson, en Christô Iêsou, tô kuriô hêmôn.23




Though it was not the custom of the most primitive ages to enrich the liturgy with short detached sentences, yet we find that pious men in after-times selected verses of scripture remarkable for their devotion, or for some other circumstance, which were appointed to be said at some particular part of the liturgy. Thus we find in the liturgy of the orthodox of Jerusalem several sentences from scripture, which were repeated by the priest in this part of the liturgy, before his confession. The priest said, "Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill to men," three times ; "Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise," three times; "Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, O Lord, that I may celebrate thy glory, and all the day thy magnificence," three times24. So also in the liturgy of Constantinople, on Sundays, the beatitudes at the beginning of our Saviour’s sermon on the mount are sung some time before the scriptures are read25.



We now enter upon the most solemn part of the liturgy, or rather that part which constituted peculiarly the liturgy according to the judgment of the primitive church26. All the preceding lessons and [111] prayers are preparatory; it is here that the mystical and solemn prayer of thanksgiving, of blessing, and commemoration commences. This sacred service has been from the earliest ages commenced or introduced by the sentences and responses which I proceed to consider. Cyprian, in the third century, attested the use of the form "Lift up your hearts," and its response, in the liturgy of Africa27. Augustine, at the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of these words as being used in all churches28. And accordingly we find them placed at the beginning of the Anaphora, or canon, (or solemn prayers,) in the liturgies of Antioch and Cæsarea, Constantinople and Rome, Africa, Gaul, and Spain. How long these. introductory sentences have. been used in England it would be in vain to inquire; we have no reason, however, to doubt that they are as old as Christianity itself in these countries. The Gallican and Italian churches used them, and Christianity with its liturgy probably came to the British isles from one or other of those churches. We may be certain, at all events, that they have been used in the English liturgy ever since the time of Augustine, archbishop of Canterbury, in 595.

It appears that these sentences were preceded by a salutation or benediction in the ancient liturgies. According to Theodoret, the beginning of the mystical liturgy, or most solemn prayers, was that apostolic benediction, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all29." The same was also alluded to by Chrysostom, when he was a presbyter of the church of Antioch30. We find that this benediction, with the response of the people, "And with thy spirit," has all along preserved its place in the east; for in the liturgies of Cæsarea, Constantinople, Antioch, and Jerusalem, it is uniformly placed at the beginning of the Anaphora, just before the form "Lift up your hearts." In Egypt31, Africa, and Italy, the apostolic benediction was not used at this place, but instead of it the priest said, "The Lord be with you," and the people replied, "And with thy spirit32." In Spain, and probably Gaul, as now in England, there was no salutation before the introductory sentences33.

Priest. Lift up your hearts.


We lift them up unto the Lord.


Let us give thanks unto our Lord God.


It is meet and right so to do. Sacerdos. Sursum corda.


Habemus ad Dominum.


Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.


Dignum et justum est34.

In the liturgy of Cæsarea the introduction to the thanksgiving was as follows:

Sacerdos. Hê charis tou kuriou hêmôn Iêsou Christou, hê agapê tou Theou kai koinônia tou hagiou Pneumatos, ein meta pantôn humôn. Populus. Kai meta tou pneumatos sou. Sacerdos. Anô schômen tas kardias. Populus. Echomen pros ton kurion. Sacerdos. Eucharistêsômen tô kuriô. Populus. Axion kai dikaion esti proskunein Patera, Huion, kai hagion Pneuma, triada homoousion kai achôristov. 35




The thanksgiving in the sacrament was instituted by our blessed Saviour himself, for we learn from holy scripture, that when he had taken bread and wine he gave thanks to God, and blessed them36. And we find that the same custom has prevailed in the Christian church from the beginning. In fact, we continually meet in the earliest writings of the Christian Fathers, the word eucharistia, or thanksgiving, applied both to the service and to the consecrated elements, so great a portion of the liturgy in those days consisted of thanksgiving. The term was used in these senses by Ignatius in the apostolical age, by Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian shortly afterwards37, and [114] thenceforward by numerous Christian writers. We have, however, an earlier allusion to the liturgy under the title of eucharistia, or thanksgiving, in the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians; where, in forbidding and reasoning against the practice of some persons, who used the miraculous gift of tongues in an improper manner, namely, by celebrating the liturgy in an unknown language, he says, "when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" 1 Cor. xiv. 16. epei, ean eulogêsês tô pneumati, ho anaplêrôn ton topon tou idiôtou pôs erei to amên epi tê sê eucharistia, epeidê, ti legeis, ouk oide. The meaning of this passage is obvious: "If thou shalt bless the bread and wine in an unknown language which has been given to thee by the Holy Spirit, how shall the layman say Amen, ‘so be it,’ at the end of thy thanksgiving or liturgy, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest38?" It is undeniable that St. Paul in this place uses exactly the same expressions to describe the supposed action as he has employed a short time before in designating the sacraments of Christ’s body and blood, and describing our Lord’s consecration at the last supper. To potêrion tês eulogias ho eulogoumen, ouchi koinnia tou haimatos tou Christou esti: "the cup of blessing. which we bless, is it not the [115] communion of the blood of Christ?" 1 Cor. x. 16. Ho kurios Iêsous en tê nukti hê paredidoto. elaben arton, kai eucharistêsas eklade, 1 Cor. xi. 23. the Lord Jesus, "in the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it." The language of St. Paul also in the passage under consideration, as well as the action which he describes, is perfectly conformable to the description given by Justin Martyr of the celebration of the eucharist. "Then bread and a cup of water and wine is offered to the president of the brethren; and he, taking them, sends up praise and glory to the Father of all, in the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and makes a very long thanksgiving, because God has thought us worthy of these things. And when he has ended the prayers and thanksgiving, all the people that are present signify their approbation, saying, Amen. For Amen in the Hebrew language signifies ‘so be it39.’" Here we observe the "president" corresponding to the person who "blesses," according to St. Paul, and performs the "thanksgiving." The "people" corresponding to the "unlearned person" (or layman, as Chrysostom and Theodoret interpret the word40) of St. Paul, [116] and replying Amen, "so be it," at the end of the thanksgiving in both passages. If we refer to all the ancient and primitive liturgies of the east and of Greece, the peculiar applicability of St. Paul’s argument to the Christian liturgy will appear still more. In the liturgy of Constantinople or Greece, which has probably been always used at Corinth, the bishop or priest takes bread, and "blesses" it in the course of a very long "thanksgiving," at the end of which all the people answer, "Amen41." The same may be said of the liturgies of Antioch and Cæsarea42, and in fine of all the countries of the east and Greece through which St. Paul bare rule or founded churches. It may be added, that there is, I believe, no instance in the writings of the most primitive Fathers, in which the Amen is ever said to have been repeated at the end of an office containing both blessing and thanksgiving, except in the liturgy of the eucharist.

All this shews plainly that the argument of St. Paul applies immediately and directly to the celebration of this sacrament. Whether we regard his own previous expressions, the language and the words of the earliest Fathers, or the customs of the primitive church exhibited in the ancient liturgies, we see the accurate coincidence between the [117] case which he refers to, and the, celebration of the eucharist.

Estius, a Romanist, who had reasons for denying the applicability of this passage of St. Paul to the eucharist, objects that the words eulogein and eucharistein are of general signification, and therefore may apply to any benediction and giving of thanks43. This is true in general, but in the present instance they refer to the benediction and thanksgiving of the eucharist, because the layman is said to answer Amen; and we have no instance in primitive times of such a thanksgiving and benediction by the priest, and such a response by the laity, except in the eucharist. Estius objects, secondly, that Paul could not have spoken of the consecration and oblation of the eucharist in this place, because by the appointment of the apostle this was performed at Corinth, and the other churches of Greece, in prescribed words, and only in the Greek language. But granting that the apostle had appointed the order and substance of the liturgy, still he might not have given directions for the use of a particular language, because the use of the vernacular tongue in the public worship of God might have seemed a matter of course. Therefore his directions for the use of a known language in the present instance, may very properly be referred to the liturgy of the eucharist. The third objection of Estius is, that the apostle does not reprehend bishops or priests in this place, but only reproves generally those who, endowed with the gift of tongues, uttered prayers and praises in the assembly of the faithful, which [118] were unintelligible to themselves and to others. From which it may be inferred that he does not speak of the eucharist in this place, because if he had, he would have addressed himself expressly to those who only had the power of celebrating it. I reply, that it was unnecessary that the apostle should expressly mention bishops and priests, because all the church must have known that the words of the apostle could only apply to them. They knew that it was only the bishop and the priests who could bless and perform that thanksgiving to which the laity answered, "Amen." And besides this, the apostle distinguishes the person who blesses and gives thanks from the layman, "how shall the layman say ‘so be it,’ at the end of thy eucharistia," as Chrysostom and Theodoret interpret it; the person that blessed therefore was not a layman. The objections of Estius against the application of this passage of St. Paul to the liturgy of the eucharist are therefore invalid; and we may conclude that the apostle referred directly to the blessings and thanksgivings of the liturgy, when he forbad the use of an unknown tongue in the "blessing" and " thanksgiving."

However, though I must contend that the apostle referred immediately to the liturgy in this place; it is very true, as Estius has observed, that this passage may be applied to benedictions and thanksgivings in general, and to prayers, praises, and psalms in short to all parts of public worship; though in an indirect manner: in other words, we may infer from the apostle’s reproof of the use of an unknown, tongue in the celebration of the eucharist, that it is inconsistent with apostolical discipline to perform [119] any public service in a language not understood by the people, and therefore that it is the duty of the church to make the language of the ritual intelligible to the laity, as far as it is in her power.

The thanksgiving formed a large portion of every primitive liturgy, and although the principal portion of it generally preceded the blessing or consecration, yet the tone and language of thanksgiving was carried all through, and generally terminated the liturgy with a doxology, to which all the people answered, "Amen." The chief portion of the thanksgiving occurred at the beginning of the mystical liturgy as ours does; and immediately followed the introductory sentences which were the subject of the last section. In all the primitive liturgies, during the first four or five centuries, thanksgivings were used which were substantially alike. The church, by means of the bishop or presbyter, sent up praises and thanksgivings to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for the work of creation and redemption, for his mercy and love to fallen man, and the various means and dispensations by which lie had sought to benefit the human family. In the course of this thanksgiving, or at the end of it, the whole body of the people sung or repeated with a loud voice that hymn which Isaiah describes to have been chanted before the throne of glory, by angels and archangels, and six-winged seraphim.

In the liturgies of Antioch, Cæsarea, Constantinople, Gaul, and Spain, the hymn Tersanctus occurred in the middle of the thanksgiving, which continued on at some length afterwards, until it came up to the consecration. In the liturgies of Alexandria, Rome, Milan, and probably Africa, this [120] hymn occurred at the termination of the thanksgiving, or very nearly so. The liturgies of Alexandria and Æthiopia differed from all the liturgies of the east and west, by inserting the solemn prayers for all estates of men, and for all things, in the course of the thanksgiving, and before the hymn Tersanctus.

About the end of the fourth, and beginning of the fifth century, various thanksgivings, or prefaces, as they began to be called, were written in the western churches. And we may hence conjecture that it had been probably customary for the bishops to introduce some variety into their thanksgivings from a more remote period; always, however, preserving the order and the great body of the liturgy which had descended to them from preceding times. The fifth century produced a number of new prefaces in the west, so that before long every holyday and nativity of the martyrs possessed a distinct preface peculiar to itself44. The African church was obliged to interpose at the beginning of this century, and perhaps the end of the fourth, and provide that no new prayers and prefaces should be used which had not been approved by public authority45. It was this custom of varying the prefaces [121] and other prayers to suit the occasion of the day, that gave to the Gallican, Roman, and Italian churches, those large liturgical volumes, which were at first called Sacramentaries, or books of Sacraments, and afterwards were known by the name of Missals, or books of Missæ. In after-times, the number of prefaces or thanksgivings was retrenched in the western churches46, and at the period when our liturgy received its revision, in the reign of Edward the Sixth, prefaces for a very few special occasions were used in the English church, which are retained with little alteration. In the oriental churches, the variety of prefaces which has long prevailed in the west has not been introduced. The principal liturgies of the cast certainly have the advantage of possessing thanksgivings which are derived from the most remote antiquity, and formed on the most primitive models. The liturgy of Cæsarea or of Basil47, and that of the churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, described accurately by Cyril about the year 34048, present noble specimens of thanksgivings, full of primitive faith and devotion, and as instructive as they are beautiful. In the Roman liturgy, which has gradually come to be extensively used in the west, and in the English, the thanksgiving is on ordinary [122] occasions not so full or complete as those of the eastern catholic churches. In the English liturgy it would appear that the common preface might be enlarged without injury, so as to correspond in length with the prefaces appointed for peculiar days. The common preface has been used in England from a remote period of antiquity; but what that period may have been I am unable to determine.

It is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Lord, Holy Father, Almighty, Everlasting God.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee, and saying:

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere, Domine Sancte, Pater Omnipotens, Æterne Deus.

Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum thronis et dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes49:



The preface formerly used in the church of England on this occasion was not the same as ours, which rather seems to resemble the ancient collect for the day before, in the Sacramentary of Gelasius, patriarch of Rome, A.D. 494. I rather cite this collect to shew the conformity of doctrine than for any other object.

Because thou didst give Jesus Christ thine only Son to be born as at this time for us; who, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, was made very man of the substance of the Virgin Mary his mother; and that without spot of sin, to make us clean from all sin. And therefore with Angels &c.

Deus, qui per beatæ Maria, sacræ Virginis partum sine humana concupiscentia procreatum, in Filii tui membra venientes paternis fecisti præjudiciis non teneri: Præsta, quæsumus, ut hujus creaturæ novitate suscepta vetustatis antiquæ contagiis exuamur. Per eundem Dominum50.



This preface may be considered as old as the fifth century, as it occurs in the Sacramentary of Gelasius; and it has been used in the English church since the Arrival of Augustine, in 595, as it is also found in the monuments of the Anglo-Saxon church, and in all the English liturgies anterior to the reformation.

But chiefly are we bound to praise thee for the glorious Resurrection of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord: For he is the very Paschal Lamb, which was offered for us, and hath taken away the sin of the world; who by his death hath destroyed death, and by his rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life. Therefore with Angels &c.

Et te quidem omni tempore, sed in hac potissimum nocte gloriosius prædicare: Cum Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus. Ipse enim verus est agnus qui abstulit peccata mundi. Qui mortem nostram moriendo destruxit, et vitam resurgendo reparavit. Et ideo cum Angelis &c.51


This preface is to be regarded as the composition of Gregory the Great, patriarch of Rome, about the [124] year 590, and has been used in the English church for above twelve hundred years.

Through thy most dearly beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who after his most glorious resurrection manifestly appeared to all his Apostles, and in their sight ascended up into heaven to prepare a place for us; that where he is, thither we might also ascend, and reign with him in glory. Therefore with Angels &c.

Per Christum Dominum nostrum qui post resurrectionem suam omnibus discipulis suis manifestus apparuit. Et ipsis cernentibus est elevatus in cœlum, ut nos divinitatis suæ tribueret esse participes. Et ideo cum Angelis &c.52


The preface formerly used in the church of England for Pentecost was not equal to that which we use at present, as it contained a very short and imperfect allusion to the great event which is this day commemorated. We may compare our preface with that of the ancient Gallican church on the same occasion, without feeling that there is any inferiority either in the ideas or language of our own.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord; according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven with a sudden great sound, as it had been a mighty wind, in the likeness of fiery tongues, lighting upon the Apostles, to teach them, and to lead them to all truth; giving [125] them both the gift of divers languages, and also boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of thee and of thy Son Jesus Christ. Therefore with Angels &c.

In hoc præcipue die, in quo sacratissimum Pascha quinquaginta dierum mysteriis tegitur; et per sua vestigia, recursantibus dierum spatiis, colleguntur: et dispersio linguarum, quæ in confusione facta fuerat, per Spiritum Sanctum adunatur. Hodie enim de cœlis repente sonum audientes Apostoli, unius Fidei Symbolum exceperunt: et linguis variis Evangelii tui gloriam gentibus tradiderunt, per Christum Dominum nostrum53.


This preface is as old as the time of Gelasius, patriarch of Rome, A.D. 494; it also appears in the Sacramentary of Gregory the Great; and being found in the monuments of the Anglo-Saxon church, as well as in the more recent English liturgies, there can be no doubt that it has been used in the church of England for above twelve hundred years.

Who art one God, one Lord; not one only Person, but three Persons in one Substance. For that which we believe of the glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality. Therefore with Angels &c.

Qui cum unigenito Filio tuo et Spiritu Sancto, unus es Deus, unus es Dominus, non in unius singularitate personae, sed in unius trinitate substantiae: quod enim de tua gloria, revelante te, credimus; hoc de Filio tuo, hoc de Spiritu Sancto sine differentia discretionis sentimus. Ut in confessione ver sempiternaeque Deitatis, et in personis proprietas, et in essentia unitas, et in majestate adoretur aequalitas54.


1 Vol. i. p. 160. 174.

2 Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Renaudot, tom. ii. p. 29. see also p. 75.

3 Kai ho diakonos eipato pasin,

Kai. o` dia,konoj eivpa,to pa/sin( avspa,sasqe avllh,louj evn filh,mati a`gi,w|( kai. avspaze,sqwsan oi` tou/ klh,rou to.n evpi,skopon( oi` lai?koi. a;ndrej tou.j lai?kou.j( ai` gunai/kej ta.j gunai/kaj)

Const. Apost. lib. viii. c. 11. p. 398. ed. Clerici. Ei=qV ou[ntwj th.n eivrh,nhn di,dosqai( kai. meta. to. presbute,rouj dou/nai tw/| evpisko,pw| th.n eivrh,nhn( to,te tou.j lai?kou.j th.n eivrh,nhn di,donai) Concil. Laodicen. canon 19. Bevereg. Pandect. tom. i. p. 461. VAllh,louj filh,mati avspazo,meqa pausa,menoi tw/n euvcw/n) Justin. Martyr. Apolog. i. ed. Thirlby, p. 95. "Jejunantes habita oratione cum fratribus subtrahunt osculum pacis, quod est signaculum orationis—quale sacrificium est, a quo sine pace receditur." Tertullian. de Oratione, c. xiv. p. 135. ed. Rigaltii.


Eivj to. e[teron me,roj oi` lai?koi. kaqeze,sqwsan meta. pa,shj h`suci,aj kai. euvtaxi,aj\ kai. ai` gunai/kej kecwrisme,nwj kai. au-tai kaqeze,sqwsan) Apost. Const. lib. ii. c. 57. Eiv ke,kleistai h` evkklhsi,a kai. pa,ntej u`mei/j e;ndon( avlla. diesta,lqw ta. pra,gmata( a;ndrej meta. avndrw/n( kai. gunai/kej meta. gunaikw/n) Cyrill. Hierosolym. Præf. ad Cat. No. 8. p. 11. ed. Milles. See Bingham’s Antiquities, book viii. chap. 5. §. 6.

5 See Ducange, Glossar. vocibus osculalorium, osculum. He says of the salutation of peace in the west, "Abrogatus deinde osculorum pacis in ecclesia usus, inductusque alius, ut dum sacerdos verba haec profert, ‘Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum,’ diaconi vel subdiaconi imaginem quandam adstantibus clericis, et plebi, osculandum porrigant, quam vulgari vocabulo pacem appellamus."

6 See vol. i. p. 31, 65, 77, 98, 108, &c. 161, 174.

7 See vol. i. p. 161, 174.

8 Vol. i. p. 123, 128, 130, 135.

9 See Bingham’s Antiquities, book ii. chap. 20. sect. 10. 14. These various offices are all mentioned in the ancient liturgies. Isidor. Hispalens. de Eccl. Off. lib. ii. c. 8. "Ipsi enim (diaconi) clara voce in modum præconis admonent cunctos sive in orando, sive in flectendo genua, sive in psallendo, sive in lectionibus audiendo."


~O dia,konoj) meta. fo,bou Qeou/ kai. pi,stewj kai. avga,phj prose,lqete) Liturgia Jacobi. Assemani, Codex Liturgicus, tom. v. p. 58.

11 See vol. i. p. 122. note 24, p. 129.

12 Martene, de Antiq. Ecclesiæ Ritibus, lib. i. c. 4. art. 12. p. 503. 506.

13 Miss. Sarisb. fol. 71. Miss. Eborac. modus præparandi. Miss. Hereford. idem.

14 Liturgia Jacobi. Assemani Codex Lit. tom. v. p. 25, &c.

15 Miss. Sar. Ebor. Hereford. ut supra.

16 Extracted from a Sacramentary of the time of Charlemagne. Martene, lib. i. c. 4. art. 12. p. 517.

17 From a liturgy of the church of S. Gatian, at Tours, nine hundred years old. Martene, lib. i. c. 4. art. 12. p. 534.

18 Liturgia Basilii, Goar, p. 174.

19 Liturgia Æthiopic. Renaudot, tom. i. p. 519. Cyrilli, et Basilii, tom. i. p. 22.

20 Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Renaudot, tom. ii. p. 40.

21 Martene, de Antiq. Ecclesiæ Rit. lib. i. c. 4. art. 12. p. 503, 506.

22 Miss. Sar. fol. lxxi. Miss. Ebor. et Hereford. Præparatio ad Alissam.

23 Liturgia Jacobi Græc. Assemani Codex Liturgicus, tom. v. p. 64.

24 Liturgia Jacobi Græce, Assemani Codex Liturgic. tom. v. p. 24, 25.

25 Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 67. and note 73. in Liturg. Chrysostomi.

26 Theodoret describes the commencement of the mystical liturgy to be the benediction, "The grace of our Lord," &c. of which presently.

27 "Quando autem stamus ad orationem, fratres dilectissimi, vigilare et incumbere ad preces toto corde debemus. Cogitatio omnis carnalis et sæcularis abscedat, nec quidquam tunc animus quam id solum cogitet quod precatur: ideo et sacerdos, ante orationem, præfatione præmissa, parat fratrum mentes dicendo: Sursum corda; ut dum respondet plebs: Habemus ad Dominum, admoneatur nihil aliud se quam Dominum cogitare debere." Cyprian. de Orat. Dom. p. 152. Oper. ed. Fell.

28 "Quotidie per universum orbem humanum genus una pene voce respondet sursum corda se habere ad Dominum." Aug. de Ver. Relig. c. 3.

29 See vol. i. p. 29.

30 Ibid. p. 31.

31 Liturg. Cyrilli Copt. Renaudot, tom. i. p. 40.

32 Sacramentar. Gregorii a Menard. p. i. See also vol. i. p. 127. 136.

33 Missa Mossarabic. ap. Pamel. Liturg. Lat. tom. i. p. 646.

34 Miss. Sarisbur. fol. 67.

35 Liturgia Basilii, Goar, Rit. Græc. p. 165.

36 Matt. xxvi. 26, 27; Mark xiv. 22, 23; Luke xxii. 19, 20.


VEkei,nh bebai,a euvcaristi,a h`gei,sqw( h` u`po. to.n evpi,skopon ou=sa( h; w-| a;n auvro.j evpitre,yh|) Ignat. Epist. ad Smyrnaeos, c. viii. euvcaristh,santoj de. tou/ proestw/roj( kai. evpeufhmh,santoj panto.j tou/ laou/( oi` kalou,menoi parV h`mi/n dia,konoi dido,asin e`ka,stw| tw/n paro,ntwn metalabei/n avpo. euvcaristhqe,ntoj a;rtou kai. oi;nou kai. u[datoj) Justin Martyr, Apolog. i. p. 96. ed. Thirlby. kai. evn th/| evkklhsi,a| parecw,rhsen o` Vani,khtoj th.n euvcaristi,an tw.| Poluka,rpw| katV evntroph.n dhlono,ti) Irenæi fragment. Epist. ad Victorem Romanens. Episcop. p. 341. ed. Benedict. Clemens Alexandrin. Pædagog. lib. ii. c. 2. p. 178. ed. Oxon. "Eucharistia pascit." Tertullian. de Præscript. c. xxxvi. p. 215. ed. Rigalt.

38 Dr. Waterland says, "this construction of the text appears too conjectural to build upon, and is rejected by the generality of interpreters: I think, with good reason, as Estius in particular hath manifested upon the place." Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, &c. ch. i. p. 45. It is strange that Doctor Waterland did not perceive the weakness of Estius’s arguments.

39 Justin Martyr, Apolog. i. p. 96, 97. ed. Thirlby.

40 Chrysostom, commenting on this passage, says,

ivdiw,thn de. to.n lai?ko.n le,gei( kai. dei,knusi kai. auvto.n ouv mikra.n u`pome,nonta th.n zhmi,an( o[tan to. VAmh.n eivpei.n mh. du,nhtai) o[ de. le,gei tou/to e;stin\ a;n euvlogh,sh|j th/| tw/n barba,rwn fwnh/|( ouvk eivdw.j ti, le,geij( ouvde. e`rmhneu/sai duna,menoj( ouv du,natai u`pofwnh/sai to. VAmh.n o` lai?koj) ouv ga.r avkou,wn to.( eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn( o[per evsti. te,loj( ouv le,gei to. VAmh.n) Hom. 35. in Epist. 1. ad Cor. tom. x. Oper. ed. Benedict. p. 325. Chrysostom obviously understood the apostle to speak of the liturgy by alluding to the words eivj tou.j aivw/naj tw/n aivw,nwn( which he says evsti. te,loj( that is, the end of the liturgy. And accordingly if we look to the liturgies of Antioch, where he preached these Homilies, we find those words terminating the liturgy. Liturgia Jacobi Græc. Assemani Cod. Lit. tom. v. p. 48; Syr. Renaudot, tom. ii. p. 38.

Theodoret comments thus on the passage:

ivdiw,tthn kalei, to.n evn tw/| lai?kw/| ta,gmati tetagme,non\ evpeida.n kai. tou.j e;xw th/j stratia/j o;ntaj ivdiw,taj kalei/n eivw,qasi) In Epist. 1. ad Cor. c. 14. tom. iii. Oper. ed. Sirmond. p. 191.

41 Liturgia Chrysost. Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 75-79.

42 See last note but one, and Liturg. Basilii, Goar, p. 165-173.

43 Gulielmus Estius, in Epist. Pauli 1 ad Cor. p. 456. tom. i. Commentar. Duaci, A.D. 1614.

44 As may be seen in the sacramentaries of Leo and Gelasius, and the Gallican sacramentaries. See Muratori, Liturgia Romana, and Mabillon, de Liturgit Gallicana.

45 "Placuit etiam et illud, ut preces vel orationes seu missæ, quæ probatæ fuerint in concilio, sive præfationes, sive commendationes, seu manûs impositiones ab omnibus celebrentur. Nec aliæ omnino dicantur in ecclesia, nisi quæ a prudentioribus tractatæ, vel comprobatæ in synodo fuerint, ne forte aliquid contra fidem, vel per ignorantiam, vel per minus studium sit compositum." Concil. Milevit. A.D. 416. canon 12. See also codex Canon. Eccl. Afr. can. 103. Concil. African. can. 70.

46 It has been said that Pelagius the Second, bishop of Rome, affirmed that only nine prefaces were to be used in the church. But this is a perfect fable, since long after the time of Pelagius we find the sacramentaries of the Roman church to have contained numerous prefaces.

47 Liturgia Basilii, Goar Rit. Græc. p. 165, 166.

48 Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Renaudot, tom. ii. p. 31. Liturg. Jac. Græc. Assemani Codex Liturg. tom. v. p. 33. or Bibliotheca Patrum. Compare Cyril. Hierosol. Catech. Mystag. v. art. 5. p. 296, 297. ed. Milles.

49 Missale Eboracens. Praefatio Communis ante Canonem. Miss. Herefordens. ante Canonem.

50 Sacramentar. Gelasii Muratori Lit. Rom. tom. i. p. 494. Sacrament. MS. Leofr. Exon. episcopi, fol. 68. In the Sacramentary of Gelasius it is entitled, "In Vigilia Domini mane prima Oratio."

51 Sacramentar. Gregorii Menard. p. 75, 76. Muratori Lit. Rom. tom. ii. p. 67. Gelasii Sacr. Murat. tom. i. p. 572. MS. Sacramentar. Leofr. Exon. fol. 115. Miss. Sar. fol. lxxiv. Miss. Ebor. et Herefordens.

52 Sacramentar. Gregorii Menard. p. 95. Muratori, tom. ii. p. 85. MS. Sacramentar. Leofr. Exon. fol. 128. Miss. Sar. fol. lxxv. Miss. Ebor. Herefordens.

53 Missale Gothicum. Mabillon de Liturgia Gallicana, p. 269.

54 Gelasii Sacramentarium. Muratori Liturg. Rom. tom. i. p. 6o6. Gregorii Sacrament. Menard. p. 104. MS. Saeram. Leofr. Exon. episcopi, fol. 135. Miss. Sar. fol. lxxv. Miss. Ebor. Hereford.

return to Project Canterbury