Palmer: Origines Liturgicae 26.
Vol. II: Antiq. of the English Rit., Ch. IVf, Sect XX – Sect XXVI.

Chapter IV cont’d.



It is impossible to deny that the English liturgy prescribes a mode of communion perfectly conformable to the practice of the primitive church. Here the bishops, priests, and deacons receive the sacrament in both kinds first, and then the people are communicated in like manner. No one denies that this is the primitive order of delivering the elements. It is also indisputable, that the English custom of delivering to all the people both kinds separately, and not united, is the apostolic method. The same may be said of our custom of delivering the sacrament of the body, which we give into the hands of the faithful. In all this the English church preserves customs whose apostolical antiquity it is in vain to dispute1. In all the eastern churches the sacrament has been given to the laity in both kinds, even to the present day. It is true that they are not given separately, but at the same moment, by means of a particle of bread dipped in the Cup2; but this is merely a variety of discipline, which does not in the slightest degree affect the verity of the communion [152] in both kinds. The same custom formerly prevailed all through the western churches3, but in later times the laity were in most places entirely deprived of the sacrament of Christ’s blood; in order to obviate inconveniences which some persons thought might follow from an obedience to Christ’s commands, and the practice of the catholic church.

It was not remembered that God could prevent his sacraments from real profanation; and that proper instruction might suffice, as it had done in primitive times, to teach the people their duty. It became necessary in after-times to defend this practice, and then it was heard for the first time that the sacrament of Christ’s body or flesh was also the sacrament of his blood.

The Church of England does not prohibit the laity from coming to the chancel, or bema, and receiving at the rails of the holy table. In different churches different rules have been adopted, as to the place of lay-communion. According to the eastern canons, the people may not approach the table4. The same rule was made by the fourth council of Toledo in Spain5. In the church of Gaul, as now in England, the laity, both men and women, were allowed to approach the holy table, and receive the sacrament in their hands6.

It was the custom of the primitive church to fill up the time during which the people communicated [153] by singing a psalm. We find from Cyril, Chrysostom, and Jerome, that in the churches of Antioch and Jerusalem, "O taste and see," &c. was sung during the communion in the fourth century. In the west we find numerous traces of the same custom. Augustine expressly mentions it7, and it appears to have prevailed in Gaul and Italy. In after-times it was generally adopted in the west, and the anthem was called communio8. With regard to any words used at the delivery of the elements, we know not when they began to be used. Our Lord made use of expressions in the delivery of the sacrament which the apostles commemorated in their thanksgiving and consecration; but there is not the slightest reason to think that these expressions were ever in any way used at the delivery of the elements in the primitive church. However, in the second and third centuries it appears that a certain form was used in many, if not all, churches. The minister, in presenting the bread to every communicant, said, "The body of Christ," and the communicant, to signify his faith, said, "Amen9." It appears that in the time of Gregory the Great, the ancient form of delivery had been changed into a prayer. "The body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul;" to which the party receiving answered, "Amen10;" but this was not the original design of the form.


During all the primitive ages, the whole body of the faithful communicated at each celebration of the liturgy, and the sacrament was never distributed to those who were in health, except at this time11. But as charity grew chill, the number of communicants became less, until there were scarcely any. In order to preserve a semblance of the communion, bread was blessed by the priest and distributed to the people at the close of the liturgy. However. in after-times even the custom of giving "eulogiæ," or blessed bread, as a substitute for the sacrament became extinct; and now in a large part of the west the people never receive the communion, or even a semblance of it, at the celebration of the liturgy12.



The Lord’s Prayer cannot be inappropriate in any part of the liturgy. It must be acknowledged, however, that we have no certain instance in the liturgies of the primitive church of its use in this place, immediately after communion. The Ethiopic liturgy, indeed, appears either to prescribe the prayer itself, [155] or a part of it, after communion13; but no such thing appears in the Alexandrian, the Oriental, Roman, Italian, Gallican, or Spanish liturgies. Nor do we find any traces of such a custom amongst the writings of the Fathers. The use of the Lord’s Prayer therefore in this place cannot be traced to any very great antiquity, though certainly in the fifth century it was a general custom to use it before communion, and in some churches it may have been used there even from the apostolic age. When the Lord’s Prayer was repeated before communion, it was repeated by all the people, as well in the Gallican church, as in all the churches of the east14. At Rome it was only repeated by the priest, according to Gregory the Great15



In all churches it was anciently customary to return thanks to God after receiving the sacrament, and to implore his grace for the future. The second form, which the church of England has appointed for this occasion, (though it would be presumptuous to say that it is more appropriate than the first,) may be fairly said to accord most with the thanksgivings which the primitive church used at this place. Let us, then, regard the second form of thanksgiving and prayer prescribed in this place by the English liturgy, and trace its analogy with ancient liturgies.


ENGLAND. Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee, for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us, who have duly received these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favour and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical Body of thy Son, which is the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs through hope of thy everlasting kingdom, by the merits of the most precious death and passion of thy dear Son. And we most humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

CÆSAREA. Eucharistoumen soi, kurie ho Theos hêmôn, epi tê metalêpsei tôn hagiôn, achrantôn, athanatôn, kai epouranion sou mustêriôn, ha edôkas hêmin ep’ euergesia kai hagiasmô, kai iasei tôn psuchôn kai tôn sômatôn hêmôn. autos despota tôn apantôn, dos genesthai hêmin tên koinônian tou hagiou sômatos kai haimatos tou Christou sou, eis pistin akataischunton, eis agapên anu[okriton, eis plêsmonên sophias, eis iasin psuchês kai sômatos, eis apotropên pantos enantiou, eis peripoiêsin tôn entolôn sou, eis apologian euprosdekton tên epi tou phoberou bêmatos tou Christou sou. 16

Similar forms occur in all the ancient liturgies; amongst which that of Antioch, and the beautiful form of the Alexandrian liturgy of Basil, are particularly deserving of notice17.

It would be useless to cite the prayers in the ancient Gallican, Roman, and Italic sacramentaries, which correspond to this form, because they do not resemble it more than the oriental forms already [157] cited and alluded to; and also because it is impossible to ascertain which of the numerous "missae" in each sacramentary is the oldest. The form transcribed from the liturgy of Cæsarea is perhaps fifteen hundred years old, or even more ancient.

With regard to the first prayer after communion, it is impossible not to admire the excellence of its composition, but I do not think that we find the topics to which it alludes mentioned in this part of ancient liturgies; however, the expressions of which it makes use are truly orthodox and pious, and may very properly be employed on the present occasion.



We read in the holy gospel, that after the sacrament the Lord and his disciples sang an hymn before they went to the mount of Olives18. Whether the apostles and the church during the most primitive ages followed this example, I am not able positively to decide. It would appear probable that the liturgy terminated with a thanksgiving during the earliest ages, and not with a hymn; yet in aftertimes there were few liturgies which did not use a psalm, anthem, or hymn, after communion. Thus in the liturgy of Constantinople the twenty-second psalm, eulogêsô ton kurion en panti kairô, is sung by the choir19. After the end of the Roman liturgy, the hymn of "the Three Children," or Te Deum, is sung20. Amongst the Syrian monophysites, who use the ancient liturgy of Antioch, the psalm Dominus [158] pascuit me et nihil mihi deerit, is said by the priest after the communion21. In a very ancient liturgy of the western church, which is supposed to be as old as the seventh century, and which belonged to the Irish monks of Luxovium in Gaul, the hymn Gloria in excelsis is found exactly in the position which the English liturgy assigns to it, namely, amongst the thanksgivings after communion22. This celebrated hymn owes its origin to the eastern church, where it was used in the time of Athanasius, in the beginning of the fourth century23. In the churches of Constantinople, Alexandria, and the rest of the east, it has never been used in any part of the liturgy, but it is still used as it was in the time of Athanasius, as part of the morning service for every day24.

Western liturgical writers have ascribed this hymn to various authors: some have given it to Telesphorus, bishop of Rome, A.D. 150; others to Symmachus, bishop of the same see, A.D. 500; others to Hilary, bishop of Poictiers in the fourth century. None of these conjectures have any sufficient foundation25. As to the Liber Pontificalis, [159] which ascribes it to Telesphorus, no reliance can be placed on it in a matter of such antiquity. No trace of the authorship of Hilary appears in the writings of the Fathers for four hundred years after his time and, in fact, we know that it was used in the east before the time of Hilary and Symmachus. It appears probable, however, that Symmachus appointed this hymn to be sung on every Sunday and holyday at the beginning of the Roman liturgy, and from thence it came gradually to be used very generally in the west in a similar position. In the Roman liturgy it was only said when a litany was not repeated before the office, according to the direction of Gregory, or some other bishop26. This hymn is more than fifteen hundred years old in the eastern church, and the church of England has used it either at the beginning or end of the liturgy for above twelve hundred years.

Glory be to God on high, and in earth peace, goodwill towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we g1orify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only begotten Son Jesu Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest on the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Doxa en hupsistois Theô, kai epi gês eirênê, en anthrôpois eudokia. ainoumen se, eulogoumen se,

proskunoumen se, doxologoumen se, eucharistoumen soi dia tên megalên sou doxan, kurie basileu, epouranie Thee, Patêr pantokratôr kurie huie monogenê Iesou Christ, kai Hagion Pneuma. Kurie ho Theos, ho amnos tou Theou, ho huios tou patros, ho airôn tas hamartias tou kosmou, eleêson humas, ho airôn tas hamartias tou kosmou prosdexai tên deêsin hêmôn, ho kathêmenos en dexia tou Patros eleêson hêmas, Hoti su ei monos hagios, su ei monos kurios, Iêsous Christos eis doxan Theou Patros. Amên.27

Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis. Lauda-mus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorifica-mus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.

Domine Fili unigenite Jesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi miserere nobis, qui tollis peccata mundi suscipe deprecationem nostram, qui sedes ad dexteram Patris miserere nobis, quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Domi-nus, tu solus altissimus Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen28.



There are two places in which chiefly we find the benedictions of the people to have occurred in primitive liturgies: first, before communion ; secondly, after it. The former 1 have already considered in section xii. in treating of the absolution. It remains now to consider the latter. In the ancient [161] liturgies of the east we generally find the benedictions by the bishops and presbyters to have been more long and comprehensive than those of the west. In the Gallican and Spanish liturgies, however, which appear to have been imitated by the ancient English church during the time of the Saxon monarchs, blessings of considerable length are also found29. Long prayers of benediction occur in the Alexandrian liturgies, like our own, after thanksgiving30. A benediction of the same sort occurs in the Constantinopolitan liturgy, and in that of Cæsarea: the same may be said of that of Antioch31. In the Roman liturgy also a benediction has been used in latter times, which Bona does not consider to be of any considerable antiquity32. The formulary which we use is more comprehensive than many benedictions that have been used in the west, and seems to be a judicious enlargement of benedictions which were used in the English church perhaps before the year 600.

The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, [162] and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be amongst you and remain with you always.

Benedictio Dei Patris omnipotentis et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti, maneat semper vobiscum33.

Benedictio Dei Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, et pax Domini, sit semper vobiscum34.



Three of these collects have been used by the English church from the sixth century to the present time. The others I have not yet been able to trace in any very ancient formularies, though their spirit and composition are truly primitive.

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the attainment of everlasting salvation; that among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by thy most gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Almighty Lord, and everlasting God, vouchsafe, we beseech thee, to direct, sanctify, and govern, both our hearts and bodies, in the ways of thy laws, and in the works of thy commandments; that through [163] thy most mighty protection, both now and ever, we may be preserved in body and soul; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally by thy mercy obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Adesto Domine supplicationibus nostris: et viam famulorum tuorum in salutis tuæ prosperitate dispone: ut inter omnes viæ et vitæ hujus varietates, tuo semper protegantur auxilio, per Dominum35.


Dirigere et sanctificare et regere dignare Domine Deus, quæsumus, corda et corpora nostra in lege tua, et in operibus mandatorum tuorum: ut hic et in æternum te auxiliante sani et salvi esse mereamur per Dominum nostrum Jesum, qui tecum vivit &c.36


Actiones nostras, quæsumus Domine, et aspirando præveni et adjuvando prosequere: ut cuncta nostra operatio et a te semper incipiat, et per te cœpta finiatur. Per &c.37



This rubric directs that on "Sundays and other holydays (if there be no communion) shall be said all that is appointed at the communion, until the end of the general prayer, (For the whole state of Christ’s church militant here in earth,) together with one or more of these collects last before rehearsed, concluding with the blessing."

Lestrange, in his Alliance of Divine Offices, has very justly remarked, that the practice here inculcated resembles that which was known in the middle ages under the appellation of the missa sicca, or missa nautica. The earliest notice of this practice, according to Bona, is in the writings of Petrus [164] Cantor, who flourished A.D. 1200; and it seems to have prevailed extensively in the west for some centuries afterwards38. The missa sicca, or "dry service" as it was called. consisted of a repetition of all the preparatory and concluding parts of the liturgy, omitting the canon. No elements were laid on the table and there was neither consecration nor communion. As the canons forbid priests to celebrate the liturgy more than once in the day, except in cases of urgent necessity; and as some covetous and wicked priests were desirous of celebrating more frequently, with the object of receiving oblations from the people; they availed themselves of the missa sicca, and thus deceived the people, who intended to offer their prayers and alms at a real commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ. This evil practice rendered it necessary for several councils to interpose their prohibitions; and thence the sicca missa, though an innocent and laudable service in itself, and though approved of by many pious and learned divines, gradually fell into disuse. Genebrardus, in his book of the Apostolical Liturgy, cap. 20, after recommending the custom, observes, that it still prevailed at Turin A.D. 1587, when it was solemnly celebrated with two assistant ministers at the funeral of a nobleman, who was buried in the evening, at which time the real liturgy could [165] not canonically have been performed. And, according to Martene, the Carthusians still occasionally perform it. Durandus approved of the sicca missa, and in his Rationale gives directions for celebrating it. If the priest from devotion, but not from superstition, desired to perform the whole office of the liturgy, without the oblation and consecration, he is directed to put on the usual dress, and proceed with the service to the end of the offertory. He might repeat the preface, though it seemed better not to do so. The canon, or prayer of consecration, was to be omitted. Afterwards he was to repeat the Lord’s Prayer, and a concluding collect and benediction39.

This certainly approaches very nearly to the office enjoined by the church of England when there is no communion. In like manner we read all the liturgy to the end of the offertory, adding the prayers for all men; then, passing over the preface and consecration, we conclude with one or more collects and a benediction.

1 Bingham’s Antiquities, b. xv. ch. 5. §. 1. 2. 6. Mabillon de Liturgia Gall. lib. i. c. 5. No. 16. 24, 25. Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 17, 18.

2 Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 151. Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. tom. i. p. 282.

3 Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 18. §. 3. Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 153.

4 Concil. Laodicen. canon 19.

5 Concil. Toletan. 4. canon 17.

6 Concil. 2. Turon. canon 4. "Ad orandum et communicandum laicis et fœminis, sicut mos est, pateant sancta sanctorum." Vid. Mabillon de Lit. Gall. lib. i. c. 5. No. 24, &c.

7 Augustin. Retract. lib. ii. c. 11. quoted in vol. i. p. 136. note 4.

8 Bingham’s Antiquities, b. xv. ch. 5. §. 10. Antiphonarius Gregorii, Pamel. Liturg. tom. ii. p. 62, 63. &c. Miss. Sarisb. fol. 11.

9 Cornel. Roman. apud Eusebii Hist. Eccl. lib. vi. c. 43. p. 245. ed. Valesii; Apost. Const. lib. viii. c. 13. p. 405. edit. Clerici; Cyril. Hierosol. Cat. Mystag. 5. No. 18.

10 Johannes Diaconus in Vita Gregorii lib. ii.

11 Mabillon de Liturgia Gallicana, p. 96.

12 The learned Romanist, Bona, regrets the departure of the Roman church, and those that communicate with her, from the primitive practice. "Tepescente successu temporis fervore, multa ex his, ne missa prolixior evaderet, ab ea paulatim sejuncta sunt; adeo ut etiam ipsa communio post missam differatur, non sine magna rituum ecclesiasticorum perturbatione; quia orationes, quæ post communionem a sacerdote dicuntur, pro ipsis communicantibus sunt." Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. cap. 14. §. 5. p. 457. Would that they who communicate with the Roman church were not too timid or too lukewarm to return to the practice of the primitive church in this and many other respects.
With regard to the custom of giving eulogiæ, see Bingham, Antiquities, book xv. c. 4. § 3. Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 19. §. 7.

13 Liturg. Ethiop. Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. tom. i. p. 521.

14 Mabillon, Liturgia Gallic. lib. i. c. 5. No. 22. p. 49.

15 "Sed et Dominica oratio apud Græcos ab omni populo dicitur: apud nos vero a solo sacerdote." Gregor. Mag. lib. vii. Epist. 64.

16 Liturgia Basilii, Goar, Rit. Græc. p. 175.

17 Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Renaudot, tom. ii. p. 42. Basilii Copt. tom. i. p. 24.

18 Matt. xxvi. 30. Mark xiv. 26.

19 Goar, Rituale Græc. p. 85.

20 Bona, Rer. Lit. lib. ii. c. 20. §. 6. p. 519.

21 Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. tom. ii. p. 26.

22 Mabillon Museum Italicum, tom. i. p. 281. Muratori Liturg. Rom. tom. ii. p. 780. O’Conor, Rer. Hibern. Scriptores, tom. i. p. cxxx. &c. Martene de Antiq. Eccl. Rit. lib. i. c. 4. art. 3 p. 360.

23 Athanasius Liber de Virginitate, tom. ii. No. 20. p. 122. ed. Benedict. Pros orthron de ton psalmon touton legete, ho Theos ho Theos mou, pros se orthizô, edipsêse se hê psuchê mou. diaphauma de eulogeite panta ta erga kuriou to kurion. doxa en hupsistois Theô kai epi gês eirênê, en anthrôpois eudokia. humnoumen se, eulogoumen se, proskunoumen se, kai ta hexês. This hymn is prescribed in the Apost. Const. lib. vii. c. 47. as the proseuchê heôthinê. p. 385. ed. Clerici.

24 Goar, Rituale Græe. p. 54. 58. It is called by the Greeks hê megalê doxologia.

25 Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. iii. c. 4. §. 4.

26 Sacramentar. Gregorii Menard. p. i. "Item dicitur Gloria in excelsis Deo, si Episcopus fuerit, tantummodo die Dominico, sive diebus festis. A Presbyteris autem minime dicitur, nisi solo in Pascha."

27 From the Alexandrian MS. copied by Dr. Smith, Account of the Greek Church, &c. p. 295. In this MS. it is entitled, Humnos heôthinos.

28 Mabillon, Museum Italicum, tom. i. p. 281. Muratori Liturg. Rom. tom. ii. p. 780. Miss. Sarisb. fol. lxxii. Miss. Ebor. et Herefordens.

29 Mabillon de Liturgia Gallicana. Missale Gothicum, p. 189, &c. and p. 451. The MS. sacramentary of the Anglo-Saxon church of the ninth or tenth century, given by Leofricus to the church of Exeter, now in the Bodleian library, contains long benedictions of the same kind, as does also the ancient sacramentary of the English Benedictines, published by Schultingius, tom. iv. Biblioth. Eccl. pars iii. p. 177.

30 Liturgia Basilii Renaudot, tom. i. p. 25. Cyrilli, p. 51.

31 Liturgia Chrysost; Goar, p. 85. Basilii ibid. p. 175. Liturgia Jacobi Syr. Renaud. tom. ii. p. 42. Jacobi Græc. Assemani Codex Liturg. tom. v. p. 62. Apost. Const. lib. c. 15. p. 406. ed. Clerici.

32 Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. ii. c. 20. No. 4. p. 515.

33 Saxon Office in Appendix to Dr. Hickes’s Letters to a Popish Priest, London, 1705, ad finem Completorii.

34 Benedictiones in quotidianis diebus MS. Leofric. Exon. fo1. 332.

35 Sacramentarium Gelasii Muratori Lit. Rom. tom. i. p. 703. MS. Leofr. Exon. Episc. fo1. 222. Missale Sarisb. fol. 30. commune.

36 Gregorii Liber Sacramentor. Menard. p. 213. Brev. Sarisb. fo1. 13. Psalt. pars hyemalis. Appendix to Hickes’s Letters, &c. at the end of prime.

37 Gregorii Liber Sacramentorum Menard. p. 41. Pamelli Liturgica Latin. tom. i. p. 370.

38 See Ducange’s Glossary; Bona, Rer. Liturg. lib. i. cap. 15. §. 6; Bingham’s Antiquities, book xv. chap. 4. §. 5. Bingham seems to have suffered his judgment to be prejudiced against the missa sicca by the representations of Bona. The custom was in itself quite harmless, though it was abused to the worst and most unprincipled ends; and under proper regulation might, with great propriety, be adopted in circumstances where it was inexpedient or impossible to celebrate the actual liturgy.

39 Durandi Rationale, lib. iv. c. 1. num. 23.

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